The single coil vs humbucker conundrum

I was messing around on FB this weekend.  Just shooting the crap with people about my Mic deletion file. Just a quick aside, it doesn’t make much difference in sound because a Beyerdynamic M160 has a really flat response curve, which is the point of a good mic.  At 4cm it has a maximum 6db variance at 70hz, and by the time you get to 300hz its under 2db variance where it remains all the way out to 15khz…  It’s a good mic, A really good mic. The point of the entire microphone exercise was, firstly to see if I could do it, and second to have the ability to measure things like cabs and Mics in helix as accurately as possible.  Why …because I want to, and I think its fun.

Newsflash.. I’m weird like that.

Anyway back to the point today’s post.  Someone asked me If I could create an IR to basically convert single coils into humbuckers and vice versa.  Now I wasn’t actually sure if it would work, how it would sound etc.  but apparently this has been done, and it was pointed out in the post.  Several of the IR companies have them available for purchase.  Now I’m a guy who likes to see if I can make it better, smarter, faster, and more importantly cheaper.  I make my own IR.s all the time, and on principle, not price, I hate paying for them.  Here’s why

Go ahead hit play.  You don’t even have to turn your phone volume down, the guy on the train sitting next to you won’t even notice.  Hell you probably won’t notice,  It’s a damn click, nothing more.  Contains loads of data for sure, but its easy to make. I made a video on how to do it.  which you can find here:

Perfect… no . Effective … mostly for my purposes.


Anyway I digress.  I was game to take on the challenge of making this IR How hard can it be right?   Its been done before tho, so I want to do it better, but how 🤔

Well the first thing that popped into my mind was all kinds of concerns about getting consistent level outputs from the pickups.  I’ve dealt with this problem before when I was working on a project measuring the outputs of different strings to see what, if any differences there were in materials and construction methods. It was a huge pain in the ass.  I literally had to build a machine to consistently pluck the strings exactly the same every time,  in order to get consistent data, and that machine is long gone.

So the second thing I went for was a rig I made a few weeks ago to measure the differences that the impedance settings made in helix.


It basically uses 2 single coil pickups, sends a sweep tone into one, and the signal gets inducted into the other.  Its a crude version of a transformer.  I’ll just make a second one with humbuckers, and I’m all set!  ….heh when will I learn it’s never that simple.


Ok so I have the 2 test units, I plug em into a loop in helix one at a time, and run a sweep thru em with RTA.

Screenshot 2018-02-17 13.59.18

Ok…  So thats encouraging.  I see significant differences in the data. So I’m measuring something.  Lets sweep these things and stick em in match eq, create a curve for each conversion H>S and S>H and then sweep those curves into IR’s and were good.  I’ve made a video on how to do this here:

So I went and created this project in logic with all kinds of complex signal routings.

Screenshot 2018-02-17 17.06.06

No . they’re really not that complex, I’m just really bad at doing this and it takes me a while.  I actually made a video on the signal routing mainly so I don’t forget how i did it . ….But anyway.  The IR’s sucked.  One of em didn’t even produce any sound.  I’m not really sure where they went wrong. It could be because i lined up the pickups with the magnetic poles attracting each other, It could be because its a faulty process, It could be …hell I have no idea what it could be.  I just know it didn’t work.  It was a colossal fail, resulting in dozens of unemployed aliens.  😂

Ok Eric…  Exhale.  Go to the grocery store, do the food shopping.  Get beer cause you’re apparently going to need it.  Regroup and try again.  Ok open beer, take a swig, think…

Stop worrying about what went wrong.  Lets start over.  First thought… Does it really matter if the pickups are stimulated in the exact same way?  Does this really require doing a sweep analysis?  Maybe not. The match eq program seems to map some type of variant of peak output, average maybe? I have no idea, but maybe if i just play my guitar into each side of the match program that’ll work.  (seems too easy right, I think so too) . So lets see what we get.

Screenshot 2018-02-17 14.42.54

The 2 lower graphs are the second pair if IR’s I created. They are basically the difference of Humbucker curve minus single curve and single minus Humbucker, The upper two are the differences of the first two.

I sweep em into IRs and presto.  I have a pretty darn believable Single to Humbucker IR, and a passable humbucker to single IR, especially if you put a compressor in front of the Humbucker IR to tame the spikey Highs a bit.


Today’s lesson…  Sometimes the obvious (easy) way is the best way.


Thats all for today








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