About Guitar Pickups:
A guitar pickup is most often mounted on the body of the instrument, but can be attached to the bridge, neck and/or pickguard, as on some archtop jazz guitars and basses. The vibration of the nearby strings modulates the magnetic flux linking the coil, thereby inducing an alternating current through the coil of wire of the guitar’s pickup. This signal is then carried to the amplifier or recording equipment via an instrument cable.
Classic single-coil pickups act like an antenna and are prone to produce hum (electromagnetic interference generated by electrical power cables, power transformers, and even fluorescent lights in the area) along with the musical signal. The pickups also are sensitive to the electromagnetic field from nearby video monitors or televisions.
To overcome this effect, the humbucking pickup was invented. Composed of two coils, each coil of a humbucking pickup is wound reverse to one another. However, the six magnetic poles are opposite in polarity in each winding. Because the windings are reversed in each pickup coil, the electro-magnetic interference in each pickup is equal and in antiphase, resulting in them canceling each other out. The signal from the guitar string, however, is doubled when the two coils are connected in series.
Generally speaking, single-coil pickups have a brighter, crisper, twangy sound when compared to other pickup types. Fender® Stratocaster® and Telecaster® guitars are famous for their single-coil sound, as well as the thicker-sounding, P-90-equipped Gibson guitars such as the Les Paul Junior and Les Paul/SG Special models. Guitars with humbuckers are typically known for a thicker, darker, beefy sound, and generally are used for music with high amounts of gain and overdrive—though jazz players often rely on a neck-position humbucker for a mellow, clean tone. Also, many modern humbucking pickups are now equipped with coil-splitting, which allows the pickup to act as a humbucker or a single-coil pickup when the coil-split is engaged.