Coil Tapping
A coil tap is converting (temporarily) a humbucker to a single coil pickup.  This is accomplished by the electronic removal of one of the two coils from a humbucking pickup (hence one coil is "tapped out").


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The basic concept is simple: one end of the active coil goes to the output and all the other wires go to the ground.  Just pull up on the knob and you get your new sounds.  Push it down, back to stock sound.

This will usually give you that annoying 60 Hz hum, unfortunately.  However, if you combine the working coil with another single coil wound in the opposite direction (say, the neck-most coil of one pickup with the bridge-most coil on the other pickup) you will achieve a hum-canceling configuration.  Two of the five positions on PRS guitars do this using a rotary switch (more on that elsewhere on this site).

As depicted here, the bottom configuration (the way it would be if you had the push-pull pushed) is the humbucker.  The top (pulled) configuration is tapped.  However, this modification does not require a push-pull switch.  A simple SPST (single pole-single throw) switch --the simplest type of switch-- would do the trick.  As mentioned above, you can also do this with a rotary switch in any number of ways.


Note: Technically speaking, this is not a coil tap, but rather a coil cut.  A coil tap is a method of reducing the number of coil windings used within a pickup.  However, the term "coil tap" has come to be used almost exclusively for this modification, so that name has more or less stuck even among those who know better.


Doubling Up
Alternatively, since guitars routinely have two humbuckers, you could use each half of the DPDT for each of the pickups.  Just mimic the wiring scheme for the other pickup as a mirror image on the other side of the switch.  If this scheme was combined with series/parallel switching or other modifications, you could potentially have a very versatile, PRS-like guitar.  Try it!

Coil Adding?
Or maybe you like the single coil sound and only want a humbucking sound occasionally.  In that case, just "flip" the arrangement of the wires depicted above.  Now your "default" sound will be from the single coil and you will add in the second coil when you pull the knob.  Cool!  I did something similar to this on the EMG 89 pickup in my Steinberger GM-4S.

Auto-tapping
If you happen to have a guitar with a HSH (i.e., humbucker - single coil - humbucker) configuration, you might find it useful to tap the humbuckers when you combine them with the middle single coil pickup.  For this mod, check out my page on automatic coil taps.


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