Series-Parallel-Tap Switch

What does it do?Series Parallel Tap Switch Guitar Modification Mod Humbucker

The series-parallel-tap switch allows a humbucker pickup to have its internal wiring switched so that the 2 coils are in series (standard configuration), parallel wiring or with one coil removed.

Why would you want it?

This gives you a parallel wiring option in addition to the normal coil cut/tap. With both coils in parallel you maintain the humbucking quality of the pickup but with a single coil sound.

Other considerations

The coil tap option will reduce the output from the pickup considerably, with this setting you effectively have a single coil. The parallel option combines both coils but in parallel wiring, you still lose output level but you maintain its humbucking properties.

What do I need to do it?

A humbucker with 4 conductors (it is very important you are clear on the manufacturers colour codes)

A DPDT on/on/on switch (this is a special type of DPDT with 3 positions, see below)

A bit of wire and soldering gear

Note: You can still use a standard DPDT switch or an on-off-on DPDT for this mod but you wont have the coil tap/cut option in the middle position.

How does it work?

The objective here is to wire the switch so that position 1 gives parallel wiring, the middle position grounds 1 of the coils (tapped) and position 2 gives the standard humbucker sound (series). It is essential you have the correct type of DPDT switch or this will not work. It will be labelled as an on-on-on switch, bear in mind there are different types of these on-on-on switches you will need the one that works as follows.

Series Parallel Coil Tap Guitar mod DPDT switch humbuckerWiring for this mod will depend on the colours used by your pickup manufacturer find this out before you start as they are often very different as you can see below.

Series Parallel Cut Switch Guitar Mod Humbucker

Switch wiring with Irongear Pickup Colours - Courtesy of Axetec Guitar Parts

Series Parallel Cut Humbucker Mod

Switch wiring with Seymour Duncan Colours

If in doubt conductor B (green) in the first diagram (white for SD pickup) is the ground connector for coil 1 (you can test this by checking for continuity with the hot connector). Conductor D (white) in the first diagram (red for SD pickup) is the hot connector for coil 2 (you can test this by checking for continuity with the ground connector).

This picture shows this wiring (irongear colours) on the Anderstrat guitar.

Guitar Mod Humbucker Wiring Mod

Irongear Hotrail wired to DPDT for Series Parallel Tapped Switching


9 Comments

styo on May 25, 2013 at 9:19 pm.

hey, thanks for this. Had exactly this setup in my strat but then i did some rewiring and lost it. Yours was only site I could find after 2 days with the right wiring.

cheers,
s.

Reply

rich

rich on May 27, 2013 at 10:49 am.

Glad it was useful for you

Reply

Dave on July 25, 2013 at 1:23 am.

Thanks for the post. It’s amazing how hard it is to find this particular piece of info that’s laid out in a clear manner. I do have one silly question: The arrows regarding series and parallel; do they refer to the side of the switch that performs each, or the direction of the toggle when in use? In other words, when I switch the toggle down, would I be in series, as the arrow indicates, or in parallel, as when the switch is down, you’re actually activating the top of the switch? Much appreciated! Your page is now bookmarked.

Reply

rich

rich on July 25, 2013 at 10:42 am.

Thats a good question, the arrows on the second diagram refer to the toggle switch position so with the switch down you would be in series. Thanks

Reply

Dave on July 26, 2013 at 12:52 am.

Thanks so much!

Reply

Steve Crittall on August 6, 2013 at 11:30 am.

Hi there,
Great, clear concise instructions though I seem to run into a strange problem.
Maybe you could suggest why this may be or even offer an alternative wiring solution.
I have wired up a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails on my Strat with an on/on/on micro switch to use for series/split/parallel configuration and have wired as per your diagram above.
I get sound in each of the switch locations.
Series sounds as expected, fat and loud, the middle selection is thinner with as much hum/buzz as any standard single coil, but the parallel location sounds EXACTLY the same as the split setting minus the buzz.
I’m testing through a very clean valve amplifier (no distortion or pedals in the chain) and have tried strumming the strings gently (singly and multiple, open and muted at various volume settings) whilst changing the switch setting and there is no sound change whatsoever except the earth/amplifier proximity buzz coming in or going out.
There is also no difference between these two settings when the five way pickup selector is set to use two pickups.
This has totally foxed me as other pickups I’ve used with this switching arrangement have quite a pronounced sound difference between split and parallel.
Any ideas?
If it is working perfectly and the sounds are just super similar is there another way of wiring the switch with a more pronounced difference in sound?
ie series/parallel/coils out of phase? Or at least out of phase when used in conjunction with another pickup.
Hopefully this won’t prove a hassle for you.
Great resource all the same and thanks for putting it up to share.
Best regards
Steve

Reply

rich

rich on August 7, 2013 at 5:52 pm.

Hi Steve,
It sounds like it is working correctly as the removal of the hum or buzz is what should happen when the two coils are placed in parallel i.e. you get the humbucking effect but with 2 single coil sounds. It is strange that it sounds exactly the same though you should at least be able to hear a slight change in the character of the sound. If the buzz is gone though I guess it is just a characteristic of that particular pickup. With this type of pickup there is not much point adding a phase switch for individual coils as they would virtually cancel out all sound (because they are so close together) you could add a phase switch for the pickup as a whole but this would mean an extra switch, there might be a clever way to wire this up through a single switch but I cant see an easy solution at the moment!
Here is a link to a wiring set up that adds a phase switch to the existing series/split/parallel arrangement.
Hope this helps
Thanks

Reply

Stephen Vickers on October 30, 2013 at 12:29 am.

I would suspect that the coils being so small compared to “regular” humbuckers, that when in parallel there is a sound difference, just not one big enough to notice. The human brain can’t tell a dB change of less that 3dB. There might not be a boost enough to notice, even though it’s there.

Reply

rich

rich on October 30, 2013 at 12:35 pm.

Thanks Stephen a good point

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