How does a G&L Z-Coil work (i.e., how does it cancel noise)?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Golem, Jul 23, 2019.

  1. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    I know they share some of the features of other MFD type G&L pickups, but they've also got the offset 3X3 coils to achieve a noiseless design. They don't really sound quite like anything else I've tried and I do find they have their applications (although not the best choice for someone who wants the kind of single coil chime my Silver Sky has).
     
  2. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    [​IMG]
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  3. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    2 Coils are RW/RP, wired in series. Noise entering the pickup is phase cancelled. Because the coils are not side by side, but each is sensing a separate set strings, the aperture is still narrow giving a brighter, clearer tone with a narrower Q than a full humbucker.

    This is exactly as implemented in the Precision bass and Fender XII.
     
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  4. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    yes exactly like a p-bass pickup
     
  5. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    Thank you. I did notice they liked a bit like bass pickups Fender designed, but wasn't sure of the principle behind its design.
     
  6. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    Actually can someone explain how that works if the RWRP part of the pickups aren’t sensing the same string? If I have two single coil pickups wound RWRP and my toggle switch on the middle position, it phase cancels because each string is sensed with both phases. That makes sense to me because standard HBs do that. The offset coils don’t make sense to me. Maybe I should look for a diagram of how they wind them and it will make sense...
     
  7. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    The key thing is that the hum they cancel is in the environment not coming from the string.

    The two coils are independent and the string signal component is kept in phase across the strings by a polarity change but the environmental radio noise is cancelled by the two coils being out of phase.

    They basically split the duties into two halves rather than combine them like a stacked humbucker. This keeps the single coil character but eliminates the hum. The precision bass pickup mentioned makes it more obvious as it comes in the two parts.

    Look at dummy coils too. I use a magnet free pickup in the control cavity of my hum prone P90 guitar to cancel environmental hum. The dummy coil can be some distance from the strings.
     
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  8. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    Ok I get it. Is there a downside to this type of hum cancelling (tonally or otherwise) aside from the strange appearance? Curious why more aren’t wound this way? It seems to be the best of both worlds other than being an obvious irritant to vintage purists :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  9. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    You answered your own question. People don’t like change or difference.

    The marketing and beliefs around ‘tone’, make people fear changing anything in the formula they believe works.
     
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  10. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    Well they ARE kind of ugly :)

    I feel like I have to buy a new guitar now just to see what they sound like.

    The only real problem I see, and maybe isn’t really a problem, is they have no 3rd party alternatives if you don’t like the stock winds.
     
  11. teleaddicted

    teleaddicted Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    How did you wire the dummy coil?
    What is it's resistance?
    I have a Blacktop Tele with SD Phat Cats that could take advantage of this application.
     
  12. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    It was a stock Ibanez single coil (middle pickup from a S series) I had spare. I simply removed the magnets and put it in the control cavity. I did not measure the resistance but it would not have been astronomical. It kills around 90% of the hum.

    I wired it on an on-on-on mini switch for series, off and parallel operation with the output from the switch going to the volume. The wiring is the same as wiring a humbucker for single, parallel and series, just with the coils in different places.

    When setting it up, you can rotate the pickup 180deg to find the orientation that cancels the hum.

    I love it in parallel, it takes a little of the P90 fatness out and gives me a perfect fat strat, jangle tone I can switch too.

    It’s in my number one and the main reason I can use it for every tune.

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=dummy+coil+wiring&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari
     
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  13. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Same basic concept as a Mustang Bass pickup (which is itself a miniaturized version of the second style of P Bass pickup), but with MFD design/construction and a single-piece cover. Basically, it's a split-coiled and staggered S-500 pickup, with each half being RW/RP from the other.
     
  14. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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  15. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    I'm certain you can get people to modify the pickups with different magnets, and different amounts of turns of wire... I found a thread when I asked about this where someone said Fralin or Lollar will do it (can't remember which one). I'm sure the custom winder I use would do it. You're not wrong that no one is making something with this exact footprint though. Probably some sort of trademark protection or lack of demand (or both?).

    I've tried two guitars with these pickups in it, the first was a really beat up Tribute that sounded less than amazing, and the second the custom build G&L Commanche I now own which sounded amazing. I agree that if you buy a Commanche or an ASAT Z-3, you should be buying it for the pickups it has in it. Swapping isn't as easy as it is with more common pickups.
     
  16. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Holic

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    Simple answer: It's a humbucker.
     
  17. 0utputXfmr

    0utputXfmr Tele-Meister

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    The Epiphone Blueshawk (and maybe the earlier Gibson version of the late 90's-early 00's) has a dummy coil installed inside a body cavity located between the front and rear P-90's. From pretty much all accounts, it seems to cancel the hum rather effectively.
     
  18. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    Is there a downside to this approach? Wonder why it’s not more common.
     
  19. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    The Illitch noise-canceling backplate takes this approach and it's getting popular on high end guitars.
     
  20. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes there is. A dummy coil with close to the same diameter as a pickup must have as many or almost as many wire turns as a pickup. Putting that in circuit, whether in series or parallel, substantially changes the response and thus the tone. The Illich device minimizes that effect by using a very low impedance coil, which has to have a very large diameter to perform the same function. It works brilliantly, but few manufacturers want to pay royalties on the patent. It's also adding design complexity to solve a problem that has other, simpler solutions like RWRP wiring, stacked coils and even just accepting plain old humbuckers, or accepting a little noise!
     
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