I had a 1975 Wide Range’ humbucker in for a rewind the other day and took the chance to take some pictures. I thought I’d explain why these are different from ‘normal’ humbuckers and show you what its innards look like.
The main difference is with the magnets. A tradition ‘Gibson ‘ style humbucker has a single bar magnet underneath the coils with the pole pieces ‘conducting’ this magnetic flux up through the coils towards the strings.
The Wide Range is much more similar to a Fender pickup (like a Strat) with the poles being individual magnets, 12 of them. This produces a more trebly, percussive, clearer tone than a traditional humbucker. To offset this high end Wide Ranges have overwound coils. The more wire you put on a coil the more bass you get so Wide Ranges are wound to around 10.6KOhms where as a traditional humbucker is closer to 8KOhms. This adds bass and balances out the tone from the magnets giving a balanced, full, clear tone. To give space for these extra windings the pickup was made physically bigger.
Oh, and the magnets have a different chemical composition, but that’s another story.