By C-String at electricuke.com
You know for sure that you’re are going to play an electric steel string ukulele that’s equipped with magnetic pickups. The real thing!!! But do you prefer humbucking or single coil pickups? Easy to understand how they differ. Not so easy to make a choice. Two questions rise right to the top of this choice.
1) TONE - Do you want an electric ukulele that sounds more "Gibsony" or more "Fendery" ?
2) NOISE - How much noise (the bad kind known as hum) will you be dealing with ?
You have plenty of reference outside of electric ukuleles to guide you here. Since I'm talking only about electric ukuleles that are outfitted with magnetic pickups and strung up with steel strings you can reference the sound of various electric guitars that sport either humbucking or single coil pickups. Just be careful not to admit that you listen to guitars when speaking to other ukulele fanatics!
Writ large, you can figure that your humbucking pickup equipped ukulele will sound closer to the higher-in-pitch notes played on electric guitars that sport humbucking pickups (traditionally Gibson sound). Conversely, your single coil pickup equipped ukulele will sound more like higher notes played on electric guitars that have single coil pickups (traditionally Fender sound)
Players of electric instruments have sometimes characterized there tone with words such as:
Humbucking pickups (heavy, jazzy, chain saw, smooth, bluesy, solid, crunchy)
Single coil pickups (glassy, surfy, twangy, open high end, articulate)
The instrument (hollow or solid body, species of wood) also effect the tone of electric ukuleles. And of course the amplification and electronic processing of the ukulele can radically transform the sound and then some. If tons on overdrive and extreme effects are involved it can also become challenging to know which type pickup you are hearing.
Humbucking pickups are inherently "quieter" (meaning less undesirable hum) than are single coil pickups. Hence, the word "humbucking" or "humbucker". However, proper shielding and grounding of electric ukuleles equipped with single coil pickups can significantly reduce unwanted hum on these instruments. Its also notable that playing with a "clean" tone using less overdrive will result in less hum on any electric ukulele. But we sometimes crave overedrive! Humbucking and single coil electric ukes all make the world go 'round.
We love them both. We need them both! They just sound different and wonderful. Which voice do you select for your expression?