Series vs. Parallel Wiring
Different coils and pickups yield dramatically
different sounds when they are combined in different ways. The pictures
below demonstrate the differences in the wiring. Note that the coils
do not have to be part of the same pickup. In spite of these images,
the coils can be individual single coils or the coils of a humbucker.
However, on a humbucker you usually will
not see the wires extending directly from the pickup. Most manufacturers
wrap all the wires (aka "conductors") together so that you have one shielded
length of cable with only the ends of the wires protruding. The moral
is that the pictures below are there to help you visualize the wiring,
not necessarily to work directly with it.
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This is the standard wiring scheme
for humbucking pickups. However, in a humbucking pickup guitar such
as a Les Paul, things are a little more complicated. Within a given
pickup, the coils are summed in series, but when both pickups are selected
together, the output of each pickup is combined in parallel.
In the majority of single coil
guitars such as Fender Strats, the coils are added together in parallel.
This gives the nice characteristic "bell"-like or "glassy" sound.
This is far less commonly found in humbuckers, but it can be achieved by
switching the wiring as shown below.
The illustration at the left shows
how to put a series/parallel wiring switch on a push-pull pot (I don't
have the pot wired in this picture; it can serve any function). You
don't have to use a push-pull pot as any DPDT (double pole-double throw)
switch will work.
The bottom configuration (the
way it would be if you had the push-pull pushed) is series (standard humbucking
scheme). The top (pulled) configuration is parallel. You would
probably reverse this (flip the connections upside-down) if you were performing
this modification on a single coil guitar.