Reverse Pickup Polarity The Easy Way With Multiple Leads
Last Updated: September 30th, 2020
This is the last installment of our Phase and Polarity series. If you want to read more, check out these previous articles:
A few weeks ago, we discussed how to reverse your pickup’s phase by examining the different properties that combine to create the pickup’s overall phase. We explored reversing the phase of Single Coil pickups as well as Hum Cancelling Pickups (which are a lot easier to change than single coils). In part two of that series, I mentioned you could reverse the phase of a pickup by changing the coil direction, or “flipping the leads.” Today, I will expand on that topic by discussing pickups featuring multiple leads or a 3-Wire design and how to reverse the coil direction properly.
WHAT ARE MULTIPLE LEADS?
Pickups with Multiple Leads feature the familiar White & Black Leads, plus a separate ground lead for grounding the chassis of the pickup.
You may have seen us refer to “multiple leads” on our website as “2-Conductor With Shield” or “3-Wire”. Essentially, this wiring configuration separates the chassis ground from the coil, allowing you to reverse the coil while keeping everything grounded properly. Cool!
For an example of a 3-Wire design, think of a Telecaster Neck Pickup. A standard Telecaster Neck Pickup features a White and Black lead – one “hot” and one Ground. If you look at the bottom of the pickup, however, you’ll see a ground jumper to the chrome cover, which grounds out the cover.
When converting a Telecaster Neck Pickup to a pickup that can be used in 4-Way Switching, we need to sever this connection and run a separate Ground wire from the cover. This turns the pickup into a 3-Wire design – one “hot”, one Ground, and one Chassis Ground!
Not all pickup designs can accommodate multiple leads, however. For example, Traditional Fender Strat or Tele pickups cannot have Multiple Leads due to the coil touching the magnets (in part 1 of our series, we noted that you can, as long as the magnets are taped during manufacturing). Some pickup designs can, however, like our Steel Pole 42 and Steel Pole 43 pickups. In these designs, the coil never contacts the pole pieces, allowing us to reverse the coil direction with ease.
That said, we still need to ground out the chassis of the pickup, which features all the metal – the cover, pole pieces, and baseplate. Otherwise, you would experience a buzz every time you touched the pickups’ metal parts. Let’s dig into how you can reverse the coil direction using Multiple Leads:
2-Conductor with Shield:
You’ll see our 2-Conductor With Shield lead on P90s, Twangmasters, P-92s, and Hum-Cancelling Jazzmasters. 2 Conductor With Shield features a shield that will ground separately from the reversible coil wires.
3 Wire Configuration:
You’ll see 3-Wire on a lot of Strat® and Tele® designs, but the concept is still the same. One wire grounds out all of the extra metal separate from the coil.
HOW TO INSTALL:
If you install a pickup using either a 2-Conductor or 3 Wire configuration, you might experience Out Of Phase when combining with a model from another manufacturer. Fear not! We can simply reverse the coil direction and you should be back in phase following these instructions:
Reversing a 3-Wire configuration is simple. Keep Blue Grounded (This is your Chassis Ground) and reverse black and white. Drag the handle below to see which leads get reversed, and which one stays grounded:
2-CONDUCTOR WITH SHIELD:
Reversing a 2-Conductor lead follows the same approach illustrated above. Keep the shield grounded and reverse black and white!
Note: 2-Conductor is just an example. 3-Conductor with Shield and 4-Conductor with Shield are all reversible.
Well, that’s about it! Reversing the pickup polarity by flipping the leads is an easy, non-invasive way to get your pickups back in phase with each other. We hope this helps!