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Humbucker to Single Coil: Blend Knob. Holy crap it's great.

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by GreatGreen, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. GreatGreen

    GreatGreen
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    ---- I posted this on another forum and it got a decent response, so I thought I'd share it here with you guys as well. ----

    Hey guys, a couple of months ago I bought a Les Paul and decided to change the pickups. I figured that while I'm changing the pickups, I might as well look into making the guitar do exactly what I want, so as usual I went way too far down the rabbit hole and learned basically everything I could about pickup wiring, and came up with this weird configuration, which I love.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To some of you, this may be sacrilege but it suits me perfectly.

    Here's how it works:

    For reference, the knobs are labeled in blue and oriented as if you are looking at the guitar sitting in your lap.

    1. Master volume for both pickups. Yes, both pickups. On a Les Paul. Yep.
    2. Bridge Tone. Push-Pull for coil split. (the diagram shows the push-pull element as separated from the tone pot but I just drew it like that for clarity)
    3. Humbucker / Single Coil blend pot for Neck pickup. Blends between full humbucking and full single coil mode. At 0, the inner coil is off leaving only the outer screw coil active.
    4. Neck Tone.

    The blend knob is obviously the most noteworthy thing about this setup, so that's what I'll talk about. It effectively blends the pickup between humbucker and single coil modes by simply acting as a volume knob for only the inner coil, which sounds great and works exactly like you'd think it would. As you dial the knob down, you slowly add more chime and shimmer to the pickup until you end up somewhere in strat/tele territory. I converted the pot into a no-load pot as well, so the pot itself is actually true-bypassed out of the signal path in humbucking mode. I wired the pot to dial out the inner slug coil so that single coil mode means the outer, screw coil is activated. This coil sounds more "necky" and round to me so the pickup can get particularly Strat-like when fully coil split.

    The official name of the mod if you want to Google it is called “the spin-a-split mod” and uses a 50K pot. Not a typo, that's '50K' and not '500K' which might seem weird but that's the way they work best. If you use a normal 500K pot, you don't get any coil blend happening until the last tiny bit of sweep.

    I'd highly suggest trying this if you can. I'll never go without one again if I can help it. It really does give you the best of both worlds and everything in between if you want. It's easy to get the sound of a humbucker with just a bit more chime on top, or a single coil with just a bit more body than normal. It's great. Totally worth sacrificing the extra volume control for, which I didn't like anyway because I'd always swap to a pickup with its volume at 0 and lose my sound for a second, which was distracting.

    Anybody else try this? What did you think?
     
  2. Wigam2

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    Looks interesting - never thought about blending the two vs coil taps. Do you find you use the blend vs one or the other?

    I'm also not a fan of 2 volume knobs. . .
     
  3. Admin M@

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    Spin-a-Split. Cool name. But do you use the in-between positions? I have a blender pot on my Strat and I use it as an all or nothing.
     
  4. Johan Allard

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    Interesting, the only thing I would change is to make the bridge push-pull switch between series and parallel wiring instead.
     
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  5. reclavea

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    Great job and I like the options best!

    How do you convert a pot to “no load”?
     
  6. GreatGreen

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    I do actually. Realistically there's about 4 positions I use. Full on, full off, and like, 7/8 and 2/3.

    7/8 puts just a bit of chime on the humbucking sound, and 2/3 puts just a bit of body back into the single coil sound.

    I pretty much followed this method. Worked great!

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/making-a-no-load-tone-pot.283492/
     
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  7. GreatGreen

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    If I could do it again, and I eventually might, I think I'd wire up a single master tone control instead of having two of them, and I'd wire two spin-a-split knobs intead, one per pickup. I'm kind of surprised by how useful it is and how much I've liked it.

    One thing about single coils vs humbuckers though is that with humbuckers, you traditionally use 500K volume pots, but with single coils, you traditionally user 250K pots. If I were to get really crazy, I'd use stereo pots on those spin-a-split controls and wire a spin-a-split control to the left sweep and a 250K resistor to the right sweep so that when you're in full single coil mode, you're in full 250K volume pot mode. Although, it would probably be more realistic to put the 250K resistor on a push-pull pot, but I haven't really been able to find 50K or 25K push-pull pots.
     
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  8. Bman

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    I would definitely consider something like this. My Les Paul is a one trick pony.
     
  9. jlynnb1

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    interesting..but when I use the middle position I like the bridge volume on 10 and next somewhere around 7. couldn't get by not being able to adjust it.
     
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  10. chucma

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    Totally agree, I use the middle position and also with the bridge fully open and neck on 7, gives such a sweet clean sound that breaks up nicely. If I didn’t have this I would use my LP a lot less.

    Really clever ideas by the OP though, if I still had my spare LP I would give it a try!
     
  11. Bman

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    I've heard some refer to using the middle position to get a tele type sound. I've got a LP and never came close to the tele sound. My Charvel in the 4th position sounds like one.

    If you wanted the keep both volumes, couldn't you take one of the tone knobs and convert it? Personally, I'd keep the neck tone to get that woman tone.
     
  12. Zelja

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    I have done something like this with just a resistor to bypass one coil instead of shorting the coil completely - gives a fuller sound that than a normal coil tap. The spin-a-tap makes that variable which is a very good idea. I reckon you could probably go lower on the pot value too unless you have very high wound coils.

    One thing I am wanting to try is the same concept but with a dual pot, working on both coils at the same time. Effectively would make both coils weaker gradually (& hence a brighter overall sound) but would retain the humbucking properties. Probably put a resistor in series with each of the dual pots so you couldn't turn of the pickup completely.
     
  13. Rex

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    Isn’t that called a volume pot? :)
     
  14. Zelja

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    No. It changes the inductance of the pickup, both coils at the same time. It wouldn't just merely attenuate the overall original signal like a volume pot would. Would work very differently.
     
  15. Rane

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    I love weird wiring. I've done a ton of experiments myself, but usually end up going back to something relatively normal, at least as far as wiring is concerned.

    I currently have a "single coil" tele-style guitar running Zexcoils. Really like those. Also have a "metal" guitar running Tosin Abasi Fluence pickups. Really like those as well.

    I've tried my best to get both sounds out of one guitar, but have never really succeeded. There always ends up being some sort of compromise. The Fluence pickups have an amazing sounding "single coil" mode, but they're still quite modern sounding. I've also recently come to realized that guitar hardware can have a noticeable impact on tone. For example, I'm pretty sure a lot of the twang associated with a Tele is the result of the "ash tray" bridge, not just its pickups (as I previously thought).
     
  16. Rex

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    Can you help me understand that? Going back to my circuit analysis classes, you can't change an inductance with a resistance.
     
  17. 1poorplayer

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    Interesting. I’m not opposed to changing things up on the right guitar.
    My favorite LPs are my R0s. 1960 reissues. I get all of the pickup tonal variations I could ask for with the traditional switches , pots and pickups.
    What I’ve found with these guitars is that the pickups are all relatively low output. The result is a clearer , “almost” single coil kind of sound , especially when you back off the volume knob a tad. When I got my first taste of the pickups in these reissues , I was addicted.
    Now days Gibson wants a fortune for them. Too bad. Their first guitars were the best , they know it , and have to rape people who want them.

    I could see trying some different wiring options like this on other guitars if I had more time though. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  18. Zelja

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    Think of it this way:
    - Shorting the coil completely (normal coil tap) effectively bypasses one coil completely.
    - A resistor across the coil (fixed or variable, the latter being the spin-a-tap) effectively bypasses some of the coil, the lower the resistance, more of the coil is bypassed (it's like having a smaller coil)
    - What I was proposing is the same as above but on both coils at the same time.

    I did some tests with my multimeter which can read inductance. Humbucker with - Total DC resistance 8.33k, one Coil DC resistance: 4.04K, other coil 4.34k (slightly imbalanced coils). Total pickup inductance (both coils) - 5.05H.
    Tests carried out as follows:
    - Short one coil - Total PU Inductance - 2.25 H
    - Short other coil - Total PU Inductance - 2.0 H
    - Place 3.3k resistor across first coil, other coil normal - Total PU Inductance - 2.78 H (higher than 2.25 if coil shorted completely)
    - Place 6.8k resistor across first coil, other coil normal - Total PU Inductance - 3.27 H (higher again with larger resistance)
    - Place 6.8k resistor across first coil & 3.3k resistor on other coil - Total PU Inductance - 1.01 H (much lower as both coils somewhat bypassed)

    Inductance definitely changing! As expected too, the smaller the resistor, the smaller the inductance, as more of the coil is effectively bypassed.

    Stuck a pot across one coil too & same results, total PU inductance changes as the resistance across the coil gets smaller.

    Try it. If you have a multimeter with an inductance setting then all you need is some crocodile clips & a few different resistors or a pot.

    Once again, very different to a volume pot which voltage divides the overall signal from a PU.

    Sorry to the OP for the hijack.
     
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  19. Bman

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    It sounds interesting if you can dial in a Peter Green type tone.
     

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