Spare pair of humbuckers turned single-coil...

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by DHart, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,966
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    I had a spare pair of Epiphone ProBuckers (widely considered to be really excellent humbucker pickups) surplused in my take-off pickup bin.

    When they were installed, with a split-coil option volume pot, they sounded quite good in humbucker mode, but truly fantastic in single-coil mode. Anyway, I removed them to my surplus pickup bin a while back to employ a new set of Gretsch FIlter'trons in the guitar.

    Thinking back to how wonderful they sounded, when in split-coil mode, I decided to try them out in a Tele of mine, wired up purely as single-coil pickups (because I would never play them in dual-coil mode, and didn't want to be bothered with extra switches or complex switching pots.)

    I did just that today. Of the four leads and ground coming from each pickup, I used the green lead on each as the "hot" lead, and grounded all the other leads. This effectively disables one coil in the pickup, turning the humbucker into a single-coil pickup.

    Popped them in my Sea Foam Pearl Tele tonight and found them to have a delightfully remarkable tone.

    You get all the single-coil attributes that most of us here love... highly-detailed, very clear and articulate, sparkly bright. They don't sound like Tele, nor Strat, single coil pickups - they have their own voice, clearly single-coil, which is awesome.

    As one who no longer enjoys the typical tones from PAF-ish humbuckers, I had relegated these pickups as surplus and tucked them away. BUT, this little experiment showed me how wonderful a set of surplus humbuckers can sound, when employed in single-coil mode. Essentially, I got a new set of great sounding pickups by raiding a pile of surpluses pickups. That's a GREAT deal, that sounds great.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
    Zepfan, Deeve, Steve 78 and 2 others like this.
  2. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,885
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Location:
    Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
    .

    You can do the same on an HH guitar by lowering the pickups to the trim rings and then raising the screw poles. Still have humbucking protection but get that single coil tone.

    .
     
  3. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,966
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    jvin... you are a constant, steady source of creative and technical guitar wisdom! :)
     
    Zepfan and CFFF like this.
  4. joeford

    joeford Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,880
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Location:
    st. louis, illinois
    effectively you're lowering the volume of one coil a bit... but it'll still be very much in the sound.

    take it a step further and pull the poles out of one of the coils completely (preferably the hidden ones if you have a chrome cover). I've heard this called the "Scott Grove mod"... but it's a been around for decades before that guy... so please don't perpetuate that name! haha

    but it's a neat trick, a lot more spank and clarity from a muddy humbucker. i use it on my 72 thinline reissue and love it
     
    Zepfan, rigatele and DHart like this.
  5. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    41
    Posts:
    2,148
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Location:
    Melbourne, Austraila
    I did the same trick on a hollow body 12 string. Sounded much better. (I think I did get the idea from Scott's youtube video though :D).
     
    DHart likes this.
  6. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,966
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    I'm really thrilled to finally be catching on to what some of you have been doing for years.

    I can see the variety of ways to "sort of" get there (single-coil tone) with a pair of buckers.

    I like the rewiring idea, rather than having to crack open the pickups and try to remove slugs, or altering the pickup height and pole pieces dramatically. Rewiring quickly and easily removes one of the coils, giving the easiest pure option of rendering a bucker into a single-coil. THAT IS, assuming the humbucker has four leads to work with.

    On a twin-lead humbucker, you would have to disassemble the pickup and separate the connection between the two coils, creating four accessible leads to be able to do this. I have actually done that with a pair of Gibson Classic '57s that I thought I wanted to get fancy with, switching-wise. I wanted to replace the tall-legs with short legs for Fender use. So, I figured while I was tearing them apart to replace the bases & legs, I might as well turn them into four-lead pickups. The project worked, but was a good "bit-of-a-job" to get done. I did learn a lot about humbuckers by doing that, though.

    I can see why many have done this approach with humbuckers. Mine weren't at all "muddy" as humbuckers (it actually surprised me how good the Epi Probuckers are as humbuckers), but in the end, they still had that faint humbucker "veil" over the tone, rather than ringing bright and clear, like the single coils that were lurking under the covers!

    I'm not familiar with Scott Grove. The only reason I even thought of doing this is that the sound in "split-coil" position was so good, I decided to manually split the coils and do away with all that switching involved. I'm not surprised that others have done this, many times, over the years.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  7. joeford

    joeford Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,880
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Location:
    st. louis, illinois
    i found it on tdpri in a discussion about wide range pickup mods. seen it called the "fralin mod" too. but Keith Richards did it a billion years ago... when cavemen first sketched teles onto wooly mammoths skulls... kinda makes my skin crawl to see it attributed to the wrong people.

    regardless, it's a really cool tone AND hum canceling

    i had a set of probuckers... and i really liked them. i get where some people found them muddy... they were pretty dark... but for me, that just translated to a beefier bridge tone.
     
    Zepfan likes this.
  8. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,966
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    joeford... not sure what version of ProBuckers that you had, but I think that Epiphone designers re-did them not too long ago. Using all top grade components, as the Gibsons do. They made quite a well-received splash with them!

    As far as PAF-humbuckers go, these aren't dark, in my view. But no matter, it's their split-coil tones that I think are really awesome. The single coils are running about 4.1k.

    Before this little experiment, I was considering putting Tele pickups back in my Sea Foam Pearl Tele, but now, the way these sound... I plan to keep it as is! Unless and until I get restless and decide to try something else with the guitar. :rolleyes:

    I do have a pair of TV Jones Classics in-bound, and no idea what instrument I will deploy them in yet. I don't think they're going to bump these ProBuckers, though. There are other options.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  9. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,105
    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Location:
    netherlands
    you could use a blend pot, gradual go from humbucker to single coil.
    but i know some cheap guitars from the past in LP and SG model had 1 single coil in a humbucker housing, out of the factory
     
  10. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,966
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    One could, if that was important to them.

    For me, though, that is more effort and complexity than I have interest in or need for, especially considering I don't really enjoy humbucker tones any more.

    Straight single-coil, or Gretsch-type/TV Jones pickups are really doing it for me these days. :)
     
  11. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,105
    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Location:
    netherlands
    isn't that a beautiful thing? i have it other way around. i am full this last year about the warm clean sound of an old L500 curved blade in the neck from Bill Lawrence.
     
  12. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,966
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    It is grand to find your bliss, whatever it is. :)

    I have yet to explore the world of Bill Lawrence pickups. Someday, I'll get there! ;)
     
    hopdybob likes this.
  13. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,354
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    The advantage of removing screws (or slugs), vs wiring for split, is that the humbucking effect is mostly preserved.
     
    DHart likes this.
  14. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,820
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2013
    Location:
    Horn Lake, MS
    I always heard the negative comments about splitting a HB, but I did try it on a build once and it turned out good. The pickup had a 11k DCR, so my thoughts were that it was overwound. That lead me to think that splitting to one coil would at least land me into Strat territory and it pretty much did.
     
    DHart likes this.
  15. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,966
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Indeed! And for some people that may be an important difference.
     
  16. Tim E

    Tim E NEW MEMBER!

    Age:
    52
    Posts:
    2
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2018
    Location:
    L.A.
    I did this years ago, my reasoning the same. What I found was that taking the slugs out of one coil, but otherwise leaving the pickup intact, resulted in compromised hum cancelling. The humbucker with only one sensing coil was no longer bucking hum! Very curious. Pushing the slugs back in, one at a time, reduced the hum increasingly as each one was restored. I'm guessing making one coil essentially an "air coil" does some serious unbalancing of inductance, so the coils no longer sense hum equally. My solution was to remove three slugs from the treble side of one coil, and three slugs from the bass side of the other coil. The coils remain balanced and still sense from a narrower magnetic field.

    It absolutely un-muddys a muddy humbucker. But I think a more significant factor may be the removal of half of the iron core of the pickup, which is what happens when you remove the slugs, likely making a significant drop in overall inductance. Dropping the inductance significantly, even if you manage to preserve both fully sensing coils would also un-muddy a pickup.

    The experimenting eventually led to removing the bar magnet and slugs, replacing them with alnico rod magnets, so it was more like a humbucker made from two strat pickups.
     
    DHart likes this.
  17. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,966
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Tim E... interesting, and good points!
     
  18. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,820
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2013
    Location:
    Horn Lake, MS
    It must have been wired wrong because a "dummy" coil for hum cancellation is just a coil without the magnet poles and wired in series with the operating coil. That's the way it works on the Blueshawk guitars.
    Will a dummy coil buck hum if wired in parallel to a pickup with poles/magnet? Regular coils do. Does anyone know?
     
  19. ben smith

    ben smith Tele-Holic

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    594
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2019
    Location:
    london
    that is a great idea i must try that
     
    DHart likes this.
  20. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,761
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, California
    Parallel wiring an HB sounds a lot like split, but you get full humbucking. Very easy to do with a 4 wire HB.
     
    rigatele likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.