What’s an “asymmetrical” or “offset” humbucker coil and why does it matter?

What's an "asymmetrical" or "offset" humbucker coil and why does it matter?

What are “asymmetrical” or “offset” coils? And how do they influence the tone of a humbucker.

Very simply, both terms mean that one of the humbucker coils is wound hotter than the other. There are a few reasons this is done. Firstly, it makes the pickup brighter. I can tune a pickups’ frequency with this technique. There’s a lot of rumor and speculation about whether or not vintage P.A.F.’s intentionally had offset coils. They did not. When they were produced with offsets it was accidental. There’s a great deal about old pickups that was accidental or unintentional and it’s why so many vintage pickups, be they single coil or humbuckers, are either good or bad.

The offset is always different and relative to the total number of turns used on each coil. And the end objective of this is nothing more than a particular “flavor” of pickups. Not better or worse than vintage pickups or another builder’s pickups. Just a unique flavor.

A second reason to offset coils is to make a pickup more dynamic. What I mean by dynamic is a more open and complex frequency expression. Think about compression and how it squeezes the peaks and the valleys and the highs and the lows. Dynamic is the opposite of that.

There is a tremendous amount of minutia involved in this technique. Like the winding of any pickup and the mastery of winding pickups it takes a lot of experience. The only thing that can be done is to wind a humbucker over and over again trying different turns per layer, different tensions, different speeds, different offsets, different alloys. And so I can’t give away secrets to the technique. I can give away the secret of how to discover the secret and the promise that, once the secret is discovered, it yields a pickups that is above and beyond other pickups.