EntertainmentThe fascinating story of the mini-humbucker: why it deserves more attention

The fascinating story of the mini-humbucker: why it deserves more attention

The Origins of Epiphone Mini-Humbuckers

When Gibson acquired the Epiphone company in 1957, they brought over all the equipment to Kalamazoo from the East Coast. The decision to purchase Epiphone was driven by the desire to explore new markets, as stated by Gibson’s current vice president of product, Mat Koehler. The quality of Epiphone guitars at that time was comparable to Gibsons, emphasizing the need to differentiate the two brands.

To set Epiphone apart from Gibson, a unique pickup was developed. In the 1950s, Epiphone introduced a single-coil pickup with off-center pole screws and a rectangular metal cover. This innovation paved the way for the development of the mini-humbucking pickup.

The mini-humbucker, initially featured on Epiphone guitars in 1961, shared similarities with Gibson’s PAF humbucker design but maintained the distinctive Epiphone aesthetic. Variations in materials and construction added versatility to the sound of guitars equipped with mini-humbuckers.

Seth Lover, the creator of the PAF humbucker, had envisioned a smaller version of the pickup even before Gibson acquired Epiphone. The mini-humbucker utilized nylon bobbins and 42 AWG plain enamel magnet wire for its coils, resulting in a unique tone with a brighter high end.

With the use of an Alnico V magnet and specific coil specifications, mini-humbuckers provided a comparable output to some PAF pickups. The narrower aperture of the mini-humbucker contributed to its distinctive tonal characteristics, offering a unique sound profile.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, various Epiphone and Gibson models featured mini-humbuckers, such as the Windsor, Riviera, Sheraton, and Crestwood Custom. This widespread adoption of the mini-humbucker contributed to its prominence in the history of electric guitar pickups.

While initially exclusive to Epiphone, the mini-humbucker’s impact on guitar tone and design solidified its place as a significant innovation in the realm of electric guitar pickups.

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