May Mod Of The Month – Series / Parallel Humbucker Wiring
By: Tyler Delsack (Manager, Fralin Pickups)
All of our humbuckers are wired in Series – which means, the output of one coil is going into the input of another. This explains why all humbuckers sound big, bold, and beefy. But, what if you wanted to make your humbuckers sound more like a strat? Well, here’s May’s Mod of The Month: Series / Parallel Switching:
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PARALLEL AND SERIES?
In a standard guitar, like a Strat or a Tele, your pickups are wired in Parallel. What this means is each pickup has it’s own path of output. For instance, the White (hot) leads are attached to the switch, and the Black leads are attached to Ground. Series wiring puts your pickup’s outputs into your other pickups. To illustrate, we’ve literally made an illustration:
Parallel wiring gives the signal of the pickup the shortest possible distance to the Output Jack. Series wiring gives the signal a much greater distance to travel. The signal, having to travel a greater distance, experiences more resistance, thus getting bigger and beefier as a result.
Let’s look at our Humbucker wiring: you have a Slug Coil (the coil with Alnico magnets), and the Screw Coil (the coil with adjustable screws).
Black is the start of the Slug Coil (Ground)
Redis the finish of the Slug Coil
Greenis the start of the Screw Coil
White is the finish of the Screw Coil (Output)
Our Humbuckers have the following signal path: Black>Red>Green > White. This is our standard series wiring. By wiring the pickups in Parallel, Black > Green >Red >White. Basically, the “Starts” of the coils are wired together, and the “Finishes” of each coil are wound together.
*Note: if you want to do this mod, you’ll need a 4-Conductor Wire – Black, White, Red, Green, and Shield.*
*Note 2: the colors depicted are the color codes for our humbuckers. Different manufacturers have different color codes.
By replacing your volume pot with a 500K Push/Pull, you can achieve Series / Parallel with the pull of the pot. When Pushed Down, your humbucker is working normally – in series. When pulled up, your Humbucker is wired in Parallel. Keep in mind, the Shield is always grounded (it’s not depicted in the drawing below).
How It Works:
When pushed down, Red is connected to Green in terminals: B & C- like a normal humbucker. White and Black are not connected to anything, leaving them out of the switch for the moment. When pulled up, Red gets connected to white (B – A) and Green gets connected to Black (E-D). This gives you the Parallel “Strat” tone that we’ve all come to love.