If I have a Humbucker in the bridge position of my Telecaster, can one of the coils be turned off with the 3-way switch?
A reader asked about turning off one coil of the bridge humbucker in his Telecaster via the 3-way switch. What he proposed is:
1. Neck pickup
2. Neck + one humbucker coil
3. Both humbucker coils
While I guess the answer might be technically “yes”, I am going to say the answer is in reality: “no”.
The reason is that we do not use “both coils” in the Humbucker. We actually run one coil into the next coil, and it might be better to look at a Humbucker as a Single Figure 8 Coil instead of 2 separate Single Coils. We can “split” the Humbucker by running a (switchable) wire to Ground right where the one coil meets the other coil. This actually “shorts out” the second coil, it doesn’t shut it off. So, in order to split the pickup we need a path to Ground. The 3-way switch in a Telecaster is a “Hot Wire” that selects which of the Hot pickup leads to send to the Volume pot. There is no ground connection available and adding one will short out the entire guitar. Without a ground we cannot split the pickup.