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The classic pickup for a stringed instrument is an electro-magnetic induction coil. The string oscillates over the pickups's magnet which interrupts the magnets own magnetic field thus producing, together with the wire coil an AC voltage. This voltage then makes its way through your guitar tone stack where certain frequencies are filtered out then down your cable and into your Amplifier. The signal is then amplified and sent to your speaker. Pickups come in many different shapes, sizes and types, some of the most common being Single Coil and Humbucker using either single pole piece magnets or one piece bar shaped magnets (rails). Single coil and Humbucker differ in construction and sound. A Humbucker is principally two single coil pickups wired to enable the one coil to supress the hum noises from the other. Originally called the Humbucking pick up it just does that it bucks the Hum off like a horse would buck the rider off. Single-coils often have a clear and harmonically rich sound, while humbuckers are smooth and center-weighted. The position of the pickup also has a great influence on the sound, near the bridge they sound somewhat harder and shriller, while at the neck a richer tone is produced.