Series or Parallel

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by suave eddie, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. suave eddie

    suave eddie Tele-Afflicted

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    Excuse my ignorance but I've seen a lot of talk lately of pickups wired in series or parallel. What is the difference? On a conventional/standard two pickup guitar configuration, how are the pickups wired in relation to each other?

    Thanks
     
  2. voided3

    voided3 Tele-Afflicted

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    Parallel is standard two-pickup wiring, which gives the characteristic Fender "quack." It also is noise canceling if one of the two pickups is reverse polarity. Series wiring basically combines your two single coils into a single humbucker and boosts the output while giving it a fatter sound. It's pretty easy to do on a Tele; you just need to get a 4-way switch and follow the schematics posted on this site's homepage carefully. If you want to try out this wiring, look for a Baja Tele at a dealer.
     
  3. suave eddie

    suave eddie Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks

    So........what about a two pickup guitar with Humbuckers? Can all four coils be wired in series?
     
  4. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, sure, it can be done, but chances are big that this is going to sound too muddy...

    BTW, while almost all two-pickup guitars have the pickups wired in parallel, Danelectros with two lipsticks usually have them in series!
     
  5. SimpleOne

    SimpleOne Friend of Leo's

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    That's cool Roman...something new everyday. MF had a scratch and dent Dano for relatively cheap the other day and I thought of all the folks here who really like those guitars, one reason why maybe? So the "middle" position is series? Cool...(I am putting a '75 Gibson hummer in the neck of a Squier Standard and played with the idea of a 4-way, but thought it might not work out right and now I have an idea why, Thanks again!)

    Would advise the original poster to search "Four-way switch wiring" on this forum and google too if wanted, or some such to find wiring diagrams of series pickup configuration. Finding pictures will help figure out the why and how. A four way will have as the extra, forth position, setting the two pups in series, on a tele. This emulates a humbucker pickup and shows that by being throatier and louder, more...balls. less twang. Hard to quantify but fun none the less. And worth it.
     
  6. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    Actually, it was the series middle position on my Dano 56 Pro RI that made me want a 4-way on my Teles...
     
  7. maestrovert

    maestrovert Poster Extraordinaire

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    From Seymour Duncan's website (support/glossary)

    Parallel - The electrical linking of two coils in a parallel or side by side fashion. The sonic effect compared to a series configuration is approximately 30% lower output but with additional brilliance and clarity on the high end.

    Series - The electrical linking of two coils in a serial fashion producing a higher output, fuller and more powerful sound. This is the standard hookup for humbucking pickups.
     
  8. suave eddie

    suave eddie Tele-Afflicted

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    So in other words, a humbucker is actually two single coils wired in SERIES. That makes sense now.
    I've been playing the same guitar since the mid '80s and the same amp since the early 90's and bought all strings online so haven't been in many music stores and have been pretty much out of the loop concerning new products and developments for several years. Recently acquired a Tele and came here and saw all the talk about 4-way switches, series and parallel, etc which is what piqued my curiosity.
    Thanks for all your responses.
     
  9. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

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    A humbucker has two coils, one of which has reversed windings and reversed magnet polarity (RWRP). These two single coils are connected in parallel in a standard humbucker.
     
  10. TelecasticFS

    TelecasticFS TDPRI Member

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    Haha, I got a hot rails and GFS fatbody in series/parallel on my tele and the series setting sounds like poo even with the coil tap...
    I shoulda bought strap locks instead of a 4 way but if u like that evil angry sound (which i occasionally enjoy), look into it...
     
  11. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

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    You're right, series wiring isn't that great with overwound pickups. With DC ohms down in the vintage range it can sound pretty good.
     
  12. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    Nope, wrong, in a standard humbucker, the coils are connected IN SERIES!
     
  13. Deaf Eddie

    Deaf Eddie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Just putting a little more OOMPH behind RomanS post: standard humbuckers have their two coils wired in SERIES. Not parallel...

    You can optionally wire four-conductor humbuckers with the coils parallel, and it gives you a harmonically richer tone (more sparkle) with less gain/output than series - and is still noise canceling. I have this as an option on my ES-333, wired on a p/p at the tone pot for each pickup. It's in the same tonal vicinity as coil-shunt, but it has just a tad more color and character.
     
  14. SimpleOne

    SimpleOne Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting...with a SD Broadcaster in the bridge and a Twang King in the neck the series sound in a very nice addition. Wonder if lowering your pick ups might help? But would defeat some of the gains of having such beefy pups.

    OP have you figured out the difference in the series vs parallel wiring, not the tonal differences, the way each is physically wired?

    If you were to connect each pickup, on a tele, directly to the jack on your guitar...

    Parallel wiring: Each ground wire on each pickup would be connected to the ground of your jack and each hot wire would be connected to the hot electrode of your jack. The pups are seperate and are "parallel" to each other. In this instance the separate grounds (negatives I believe) connect with each other at the jack as do the hot (positive) wires.

    Series wiring: Here is how this differs...the ground wire from, let's call the first pup the "A" pickup, the A pup runs from the ground side of the jack to the A pickup, the hot wire from A pickup runs to the ground of, let's call the second pup the "B" pup, the B pup, the signal then runs out the B pup via the B pickup's hot wire to the jack's hot (non ground) side. These pups are in series. They are connected to each other.

    In a series configuration only two wires in this instance communicate with the jack, one from each pup.

    In the parallel configuration with these two pups, four wires communicate with the jack.
     
  15. suave eddie

    suave eddie Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for all your responses. I understand it now....being out of the loop for so long, I wasn't familiar with this option (which I assume is relatively recent fad). This explains why a standard humbucker with both coils wired in series has a fatter tone with more gain than a single coil. My main guitar is a double HB. Even though I have a switch to split the coils, I don't think this is an option I am interested in (series wiring). Don't think I'll be doing it on my new Tele either.
     
  16. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

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    OK, I stand corrected.
     
  17. dugg

    dugg TDPRI Member

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    I agree with Ricky D., series is much more useful with lower impedence pickups. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that low impedence single coil pickups provide more tonal variation through reconfiguration than either high impedence singles or humbuckers.
     
  18. grant777

    grant777 TDPRI Member

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    That's deep Dugg. You may be onto something here...
     
  19. 930vet

    930vet Tele-Meister

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    How much is the output reduced with parallel wiring? The resistance is essentially reduced by 4x- a 15K series wired HB becomes a 3.75K parallel wired HB, right? I don't really understand the physics of the circuit, but I think that the inductance is not reduced by the same factor. What is the impact of phase on the output, parallel in-phase vs. parallel out-of-phase? Seems like out-of-phase would further reduce the output.
     
  20. pbenn

    pbenn Tele-Afflicted

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    After having the 4-way on two different guitars for two years or so, and using the series combination not all that much, and lending the guitar to people at jams who latch on to the series position immediately and won't let go (power, fatness),

    IMO it gets to be a bit of a drag in the room sound. I find myself in these situations just wishing to hear a Tele again.

    Not that it's not a neat option, especially in a low-power situation.
     
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