5 Powerful Ways To Coil Split Your Humbucker
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
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:
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.
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:
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.
I do not see any diagram or explanation of a 3-tab mini toggle switch (‘on and off’ functions) to turn off the slug coil of a humbucker with 4 wires. Why is a push-pull pot the “best way'” to coil split?
Awesome article! If I want to split two humbuckers independently, can I use a push pull for volume and another for tone, then apply the mods above to it? Thanks
I was wondering, if I were to split two humbuckers with a partial split, would I go pot – resistor – 1 – 2 or would I go from pot to resistor to 1 and 2 seperately, needing two resistors?
Hey Sem, you’d need two resistors to make this work.
I have a 1988 Epiphone/Gibson Spotlight which was fitted with two EMG Select (asian) passive pickups originally, but someone had put in a two conductor Dimarzio in the bridge. It has one volume and one push-pull tone. The push-pull wasn’t really wired to split the coils. I am replacing the Dimarzio with an EMG HZ passive, and putting one of the Selects in the neck. The wiring was a mess, so I am redoing it all. The HZ is 13.6 and the Select is 8.6 ohms. I plan to put the HZ in the bridge. I would like to split both coils and use a resistor to beef up the Select output at the neck (method 3) when single coils are activated to get a more balanced output. What value should that resistor be? Thanks.
Hey Terry, it’s tough to say, but we’d probably recommend something like a 7K resistor to start.
You should write about parallell wiring. Long ago I had a DiMarzio Dual Sound with a three way switch in the neck position; humbucker, single coil and parallell.
I only used it in parallell. Loved that sound.