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HHH - to split or n...
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HHH - to split or not to split

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New Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 1
Topic starter  

Hi Everyone,

I'm embarking on replacing my HSH electronics to HHH (pole, rail, pole) but lost at deciding whether investing in a superswitch to coil split the middle pickup is worthwhile. Struggling to find any direct answers to the below and it's burning a hole in my mind. Any ideas/directions/opinions outside the box also deeply appreciated!

1. How do the following compare, looking at just position 2 - bridge and middle for discussion sake, e.g. 2 coils ideal? 3 coils above is a no no?
a. Bridge north + Bridge south+ Middle north + middle south
b. Middle south + Bridge north + Bridge south
c. Middle south + bridge north
d. Middle north + middle south + bridge north

2. If above's too complicated or rather superflous, is combining the 4 conducts of the middle rail pick into 2 ok? e.g split only the bridge and neck pickups and stick with a 5 way switch with 1d config in mind

3. Could a push/pull tone pot in the circuit achieve the same effect as a 5way super switch?

4. Parallel or series? I haven't looked into this but thought I ask in case it's better to know early along side question 1.


Reputable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 267

Wow. Not too many HHH, Billy Corrigan plays one (triple rails) and the SG Deluxe features triple PAF both take quite different approaches: the strat controls do traditional five way selection with coil-tapped 2 and 4 positions, the deluxe (I think) uses normal gibson controls as if it was HH and blends in the middle pickup.
Probably best to ask yourself what you want the change to H in the middle to achieve. I changed HSS to HSH a while ago (wired so it could go HH or more traditional settings and tapped), and haven't really wanted more from the middle, I find I mainly use it if I want to fill in the middle a bit more.
Things to think about:

  • Mixing very different impedences (basically H with S) the lower impedance will dominate the sound. So if you have mixed pickup positions it's more effective if they're both/all H or all S. Of your options for position 2 that means either a or c, but as always in these things it's down to personal preference. Also since your pickups are different it's entirely possible the coil impedances are different enough that another combination balances better.

  • North - south in-phase combinations are humbucking, it's a nice-to-have, but not an overriding concern unless you like high gain.

  • Parallel wiring for humbuckers is meant to sound more single-coil like (though not exactly the same) than series wiring. Not sure if the output is higher, though impendance is lower, so see #1.
  • "Option 2" just use the middle pickup as a unit is entirely possible. Again what you do depends what you want to achieve. If it's meant to sound different to currently then you probably want series rather than parallel. But see #1 as this will affect position 2&4 sounds.

    Three: there are limits to what you can do with a push-pull, because they're almost always DPDT (double pole double throw), so you get to change two things (more or less, depending what you want to do some tricks are possible). Common things are: you can coil split/tap two pickups or parallel-series switch one pickup. The standard 5-way blade switch has two sets of three contacts. If you're using standard strat wiring with two tone pots both sides or the switch are used, if you have only one tone and one volume you can play some games - it would be possible to change one of the coil taps from bridge to neck so the tap switch always controls the engaged pickups. What you probably don't want to do is end up with two pickups 'tied' on the coil split, as it means you'll always have part of both engaged (this prevents some of the convoluted things you could otherwise do).

    Parallel v series, already mentioned above. Different pickups in series may be interesting to do, but not easily possible to do with a normal 5-way, I think the super switches can do it (those with 5 contacts per pole, the 3 contact per pole switch relies on bridging poles to get the mid positions).

    FWIW, my wiring for HSH is two push-pulls, one toggles split coils, the other connects neck and bridge to get the gibson middle position (and then a 5 way blade to get traditional strat positions, which works best in SSS mode). Could have added a bit more functionality but thought it was better to use an arrangment that made all the possible SS pairs humbucking. One thing to keep in mind is how intuitive all the controls are to use, you could cover the thing in switches to allow every possible combination, but you'd have to print a manual on the back.