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. 0utputXfmr

    0utputXfmr Tele-Meister

    Feb 10, 2018
    York, Pennsylvania
    The body cavity in the Epiphone Blueshawk that contains the dummy coil looks approximately half the size of the Stratocaster tremolo cavity, so definitely not insubstantial!

    I could definitely see something like this working in a Telecaster or Cabronita...
  2. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

    Nov 24, 2010
    Ok now I feel like this opened up a can or worms for me :)

    So is the dummy coil in the body wired in series with the sound producing single coil?

    In a stacked pickup, is the second coil essentially a dummy coil, at least in some cases, shielded from the top coil? Or do they have magnets (RP) on the bottom stack?

    I think the knock on the stacked coils is that they don’t sound like single coils but I’ve never tried them. If they sound good I don’t really care if they sound exactly like some specific era reproduction.
  3. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Apr 2, 2011
    United States Of America
    Kinmans sound like singles and are stacked but have a slightly different stacked design with shielding among several other things.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 20, 2014
    I believe the Illich coil is wired in series, yes. In a stacked pickup, the second coil is essentially a dummy coil. It does not require shielding, because it is relatively distant from the time varying magnetic field of the string, compared with the primary coil. Failure to grasp that principle often accompanies a flawed understanding - of output being a function of the fixed magnetic circuit surrounding the permanent magnet and poles. In fact, the fixed magnetic strength or polarity makes almost no difference in the second coil signal. Hence, the construction usually just has the usual magnets. They can be made to sound almost identically in tone to single coil pickups, but the output will usually be less because of the trade offs involved in compensating for the extra coil. Some designs may include shielding between the two coils, but it really isn't necessary.
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
    +1 that's why ... although there are vintage P-basses with that same construction that have been around forever. The other issue is the Z-coil may have a patent situation (likely well over by now). When Gibson's humbucker patent was running, all the import guitars made humbucker shaped chrome covered pickups but inside was essentially a P90.

    Just find an inexpensive Squier or other single coil, knock off the bar magnet and push out the slugs from the plastic bobbin. Then wire either parallel or series (try both and keep the best one) with your troublesome pickup. The dummy coil's 'phantom slugs' need to point in the same direction as the pickup you are using (toward the strings) but otherwise it doesn't matter how it's rotated.

    teleaddicted likes this.
  6. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 6, 2016
    Tucson, AZ

    I posted a few years back (see below) about a set like this that I designed to fit under the hood of the Fender WHRB cover on the reissue '72 vintage or deluxe thinlines to get rid of the stock neck pickup sound that is, IMO, way, way too muddy. Works like a champ - same inductance as a strat neck, very chimey single-coil sound - but keeps the aesthetic of the WRHB look in the neck and is very quiet like a good HB should be.

    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
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