February 13th, 2004, 06:06 PM
I recently purchased a '75 and took it to my local tech. He said the pickups were wired out of phase. According to him, this is something that some country players do to get more of a steel guitar quality to the sound. He said it kind of changes the middle position sound from a traditional tele. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I guess I'll live with it for while and see if I like it.
February 13th, 2004, 08:35 PM
I never heard anybody describe out of phase pups as sounding like a steel guitar! :shock:
It sure WOULDN'T give you a traditional Tele sound!
If your pups were wired in what we all accept as "out of phase," you wouldn't need a tech to tell you - out of phase is nasty-thin sounding on a Tele.
Perhaps he was refering to the fact that the original Teles did NOT have a both pups-parallel tone - it was one of the "in-between" notches. It was a sound that became so much more popular than the original scheme of capacitors-on-the-neck-pup that Fender eventually changed the pup selections on the three-way to reflect this. So, your Tele with the pups wired to get the both-on-parallel tone might look odd to him - but certainly NOT out of phase - it's a mod that many early Tele users must have done.
Perhaps a little history lesson on pickups is in order...
Here's my shorthand version...
Originally, all Fender pups were all wound in the same direction, with the magnets all installed with the same polarity. It worked, but was a bit noisy. Everybody lived with it.
Mid-fifties, Seth Lover invents/develops the "hum-bucking" pickup for you-know-who. Two coils, wound in the opposite direction, sitting at the opposite poles of a magnet. Amazing! But, he ran the coils in SERIES - so it was quiet, but fat.
Somewhere in - what, the early seventies? - Fender started building their Strats with a mid pup that was constructed "RW/RP" - that's Reverse Wound, Reverse Phase. What that means is that the coil is wound in the opposite direction from the bridge and neck pups, AND the magnets are installed in the opposite polarity. SONICALLY, this pickup SOUNDS in phase with the bridge or neck pup, but ELECTRONICALLY, the fact that the coil is wound in the opposite direction means that r/f (radio frequency) interferance, aka "buzz and hum," are canceled - you guessed it - in a hum-bucking scheme. So the #2 and #4 spots on the Strat 5-way became humbucking. Why aren't they FAT, like a Gibson? Because the pups are run PARALLEL on a Strat, not in series. AND, there is no "out of phase" notch on a Strat - that funky quack is two pups, PARALLEL (but IN phase).
I ASSUME it was around this same period in time that the Tele also starting getting the RW/RP treatment on the neck pups - this would make the middle spot on the 3-way humbucking, too. Perhaps you guitar is an example of this.
So, is that what he means by "out of phase?" Because, if you didn't absolutley hate the "both on" on the three-way as tooooooo thin, yer tech ain't telling you enough when he says that the neck pup is "out of phase." They ALL are, now...
I wonder if he mis-spoke and meant that the middle spot had yer pup in series? This would be much fatter and have more sustain than the traditional Tele both-pups-on - a tone perhaps one might describe as a steel guitar sound...???
Need more input to make a better call on this one...
February 13th, 2004, 10:14 PM
Actually, it wasn't until about 1986 that Fender started installing, in the Strat, a middle pickup that was RW/RP with respect to the other two pickups. I don't know when they started doing in for Teles, but it was most likely sometime after the Strat got the treatment.
If the neck pickup is RW/RP with respect to the bridge pickup, it is still wired in phase with the bridge pickup, not out of phase. The proper phase is defined by the relationship of the coil and the magnetic field -- the right hand rule. Make a fist with your right hand, but leave the thumb pointing out. Your thumb represents magnetic north, and your fingers represent the direction of current flow. If each pickup is wired in accordance with the right hand rule, regardless of its magnetic polarity, both pickups will be in phase. If they are each wired in phase, and they have opposing magnetic polarity, the resulting sound will be hum cancelling.
February 13th, 2004, 10:19 PM
I pretty sure my '78 came with the pups the "same." No humbucking in combo setting. My '81 Strat also came with all 3 the same non-HB phase. The Texas Specials for Strat are HB in combo settings. The middle pup here has a "flipped" magnet compared to the neck and bridge. A fast way to check your pups is to take a magnet (or another pup.) Put the magnet up against the top of the poles. Opposites attract and likes repel. If 2 pups repel each other (top to top) they are "like" and thus the same "phase" and thus not capable of being HB in combo. Make sure you hold a magnet the same over all the pups if you don't have a spare pup to use for testing.
Wiring for proper phase in the combo position(s) is a separate topic from using opposite phased pups to HB together.
I put a Barden in the neck of the Tele and it was initially out of phase with the stock bridge. This was a 50/50 shot since the booklet didn't say how to wire it so they would "phase" properly with stock pups. I know some other brands will tell you how to phase them to match certain "common" stock pups. So I flipped the wires on the Barden and problem solved. An out of phase wiring in a combo position is significantly quieter and more tinny than it should be.
February 14th, 2004, 09:31 AM
I appreciate the information. I always learn new things on the good ol TDPRI. After thinking about it, it only makes sense to make sure the pups are wired in phase. I get the guitar back today. It was tough going without it since I just got it, but I wanted it set up correctly. I look forward to playing this axe for many years to come.
February 14th, 2004, 11:44 AM
Seymour Duncan debuted the rw/rp Strat pickup in the '70's, but it was not available on factory guitars until the 1986 American Standard, iirc. There was a noise cancelling system on some factory Strats in the early '80's, but it was different.
As has been said, the 2/4 Strat sound, either rw/rp or standard wind, is a result of phase cancellation and reinforcement, not an out of phase condition. Out of phase sounds on any guitar are typically much thinner and lower in volume unless the phasing can be modulated or shifted. While the rw/rp is claimed not to alter the sound, some say they hear a difference between it and standard winds in the 2/4 position.
An easy way to check polarity is just by putting a compass over the poles of each pickup. If they're different, the compass will show it.