It’s only when you’ve bought your guitar, tested it out in multiple scenarios - mixing-wise, having played it with your effects’ pedal, and tried it out for executing that specific mellow vibe when playing live – that you realize the true ins and outs of the sound it’s able to produce. That’s exactly why most musicians rely on feedback from other peers before investing in a product. Talking about sound, mini humbuckers are bright-sounding guitar pickups that relatively tend to retain their clarity. They’re designed to provide the guitarists with a warm, loud sound instead of a snappier one. In this article, we’ll be throwing a list of the best mini-humbuckers in 2021 your way as well as a detailed buying guide where we’ll get geeky about this cool gadget.
Without any further ado, we’d like to hook you up with these top-grade sound wizards right away!
We researched, did the nit-picking, scoured through the lot stating their pros and cons to end your quest with only the best! Now, in this section, we’ll hook you up with everything you need to know about mini humbuckers.
Why Do You Need A Mini Humbucker In Your Guitar?
Sure, they’re small – but as we mentioned earlier, a mini humbucker will also give you a brighter, warmer, and louder sound no matter how much crap you’re throwing on it. If you’ve got a guitar already, it’ll probably already have a pickup installed – in that case, you’ll either have to learn installing a guitar pickup (which is not difficult at all but will need you to be cautious since it requires soldering).
We aren’t really advising you to abandon your current pickup and go for one of these good boys but since you’re here, you’re probably already thinking of it. If you don’t know this already, these guitar pickups were first designed and put to use by Epiphone – and this was back in the 1950s. Of course, this is before Gibson acquired the company, and the official rights for these cool, widely-chosen pickups were transferred to them.
Nowadays, you’ll find mini humbuckers being used by a bunch of jazz guitarists – particularly because of the need to create mellow, brighter tones in jazz. So, the bottom line is, if you’ve been lately inspired to bring about some clearer tunes without going through much hassle, it’s important that you have a mini-humbucker-ed guitar on your side.
How Do I Choose The Right Mini Humbucker For My Guitar?
So, when zeroing in on one of the humbuckers above, what exact specifications should you be looking for? Let’s find out.
The lower iron content in mini humbuckers accounts for their clarity and ability to retain good sound quality even when there’s distortion – as compared to their larger counterparts. While you cannot always check the materials’ percentage in a mini humbucker, it doesn’t hurt to be educated about it.
It’s also important to note that mini humbuckers are constructed the same way as regular humbuckers, only at a smaller scale.
Thanks to their small size, a mini humbucker is able to pick up shorter wavelengths from the strings. This results in a brighter, more contained sound with a relatively lower output. The dimensions of a mini humbucker are normally 2-⅝” x 1-⅛”.
The magnets in a pickup are directly responsible for the output/sound of a guitar. The material of the magnet is highly important too and the most common one out there is Alnico. It’s an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt – lasts a long time!
Another common material for magnets is ceramic – it’s the hottest of all and is particularly used for hard rock and metal – thanks to the trebly sound created with it.
Moreover, the mini humbuckers usually have the following magnet layouts:
Blade Style Layouts
This magnet layout uses a single metal bar and provides higher consistency with bending strings!
In this layout, you get steel poles extending from the magnetic bar, resulting in a fatter, darker sound. This layout is usually implemented on Gibson guitars.
Individual Magnetic Poles
This type of layout produces thinner and brighter sounds. This is what most fenders guitars use.
The passive humbuckers use magnets and the active ones use magnets boosted by a preamp. The active pickups have a greater sound clarity and consistency. They provide extra sustain and more headroom. Since active pickups have weaker magnets, they make up for the gap using a preamp.
The passive ones, on the other hand, have a stronger pull, inflicting a negative impact on the tone and sustain.
When it comes to mini humbuckers, the standard usually is parallel wiring that results in a brighter sound with lower output.
The series wiring, on the other hand, helps you achieve a warmer yet high-output sound.
The position with mini humbuckers is important and the guitarists – they generally prefer to place one around the neck and one at the bridge. The former one serves for better sustain and fuller sound. The latter gives off a shorter sustain and brighter sound.
We suggest you throw a third one between the two of them and you’ll have a sound that bridges the gap between the two!
How Much Do Mini Humbuckers Usually Cost?
Most mini humbuckers will usually cost anywhere between $50 and $200. More often than not, they’ll be more than enough to last you long and serve you well!
Best Mini Humbucker FAQ
Q: What is a mini humbucker?
A: A mini-humbucker is a humbucking pickup for electric guitars - it can sense shorter length string vibrations and is narrower in size, making it produce brighter sounds that do not trip or get harsh.
It serves as an excellent solution for all your harsh-sound, snappier-sound problems.
Q: How do I get a nice clean sound out of my mini-humbucking pickups?
A: There are two ways you can plant these good-sound wizards in your guitar. You can either get a set of neck and bridge pickups and install them or get a single mini humbucker and place it between your existing neck/bridge pickups in your guitar.
If you're unsure about installing flawlessly, take your guitar to a professional or consult a few videos on YouTube to get the hang of it.
Within the city limits of NOLA, you may find Camilla hammering away on her 88, playing anything from old jazz to modern country music. Camilla's goal is to one day open a piano studio in New Orleans where she can teach the black and whites and other common jazz instruments to enthusiastic students. Ms. Haywood hopes to bring instruments to old and new musicians alike, reviewing pianos, orchestral instruments, and other products that make her tap her fingers to the beats.