Coil split is NOT the same of coil tap... let's get educated about this

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Rachmaninoff, Mar 13, 2020.

  1. Rachmaninoff

    Rachmaninoff Member

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    I just had a long discussion with other guitarist friends, who were completely unaware of the fact. Worst: one of them was about to purchase a guitar with the wrong configuration, based on this misunderstanding. So, as a public utility post, let's get educated about the matter.

    Coil split

    Coil splitting applies to humbuckers. A humbucker is a pickup made of 2 single coils (2 magnets) with opposite polarity, which cancels the "hum" of a single coil. This also produces a higher output.

    When you split the coils, you effectively break the connection of 1 of the single coils, leaving only the other one in the circuit. So, coil splitting transforms your humbucker into a single coil. It's the most common configuration.

    Coil tap

    Coil tapping applies to single coils and humbuckers. It means to take the signal from somewhere within the coil wire (usually the mid-point), rather from the end of it. This way, you have your signal flowing through less windings of the coil wire. Since less windings mean less output, it's a way to tame a high output single coil, for example. Effectively, you shorten the coil wire.

    So, that's important: a coil tapped humbucker will not sound like a single coil. It will sound like humbucker with less output. You may want this or not.

    :aok
     
  2. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member Vendor

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    Just to repete....

    a coil tapped humbucker will not sound like a single coil. It will sound like humbucker with less output.

    r
     
  3. Blanket Jackson

    Blanket Jackson is Tio's favorite Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow, I never knew the difference and admit that I thought they were interchangeable. Thank you for this info!
     
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  4. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member Vendor

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    Often guys in quest of the "ultimate" guitar will request one with humbuckers, with exotic wiring to split them, among other things... I try to warn them, pull the switch and the volume drops precipitously.. Nope. they live in a world where more is better...

    Since the Human Ear perceives drops in volume as inferior sound... few are excited by the experience unless they have experience with such configurations... Just be aware..

    r
     
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  5. misterg71

    misterg71 The premier Hack Guitarist Silver Supporting Member

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    I've never cared for either. Trying to make a humbucker anything other than what it is, is kind of like trying to make an apple an orange. YMMV
     
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  6. bluejazzoid

    bluejazzoid Supporting Member

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    Do people actually make coil tapped pickups? :dunno

    I thought coil tapping was only a transformer thing (for the obvious reasons).
     
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  7. sedawkgrep

    sedawkgrep Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes they do actually. Not sure about Dimarzio, but Duncan does and many, many boutique builders do it. Even offering taps on single coils for varying output.

    Here’s a David Allen tele bridge which has three output levels.

    https://www.dallenpickups.com/product_p/atrpl.htm
     
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  8. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    I refer to the three main wiring options as series/single/parallel in humbuckers. I tried it on a couple of SD Jazz to try and brighten up a dull guitar. In this example, single and parallel sounded very similar, more or less single coil character, except for noise levels, which were higher in single mode.
     
  9. Jutaika

    Jutaika Member

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    I've gotten useful sounds (sounds I like) from a split neck humbucker, or from a split neck pickup combined with a full HB bridge pickup. To me, a split bridge pickup usually doesn't sound pleasing. My PRS S2 Studio is the exception, but I think PRS is doing something beyond simple splitting with that pickup.

    Yes the volume does drop when splitting (you just lost half your pickup), but it's a simple matter to set up a boost or volume change on a pedalboard to compensate.

    No experience with coil tapped pickups, except it's annoying when people call the option to split pickups "coil tapping".
     
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  10. guitrr

    guitrr Reverb Junkie Silver Supporting Member

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    How is PRS able to split the coils on my 594 without a drop in volume?
     
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  11. sedawkgrep

    sedawkgrep Silver Supporting Member

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    They use a resistor to basically suppress a portion of the signal to one coil. So instead of an 8k humbucker (two 4K coils) becoming a 4K single when split, you get 4K from one an say 2.2k from the other. Less volume loss, less noise than a split.

    You can actually measure this with a multimeter
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
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  12. Mincer

    Mincer Member

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    Thank you- This confusion is a pet peeve of mine, too. Especially since both terms are used in guitar electronics but they mean entirely different things.
     
  13. bobcs71

    bobcs71 Member

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    I'm not sure why this isn't more common. IME it works really well and much better than just dropping one coil. Dropping one usually gives a really week SC unless if is the Fralin Unbucker.
     
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  14. xarkon

    xarkon Member

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    Precision in language on TGP...

    Next episode: vibrato vs. tremolo

    Seriously, to the OP: nicely done post.
     
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  15. Pablo

    Pablo Member

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    Honestly, I prefer parallel to splitting... and don’t really enjoy tapped humbuckers.
     
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  16. VintagePlayerStrat

    VintagePlayerStrat Supporting Member

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    Did something similar with my 5-way switch Tele. (Two regular single coils.) Didn't like the volume spike in the in series position, so used a resistor placed in a secret : ) spot to lower the volume. Now the volume is even across all 5-positions, but the in series portion still sounds thick and bucker like.
     
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  17. shredmiyagi

    shredmiyagi Member

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    My Kiesel Vader has the best "Strat"/coil-tap/parallel 2-3-4 positions I've ever had in a HB guitar. I haven't played my beloved Nashville-ish Tele in about 3 months. I have a Lithium in the neck and Holdsworth p/u in bridge. Really happy with it. I lowered the HBs a lot though, so in general, they kind of have this lower output Strat vibe to them even though the pups are really high output.

    My Axis Super Sport on the other hand, I could never take the coil-tap tones seriously.

    I'll take the Vader over a bad or OK sounding Strat, but a great sounding Strat/Tele still wins.
     
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  18. AltecGreen

    AltecGreen Silver Supporting Member

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    It is fairly rare but yes. My G-Life DSG has coil splitting for the humbuckers and coil tapping for the single coil (HSH configuration).
     
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  19. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    If the coils are series wired, I'm guessing that the resistor is in parallel with one of the coils? This would be similar to the SD "spin-a-split" with uses a pot rather than a fixed resistor.
     
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  20. COYS

    COYS Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I had a guitar once that instead of a split, the pull on the pots put a high-pass filter into the circuit that brought the tone forward but without losing lots of volume, and without losing humbucking. I thought that was nice, personally.
     

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