The mini-humbucker is a humbucking guitar pickup (used in electric guitars). It was originally created by the Epiphone company. The mini-humbucker resembles a Gibson PAF humbucker, but is narrower in size and senses a shorter length of string vibration.[1] This produces clearer, brighter tones that are quite unlike typical Gibson sounds.[2] It fits in between single-coils and full-sized humbuckers in the tonal spectrum. It is frequently used in jazz guitars, mounted under the fingerboard or on the pickguard.

The mini-humbucker technology was acquired by Gibson when they purchased Epiphone in the late 1950s. After this acquisition, Gibson began using mini-humbuckers in various guitar models. They continued to use them on many Epiphone electric guitars (now manufactured under license for Gibson) and several of Gibson's archtop jazz guitars. A slightly different variation of the mini-humbuckers was used on Gibson Firebird guitars, thus giving them a very distinctive tone.

The Firebird pickup uses a pair of long 'rail' magnets whereas the Les Paul Deluxe mini-humbucker uses a single bar magnet below one ferrous rail and six threaded ferrous pole pieces. The Les Paul Deluxe mini-humbucker has adjustment screws for the pole pieces; the Firebird mini-humbucker does not.

In the 1970s, mini-humbuckers replaced Gibson's original P-90 single-coil pickups on several of Gibson's budget guitar models, as well as the Les Paul Deluxe: the size and shape meant that it could fit very comfortably into the space occupied by the P-90, so no extra routing was required in the solid body guitars. Only select re-issue Gibson models are still made with Mini-humbuckers, as they are less popular than standard humbuckers. In 2011, Gibson released a '70s Tribute line of guitars, offering inexpensive mini-humbucker variants of the Les Paul Studio, Firebird,[3] and SG Special; these use the Firebird style of mini-humbucker pickup. Mini-humbuckers were also used in some models of the Nighthawk.

A mini-humbucker pickup design is also used for the pickups in Rickenbacker 650 guitars and 4004 basses.

A number of third party manufacturers make mini-humbucker replacement pickups. As of 2018, EMG,[4] Seymour Duncan,[5] DiMarzio, GFS, Dragonfire, and Jason Lollar all make mini-humbuckers.

Notable usersEdit

  • Johnny Winter used an Epiphone Wilshire equipped with mini-humbuckers early in his career.
  • Pete Townshend of The Who used a number of Gibson Les Paul Deluxe guitars in the 1970s that featured the mini-humbucker.[6][7]
  • Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy) and Barry Bailey (Atlanta Rhythm Section) are users of the mini-humbucker.
  • Caleb Followill from Kings of Leon uses a Gibson ES 325 with mini-humbucker, which he only uses when playing live.
  • Jeff Carlisi of 38 Special used a 1969 Gibson Les Paul with mini-humbuckers as his primary studio guitar.[8]
  • Neil Young is also a user of the mini-humbucker fitted in his “Old Black” guitar.
  • Clarence Gatemouth Brown switched to the Gibson Firebird shortly after it was introduced in 1963 and used its mini-humbuckers and his finger-picking style to create a signature tone for his swing blues.
  • As part of Motown's original, 3-guitar, Funk Brothers rhythm section, Eddie "Chank" Willis used a Gibson Firebird with mini-humbuckers to complement the tones of Robert White's Gibson L-5 and ES 335 and Joe Messina's modified Fender Telecaster.
  • Paul Gilbert uses the PG-13 mini-humbucker pickups designed for him by DiMarzio, in his signature model Ibanez Fireman guitars.[9]


  1. ^ Lollar, Jason (May 2009). "Humbuckers and Mini-Humbuckers". Premier Guitar. 14 (5): 60.
  2. ^ "Mini-Humbucker". Gibson Guitar Corporation.
  3. ^ "Firebird V 2010". Gibson Guitar Corporation.
  4. ^ {{cite web |url=
  5. ^ "Mini Humbucker". Seymour Duncan.
  6. ^ "Pete's Gear: Gibson Les Paul Deluxe". Whotabs.
  7. ^ "Gibson Pete Townshend Les Paul Deluxe #1". Gibson Shop. Archived from the original on 2011-09-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "The Official Jeff Carlisi Web Site". Retrieved 26 June 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Paul Gilbert for DiMarzio PG-13 Mini Humbuckers".