Filtertron Vs Humbucker Guitar Pickup – What are the Key Differences

Filtertron and humbucker have a long history with guitar. They are quite similar and have dissimilarities as well. With the resurgence of vintage specs and vintage gear in modern music instruments, many musicians nowadays wonder what the difference between filtertron vs humbucker pickup is.

Stick with me until I finish the article. Through this guide, you will learn the key difference between these guitar pickups. In the end, you will get an insight that will help you make a precise decision on which guitar pickups to buy.

Let’s begin!

Filtertron vs Humbucker

What are Filtertron Pickups?

Guitar master Chet Atkins introduced Filtertron pickups in 1957. Chet Atkins was trying to introduce new pickups and Gretsch’s engineers to solve the complication of the 60-cycle hum that single-coil and P90s faced.

Filtertron is the result of this research over the years, it has come with many changes, but its concept and soul have remained the same till now. This pickup is known as the low-output humbucker.

Warm sound” is the most impressive feature of this pickup. Also, piercing high is an incredible feature. Many guitarists consider this high piercing as the “twang.” Generally, Gretsch guitars are popular for this type of high piercing.

According to some guitarists, they received the mids and warm lows of a humbucker. At the same time, these pickups offer a single coil’s bright high-end. If you are wondering how these pickups create a particular tone? The secret is, Filtertron pickups poles are positioned closer to each other. They have taller bobbins and larger magnets. The blend of these features generates a brighter tone.

What are Humbucker Pickups?

A standard humbucker design pickup is known as “PAF style.” The full form of PAF is “Patent Applied For.”
In 1955, a PAF-style modern humbucker was introduced by Seth Lover. At that time, he worked for a renowned guitar manufacturing company, Gibson.
Over the years, several iterations have happened. But PAF tone is available in Les Pauls’s golden ages legendary rock labels.
PDF humbucker is well-known for its warm tone and around the top end.
However, PAF humbucker is unsuitable for generating a clean tone as per many players. It sounds a little muddy.

Comparison Chart –

Before looking into technical details, the below table discusses the key difference between Filtertron and humbucker




Low end



High end

Twangy, Bright




A little bit scooped


Between a single coil and a up-to-date humbucker

Unsuitable for clean tones. It delivers classic overdriven humbucker tones.







A guitarist can generate beautiful sounds with both pickups. However, both pickups are used for different purposes on the guitar.

Filtertron Vs Humbucker Guitar Pickup – In-depth Discussion:

Construction is the main difference between these 2 guitar pickups. Apart from it, Filtertron generates step sound between updated humbuckers and single-coils. Also, the created sound is significantly clean and twangy high. On the other hand, PAF humbucker creates a muddier sound. But they are amazing if overdriven.

You might have noticed that Filtertron and humbucker, both pickups, were introduced in the market to solve the same problem of the single-coil hum. Although both are 2 differently designed pickups, they efficiently solve the problem related to single-coil hum.

Guitar Pickup Bobbin

Bobbin Design:

The bobbin of Filtertron and humbucker has an entirely different geometry. Each hole in the humbucker bobbins is parallel designed, while filtertron style bobbins have fewer holes in them than a humbucker.

Pickup Baseplate


This is another significant difference between filtertron vs humbucker. The mass of the filtertron pickup baseplate is 3X times more than a standard humbucker, resulting in more INDUCTANCE!

Moreover, the claws coming from the bottom firmly hold the pole screws against the magnet for higher Gauss levels at the pole pieces.

Pickup Magnet

Magnet Size:

The humbucker style magnet is 2X less than the filtertron style magnet. It means the pole pieces are twice the surface area for contact with the magnet. This way, the pole-pieces create higher Gauss.

Pickup Pole Screw Size

Pole Screws Size:

Look at the picture below. You will understand the difference between the pole screw size yourself. Filtertron style pole screws are significantly larger than humbucker style pole screws. The larger size means higher Gauss and more induction as well.

 Humbucker vs Filtertron Pickup – Which one to Choose?

So, if you are planning to buy between humbucker and filtertron, consider the below pointers.

  • Buy a filtertron if you play clean tones most of the time.
  • For overdriven tones, humbucker will offer the best outcome for sure.
  • Filtertron is designed for rockability and jazz tones.
  • Go with humbucker if you love to play blues and rock.
  • For hollow-body guitars, filtertron would be an ideal choice.
  • For solid body guitars, a humbucker will be the best option.

Whatever pickups you choose, the most important thing is, to prefer your personal choice. It is something that you need to decide for yourself.

FAQs –

Q. Are filtertron pickups humbucker?

Ans: Yes, filtertron pickups are humbucker. The main motivation for manufacturing these pickups is to solve the problem of 60 cycle hum. Also, they create step sounds between modern humbuckers and single-coil. Furthermore, you will get a high-end, twangy, and warm tone from the filtertron pickups.

Q. Do other humbuckers and filtertron pickups come in the same size?

Ans: Humbucker pickups are generally larger and wider compared to filtertron pickups. Their pole’s layout is not close as well. Not all brands manufactured filtertron pickups. Brands named Lollar is a popular manufacturer of filtertron pickups. If you are planning to swap your pickups, it would always be best to measure them first to fit in your guitar.

Turer of filtertron pickups. If you are planning to swap your pickups, it would always be best to measure them first to fit in your guitar.

Final Notes:

Both pickup types are perfect in terms of their provided sound. All you need to do is, choose any pickup according to your preference. Install them in a similar guitar and play them side-by-side. Also, take measurements that will help you install them in your guitar without trouble.

After reading this comprehensive guide, I believe you will no longer look for the answer “what is the difference between Filtertron vs humbucker guitar pickup.”

Last Updated on November 10, 2022 by Perry Garner

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