By Ed Malaker
If you’re looking to get some fresh sounds from your Dimarzio Fast Track 2, coil-splitting is a great option to try. Coil-splitting is when you use a switch to shut off one of the coils in your humbucker pickup, to unlock single-coil tones from your humbucker. The sound will be brighter in tone, but there will also be a sharp drop in output gain, and the pickup will lose its humbucking qualities.
This modification can be accomplished using any humbucker pickup that has four colored wires and one bare wire. In this post, we’re talking specifically about the Dimarzio Fast Track 2, because of the consistency of the wire colors. With other pickups, there is very little consistency in the colors that are chosen for the wires.
The Dimarzio Fast Track 2
One of the advantages of a Dimarzio Fast Track is that it’s a mini-humbucker, and will fit right into a single-coil space in your guitar. It uses a ceramic magnet and has a resistance value of 18.07K Ohm. This pickup is known for its warm sound and emphasis on output gain.
We will need a switch to turn one of the coils on and off. There are two primary types of switches that we usually use, the push-pull or the mini-toggle, but there are also many other types that you might be willing to experiment with. For this article, we’re going to use a push-pull pot because it allows your mod to be reversible, but you can use a toggle switch if you’d like.
The biggest downside to the push-pull pot is that the switching mechanism requires more space below the pot, and some guitars may not have enough room to install it. You’ll want to check your guitar before deciding which switch to use.
Toggle switches have added challenges: you have to identify the best place to install it on your guitar, and you will be creating a permanent hole. Guitars that have pickguards with a lot of open space underneath are candidates for the toggle switch. In this case, if you don’t like the modification, you can always change the pickguard.
The Push-Pull Switch
A push-pull pot has all the same parts as a standard Volume or Tone control, but it also has a switch built into it. A player can activate the switch by pulling out or pushing in the shaft of the pot.
Installing the Fast Track 2
When coil-splitting this pickup, the Red and Black wires go to the one side of the coils while the White and Green wires go to the other side. The bare wire is a shield wire that connects to Ground (Fig 1).
Begin wiring the pickup the standard way by soldering the Black and White wires together. We then use the Red wire as the Hot and the Green as the Ground. The Bare and Green wires are often soldered together before being soldered to Ground (Fig 2).
Next, we install the pickup into the guitar. We’ll wire it as if it is the only pickup, and we’ll only be concerned with the Volume control and the Output jack (Fig 3).
NOTE: If you need step-by-step instructions, we have an article here at humbuckersoup.com on installing the Fast Track 2.
Splitting The Humbucker
Begin by changing the standard Volume pot to a Push-Pull Volume. The Push-Pull pot will be much larger and have more connection tabs on it, but you should be able to see the three that were on the original. Solder these three tabs the same way as the original (Fig 4).
Now we will number the additional tabs on the Push-Pull pot, one through six (Fig 5).
Take the Black and White wires that we soldered together in Fig 2 and solder them to Tab 5 on the Push-Pull pot (Fig 6).
Solder a wire from Tab 6 to the back of the Volume pot. It can be tricky to fit all of the ground wires on the back of a Push-Pull pot. It might be easier to move your ground wires to the Tone pot if you have one (Fig 7).
And now you’re finished!
NOTE: If you find that the coil is splitting when the Volume knob is pushed in instead of pulled out, move the Ground wire from Tab 6 to Tab 4.
When the push-pull pot is pushed in, your guitar signal travels through the first coil, starting at the Red wire and exiting through the Black wire. We tied the Black to the White wire, which is the beginning of the second coil. Our signal continues through the second coil, exiting the Green wire.
When pulled out, your guitar signal travels through the first coil starting at the Red wire and exiting through the Black, as it does the first time, but then it goes through the switch and our new Ground wire. Your guitar signal never goes through the second coil, so your pickup is now considered to be “split.”
For more articles on guitar electronics, visit humbuckersoup.com.