What are Missing Link Pickups?They are innovative. They are unique. They yearn to do sweet and loving things to your ear holes. The Missing Links are humbuckers in the sense that they are drop in replacements for humbuckers, and they cancel hum, but these pickups have a unique tone of their own that can range from pure single coil clarity - to fiery hot humbucker mids, and anywhere in between. These differences really stand out when listening to Missing Link pickups, and we’re going to give you the deep dive into why regular humbuckers just can’t conjure up the tones of our Missing Link pickups.
On First Glance
When looking at a Missing Link pickup, guitar players will first notice the offset pole pieces. This is where the structural differences between them and regular humbuckers begin. Whereas normal humbuckers use steel screws that are magnetically charged by a bar magnet hidden underneath the pickup, the Missing Link's pole pieces are actual threaded magnets, with the added advantage of being height adjustable!
For reference, Strat and Tele pickups use fixed height magnetic pole pieces, and P-90’s use a structure similar to a humbucker, except with two bar magnets and non-magnetic pole pieces. The Missing Link encompasses the best of all these designs.
Unique magnetic structure
So how do magnetic pole pieces affect the tone? In simplest terms, they change the note attack, the amount of overtones, and they add a bit of sweetness. And perhaps most notably, they provide clarity and note definition atypical of humbuckers.
The attack of notes become more articulate and expressive when magnetic pole pieces are used instead of the standard humbucker steel pole pieces. This is due to the magnetic field of our magnetic pole pieces being more concentrated on a narrow portion of the guitar string, therefore sensing more string movement. This narrower magnetic field also means more overtones are transferred through the pickup without being lost to phase cancellation. This string cancellation is actually a very large part of why regular humbuckers sound dark and sometimes muddy when compared to single coils, P90’s, and even mini humbuckers.
On some of our pickups, like the “Missing Link S”, we use only one magnetic pole piece per string, which gives us the opportunity to capture a truly accurate single coil tone in a humbucker. For designs with more humbucker flavor, we use two magnets per string, which delivers a magnetic window that exits the single coil realm and enters into humbucker territory.
To further exploit the effects of our design, the poles are threaded so that you can adjust the individual magnet height. By raising the pole pieces and lowering the overall pickup height, the magnetic field at the string becomes narrower, steering towards single coil territory. When lowering the adjustable magnet heights and raising the whole pickup, a wider magnetic field surrounds the strings, bringing forth those lows and mids that humbuckers are well known for.
Uncommon Winding Techniques
Another factor of using magnetic pole pieces in humbuckers is on the pickup’s inductance and their ability to alleviate resonance damping from Eddy Currents. In simple terms, that means a brighter tone with less treble cut off. To fine tune the inductance, we wind our Missing Link pickups with several different wire gauges and types. This leads to some of our pickup models having DC Resistance readings that are quite different from standard humbuckers. For assessing the tone and output of our Missing Link humbuckers, we suggest listening to the clips and viewing the tonal illustrations on our site.
Meet the Different Models
The “Missing Link” is exactly what I’ve been talking about; a hybrid pickup that has a tone right between a humbucker and a single coil. The bridge pickup stands tonally between a PAF and a Strat pickup. The neck pickup is more like a hybrid of a Filter’Tron humbucker and Strat pickup. Learn More.
Missing Link +
The “Missing Link +” bridge pickup brings the hybrid benefits of the “Missing Link”, but ups the output to over that of a PAF. The neck pickup is like an extra clear humbucker with some Stratocaster blood. It’s good for people who want more humbucker flavor added to the standard Missing Link Pickup set. Learn More.
Missing Link ++
The “Missing Link ++” is a very high output pickup. It is intended to push distortion to extreme levels, while still using the magnetic pole pieces found in the other “Missing Link” designs. When the pickup is this hot and dark, the magnetic structure to come through has the effect of an extra mid range cut and a more aggressive tone. Learn More.
Missing Link S
The “S” is because the neck pickups recreates a Strat neck pickup tone between the ‘62 and ‘69.
The bridge pickup has a hidden Steel baseplate (idea borrowed from Telecaster bridge pickups) that widens the magnetic field for a bit more upper mid range bite.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, the “Missing Link S” is constructed a bit differently than the other Missing Link designs. Instead of being a humbucker/single coil hybrid tone, it exhibits a pure single coil tone. It has 6 magnets underneath the cover, split across the two coils with RWRP, allowing for a narrow magnetic window along with hum cancelling. Learn More.
Missing Link pickups combine the best characteristics and design approaches of single coils and humbuckers. If you're looking for something truly unique, our tone can't be beat. Order yours today!
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