Coil Splits: Single-Coil Sounds with Humbuckers
A guitar’s pickups and electronics have a huge influence on its basic tone, as well as what the guitar will sound like through effects. Single-coil pickups have a brighter, thinner sound compared to humbuckers, which sound warmer and thicker—but there’s more to the story than that.
You don’t necessarily need single-coil pickups to obtain single-coil sounds—a Coil Split switching option converts a humbucker into a single coil pickup by switching out one of the humbucker’s two coils. (Note that you can’t do the reverse and convert a single-coil pickup into a humbucker, so if you want both sounds, you need to start with a humbucker.)
Several of Gibson’s 2014 model year guitars—Les Paul Futura, Les Paul Classic, Les Paul Signature, SG Futura, and SG Standard—feature a coil split switch on each volume control that lets you choose either a single coil or humbucker tone for each pickup. With the neck pickup, the single-coil response has more highs, a similar midrange, and somewhat less bass compared to the humbucker response. The single-coil bridge response also has more highs and a little less bass than the humbucker response, but the increased highs extend over a wider range than the neck pickup to “sweeten” the brightness even more.
So if you like the sound of both humbuckers and single-coil pickups, you don’t need two guitars: You just need the appropriate Gibson.