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Old June 29th, 2013, 05:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
Tele-Meister
 
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Pickup phase question

What happenes if I use two pickups that are wound in oposite direction, together?

Would they be out of phase? I had a neck and bridge pickup lying around, and they are different (unknown) brands. The guitar sounds weird in the mid position, and I started to wonder about this...

Tommy

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Old June 29th, 2013, 06:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If it sounds thin and nasally, in the middle position, it is probably wired out of phase. The usual fix is to wire one of the pickups "backwards". However, I have to qualify that. You don't mention what type of pickups you have. That can have an influence on which pickup you choose to wire backwards. If, for instance, both pickups are single conductor humbuckers or P90s (braided shield/ground around a single, hot lead), wiring either of the pickups backwards is not an option. Some, minor surgery must be performed on one of the pickups. (If both pickups are covered, the surgery is still minor, but a little less minor.) The braided shield, in this case, serves two purposes: the ground for the coils AND the ground for the metal base/cover. The metal base/cover MUST be grounded, yet, if you were to, somehow, wire the braided shield to hot, and the single conductor to ground, you would get a ton of noise. (The solution, in this case, is to flip the magnet of one of the pickups.)

If you have two, vintage style Tele pickups, each would have two conductors, but the ground conductor of each pickup would serve two purposes: ground for the coil, and ground for the metal cover (if it is a vintage style neck pickup) or the metal baseplate (if it is a vintage style bridge pickup). In this case, a separate ground wire must be provided for the cover or baseplate. (Usually, people choose to modify the neck pickup.)

If the pickups are Strat style pickups, you can usually flip the wires of one of the pickups. With vintage style Strat pickups, the coil is wound directly around the magnetic pole pieces -- no insulator around the pole pieces. In this case, the pickup will sound fine, but if you touch one of the end pole pieces while the pickup is in the circuit, you will get ground noise.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 03:03 AM   #3 (permalink)
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They are classic tele pickups. I'm pretty sure they are wired correcly, that's why I asked about winding direction... Will that mske them out of phase, if everything else is wired correctly?
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Old June 30th, 2013, 10:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Winding direction is only part of the story. The other part of the story is magnetic polarity.

In physics, there is a memory trick called the "right hand rule." With your right hand, make a fist, but leave the thumb pointing out. Your thumb represents magnetic north, and your fingers are pointing in the direction of current flow. This actually a good guide as to how the pickup should be wired.

No matter how you orient your right hand, the relationship between the fingers and the thumb will not change. It is the same with a pickup. Let's say you have two pickups with opposing magnetic polarity -- say the neck pickup has magnetic north pointing to the top, and the bridge pickup has magnetic north pointing down. Your right hand, with the thumb pointing up, will represent the neck pickup, and your right hand with the thumb pointing down will represent the bridge pickup.

All this represents how current will flow. The electrons do not care how the pickup was wound; they will flow in a specific direction, and that is dependent upon the direction of the magnetic field. This is why the basic rule to fixing an out of phase problem is either to reverse the wiring, or reverse the magnetic field.

There is no standard for the manufacturing of pickups. A pickup maker can choose his own polarity and winding direction, regardless of what other makers choose. A maker will, however, normally be consistent within his own line of pickups.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 11:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Ok. Here we go again: classic tele single coils. Identical magnetic polarity, pickups are wired correctely, but the leads are wired so that current flows the oposite way in the two pickups. Will that cause the pickups to be out of phase, and therefore sound dull together?
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Old June 30th, 2013, 12:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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This is what I mean. Current flows in the same direction, but the grounding is on different sides. I could switch the wires on one pickup, but on a tele there is the bottom plate and the metal cover that makes it difficult to do the switch....
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Old June 30th, 2013, 02:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That is exactly what I was talking about in my first post. The easier pickup to modify is the neck pickup. (Removing the strings and the bridge, in order to get at the bridge pickup, is a pain in the neck.) Underneath the neck pickup, you will see a little, bare jumper wire that goes from a tab, on the cover, to one of the leads. You can either resolder this jumper to the other lead, or clip the jumper, and add a new wire from that cover tab to ground. Then, switch the leads from the neck pickup. I suspect that most folks would add the new cover ground lead, rather than reconnect the jumper to the other lead. It doesn't really make a difference, unless you intend, someday, to install a four-way switch, and give yourself the option of using both pickups in series. Then, you will have to use a separate cover ground wire.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 06:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ok, I see what you mean now. I thought you meant just switching the leads in the control cavity.

So to answer my question then: They would be out of phase...:)
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