I hate coil tapping

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Otis Fine, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I'll try to find a wiring diagram for a Gibson SG Exclusive. It had a pot (stacked dual-section?) that acted as a blender control for the hum coils only. I *think* twisting the knob toward smaller numbers increased resistance and at 0 the humbuckers were 100% split. The Dirty Fingers humbuckers were filthy, with little definition, but with the knob on 5 or 6 mine would get get clean and spanky like a mini-humbucker.
     
  2. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's called "spin-a-split" wiring. You can vary the amount that one coil is sent to ground by sending it there via a variable resistor (pot).

    http://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/the-tone-garage/guitar-wiring-explored-the-spin-a-split-mod

    I tried this on a Les Paul Jr. with a fairly hot humbucker. The humbucker sounded a bit too fat except when playing full-on lead. Fully split it sounded too anemic.
    The split mod worked like a charm. I could get the pickup "just right". Even with just a little bit of the second coil engaged it still cut almost all the hum.

    For those that feel they can't get a split or parallel-wired humbucker to sound like a single coil, I agree with that. However, for me it can sound close enough to satisfy me when playing a dual humbucker guitar. If I need a clearer, cleaner rhythm sound, for funk rhythm, for example, it does the job. Also, if you have ever had the experience of a neck humbucker sounding too fat, often times splitting it or switching to parallel wiring will make it sound very useful for certain applications. If you split both neck and bridge and then combine them you get a sound not too unlike the sound of the middle position on a Tele, IMO. Good enough for a lot of applications, anyway. YMMV and all that, of course.
     
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  3. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    Not all pickups sound great split. PRS uses a version in newer models where the split is only partial. I'm probably explaining it wrong but I love it.
     
  4. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think I read that PRS makes one of the coils much hotter, but with a tap in the coil. In humbucker mode the coil runs in tapoed mode and balances with the other coil. In single coil mode the coil runs full strength and so there is no volume drop and it sounds like a "proper" single coil. Good idea, actually.
     
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  5. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    The PRS thing uses two coils in humbucker mode. One of the coils has much more windings, but is run tapped in humbucker mode. When you change it to split, you simultaneously use that full coil, which then gives more output than a standard split coil. Though, it's a great idea, I dont find it completely necessary IMO. A lot of people make a big deal about the volume drop when using split coils. I dont find it an issue, personally. A single coil is supposed to have less output than a humbucker. I find, as long as the split coil inductance is reasonable, it usually sounds pretty good, but for some reason I just can't get along with the tone from a split coil using screw polepieces. I find blade style, slugs, or alnico rod magnets sound much better for the split coil sound, for some reason. Alnico rods have the most advantage, since that's what vintage single coils use.
     
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  6. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    The coil splits on my SD '59 neck on the Big Apple Strat sounded extremely good and very strat like and the ones on my PRS Mira 2008 (before they made the S2 line) are also pretty good and both use the standard old school split.

    I have to agree that blades sound great split. My T-60 has that and I don't I ever use the humbucker. I've never owned it, but I like demos of the SD cool rails split in the neck and like what they did on the Billy Corgan Dimarzio set for the in-between sounds.

    The volume drop can be compensated with using a pedal or can actually be an effect in itself: switching to humbuckers for a higher gain sound or cleaning up things by switching to a single.
     
  7. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Sorry for chiming in late, but I dont "hate" coil tapping. I do "hate" coil split. Like in humbucker pickups, you split one coil and run with that. I once had it in my humbucker from Joe Barden which came with every possibility. The thing is that I didn't think they would hum, when split. They do. Kind of defeats the purpose. When coil is tapped (both coils in a HB) the hum almost disappears. Of course the volume does too, but the treble increases.

    Here's the "down" on it, and, at least from JB Engineerings side of things why they let us deal with whatever we like, and their HB Two/tone pickups.

    Coil-Splitting: the process of isolating and turning off one coil of a dual-coil pickup in the attempt to replicate single coil tone. The process requires a 4-wire arrangement on the pickup. It also reintroduces noise and hum into the sound. This was in my youth, 40 years back, that I thought should be enough for a single coil split in a HB to be silent as it resided physicallly next to it. Alas, not were to be... :D

    Coil-Tapping: a coil winding technique that creates a switch point in the coil from which accurate single coil tones can be achieved. The whole or parts of both coils remain operational to retain the hum-canceling properties of the pickup. I e this means that two/both coils are still active. And the hum is gone. Now, here comes the catch, in JBE case, the output isn't dropped as much, and one sure can get the closest "in-between-sounds" of any HSS config out there that is reminiscent of any single coil strat pickup sound. This was a revelation to me... mind you still, that Joe Barden uses ceramic magnets and rails. o_O :confused: But still pulls it off.

    Back to our discussion about coil tapping vs. coil splitting. As the logic goes, by turning off one coil of a humbucker (coil-splitting) we are left with a single coil pickup. Technically, this is absolutely true but the result is an approximation of a single coil tone. This should not be surprising. Consider that a typical humbucker pickups were designed to deliver more full-bodied tone and power than their single coil brothers and sisters. The humbucker was simply not designed to produce single coil tone. Coaxing a single-coil tone from one of its coils satisfies the technical definition of a single coil pickup, but misses the mark of producing accurate and pleasing single coil tone.

    Plus, a nasty by-product of coil-splitting is that hum and nose are re-introduced. After all, wasn’t the goal of the humbucker to reduce (if not eliminate, again not all do) this nasty artifact? So, while coil-splitting is a practical way to coax two modes from a standard humbucker (not a bad idea really), it suffers nonetheless from two critical drawbacks; noise, hum and what I will call a faux (fake) single coil tone. To make matters worse, coil-splitting in the face of today’s high gain amps is a recipe for a noisy mix.

    In contrast, coil-tapping, allows us to create a dual-mode pickup that is designed and optimized for both humbucker and single coil tone. Moreover, it can be noiselessly switched between modes on the fly while in the heat of battle (i.e. as you perform). By ‘tapping’ into the coil at a pre-defined place in the winding, we create more accurate single coil tone. With coil-tapping, both coils remain operational to keep things quiet. A Double-Pole/Double-Throw (DPDT) switch (a push/pull pot or mini-toggle) can be used to switch between the part of the coil that is tapped (i.e. single coil mode) and the full coil winding (i.e. humbucker sound). In this way we may achieve the best of both a humbucker pickup and a single coil pickup, each without noise or hum.

    So, the point here is that JBE believes coil-tapping is a better alternative to coil-splitting to achieve single coil nirvana. They do have included 6 wire option in case you would prefer, or even include coil-splitting on top of coil-tapping. I wouldn't think of how thin that sound would turn out but so it is. As this sounds as an ad - or fanboi - for JBE I can tell you that they are much set in stone, and have not developed that much during the years. They found out this in the late 70s, and has pretty much only a select few models to chose from. There are other things, but that has to do with rail pickups that follows neck radius, but that is another thread, another time. But I have yet to come across anything on my test bench, that tops this "in between" strat sound of HSS system from JBE. JBE pickups are very sensitive to height adjustments too, so just a full turn too much on the middle pickup can ruin the "in-between" sound.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
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  8. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    So if you use the PRS DGT style wiring, there there's a resistor in the path when you split, I definitely like the result. The PRS 594, for example, has split tones I really love and I'm pretty sure they're using a variant of that wiring.

    Without it, though, I still think you can good results but that it's very dependent on the pickup. I love the coil splits on my Kauer/Titan prototype with Saturday Night Specials. Not sure what his wiring was.
     
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  9. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    l280 at neck, l500XL bridge. l500 with mini switch for serie/parallel.
    4 way lever switch N>N+B>B>N+B in series.
    make it very versatile, and noiseless to, especialy after this DIY no load mod
    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/no-load-mod-your-guitar-bass-tone-or-blender-pot-2014.466061/

    but one could also try a G&L PTB system.
    that is what i have done with a L500/L90 sytem from the 70/80
    the basscut does his thing in a right way i think, okay not a single coil, but you come gradually close ;-)
     
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  10. kingvox

    kingvox Tele-Meister

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    +1 to @MatsEriksson

    Big fan of coil tapping. I've made some for myself and some friends that have a "vintage" (lower) output, with the full coil very "hot." About 7,000 turns of wire hotter. The end result is a 'classic' single coil tap, and a powerhouse of midrange in the full position. It's all single coil but super overwound single coils can pull off pretty authentic humbucker tones.

    Outside of that, I like series/parallel wiring on single coils. That makes a true humbucker, though series wired Strat pickups do still have the "notch position" tone, because of the distance between the pickups.

    However, I like both more than coil split humbuckers. Typical humbuckers have 5,000 turns of wire on each coil, and can be fairly anemic sounding, despite the steel slugs adding inductance and beefing them up a bit. I'm just not a huge fan of the sound, though admittedly, with overdrive or fuzz, it's OK. I prefer normal single coils, but the more effects you use, the less all of that matters.
     
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  11. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    A "PAF" style humbucker actually doesn't have many more turns of wire than a Strat pickup, about 8k to 10k turns of wire across two short bobbins, where as a Strat pickup has 7k to 8k turns on a single tall bobbin. The humbucker has a higher inductance mostly due to the steel poles and screws. When you split a PAF style humbucker, it's like you're ending up with about half a Strat pickup, which contributes to the thin, weak sound.

    Coil tapping a really hot, high inductance humbucker, like a JB or a Super Distortion, results in a pretty good split tone. The fact that they have steel pole pieces means they sound more like stock ceramic Strat pickups (even if the magnet underneath is AlNiCo), due to eddy currents in the steel rolling off the high end. Even though it works pretty good, I think in practice, few guitarists are ever in a situation where they have a guitar with a JB in the bridge, but for some reason want a bridge pickup that sounds very bright and lower output. It's a musical situation that probably doesn't come up very often. If you're planning on playing music that calls for the "single coil" sound, you'd probably already have a vintage style Strat or Tele for the purpose.
     
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  12. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Of course, but who does this today? I've never ever heard of any music style that is entirely played on single coils, not even country (Gretch, filtertron etc). If I play/played in a top 40 cover band you do have to cover all styles, or bring 2 guitars. Blues are played on both. It differs from song to song and even within a song. Some music country/folk/fusion of the older style - not vintage 50s - like Steve Morse splits between full humbucker tone and single coil just to clean up his sound, not particularly single coils. When he want full throaty mids (and his no-treble kind of sound) he solos the humbuckers and when he wants to play clean he switches to his single coil and the volume lowers so it becomes clean. This means you have to turn up the amp pretty loud to get the most out of such dynamic variation.

    Also, which beats me to no end these days, people claiming playing vintage music they buy or must have vintage instruments/pickups. Very few bands, solo artists today plays period perfect music from the 50s, and if they do they don't play it vintage correct. Those vintage instruments like a Strat or Tele from the 50s with their vintage low output pickups on were always strung with

    a) 012 set strings
    b) FLATWOUND strings
    c) Spun third G-string.
    d) Pure nickel wound on the 4 wound strings.
    e) Round Core strings

    No one bent strings back then like they do today. You couldn't with 012s and a spun third. And if you have these strings on, 012, they produce ample amount of output for those vintage spec'd weak pickups. When I pull this one off to the few today I meet, that claims and even brags that vintage sounds best, or especially, that it sounded like that in the 50s, and I face them with these facts, they all gets stumped and silent for a second or two and then replies somewhat embarrassed "Well...errhm...these goes to eleven anyway..." or variations thereof. :twisted: They don't want to swap string gauges like that to be able to show off their shortcomings as a player, because those strings will be too heavy for them, and not being able to bend properly.

    Not until the mid or late 60s people came up with idea to put "banjo" strings on their guitars, and it all went from above to:

    a) 010 or 009 set strings
    b) Roundwound strings
    c) Plain third G-string (that "banjo" one)
    d) Nickel plated on steel, both plain, and on the wound strings
    e) ... or Stainless Steel for that zzzingy high end treble
    f) Hex core strings.

    Little wonder that one's jinxing the output on any vintage pickup from the 50s. Especially single coils.

    I do like playng all kinds of music on one guitar if I can, often I have no possibility to bring 2 guitars out, and if playing in any cover band there's no time to shift/swap, and it's better to have the "spinky" sound available onboard on my main workhorse guitar. However, the different feels of Strats, or Teles may play a large role but that's a whole other debate, forum and thread. You can have stacked "single coils" too. That is single coil in dimensions only.
     
  13. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Sorry, maybe a gaffe, typo from you side, but I supposed you meant that "Coil tapping .... results in a pretty good single coil sound?" A coil tap should or ought to never sound like a split coil. I am splitting hairs maybe, but so we do in this thread, it's the split thread. My thing is that a split sound sounds always different from a tap sound.

    Please state which JB you mean. If it's Seymour Duncan JB ("Jazz Blues") or "Jeff Beck" or something else. My abbrevation of Joe Barden is JB, but maybe I should be specific and mean JBE, which stands for Joe Bardens Engineering. Just so that we don't confuse things. Joe Barden are ceramic and uses rails always. Or maybe, some interprets JB as Joe Bonamassa? ;):)
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2020
  14. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    The Seymour Duncan JB
     
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  15. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    However, if someone can explain to me, if why the use of ceramic pickups PLUS rails should end up "sounding better" like single coil pickup when using tap coil, than others with pole pieces, and AlNiCo. I can't think that just that makes all the sense. It must be everything else in the construction, where the tap is made, how many winds, coil, copper wire yada yada...
     
  16. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

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    I only play true single coil guitars. Theres little to nothing that a humbucker guitar can do that my P90 guitar can't do.

    Ive never had split coil tone that I liked. Ive had a bunch. I gave up. Now, 1) never tried pickuos designed for splitting, and 2) i don't like high output humbuckers. Probably why.
     
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  17. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    We know this is a very old post, but are you shure you don't mix up the words split and tap ?

    As you say, both have been Epiphones with Pro Buckers, they do have coil splits, not taps, to let one coil of the humbuckers be SPLIT not TAPPED. There are very few humbuckers out there that uses both coil splits and coil taps, but they do exist. JBE (as we've already taken care of), and the brand new ones from zex coil or whatever they're called. For rest of the humbuckers out there I think they use either, not both. I wouldn't be surprised if Seymour Duncan has had or has one or two out there too, at least as opton or in their custom shop.

    You said "you don't like the single coil sound on either of them", which is - to me - a give away, and tell tale that it is a split coil you use and not tap coil. Tap coil is used on both coils of a HB at a certain select point and still renders the pickup in humbucking mode as it uses both coils still.

    I agree, that the nomenclature is very confusing, because they can't be interchangeably used, but if you think of it lazily, or get too nitpicky about semantics (like you know, a trem system is really a vibrato system...and so on) you can very well think that a tap system of 2 coils, could very well be called split, because you - somewhere along the windings - break the wire out, and splits it in a down/up way. If you do a split of a double coil at some point, that it doesn't use one coil, would be a tap anyway.

    With that said, you could go to extremes and even do a tap/split on one single coils pickup in the middle of the winding, probably ending up a very thin and weak output, but nevertheless.

    that said number II : It took me ages too, to differ between the two, and I have to speedily think twice before I am discussing it in the real world, and I still very often have correct my speech from either of these two words, when speaking of them.
     
  18. JIMMY JAZZMAN

    JIMMY JAZZMAN Tele-Holic

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    Have it on my Duo-Sonic, of which I hate very much. No upside what-so ever. I'm not sure if
    it is even necessary. Loses that short-scale crispness, of which I purchased it in the first place.
     
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  19. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Better is subjective, but I think Bardens, and more generally, dual rail humbuckers wired in parallel, or having an inductance under 3 henries, are the best sounding "noiseless single coils". The flux density of the steel + ceramic is lower than AlNiCo, but the two steel bars maintain a strong coupling with the strings, and the width between the blades is narrow enough to see the strings as if they were a single coil pickups. Also the Q factor is reasonably high, even though the steel rails cause some eddy currents. Paired with 500k or 1meg pots, they can have a very high Q factor, like an AlNiCo single coil. The Danny Gatton Bardens I have are pretty bright, even with 250k pots.
     
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  20. Otis Fine

    Otis Fine Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Well, the Les Paul Traditional Pro II says “coil tap” on the Epiphone website. I had a PRS S2 that says push/pull “coil tap”on the PRS website.

    I have to take their word for it.

    I now own a Danelectro 59X12 that has a “coil split.”

    It sounds better to my ears than the coil tapped guitars.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
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