Put some shimmer and spank into your dual-humbucker guitar with this alternative wiring scheme.
Recently a client brought in a 1995 Fender Strat and asked me to replace its two humbucking pickups (Photo 1). The original pickups had been upgraded years ago with a set of Seymour Duncans—a JB in the bridge position and a Jazz in the neck slot. These are excellent pickups and typically sound great in most guitars, but my client said they were too dark for the type of music he plays.
It was tempting to sell him a new set of pickups, but instead I recommended we rewire the pickups in parallel (more on this in a moment) to see if that would provide the brighter tone he was looking for. Because both pickups have a 4-conductor harness, I knew we could pull this off using the existing 3-way blade switch and without adding any extra switches to this guitar—an important consideration for the owner.
Each guitar has its own resonant frequency. Some guitars are bright, some are darker, and some are just flat-out midrange heavy. In large part this has to do with the density of the wood and the quality of the hardware, which helps explain why certain makes and models of pickups can sound fabulous in one guitar, but not so good in another. If your humbuckers sound too dark, rewiring them could be the perfect solution. It’s certainly worth trying before you replace them.
Some background. The two coils in a humbucker are typically wired in series. This produces the highest output, but also the darkest tone. If a humbucker has a 4-conductor harness, its coils can easily be wired in parallel. In this configuration, you lose about 20 percent of your volume, but the tone is brighter and cleaner.
When a humbucker’s coils are connected in series, the signal path of the first coil flows through the second coil and then on to the pickup selector switch, volume pot, and output jack. When wired in parallel, the two coils still operate together, but the signal path doesn’t travel from one coil into the other.
Planning the procedure. Stock Seymour Duncan JB and Jazz humbuckers are wired in series. Before we can modify the 4-conductor harness to wire the coils in parallel, we need to understand the Duncan color codes (Photo 2). Except for the bare ground wire, each colored wire is either the “start” or “finish” of a coil. How these wires are connected determines whether the pickup is wired in series or parallel. Here’s the breakdown:
• Black is the start of coil 1.
• White is the finish of coil 1.
• Green is the start of coil 2.
• Red is the finish of coil 2.
• Bare wire is always the ground.
Note: This applies only to Duncan pickups—other manufacturers use different color-coding schemes. See “Obey Your Color Codes” for more details.
Photo 3 shows these five wires connected in a series configuration. We have the black wire acting as the hot or primary lead, and the red and white wires are soldered together to create the series link (that is, they connect the two coils).
The green wire is connected to the bare wire and then soldered to the back of a pot to create a ground. Figure 1 shows how the hot wires connect to the 3-way blade switch for series wiring, and how the switch itself is configured.
Photo 4 illustrates how to connect the wires of a 4-conductor Duncan humbucker in a parallel configuration. As you can see, black and red are joined—they become the hot or primary lead. White and green are connected to the bare wire to become the ground, and all three are soldered to the back of a pot. The parallel wiring diagram for the 3-way switch is show in Figure 2.
By wiring the humbucker in parallel, we have connected the start of coil 1 to the finish of coil 2. For the ground, we have connected the finish of coil 1 to the start of coil 2 and both are joined to the bare wire.
Doing the deed. After removing the strings and pickguard, unsolder the pickup wires from the switch and pots, being careful not to overheat them. Separate the wires from each other with your soldering iron. Next, twist and solder the black and red wires together. Do the same for the green and white wires, and join them to the bare wire. Now solder the black and red to the input lug on the 3-way switch, and the green, white, and bare wires to the back of one of the pots.
That should do it. Put the pickguard back on, restring, and test out your new tones.
Obey Your Color CodesDifferent pickup manufacturers use different color codes for their 4-conductor humbuckers, so before you start brandishing that hot soldering iron, make sure you’ve got the right color codes and have figured out how to connect the wires. Here are a few parallel wiring combinations for several other popular pickup manufacturers.
- DiMarzio: Red and white are hot, black and green are ground.
- Gibson: Black and white are hot, green and red are ground.
- Jackson: Green and red are hot, white and black are ground.
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Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
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Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
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For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.