Mini Toggle Switch FAQ – Coil-Split a Humbucker Pickup

mini toggle switch faq

Coil-splitting humbuckers

Many of our mini toggle switch FAQs begin with an inquiry into whether or not you can coil-split just any humbucker. Theoretically, any humbucker can be split, but in practice, it’s dependent upon the way the manufacturer has built the pickup. To split a humbucking pickup, you need one with four lead output wires, because they are actually the beginning and end — or positive and negative — of each coil. Humbuckers are designed to connect the end of one coil to the beginning of the second.

If you purchase a humbucking pickup but do not intend to split it, you will need to connect the wire from the end of the first coil to the wire at the beginning of the second coil before installing the pickup in your guitar. You will use the remaining two wires — the beginning of the first coil and the end of the second — to connect the pickup to your guitar.

You might also like this HumbuckerSoup article: Push-Pull Pot FAQ – Coil-Splitting a Humbucker Pickup

In the interest of easy installation, many pickup manufacturers will complete the extra step of connecting the two coils for you, and supply you with a pickup that only has two wires. In vintage times before guitar players had the idea to split their pickups, or wire them out of phase, all humbucker pickups came with only two wires.

Mini toggle switch FAQ: What is a split-coil pickup?

A split-coil pickup is a humbucking pickup that normally uses two coils but is wired in such a way that it only uses one of them. This gives a pickup single coil qualities that many guitar players desire, and it makes the pickup more versatile.

Mini toggle switch FAQ: What is the difference between coil-tap and coil-split?

The split-coil is when you wire your humbucker pickup to only use one of its two coils. A coil-tap is when you add an extra output lead from somewhere in the middle of a coil. This extra output wire can then be attached to a switch, and a guitar player can then switch between using a full-coil, or only part of one.

Any coil can be tapped, but only a humbucker can be split. A coil can be tapped any number of times, but in practice, it’s usually only tapped once.

You might also like this HumbuckerSoup article: Mini Toggle Switch (DPDT) – Use This to Coil-Split a Humbucker Pickup

Mini toggle switch FAQ: Why would I want to coil-tap a guitar pickup?

Coil-tapping a guitar pickup is when a single coil, or a humbucker coil, is manufactured with an extra output lead coming from the center of the coil. These two output leads are then attached to a switch which allows a guitar player to switch between using a full coil, or just part it.

One reason a guitar player might want to do this is if they have a high output pickup. A high output pickup often loses high frequencies because of overwinding. A coil-tap would allow a guitar player to regain some high frequencies by splitting the coil when a high gain output is not needed.

Mini toggle switch FAQ: How many wires does a humbucker have?

A humbucker pickup has four wires, which are the beginning and end of each coil, (also known as the positive and negative of each). Many times a manufacturer will connect the end of one coil to the beginning of the other to save the consumer the extra step, and only supply a two-wire pickup.

You might also like this HumbuckerSoup article: Coil-Splitting a Humbucker Pickup with a Push-Pull Pot

Our resident electronics wizard came by his skills honestly — first as an apprentice in his father’s repair shop, later as a working musician and (most recently) as a sound designer for film. His passion for guitar led him to Humbucker Soup, where he continues to decode the wonders of wiring and the vicissitudes of voltage. Ed has never taken his guitar to a shop — he already knows how to fix it.