Fender vs Gibson Spaced Humbuckers

Q: "I recently bought a new Seymour Duncan SH-PG1 bridge humbucker for my HSS Stratocaster and even though it fits perfectly, I noticed that the poles aren’t lining up right with the strings. Did I do something wrong? Aren’t all humbuckers the same size?"

A: Even if they might look similar, not all humbuckers are the same. The reason for this comes down to the two big dogs of the guitar world and their individual take on the string spacing of their electrics. While Gibson normally features a string spacing of about 50mm – measured from the middle of the low E string to the middle of the high E string on the bridge pickup location – Fender goes with the slightly wider spacing of about 53mm.

Gibson’s humbucker spacing won the honor of being the “traditional” size but most manufacturers offer both spacings. To avoid this type of confusion, they also tend to label their 53mm humbuckers accordingly; Seymour Duncan for example refers to 53mm spaced humbuckers as “Trembuckers” and label them TB in place of SH. In your case, you need a TB-PG1 Pearly Gates Trembucker. Other companies simply label them as 53mm, “F-spaced” or “Fender-spaced,” among other names.

It should be said that spacing only really matters for the bridge humbucker. By the time the strings on an electric hit the neck position, they have narrowed enough that a traditional 50mm humbucker will work on both a Gibson and Fender. And for those of you out there that don’t own either a Fender or Gibson and are unsure of your string spacing, just measure the center of each E string. Most guitars will follow one of these two bridge spacings.


Your Turn to Sound Off!

What about brands that don't specify pole spacing such as EMG or Tom Anderson? What's you're experience with them?

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One thought on “Fender vs Gibson Spaced Humbuckers”

  • Alan Kaye

    I wanted to get a DiMarzio Transition neck pickup one time, and almost everyone around the country had only F-spaced versions. I wonder why a pup sold as a neck pickup would primarily be stocked with F spacing.

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