Rich's Sound - Single Coil Strut
This is what may be the first in a series of posts on how I get my specific guitar sound. I receive many questions on the subject, so hopefully this will answer a few of them.
In this installment, I'm going to talk about why I prefer a single coil pickup over a humbucker.
To begin, I'm not opposed to humbuckers and in fact own a guitar with humbuckers in it, so I don't want you to think "Rich never plays guitars with humbuckers in them", because I do. You don't see me playing a humbucker-equipped guitar often simply because I prefer the single coil sound. If you happen to play a guitar with one or more humbucker pickups in it, I'm not telling you humbuckers are "bad". I'm just saying that the single coil sound is what I prefer.
What I appreciate most about single coil pickups is the brightness of the sound. Humbuckers by nature have more midrange tone in them and to me sound "flat" because of it compared to a single.
A Stratocaster guitar in SSS configuration allows me to use every setting on the guitar whereas I can't do that with a humbucker, or at least not easily. In an HH configuration I'm usually limited to two settings that I can make work for me, that being bridge-only or neck-only with the middle setting (bridge+neck) being altogether worthless concerning my specific sound. In an HSS configuration I can only use 3 settings. Bridge, middle+neck and neck because the H combined with the S doesn't do anything for me.
For guitars with humbuckers that have a split-coil option, I run into the same problem. My Schecter C-1 Class even though HH does in fact have a 5-way "mega switch" selector from the factory that splits the coils into singles to get 5 tones, but again, of those 5 I can only use three that actually work for me.
Singles on their own using wide spacing is the "natural" way, so to speak, that a Stratocaster guitar works. The single coil pickup defines the personality of the Stratocaster guitar as far as I'm concerned.
Again, I'm not saying that humbuckers are bad, because they're not. But a lot of the sound you hear from my playing is a direct result of single coil pickups. Yes, they're bright, clacky and twangy, but that's the way I prefer them.