Coil tap vs Coil split

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by waxnsteel, Mar 2, 2006.


  1. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    I played a friend's McNaught last night. Stellar guitar. I typically play a McCarty. I've never been happy with the McCarty "single coil" sound. Fix me if I'm wrong here, but McCarty's have a coil TAP thing going on, right? Tom's McNaught's single coil sound was very much more in line with what I expect from a single coil pickup in a set neck guitar. Now he also had a pair of Goodwoods in his guitar, which we noted after some taste testing between it the McCarty and a Strat has a significantly higher output than those other two guitars. I'm not concerned about the output. More output is not what I want. Just noting it.
    Could it be that - his humbuckers are split while mine are tapped, and split sounds more single coil than tapped?

    OR the configuration is the same but those higher output pickups sound better split.

    And also, am I hosed here? Split means one coil is used, tapped means a lesser amount of windings are used, but still both coils? I've looked everywhere but inside both guitars and can't find a definitive non-conflicting answer, but everywhere I've looked says that the terms are mistakenly used interchangeably. Thanks in advance, gurus.
     
  2. cnardone

    cnardone Supporting Member

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    I for one consistantly mistakenly use them interchangeably.
     
  3. Rock Johnson

    Rock Johnson Member

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    Bump this one to the top. I'm interested in the answer too.
     
  4. K-man

    K-man Member

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    I think they mean the same thing. Split, tap, whatever, you're only using one coil. I don't see how it is possible to use a portion of the windings and both coils.

    I'm not sure of the technical reason, but high output humbuckers sound much better when split.
     
  5. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    I have a guitar with a tapped hb that I rewired so I could just use the split, but then I run that as a parallel hb. It all looks so simple on paper. You can have taps on any single coil of wire. A split removes 1 coil from the hb configuration.
     
  6. bailnout

    bailnout Member

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    Well, I was going to give my half assed explaination but though the wonderment of Google I found this:

    "Good Question. It is kind of a mystery to many, so you're not alone.
    Coil tapping usually only applies to a Humbucking pickup, but it can also be available on some single coils. Coil Tapping is basically this:
    a pickup is a long coil of wire wrapped around a core that is magnetic. Say you have a coil that has 8000 feet of windings. It would put out it maximum voltage (volume) at that full winding. Now, if the coil of wire had a wired soldered to it at the 4000 foot spot of the coil and that was connected to the output, the voltage (volume) would be approx. half. It 'TAPS' the coil of wire at a shorter length. But, the typical meaning of COIL TAP is that a humbucking pickup has one of the 2 coils TAPPED so that the humbucking pickup is now a single coil pickup. On a Dimarzio, Duncan, etc. that has FOUR CONDUCTOR Wiring, you can tap a humbucking pickup easily. There are two wires for each coil and they usually have one wire from each coil connected together and one from each going to the switch or volume control. One end is Positive and one is ground. If you connect a wire to the spot where the two coils connect to each other, that wire is the TAP. Now, after all this you wonder if the sound is worth it? Well, it will be a thin, lower output sound and it will not be humbucking anymore which means it will buzz. But, it can have it's uses. Me, I prefer to use what is called Series / parallel wiring instead. It sounds about the same but is still humbucking (no Buzz). Go to Seymour Duncan's or Dimarzio's website for wiring diagrams. As for Coil Tap...not a big seller to me.
    I hope all this was helpful. Sorry to be so long winded...it is hard to explain wiring in words alone...a single picture could have explained it much easier."


    Hope this helps.
     
  7. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    TT do you have before and after diagrams by any chance? Bail, I read like 5 different explanations after searching yahoo, and not one said the same thing as the other. Otherwise I wouldn't have posted. I'm gonna look up diagrams... lol
     
  8. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    Got this from the Seymore Duncan FAQ
    What is a coil tap?
    A coil tap refers to a lead connected to an individual coil’s winding and is used to raise and lower a pickup’s output and change its tone. This is most often utilized on single coil pickups where the player wants a higher output pickup but also wants to be able to switch to a lower output and more vintage-type tone using the same pickup. Many of our pickups for Strat® and Tele® are available in tapped versions for an additional $1 - $11, depending on the model. In addition,you can special order a "Shop Floor Custom" tapped version of any other pickup for an upcharge of $12.

    What is coil splitting?
    Coil splitting refers to the ability to disable one coil in a humbucker-type pickup. This offers the player option of getting a single coil-type tone from a humbucker-loaded guitar. Many pickups have three- or four-conductor wiring that allows for one coil to be disabled by shorting one coil to either ground or hot. All production Seymour Duncan humbuckers can be purchased with four-conductor wiring either stock from the factory or as a Production Floor Custom order. The exceptions to this rule are the Vintage Rails (SVR-1) and Duckbuckers (SDBR-1), which are wired internally in parallel from the factory.
     
  9. bailnout

    bailnout Member

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    This is good information. You can go with that. That is what I was going to attempt to explain but could do as well. My earlier post says essentially the same thing.

    What is your goal by knowing this stuff? Not that it's bad to know. Just wondering if I can really help you get to where you want tonally. :)
     
  10. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    My real goal? Not sure. I don't find much use for the sounds I get out of the McCarty's when I pull up the tone knob. My goal is to figure out how that sound is achieved, and if it's the same way the McNaught was doing it. If it is the same, I might be after different pickups. If it's different, I may be into a different wiring scheme, and/or different pickups. When I pull the put on the McCarty, it sounds the same, only quieter, and thinner. There was some spank and single coil goodness to the McNugget (what tom, aka bikerdude calls his guitar) when you pulled its tone pot. That sound, to me was usable, much more so than the tap or split or whatever the frig goes on inside my PRS.
     
  11. bailnout

    bailnout Member

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    Just a guess but I'll bet your doing a series/parallel thing on yours and he's shutting one coil off on is.

    If you pickups have four conductor wiring, and I don't see how they wouldn't, try doing a wiring scheme that turns one coil off. For my tastes I shut the coil off that's closest to the middle of the guitar. ie: for the bridge I leave the coil closest to the bridge on, for the neck I leave the coil closest to the neck on.

    The Seymour Duncan website has a great collection of easy to read wiring diagrams. Play around with the pups you have. If nothing works, swap out the pups.
     
  12. John_M

    John_M Supporting Member

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    Well this has been very helpful as I've wondered about the terminology many times - SD forum guys get ornery when you use the wrong term

    The sounds may be the difference between splitting and series/parallel.

    Take a look on the duncan or dimarzio site for how to wire 4 conductor pickups. In one of my guitars I installed an on/on/on switch. This gives me parallel, single coil, and series. Methinks you dig the single coil tone but your wiring is for series/parallel instead of series/split.

    EDIT - Previous post beat me to it

    Sorry for the repeat myself, repeat myself
     
  13. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    Thanks, guys. I went straight to the SD site after posting the SD FAQ, and have been looking at wiring diagrams and listening to PU samples ever since. Should I decide to pull out a soldering iron, I'll try and do some before/after clips, but there's more research ahead.

    Is that how McCarty's are wired? Pull pot goes series/parallel? I really don't think so, but I'll look into it. My guitars are stock. I bought em new.
     
  14. atquinn

    atquinn Supporting Member

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    AKAIK, The tone knob on a McCarty splits the pickup (ie, disables one coil). Coil tapping is usually used with single coils, not humbuckers. I would assume the McNaught is also splitting the coils. Generally, higher-output humbuckers sound better split (assuming the 2 coils are equally wound). Think about it like this, a vintage-style Seymour Duncan single coils has a resistance around 6.5 K. So, if you split a higher-output humbucker that has a 14K resistance, the resulting single coil will be closer to a vintage single coil resistance-wise than if you split a more vintage humbucker with a 9K resistance. The vintage humbucker would sound pretty weak split.

    -Austin
     
  15. bailnout

    bailnout Member

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    Honestly, I have no idea. I was just making that assesment based on what you said your tones were like with each guitar. But if atquinn is correct, you may be looking at some new pickups. I might recommend the Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II neck pickup for a good neck single coil tone when tapped (or split, or whatever you wanna call it). I have one in a single cutaway, fixed neck, carved maple top guitar and I really like the single coil tones I can get out of that guitar in the neck position. If you are interested I may be able to post a clip for you. PM me if you want me to. I think I've followed this thread to the point of all I can help.

    Best of luck.:AOK
     
  16. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

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    McCarty guitars are wired such that when the tone control is pulled, the inside coil -- the coil with the slug pole pieces -- is removed from the circuit. When the tone control is pulled, the white wire, which is an extension of the join of the two coils, is sent to ground. This shorts out the slug coil, leaving only the coil with the adjustable pole pieces available to the circuit.
     
  17. atquinn

    atquinn Supporting Member

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    Oh, that's something else I forgot to mention. The sound will change depending on which coil of the humbucker is active when the pickup is split. The McNaught might sound better in part because, say, the coil closest to the neck is active when the pickup is split. In order to figure out which coil is active, you would have to do a "tap test" on the poles with a metal object.

    -Austin
     
  18. Tone Disciple

    Tone Disciple Gold Supporting Member

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    Interesting thread Waxsteel, thanks for asking the question. At the risk of being blasted with all kinds of PRS opinions I will state my position about the McCarty coil splitting which is where your question about coil splitting originated.

    I have had several PRS over the years including a McCarty. I find that I prefer the rotary switching single coil tones on Custom 22's to the split coil sounds on the McCarty. Why that would be the case in technical terms I have no idea, but in the last two weeks I have played several Modern Eagles in addition to McCarty's. The Modern Eagle pickups are different from the Dragon II's in my current Custom 22 Artist, yet I noticed the same thing - namely that I did not like the coil split sounds on the Modern Eagle when you exercise the pull option on the tone knob. Many places are now stocking Custom 22's with the McCarty switching option as well as McCarty's with trems in an effort to let customers get the configuration they most prefer.

    I would have thought that the single coil sounds from my rotary selector on the Custom 22 were the same as the coil split option of a McCarty, but maybe not because they definitley sound more full and richer to me that the McCarty single coil tones.

    Interesting thread at any rate.

    Regards
     
  19. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

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    The pickups in the Custom 22 are different from the ones in the McCarty, particularly the bridge pickup. The Dragon II bridge is hotter than the McCarty bridge, so the split coil sound will be different. The only split coil sound on the McCarty that is also on a rotary switch guitar is the two outside coils in parallel. The other two split coil sounds on the McCarty each comprise only one single coil. The rotary switch does not feature any sounds that comprise only one coil.
     
  20. John_M

    John_M Supporting Member

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    My P Model megaswitch is designed to simulate the PRS switching in a standard 5 way shape -

    According to Stu:
    The 'P' Model Megaswitch accesses the five pickup combinations available on a Paul Reed Smith™ guitar. It is designed for use with two 4-conductor humbucking pickups. Switch positions are:
    1. Bridge humbucker
    2. Inner coils in parallel
    3. Outer coils in series
    4. Outer coils in parallel
    5. Neck humbucker

    What I note is 2 and 4 are very airy and chimey - and volume drop is significant. Also note that they are ALWAYS combining coils for humbucking. One way to see if your guitar is cutting or series is to use gain - - get buzz? That's cutting. No buzz? Series humbucking.
     

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