How to determine pickup polarity?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by tubegeek, Apr 8, 2020.

  1. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Holic

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    I recently got an Artec LP-210 neck humbucker (courtesy of @GunsOfBrixton 's generosity) and I'm adding it to a cheap kit Tele-style guitar.

    When I select the "both" setting, I think I'm hearing a possible polarity inversion - it doesn't sound thick, more a bit dry and thin.

    I may be able to flip the pickup's polarity and listen to the difference - but as it stands it looks like there is just a shield and a hot wire coming out of it - I may be forced to take the cover off to do the flip while keeping the cover properly grounded. The Artec wiring guide says this pickup supposedly has four wires coming up the cable - I'll strip it back a little and see if the missing colors are just trimmed off maybe.

    How exactly do I go about checking to see if the two pickups are in the same polarity overall - it seems a little complicated with the humbucker's opposing coils and opposing magnets, I'm hoping someone smarter than me can walk me through this. Thanks!

    While I'm at it, I'll certainly entertain suggestions for magnet swaps while I'm in there.
     
  2. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Holic

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    switch the ground and lead wires and see what happens.

    If you have a compass you can hold it over the coil and see if it's N or S.
     
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  3. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Holic

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  4. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Holic

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    Don't I need to worry about the ground connection being attached to the cover?

    Thanks for the video - I'll look in my camping gear and see if I can find a compass.
     
  5. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Holic

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    Ground connection attached to cover? I don't know what you mean. Attach a picture if you can. A humbuckers ground wire should not be on the cover. Covers are often removed. Either way, reverse the hot and leads and see what happens. Shouldn't matter.
     
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  6. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Holic

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    Gotta get inside first and see what's attached to what - I thought the cover is normally grounded somehow to shield the whole assembly but I'm not sure of that to be honest. I'll do a beep check and then maybe open it up.

    First I'll make that swap though - by far the easiest thing to try!
     
  7. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Holic

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    Update - original was better than swap. Leaving it alone now.
     
  8. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    Just a note to say there's a mixup in some of the discussion here between the respective output signal polarity (usually termed 'phase' in pickup circles), and the polarity of the pickup magnets. The 'thin' sound is what we associate with two pickups' output signals being out of phase. OTOH, (opposite) magnetic polarity is what we are concerned with for hum-cancelling in RWRP (Reverse Wound, Reverse magnetic Polarity) pickup pairs.

    Testing magnetic polarity (eg with a compass) won't tell you if your pickup pair will have the thin out of phase sound when combined. It's part of that 'equation', but doesn't provide the final answer. That is found either by:
    (1) listening to the pair wired as is, and then flipping the two pickup coil wires (separated from any cover ground) on one pickup only and seeing if the sound of the pickup pair is now more/less thin, or
    (2) doing the 'screwdriver' test on both pickups to see if they both produce the same positive or negative output signal polarity (ie are 'in phase'), ideally with an analog ammeter, but can also be done with a digital multimeter (can be done on current, voltage, or resistance settings).
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
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  9. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Holic

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    :)

    Well put.
     
  10. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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  11. sardinista

    sardinista Tele-Meister

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    I use a compass, but that will only tell you the magnetic polarity.
     
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  12. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If they were both artec pickups they should work together as intended with std wiring ...
     
  13. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    For the love of Leo and Carl Freidrich Gauss, don't use your fancy Brunton pocket transits or Silva compasses around magnets. Maybe it’s an old wives tale, but I use my cheap-o dollar store compass to check my magnetic polarity.
     
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  14. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Holic

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    You're right and I had just let it pass.
    I suppose if I had asked what I meant to ask most clearly I would have called it the relative output signal polarity of the two pups. Even phase has a bit different meaning, though it's often used this way. To be clear, I don't really need to care what the orientation of the magnets are, just the resulting signal polarity of each pickup and whether they are combining constructively or destructively when paralleled. I've come to the conclusion that they are in fact matched polarity (the original connection sounded better than the connection with one reversed) and that these two particular pickups just don't happen to sound so great in parallel. They don't sound bad individually.

    The one thing I'm still not sure about - do humbuckers normally have a connection from the baseplate (and cover, if it's there) to the controls' ground? I always assumed so but now I'm not so sure - I guess they could float from the case like a microphone. When I reversed the humbucker it got noisy and sensitive to whether I was touching the strings, so I think that means the shield braid DOES connect to the pickup body. I forgot to check with my meter.

    They're not, unfortunately. The bridge pup is a generic ceramic Tele bridge from an inexpensive kit, and the Artec humbucker (LPC-210CR, also ceramic) was obtained in a generous giveaway courtesy of one of our kind members here, @GunsOfBrixton . So no way really to know just what to expect.


    Perfect answer to my question, thank you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
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  15. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    ok.. wasn't sure what bridge pu it was.... :)
     
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  16. sardinista

    sardinista Tele-Meister

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    The base and legs of a humbucker should be 0v from all other grounds in the guitar, yes.
     
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  17. chezdeluxe

    chezdeluxe Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is very wrong.

    A humbucker like non coil splittable Gibsons has a braided shield ground wire and one insulated hot wire inside the braid.

    The braid runs through the base plate of the pickup and thus if there is a cover soldered to the base plate the cover is grounded for shielding purposes.

    If you simply swap those wire connections you put the cover on the hot side of the circuit with resultant horrible noise
     
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  18. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Holic

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    Dude, I've removed covers from gibson humbuckers many times. It's grounded to the base plate, not the cover. Obviously since the cover is soldered to the baseplate, the baseplate is also grounded. Point is, the ground wire is not ATTACHED to the cover. I just removed covers off some humbuckers last night, you don't know what you are talking about. There are two solder joints holding the cover to the base plate, razor knife through the solder joints and the cover comes right off. Pickups work just fine.

    Update: I think I misunderstood you post. Sorry about that.
     
  19. chezdeluxe

    chezdeluxe Poster Extraordinaire

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    Dude?
     
  20. Danb541

    Danb541 Tele-Holic

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    I apologized. I hadn't had my coffee yet.... does thay excuse work? I agree on the two wire humbucker statement you made, I had misinterpreted your post. Again. Sorry...
     
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