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Coil Splitting And Extra Noise


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There are 4 ways that you could could coil split a humbucker:

  • center leads shorting one coil to ground
  • center leads shorting one coil to hot
  • one of the leads disconnected from the coil (so the center set is connected instead of the hot, or instead of the ground)
  • removing both ends of the coil from the connection (so only one of the coils is connected at all)

Now, unless my electronics knowledge is wrong, from an ideal analysis view, those 4 methods yield the same result, and it is possible to select either coil with one of those methods. The issue comes into play that the real world is far from ideal. Our shielding isn't always perfect, wires are actually small value resistors, and so forth and so forth. This means that each of these configurations could have different effects on the sound, in that the unused coil could still be adding a bit of signal/noise.

Is there a preferred method of the 4, or one that is generally to be avoided?

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I've always shunted the unused coil to ground or left it open in the case of a five-way switches, etc. I understand what you mean about the coil out of circuit creating noise, however wouldn't all the other pickups out of circuit do this also? On that basis I think it is as correct to leave a coil floating as it is to shunt the signal to ground.

When I read the title of "extra noise" I figured it might be an issue with buckers turning into single coils and hence being more noisy. The suggestion of a dummy coil a la Suhr or Music Man replacing the coil switched out sprung to mind. No matter!

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