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coil tapping experiment

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Alien
(@alien)
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I have epiphone Dot that I like a lot but it's electronics died. For replacement parts I ordered ceramic pickups just to try it out (496R/500T combo), a new 3-way toggle and 4 push-pull pots. The configuration I ended up with is

- pulling out each volume pot switches the pickup to parallel
- pulling out each tone pot makes the pickup single coil (turns off the "slug" coil)

The coil tapping seems kinda cool but I'm not sure I'll find a use for it in a real musical situation. I don't really hear a difference between parallel and single coil, the only difference I notice is parallel has a slightly higher level. At one point I had also set up the bridge tone pot so that when you pull it out it switched the phase, to be honest I couldn't hear that that did anything at all. (Maybe I had it wired wrong?) Anyway adding all this wiring turned it into a pretty big project, not sure yet if it was worth the time invested. But I sure learned a lot.

The biggest improvements were actually the easiest part, putting in Gibson pickups and a diMarzio toggle. Those changes took an hour. If I get another epi I'll definitely do that again.


   
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BmanCV-60
(@bmancv-60)
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If you enjoyed the project then I think it was worth the time. I just switched out my pickups and played with the idea of splitting coils but didn't pull the trigger.

How 'bout some pictures?

"...I don't know - but whasomever I do, its gots ta be FUNKY!"


   
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slejhamer
(@slejhamer)
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I don't really hear a difference between parallel and single coil, the only difference I notice is parallel has a slightly higher level.

Parallel should still be humbucking, while the split coil isn't. So you might hear a difference in noise with higher gain settings. Personally I've found that parallel seemed slightly thicker than split as well, but it could depend on the pickup, ears, etc.

Congrats on the good learning experience! 8)

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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Alien
(@alien)
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How 'bout some pictures?

Sure, there's not much to see anymore though. The pick guard is still off and lower chamber is stuffed with wires. At it least its playable again.

Wow, did that picture get cropped.

These pickups are really bright and extremely hot. They sound decent but if I were to do this again I'd probably go with something a little more mellow. I'm used to leaving tone and volume on 10, now these pots actually need to be used. The pickups blend just fine, I was getting some nice tones by putting the toggle in the center position and adjusting the neck volume.
Parallel should still be humbucking, while the split coil isn't. So you might hear a difference in noise with higher gain settings. Personally I've found that parallel seemed slightly thicker than split as well, but it could depend on the pickup, ears, etc.

I played around with it a bit more and I think I can hear a subtle difference. But I prefer effects that hit you over the head. I think I'm going to change the tone pots so that pulling them out turns on a high-pass filter (jaguar style) or maybe changes the tone to an adjustable bandpass filter.


   
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gnease
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Yeah - singles coil modes should sound significantly "thinner" and have more high freq output as compared to full humbucking modes.

I'm very surprised you do not hear a difference when you switch phase (to out-of-phase) -- unless you are listening with only one pup turned ON, as that's an irrelevant/useless situation for phase switching. The phase switch should flip the phase (swap + and -) for only one pup, but depends upon both pups being ON to create the out-of-phase effect. That is, phase switching only will be noticeable tonally only when both pups are ON. In out-of-phase mode, the timbre should get very thin, as this causes some cancellation of lower freqs and some harmonics -- great for jangly funk rhythm.

When you say parallel, do you mean parallelling one pup with the other? That's normal dual 'bucker switching option, usually center pup selector position. Or do you mean parallelling the two coils of a single humbucker -- a novel arrangement, as the coils are usually in wired in series?

If you are not hearing tonal/timbral differences, I suspect a wiring issue to two. But, I also will guess that once wired correctly (if not already) you are not going to find all these options tonally compelling.

-=tension & release=-


   
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Ricochet
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Yeah, paralleling the coils of a humbucker would sound so much like just using half the humbucker as a single coil that I doubt you'd be able to tell the difference. That's why it's not commonly done, it's just not worth the effort.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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gnease
(@gnease)
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Some have found that doing series and parallel connections of the outer bucker coils (one from each in SC mode) are interesting and useful. IIRC, PRS offers this with the 5-way switching option.

-=tension & release=-


   
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Steve-0
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I did a similar experiment on my first guitar: a cheapo strat copy. Basically I removed the 5-way switch and inserted 3 switches that allowed me to turn each pickup on and off, as well as select the phase. I also put in 3 push-pull pots to change the bridge/middle, middle/neck and neck/bridge to parallel/series wiring. It took quite a bit of wiring but it ended up being pretty interesting. The most useful combinations for me are using each pickup individually, so although my switching capabilities are pretty much endless, I usually just use the normal strat sounds :lol:

I have to say that I think playing pickups out-of-phase can be pretty cool. I would describe it as an almost "hollow" sound, it sounds like the guitar is being played through a cheap radio speaker or something (like the beginning of "Wish you were here" by Pink Floyd) or even playing through a wah-wah pedal with the pedal in the treble position. Depending on what pickup combinations you even, different frequencies can be added and eliminated.

Steve-0


   
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Alien
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That is, phase switching only will be noticeable tonally only when both pups are ON.

I understand that part, I must have wired it wrong. Interpreting a schematic is easy to screw up. I'm pretty sure I want this feature though so I'll rewire it back at some point.
When you say parallel, do you mean parallelling one pup with the other? That's normal dual 'bucker switching option, usually center pup selector position. Or do you mean parallelling the two coils of a single humbucker -- a novel arrangement, as the coils are usually in wired in series?

Parallel on the same pickup like this, it's also descibed at the bottom of this page.

I like parallel wiring if it's single coil sound + humbucking, I'll definitely keep that. I suspect the reason Gibson doesn't offer this mode stock is that when you switch back to series the output signal doubles, they don't want to be responsible for blown speakers.
Some have found that doing series and parallel connections of the outer bucker coils (one from each in SC mode) are interesting and useful. IIRC, PRS offers this with the 5-way switching option.

Hmmm... that's an interesting idea. I'll have to put that one in the hopper.
The most useful combinations for me are using each pickup individually, so although my switching capabilities are pretty much endless, I usually just use the normal strat sounds

Yes, I'm trying to limit the modifications to stuff that I think I'll actually use. Sometimes when thinking about all the possibilities I feel like Michael Jackson ordering plastic surgery.


   
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gnease
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The series/parallel switching for a bucker looks correct in the diagram.

Given all you are trying to check out, maybe you want to avoid all the soldering and de/re-soldering until you know what you want? In your situation, I'd probably bring all the wires outside the guitar and connect them to a small breadboard with a header (row of little spikey pins) and use push-on jumpers to reconfigure for testing. Find the good configs and go with those as the permanently soldered/switchables.

-=tension & release=-


   
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Alien
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[reviving an old thread]

OK, after over a year of experimenting, I tried a few different configurations. I finally settled on the "Jimmy Page" setup. It's popular for a reason. I got a prewired harness and had a guitar tech install it.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Jimmy-Page-wiring-harness-THIS-DOES-EVERYTHING_W0QQitemZ390140100612QQcmdZViewItemQQptZGuitar_Accessories?hash=item5ad6298004

One bad thing aoubt it was the pot shafts were slightly too large for the holes, so he actually had to ream out the holes a little bit. That's a really strange problem to have.

My second favorite configuration is what I call the "Fred Flinstone" setup. After several resolderings I had ruined the pots, so I took them out entirely. The only control was the 3 way switch. It sounded great and TBH, it's all I really need. (Points to the elephant in the room...)


   
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Hyperborea
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One bad thing aoubt it was the pot shafts were slightly too large for the holes, so he actually had to ream out the holes a little bit. That's a really strange problem to have.

That's pretty common to have happen. It's because the old pots were metric and the new ones are Imperial size. The threaded bushing on the metric pots is 9mm and that on the Imperial pots is 9.53mm (3/8").

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


   
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