Pickups of electric guitar are a very important part which contributes most to the tone of the guitar although other parts also have impacts on the final tone. To choose an electric guitar, one thing you must decide is the pickup types of your guitar: single coils or humbuckers.
Most electric guitar pickups are made of magnets. Depending on the wire wound around the magnets, electric guitar pickups can mainly be divided into two categories: single coils and humbuckers.
Single coil pickups
Single coil pickups are used in early stage of electric guitar. Because they only have one coil of wire, they unavoidably make noise when generating electric signals by picking up string vibration. The sound of single coil pickups is transparent, clean and thinner than humbuckers. Single coils are used by the famous electric guitar brand Fender both in its Stratocaster and telecaster models which are common in rock, blues, country and pop music styles.
In the humbuckers, there are two coils and two magnets. To avoid noise, the coils are wound with opposing polarity and the magnets polarity of the two coils is reversed too. The sound of humbuckers is smooth, warm and thicker. Gibson use humbuckers in a lot of models which is used in rock, jazz and metal style music.
Watch the following video to help you identify the difference between the two types of pickups.