5 Ways To Coil Split A Humbucker

5 Powerful Ways To Coil Split Your Humbucker

Last Updated: February 3rd, 2021

Welcome back to the Fralin Pickups Workbench! Today, we’re discussing some exciting and unique ways to approach Coil Splitting with Humbuckers. There are a few different ways to Coil Split a humbucker, and we wanted to share the ones we use the most and analyze the pros and cons of each!

WHAT IS COIL SPLITTING?

Coil Splitting splits a humbucker into two single coils and sends one of the coils to ground.

Properly splitting a humbucker leaves you with a single-coil pickup, which provides more versatility and expands your tonal palette. This leaves you with a traditional single coil sound featuring a clearer pickup with bright wound strings. It’s a quick and easy way to add another dimension of tone to your humbucker guitars.

COIL SPLITTING METHODS:

There are more than a few ways to Coil Split a humbucker – and depending on the type of humbucker you have or what tone you’re trying to achieve, one of the coil splitting options below may fit the bill! But before we get into the methods, let’s first talk about the requirements of coil splitting.

The first requirement of coil splitting is to own a splittable humbucker in the first place. While it may sound obvious, you cannot split some humbucker designs. For instance, our Hum Cancelling P90s, Big Singles, P-92s, Split Blades, and Twangmasters cannot be split. Our Pure P.A.F., Modern P.A.F, and High Output humbuckers can, however.

The other consideration when wiring your guitar for coil splitting is making sure you have the correct lead. You cannot split a Humbucker with Gibson Braided Lead or 2-Conductor With Shield Lead. The only splittable humbucker lead is 3-Conductor or 4 Conductor, as illustrated below:

Note: Different Manufacturers have different wire color schemes

3 Conductor Lead Fralin Pickups
3 Conductor Lead with Shield
4 Conductor Lead Fralin Pickups
4 Conductor Lead With Shield

The last consideration when designing a new coil split wiring scheme involves your pickup’s output. Low-output humbuckers like our Pure P.A.F. sound pretty “wimpy” when split. When splitting a 7.5K Humbucker, a 3.75K Single Coil pickup remains, which doesn’t have enough output to match other single coils (our Vintage Hots come in at 6K, for reference). If you’ve made it this far – don’t worry – we have a solution for this! Now, let’s get to our coil split methods:


COIL SPLITTING METHOD 1: BASIC

Let’s start with the basics. Let’s assume you want to perform a simple Coil Split and split a single humbucker. The best way to do so is with a Push-Pull Pot, like one of our CTS® or Alpha® Push-Pull Pots. Here’s how to wire it up:

Splitting A Single Humbucker

The above image sends one coil of the humbucker to ground when the push-pull pot is pulled up. The easiest way to send a coil to ground is to run a wire from the push-pull switch to the casing of the pot, assuming the pot is grounded properly.

If you’re not sure how the above works, check out our easy-to-follow article on How Coil Splitting Works!

METHOD #2: SPLITTING TWO HUMBUCKERS AT ONCE

This method is great if you want a “Master Coil Split” option for your instrument. By pulling up on the Push-Pull Pot, you split both humbuckers at once, leaving you with two single coils in one fluid action.

This is a handy method if you have an HSH Strat, where you can instantly turn your Strat into an SSS Strat with one pull of the switch.

Splitting Two Humbuckers At Once
Splitting Two Humbuckers At Once

If you’re not sure how Push-Pull Pots work, I have a couple articles to make you a Push-Pull-Pot Pro!

METHOD #3: PARTIAL SPLIT

So, remember when we were talking about coil-splitting requirements and mentioned low-output humbuckers and how they can leave you with a wimpy single coil? Well, here’s the answer. Instead of splitting your humbucker directly to ground, we split a humbucker through a resistor to ground:

Coil Splitting With A Partial Split Resistor
Coil Splitting With A Partial Split Resistor

This “resists” some of the signal, preventing it from going to ground in the first place, leaving you with a much stronger and more usable single-coil tone. The Partial Split Resistor is the perfect value, and when splitting a 7.5K Humbucker, it leaves you with a ~5.7K Single Coil – a much stronger single-coil tone than splitting the humbucker in half.

METHODS # 4 & 5: GRADUAL SPLITTING

Lindy and I’s favorite method, Gradual Splitting, does what it sounds like it would do: it allows you to split your humbucker gradually, not unlike turning the volume down on one coil slowly. It’s valuable and will enable you to achieve even more versatility and functionality than just a simply Coil Split.

In the Left Image, we use a Blender Pot to split the humbucker gradually. This requires no Push-Pull pot and works excellent on an H-S-S Strat. By turning the Blender Pot, the slug coil gradually disappears!

In the Right Image, we use a Push-Pull pot to engage the Gradual Split. There’s no real difference between the two, but I figured we’d show you both just in case you don’t have a Blender Pot laying around.


I hope you found this article helpful! Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

12 Comments

  1. Great article. I’ll be subscribing and watching from now on. And ordering some of those partial split resistors, lol!!!

  2. Currently working on two 2005 and one 2006 squier 51 upgrading and or replacing pickups and pots any suggestions ?. Aloha

  3. with a blender pot, can a humbucker such as prail be partial split to either coil? can a 3 way toggle be replaced with a blender pot? and finally could you have 3 blender pots,1 volume, 1 tone, on a 2 humbucker setup? thinking of 335 and tele application.

  4. I’m just starting out on a long (and hopefully fruitful) trip into modifying my guitar. With the lockdown I haven’t been able to find a local luthier to chat to so it is proving a little slow. One thing I would like to check in my understanding is that if you split a humbucker then presumably you lose the noise cancelling. Modern single coil pickup appear to be designed to be noise cancelling (They appear to have two coils one on top of the other) so have the advantage of producing noiseless single coil tones. Is there anyway to split a humbucker and retain noise cancelling or is it just a feature of humbuckers?

  5. I’m partial to the partial split (had to be said). I’m eyeballing your high output humbucker. What would be the ideal value for the resistor for the partial split? If by chance it does not matter, which value would suppress more noise, higher or lower.

    I appreciate your time,
    Bruce

  6. I’m wondering if it would be possible to put two blender pots inline on an HH guitar? The first for splitting the humbuckers and the second to then blend the two pickups together? My though is to have 1 volume, 1 tone and 2 blenders with no switches. Do you think that would work?

  7. Hello,

    I have a guitar with 1 humbucker, 2 single coils, 1 vol. 1 tone, and a super switch. I have it wired neck, neck+middle, neck+bridge, middle+bridge, bridge. I have a wiring diagram for this. I would like to know how I could exclude the bridge pickup from the tone circuit while keeping the neck and middle pickups attached to the tone. Thank you.

    Luke

  8. Thanks! Is a blender pot different from a regular cts 250/500k audio vol pot?

  9. I have a Jackson guitar with a H-S-S pickup configuration. I’d like to split the humbucker so in position 2 of a 5-way switch I can get that classic Clapton ‘between the pickups’ sound that inspired the 5-way switch. Bui I don’t want to install a coil splitting micro switch.

    I think you have a schematic on your site that shows how to do that, but I was hoping you could refer me to the best push-pull type knob to make that happen.

    Thanks for your time.

    Sincerely,

    Doug

    1. Doug, if I’m understanding you correctly, you can do this with a standard CRL® 5-Way Blade Switch…unless you wanted a Push Pull Pot to perform this action? In that case our Standard Alpha Push Pull Pots will work just fine: Alpha Push-Pull Pots

  10. Hi, thx for all the tips you share. It’s always fun to come back to this page and read your articles because it’s so clear to understand and pages look very very clean. Nowadays, it’s rather rare on the internet, right?
    BTW, is it intentional thing that “THE WORKBENCH” top page only shows 10 articles since last March? I cannot go back to past pages nor search the past articles. It’d be even nicer if there’s index by month or series, which makes easier to search I think. Every article I’ve read is too good to be buried. Again, thanks!

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