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  • Humbucker split preference…

    People that split their humbuckers, do you short to ground or short to hot? I’m not concerned with which coil the humbucker is split to since the wiring can be inverted on the pickups to get the right coil. Just wondering which method you prefer to split at the junction of the coils. I remember people saying that shorting to hot can make an audible pop when switching and that shorting to ground makes for a quieter split without the other coil injecting any sound into the output? But I’ve heard that one of these ways makes for almost an antenna for noise. What do you think?

  • #2
    Consider a 10M resistor between hot and ground: that's what Gibson used to avoid their VariTones to pop and it should work when splitting coils, without affecting the sound (10M is too high a resistance for that). Regarding a split coil behaving like an antenna, the trick is to close any unused coil on itself. As soon as its start and finish are connected to each other, the pickup shouldn't be sensitive to HF noise.

    Regarding favourite methods: personnally, I like to split with an ON/OFF/ON switch. One outer lug to hot. The other to ground. Junction between coils on center lug. It allows to close each coil on itself when split, and it doesn't pop nor make the split PU noisy IME.
    It also gives me each coil alone if necessary. The pickup keeps working as a normal humbucker when the switch is in center position.

    Sonically, there's slight differences. In a Gibson style humbucker, the screws coil tends to be darker sounding than the slugs one by design. But of course, the location of each coil under strings is also to take in account (the tone becoming darker while distance from bridge to coil increases).

    FWIW. HTH.
    Duncan user since the 80's...

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    • #3
      Originally posted by freefrog View Post
      Consider a 10M resistor between hot and ground: that's what Gibson used to avoid their VariTones to pop and it should work when splitting coils, without affecting the sound (10M is too high a resistance for that). Regarding a split coil behaving like an antenna, the trick is to close any unused coil on itself. As soon as its start and finish are connected to each other, the pickup shouldn't be sensitive to HF noise.
      So shorting the junction of the coils of a humbucker to ground would essentially close one coil on itself, eliminating ann chance of that coil acting like an antenna and complete the circuit for the other coil with the existing hot lead right? As opposed to shorting the junction to hot, which even with two hot leads, will render the one attached to the junction as the output but still possibly pickup something from the coil that’s not grounded. I’m guessing at that one.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bowtomecha View Post

        So shorting the junction of the coils of a humbucker to ground would essentially close one coil on itself, eliminating ann chance of that coil acting like an antenna and complete the circuit for the other coil with the existing hot lead right? As opposed to shorting the junction to hot, which even with two hot leads, will render the one attached to the junction as the output but still possibly pickup something from the coil that’s not grounded. I’m guessing at that one.
        Yes. And the unused coil might bring more than noise: its "remanence" and capacitive load might also interact with the tone, reasons why I prefer to close on itself any unused coil when splitting a HB. :-)
        Last edited by freefrog; 05-12-2024, 02:55 AM.
        Duncan user since the 80's...

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        • #5
          To illustrate my previous post, I share below a 5spice sim showing how the unused coil of a split humbucker interacts or not with the response of the PU when it's open (black lines) VS when it's closed on itself (red line).

          I've asked the sim to emulate a varying parasitic capacitance for the unused coil. In real life, this capacitive load depends on the pickup involved + its own wires + the wiring inside the guitar so the final result is impossible to predict except if one check the actual capacitance step by step... but an open coil MIGHT create unrequested peaks and dips beyond main resonance because of its capacitive influence, in a potentially noticeable and annoying way.

          FWIW.
          Attached Files
          Duncan user since the 80's...

          Comment


          • #6
            That’s very interesting. I’m curious what a partial split with a resistor looks like now.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by freefrog View Post
              Consider a 10M resistor between hot and ground: that's what Gibson used to avoid their VariTones to pop and it should work when splitting coils, without affecting the sound (10M is too high a resistance for that). Regarding a split coil behaving like an antenna, the trick is to close any unused coil on itself. As soon as its start and finish are connected to each other, the pickup shouldn't be sensitive to HF noise.

              Regarding favourite methods: personnally, I like to split with an ON/OFF/ON switch. One outer lug to hot. The other to ground. Junction between coils on center lug. It allows to close each coil on itself when split, and it doesn't pop nor make the split PU noisy IME.
              It also gives me each coil alone if necessary. The pickup keeps working as a normal humbucker when the switch is in center position.

              Sonically, there's slight differences. In a Gibson style humbucker, the screws coil tends to be darker sounding than the slugs one by design. But of course, the location of each coil under strings is also to take in account (the tone becoming darker while distance from bridge to coil increases).

              FWIW. HTH.
              My understanding is if the entire coil is hanging off the hot side, then it's an antenna. If the coil is closed on itself and grounded, then it does nothing. It was either ArtieToo or GuitarDoc that pointed it out and had wiring strategies to avoid it.

              However, I have guitars that split to either, just alternating between shorting to ground or to the hot side to choose the coil, and since the single coil picks up noise on it's own, I can't say I've noticed significant noise increase or drop from one unused coil vs the other. Whatever effect the unused coil has, it seems to be drowned out by the noise of the single active coil.

              Comment


              • #8
                I will say coil split is not a sound I have too much use for.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by beaubrummels View Post

                  My understanding is if the entire coil is hanging off the hot side, then it's an antenna. If the coil is closed on itself and grounded, then it does nothing. It was either ArtieToo or GuitarDoc that pointed it out and had wiring strategies to avoid it.

                  However, I have guitars that split to either, just alternating between shorting to ground or to the hot side to choose the coil, and since the single coil picks up noise on it's own, I can't say I've noticed significant noise increase or drop from one unused coil vs the other. Whatever effect the unused coil has, it seems to be drowned out by the noise of the single active coil.
                  The first paragraph seems to translate my perception too.

                  About the 2d paragraph: a solution is not necessary where there's no problem but a problem of noise might precisely appear of not depending on the playing "situation", IME (close to neon or halogen lights, open or closed unused coils won't necessarily react in the same way, for instance. At least that's what has been noticed here).

                  ... and anyway, questions of noise aside: IME, an "open" unused coil might affect the harmonics, in a way depending on its remaining capacitive load and not necessarily desirable sonically : that's what I was trying to share in the post 5... :-)
                  Duncan user since the 80's...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bowtomecha View Post
                    That’s very interesting. I’m curious what a partial split with a resistor looks like now.
                    Sorry to be too busy to answer in details about that right now. Let's just say that partial split prevents the possible negative effects of coil splitting but also gives a rounder response than a pure single coil mode. It may sound pleasing or not, depending on the HB involved IMHO/IME. YMMV.
                    Duncan user since the 80's...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Chistopher View Post
                      I will say coil split is not a sound I have too much use for.
                      I've gone back and forth on coil switching. When I first learned about it, I loved playing with it. But I quickly found that it doesn't sound good in a lot of cases. Then later I realized that the right pickup, typically a high output pickup, can sound great. On vintage output pickups, I just don't bother. But on hot pickups, it can add a lot of options.

                      I currently have a Les Paul with a JB in the bridge, with a single switch that does series/split//parallel. The JB is hot enough that it sounds great in all 3 positions. This is now my preferred application when it comes to switching.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Supernautilus View Post

                        I've gone back and forth on coil switching. When I first learned about it, I loved playing with it. But I quickly found that it doesn't sound good in a lot of cases. Then later I realized that the right pickup, typically a high output pickup, can sound great. On vintage output pickups, I just don't bother. But on hot pickups, it can add a lot of options.

                        I currently have a Les Paul with a JB in the bridge, with a single switch that does series/split//parallel. The JB is hot enough that it sounds great in all 3 positions. This is now my preferred application when it comes to switching.
                        I've done many, many spin a splits and parallel to selfs that started as requests for a conventional split. But when I talk over applications (especially humbucking live) and demo the sounds, probably 40% decide on parallel, spin, or partial splits.

                        What's really interesting is probably 5-10% of those that do the conventional split, come back and ask for the alternative.

                        I know I'm heading off topic here but my point is that many people seem to think split covers all of these approaches or they're not aware of the differences.. and as many of you probably experienced, a split that works well at home, may not work in the mix.

                        But I do appreciate this thread very much.. there are times when splits just work and frankly I don't think about the radio antenna potential very often so thanks for the reminder.
                        Last edited by zionstrat; 05-13-2024, 01:47 PM.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by beaubrummels View Post
                          My understanding is if the entire coil is hanging off the hot side, then it's an antenna. If the coil is closed on itself and grounded, then it does nothing. It was either ArtieToo or GuitarDoc that pointed it out and had wiring strategies to avoid it.
                          I think we both did. If you "short" to ground, or to hot, there will be no antenna problem. The unused coil is removed from the circuit. The antenna problem comes when you select either the tap or full for the output. If you leave the black wire unterminated, on the hot side, it will be an antenna.

                          Done quik-'n-dirty:

                          Click image for larger version

Name:	Goog_split_Bad_split.png
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                          Last edited by ArtieToo; 05-13-2024, 09:11 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ArtieToo View Post

                            I think we both did. If you "short" to ground, or to hot, there will be no antenna problem. The unused coil is removed from the circuit. The antenna problem comes when you select either the tap or full for the output. If you leave the black wire unterminated, on the hot side, it will be an antenna.

                            Done quik-'n-dirty:

                            Click image for larger version  Name:	Goog_split_Bad_split.png Views:	24 Size:	5.4 KB ID:	6279625
                            So in this diagram, the split is when the circuit is closed and the open circuit symbol is to just show that the circuit where you would open or close right? And as long as the black wire is still connected to output, it works best when you short to hot aka the series red/white junction to that black wire end of the coil going to output and not leave the black wire hanging. Which has me kind of stumped as to why I see diagrams that take the series junction of a humbucker and send it to output on a pole of a switch but not have the last wire of the humbucker connected to output in the same switch position (like an inner/outer coils in parallel wiring I’ve seen). Probably to conserve switch poles and lugs maybe?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ArtieToo View Post

                              I think we both did. If you "short" to ground, or to hot, there will be no antenna problem. The unused coil is removed from the circuit. The antenna problem comes when you select either the tap or full for the output. If you leave the black wire unterminated, on the hot side, it will be an antenna.

                              Done quik-'n-dirty:

                              Click image for larger version

Name:	Goog_split_Bad_split.png
Views:	194
Size:	5.4 KB
ID:	6279625
                              If the switch is open, doesn't the 'good' split kinda have the same problem as the 'bad' split where there's a bunch of ungrounded wire hanging off the slug coil?
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