Humbucker Pickups

Humbucker Pickups

Chris Kinman explains the story behind the development of his Humbuckers:

What’s wrong with normal Humbuckers?

  • Number One problem is lack of tone and definition on the wound strings, particularly in the neck position
  • The coils are bound with black paper tape which is there to secure the lead wires from the coils and these lead wires are pressed into the coil by the tape. Both Tape and Lead wires squash the windings and increases capacitance.  Excessive capacitance is the reason most all humbuckers sound muddy
  • The high number of windings that are required to give the pickup some vitality actually kill the high frequencies and to an extent the articulation characteristics

Kinman Innovative Humbuckers

Background: Customers have been urging me for years to give humbuckers the Kinman treatment and improve the overall tone, articulation, clarity and definition by reducing the muddy characteristic and impart greater sweetness in the highs. 

I wanted to avoid "hot" humbuckers because they have been done to death. The problem with over-wound humbuckers is that you pay a heavy price for the extra output. Sacrificed to get power are touch sensitivity (articulation), speed of attack, definition, clarity and dynamics.  Even conventional 7.5K vintage humbuckers are somewhat murky and the only reason Seth Lover specified 7.5K is because with much less than that the sound loses it's vitality. 

My philosophy has always been that tone, feel and articulation are number one so I did something different - I went the opposite, away from overwinding.  For some models I went to under-wound coils to impart much better tone and increased definition, clarity, dynamic response and sensitivity with lightening fast attack & tracking. But it wasn’t that simple because there were technical problems that prevented under-winding coils which invariably resulted in loss of vitality in the sound. However I applied my new magnetic circuit technology which allows Kinman humbuckers to have under-wound coils by as much as 30% (5.2 K) and still get a great sound.  My under-wound humbuckers have exceptional clarity and remarkable tone and track extremely fast. Their sound and output is not weak or feeble as one might expect from 5.2K coils but certainly not overbearing as most conventional humbuckers are. 

All Kinman humbuckers do NOT have black tape wrapped around the coils. I avoid tape because it squashes the coil thereby increasing capacitance and dulling the sound and creating inconsistencies depending on the pressure the tape puts on the coils. My humbucker coils are wound on a machine with very low tension (5 grams) which is accurately controlled by high precision hysteresis tensioners.  Winding the coils with low tension dramatically reduces capacitance. Hand-winding cannot achieve low tension and even worse has no accurate control over winding tension and winding traversing. Hand-wound pickups are therefore inconsistent and have more capacitance than is often desirable. Excessive capacitance reduces touch sensitivity and clarity in much the same way as turning a tone control down. 

All Kinman humbuckers have exceptional articulation, definition, clarity and dynamics regardless of the coil’s turns count. 

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