May Mod Of The Month – Series / Parallel Humbucker Wiring

Last Updated: January 31st, 2019

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:

Fralin Series and Parallel

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)
Red is the finish of the Slug Coil
Green is 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.


The Mod*:

*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).

 

Series & Parallel Push Pull Modification for Humbuckers

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.

Written By:

Tyler Delsack

I'm Tyler Delsack, the Manager of Fralin Pickups. Along with managing the shop and working on this Website, I run my own website to provide free Jazz Guitar lessons.

Author's Note: These blog posts are for educational and information purposes only. We do not offer custom wiring diagrams or wiring help or troubleshooting. For this, we recommend going to a local luthier or tech.

10 Comments

  1. Is it possible to do this mod with single dpdt that puts both neck and bridge in parallel?

    1. Hey Dan,

      Are you talking about simple switching? If you have a 3 Way Toggle switch, the middle position puts both pickups in Parallel. This mod puts the humbucker itself into parallel.

  2. I have a Suhr Andy Wood Sig Modern T HH with Series Parallel. So, essentially, when in series (pushed down) it’s more like a Les Paul and pulled up is more like a Strat effect? It’s seems like a different way to get a similar effect cause by coil splitting, if I’m understanding this correctly?

  3. What pot should we use when having a humbucker in parallel mode: 250k or 500k?

  4. I have a PJ Bass and need to make the neck P bass PU sound more like a single Jazz. Will a push-pull pot mod and this Parallel set up work? Would this pretty much be the exact directions to be able to switch the P Bass PUs in and out of “stock” to “parallel” (less boomy) mode? Thanks!

  5. Currently, the hot(s) from my pickups go to the 3 way toggle first. In this diagram they would go to the dpdt first, then the 3 way toggle? At that point, would the 3 way go to the output jack of the guitar?

    If you want this option for both pickups, you have to wire both to the same dpdt switch?

    1. Jason,

      They would need to go to the DPDT switch before going to the 3-Way Toggle. If you have two pickups and want to perform this mod on both pickups, you’d need each pickup going to it’s own independent switch before the 3-Way Toggle. From the Toggle, you’ll go to the output jack.

      Tyler

  6. If I have an HSS strat, can this be accomplished by wiring the tone pot that is connected to the Humbucker rather than wiring the volume pot? I adjusted the switch so that the 2 single coils have a tone control, and the humbucker has a separate tone control.

    1. Paul,

      Sure thing. Follow the diagrams under the “Second Side Of The Switch” part of this article here.

      Tyler

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