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PSA: PRS 3-wire pickups and rotary switch wiring

Clorenzo

Member
Messages
1,930
There's been a couple of threads recently about using pickups of other brands with the PRS rotary switch and about PRS 3-wire pickups (like the Dragons and others that work with the rotary) so I thought it would be useful to post a couple of tables that I've made showing the correspondence between the colour codes of different brands and PRS's and how to wire non-PRS pickups to the rotary. I've included DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan and Bare Knuckle because they are the brands that I've used with the rotary and/or mixed with PRS pickups in other wirings, and WCR because it was mentioned in one of those recent threads. For other brands, you can easily cross-reference the tables to one of the many comprehensive ones you can find out there, like this one.

The only "special" thing about PRS 3-wire pickups is that a) there's a single wire (the red one) coming from the point where both coils are connected and b) the bridge pu has its magnet flipped (the screws coil has North magnetic polarity and the slugs coil has South, unlike the neck pu and most humbuckers from other brands). The reason for this is to get hum cancellation in the split positions of the rotary, where either the inner or outer coils are used together (for two coils to cancel hum, they must be of opposite magnetic polarities).

This is the colour code equivalence table, showing also the electric and magnetic polarity of each coil:


 
To use other brands with the rotary you can do two things: flip the magnet of one of the pickups or turn one of the pickups around, i.e. install the bridge pu with the screws coil towards the neck or the neck pu with the screws coil towards the bridge. Both achieve the same thing: now the two inner / outer coils are of opposite magnetic polarity (note that with standard humbuckers installed in the standard way, both outer coils are screws, usually South polarity, and both inner are slugs, usually North, so they won't be hum-cancelling when used together). The trick now is to get the wiring right so that the split combinations are in phase and the right coils are selected, i.e. full neck / inner in parallel / inner in series / outer in parallel / full bridge.

If you're replacing both pickups it doesn't matter which magnet you flip (*) or which pu you turn around (**), but just in case you want to mix PRS and non-PRS pickups, this table shows the "PRS-compatible" way, where you flip the magnet of or turn around the bridge pu. The rotary has connections marked B, R, W for each pu; wire as follows (note that if you flip the magnet the colour correspondence is the same for the neck and bridge pu's):
 

 
Of course in all cases any bare wires / shields should be connected to ground.

(*) The wiring is as above whether you flip the neck or bridge magnet, but you should flip the bridge if mixing PRS and non-PRS pu's.

(**) If you replace both pu's and want to turn the neck pu around because it looks better to you that way, you must swap the wires that go to the B and W connections on the rotary for both pu's, otherwise you won't get the right split combinations. IOW, the left column would be the wiring for the bridge pu and the right column for the neck.

Comments / corrections / additions welcome.
 

Tom Uttaro

Member
Messages
1
This is super helpful. I just put a Dimarzio Tone Zone in a PRS Custom 24 following the instructions above. Did not reverse the magnet on the Tone Zone. Excellent sound with the PRS Vintage Bass. Much better bridge and split sounds. I love PRS but always disliked the HFS. Next I will do an Air Zone in the neck and switch the magnet on the Tone Zone and turn t back around. Extremely grateful for this.
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,766
Very helpful, and timely. I just rewired my 92 PRS from the rotary to 3 way toggle. The middle position was out of phase, your diagram straightened me out.
 

texwest

Member
Messages
103
This is a great thread. I've used it twice to correctly wire both duncan and dimarzio pickups into guitars while mixing prs pickups. No one else seems to know how to do it right.
 

Pat6969

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,944
There's been a couple of threads recently about using pickups of other brands with the PRS rotary switch and about PRS 3-wire pickups (like the Dragons and others that work with the rotary) so I thought it would be useful to post a couple of tables that I've made showing the correspondence between the colour codes of different brands and PRS's and how to wire non-PRS pickups to the rotary. I've included DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan and Bare Knuckle because they are the brands that I've used with the rotary and/or mixed with PRS pickups in other wirings, and WCR because it was mentioned in one of those recent threads. For other brands, you can easily cross-reference the tables to one of the many comprehensive ones you can find out there, like this one.

The only "special" thing about PRS 3-wire pickups is that a) there's a single wire (the red one) coming from the point where both coils are connected and b) the bridge pu has its magnet flipped (the screws coil has North magnetic polarity and the slugs coil has South, unlike the neck pu and most humbuckers from other brands). The reason for this is to get hum cancellation in the split positions of the rotary, where either the inner or outer coils are used together (for two coils to cancel hum, they must be of opposite magnetic polarities).


This is the colour code equivalence table, showing also the electric and magnetic polarity of each coil:



 

To use other brands with the rotary you can do two things: flip the magnet of one of the pickups or turn one of the pickups around, i.e. install the bridge pu with the screws coil towards the neck or the neck pu with the screws coil towards the bridge. Both achieve the same thing: now the two inner / outer coils are of opposite magnetic polarity (note that with standard humbuckers installed in the standard way, both outer coils are screws, usually South polarity, and both inner are slugs, usually North, so they won't be hum-cancelling when used together). The trick now is to get the wiring right so that the split combinations are in phase and the right coils are selected, i.e. full neck / inner in parallel / inner in series / outer in parallel / full bridge.

If you're replacing both pickups it doesn't matter which magnet you flip (*) or which pu you turn around (**), but just in case you want to mix PRS and non-PRS pickups, this table shows the "PRS-compatible" way, where you flip the magnet of or turn around the bridge pu. The rotary has connections marked B, R, W for each pu; wire as follows (note that if you flip the magnet the colour correspondence is the same for the neck and bridge pu's):

 

 
Of course in all cases any bare wires / shields should be connected to ground.

(*) The wiring is as above whether you flip the neck or bridge magnet, but you should flip the bridge if mixing PRS and non-PRS pu's.


(**) If you replace both pu's and want to turn the neck pu around because it looks better to you that way, you must swap the wires that go to the B and W connections on the rotary for both pu's, otherwise you won't get the right split combinations. IOW, the left column would be the wiring for the bridge pu and the right column for the neck.


Comments / corrections / additions welcome.
Will this chart work for a PRS CU22 with three way toggle and coil tap on the tone pot? I have a Dimarzio TZ I want to install in the bridge. Stock pickups are Dragon II 3 wire.
 

texwest

Member
Messages
103
Hey Pat, yes I have done this and it worked. Just follow the wiring chart for the prs 3 way that is on their website and use the wire codes in these charts. This will make it so you will tap the outer coils. In fact, I have also done it on a custom 24 and reversed the wiring schema of bridge and neck to be able to tap the slug coils. And that was totally cool because then I had a really good strat in between sound available.
 

sedawkgrep

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,251
Hi @Clorenzo - this is a wonderful resource but the pictures are no longer visible. Can you try re-hosting them at imgur.com or some other free site?
 

destructo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
174
Old thread but I'm also hoping that someone can post the image files again somewhere
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,577
Awesome, thanks! Works.
PSA: there's a Pbucket ransom fix for FireFox too.
OT but these fixes feel a little "rapacious" to me, like "screw you, we're not paying that ridiculous amount of money, we're just gonna reach into your servers and take what we want!" i wonder how long Pbucket will put up with it before they just shut it all down and go home?

not to say they're not partly to blame what with the surprise ransoming of our pics at such crazy-high prices; $400/year? seriously? nobody's gonna pay that, especially when it had been free for like a decade.

a more gradual rollout of the change and a rate more like $25-30 a year and they would have likely had plenty of customers willing to pay to keep their pics up on the web.
 

sedawkgrep

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,251
Found these online. I'm not sure what I originally had posted, but perhaps this will help:







Also, found this link: https://www.premierguitar.com/artic...le-pickup-selector-for-dual-humbucker-guitars

Good luck and let us know how it worked out for you.


Thanks but OPs pictures were specific and concise around coil direction, magnet / pickup orientation, wiring options, etc. it really was the BEST resource for understanding this issue with non-PRS pickups.

It’s a real shame they’re gone.
 




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