Recently I found out that my single coil at the neck has much louder sound than the humbucker at the bridge. The middle single coil is the same as the neck one. Is this normal? Do I need to make the humbucker higher?

Here's a picture:

Image of guitar pickups

  • It certainly sounds uncommon that a single coil overpowers a humbucker. But some more information would be good. The model of the pickups and/or a picture of your setup would be of help. Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 10:09
  • They are stock squire, HSS configuration.
    – Brsgamer
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 10:11
  • As with many such questions, it's really up to you. However, it's conventional to start with a fairly even balance of "loudness" across the pickups. From the picture, the humbucker does seem further from the strings (and too narrow); try making all three a uniform distance from the strings by lowering the single coils and raising the humbucker.
    – jonrsharpe
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 10:16
  • 1
    Something looks wrong with the mounting of that humbucker. It seems completely caved in at the upper (6th string) end. I wonder if it's even mounted on its adusting screw at all. Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 11:47

3 Answers 3


It's not normal in the sense of being (usually) 'what you want', but it is something that you have to deal with in multi-pickup configurations.

It's not necessarily that the neck pickup is more powerful in itself; it's that the strings vibrate further from side to side at the neck, as they're nearer the middle of the string, so they induce a more powerful signal in the neck pickup (the ends of the string are anchored and don't move, so the points near the ends don't move very far). The difference due to pickup location may be much more than the output difference between a given humbucker and a given single coil.

It's common to use a much higher output pickup for the bridge location - and/or raise it higher than the neck pickup (to compensate for this phenomena) and get a more balanced output between all pickups.


Most likely the difference in volume comes from a difference in output--some pickups are made to be "hotter" than others, and they'll be adjusted differently according what position on the guitar they're intended for.

Another factor that could affect output is if the humbucker has a coil-splitting feature, which allows you to achieve single-coil sounds, but at reduced output. Hope this helps!


A humbucker has two coils connected in opposing direction. That's how it bucks the hum, bu having the respective effects on the coils cancel. The magnets are also oriented in opposing directions so that there is a net pickup effect, but there are still components partly working against one another.

As a result, humbuckers tend to be quieter than their single coil counterparts, but the net result, even when you turn up the volume accordingly, tends to have less hum and tendency for magnetic feedback.

  • 4
    This is not correct in my experience. A humbucker usually has a higher output and is experienced as "louder". Humbuckers have less spikes in the sound, and can be experienced as less piercing than single coils, but when it comes to balancing a humbucker and single coils in the same guitar, the problem is usually to get the single coils to sound as strong as the humbucker. Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 11:51
  • 2
    @user19092 Not so - they're designed so that the signal voltages add, while the noise voltages cancel. take a look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humbucker 'How humbuckers work'. Of course some single coils may be hotter than some humbuckers, due to winding differences etc. Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 12:00
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    @user19092 Welcome to Music:Practice and Theory Stack Exchange. What I love about this site is that there are experts within the community that could write the textbooks on any subject covered here. So we can rely on getting accurate information that is "peer reviewed" by really smart folks - which helps us all sort out fact from fiction. When I first joined, I learned that if I was not 100% sure I was correct, I should not post an answer because I would be called out on it. Don't be discouraged, it's a learning experience. In future - just be 100% sure of your facts before posting. Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 4:33

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