Seymour Duncan ST59-1 Coil Splitting

Seymour Duncan ST59-1 Coil SplittingThis time we’ll talk about modifying your guitar so you'll be able to coil split your Seymour Duncan ST59-1 pickup.

Before we get into our Seymour Duncan st59-1 coil splitting, we should talk about just what this modification is and why you may want to do it.

Coil Splitting

Coil splitting is when you use a switch to shut off one of the coils in your humbucker pickup. We split a humbucker because it gives us single coil tones, and it expands our sonic palette with a straightforward and reversible mod.

Getting Started

This modification is not exclusive to the ST59-1; it can be accomplished using any humbucker pickup that has four colored wires and one bare wire. We are talking specifically about the Seymour Duncan ST59-1 coil splitting in this post because of its wire color consistency. This is not the case with other manufacturers; you’ll find that with them, there is very little consistency in the color of the wires.

The ST59-1

The Seymour Duncan ST59-1 is also known as the Little ’59 Tele. It was designed to be a direct replacement for the standard Telecaster bridge pickup, but it will sound great in many other applications. The Little ’59 is a Mini-Humbucker, which means that it fits into a single coil space in your guitar. It uses a ceramic magnet to get a little more output, and it is wax potted to reduce microphonic feedback. It is described as warm and full-sounding, with a medium Gain output.

The Switch

We need to choose what type of switch we will use for this modification. For this article, we are going to use a push-pull pot because it allows our mod to be reversible, but you can use a toggle switch if you would like. The downside to the push-pull pot, however, is that the switching mechanism requires more space below the pot and some guitars may not have enough room. You will want to check your guitar before deciding which switch to use. A push-pull pot is a regular Volume or Tone control with a switch built into it. So, pulling out, or pushing in the shaft of the pot toggles the switch.

A toggle switch will be wired the same way; you’ll just have the added challenge of having to decide on where to install it on your guitar. Guitars that have pickguards with a lot of open space underneath are candidates for the toggle switch.

Installing the Pickup

To do this mod with a pickup other than the Seymour Duncan ST59-1, you will first need to figure out which of the colored wires go to each coil, but since we are going with the ST59, we already know. The Green and Red wires go to one of the coils while the White and Black wires go to the other. The Bare wire is a shield wire that always goes to Ground. (Fig 1)

Fig 1

The standard way to wire the ST59 for regular use is to solder the White and Red wires together. We then use the Black wire as the Hot, and the Green as the Ground, when installing the pickup into your guitar. The Bare and Green wires are often soldered together. Fig 2)

Fig 2

The next thing we do is install the pickup. For this article, we are going to wire it as if it is the only pickup, and we are only going to be concerned with the Volume control and the Output jack. If you need step-by-step instructions, we have an article here at showing you how to install the ST59-1. (Fig 3)

Fig 3

Splitting The Pickup

First, change the standard Volume pot to a Push-Pull. The Push-Pull pot will be bulkier and have more connection tabs on it, but you should be able to see the three that were on the original. Wire these three tabs the same way as the original pot was wired. (Fig 4)

Fig 4

Now we will number the additional tabs on the Push-Pull pot, one through six. (Fig 5)

Fig 5

Take the Red and White wires that we soldered together in Fig 2 and solder them to Tab 5 on the Push-Pull pot. (Fig 6)

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)

Fig 7

And that does it… you’re finished. 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.


Standard operation: When the Volume knob is pushed in, your guitar signal travels through the first coil, starting at the Black wire, continuing through the second coil, and exiting the Green wire.

“Split” operation: Your signal never goes through the second coil. When the Volume knob is pulled out, your guitar signal travels through the first coil, starting at the Black wire and exiting through the new ground wire that you installed (coming from the switch).

You can split any humbucker that has four wires. The only difference will be the color that goes to each coil.

See you next time!