Series/Tapped/Parallel Switches

This approach uses a mini-toggle switch to give you three useful combinations within a humbucker.  This will give you three different levels of output and three correspondingly different tones from the same pickup.



Theory and Tone

If you remember your basic physics:

  • Series - Both coils are connected one after the other (e.g., 7k + 7k = 14 kOhms), so their inductance is added together and the output is higher.  This the characteristic sound of a typical humbucker
  • Tapped - One of the two coils is dropped, so the inductance is half what it was in standard (i.e., series) humbucking mode (e.g., 14k - 7k = 7k kOhms).
  • Parallel - Signals are combined at the output of both coils, which means the inductance is the reciprocal of the sum of the coils (e.g., 1/(1/7k + 1/7k) = 3.5 kOhms), which works out to a smooth, glassier tone completely the opposite of the solid presence of a typical humbucker.  Note: Parallel connections are also humbucking.

How it's done
Of course, you will need an On/On/On DPDT switch for this mod.  And it's all wired together as shown.  As usual, the colors of the wires depend on those of pickup manufacturer.  Consult the paperwork that came with your guitar, the manufacturer's website, or see this page.  In this diagram, the red wire is the output from the pickup.

As pictured here, the top portion of the switch is the series connection.  The middle is the tap (the lower coil remains live).  And the bottom portion of the switch is the parallel connection.  So you have the switch oriented correctly, the middle/"Off" position of the toggle will connect the lower left lugs and the upper right lugs.

*For more exposition on the various types of switches (including the different DPDTs), see the appropriate section on the switches page.

Note: If you want to change the phase of a coil in the humbucker, place a phase switch between the coil and this switch.  However, it makes more sense to have the whole pickup change phase for two reasons: 1) You won't get the 60 Hz hum since you aren't reversing the phase until the hum has already been cancelled and 2) phase reversals work better when the coils (or pickups) are further appart.  If they're too close, they will sound so similar that they will almost completely cancel out.







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