Paul Reed Smith – Pickup installation, Wiring Modification Coil Tap and Phase Reversal
South Austin Guitar Repair
This is the type of project I totally geek out with. I LOVE wiring modifications on guitars. I often wonder why coil tapping isn’t a standard on every guitar. You have a guitar humbucker that can always single out one or the other side of it’s coil, why not add a push-pull pot and give the guitar an extension of it’s tonal range?
Ah, let me back up a few steps here. What is this coil-tapping and phase reversal you ask? A humbucker is a dual coil guitar pickup. It’s essentially two, single-coil pickups wired together to cancel that age-old wiring hum. By wiring a pickup to a switch, you can single out either side of the humbucker’s coil and have the sound of a single-coil pickup. With 2 humbuckers, you’ve now doubled your guitars potential sound!
Phase-reversing involves flipping a humbucker’s magnet polarity. The effect it gives is a thinner, nasally, quackier sound. It seems to accent different overtones when switched on and even makes it easier to play harmonics… though that’s more of an opinion. Phase-reversing was used a lot in the 1970’s and 80’s. The effect is liked by a lot of blues players for lead tones… though certainly not limited by it.
So first off, the guitar’s owner provided a set of DiMarzio humbuckers which first needed to be installed and two holes needed to be drilled for the mini-switches. The push-pull potentiometer was used for the coil-tapping switch, and the on/on mini-toggle for the phase-reversal. After an hour or so of meticulous soldering, the electronics were ready and working.
Something interesting, which I was unaware upon the start of this job is the phase-reversal switch also acts as a coil selector when the humbucker has been split. In other words, you can select which side of the humbucker you single-out when the coil-tap is enabled. With these two switches installed, this guitar’s tonal range increased exponentially from 3 tones, to 15!
After all this funness with wiring, the guitar was set up to C standard. The string slots of the nut all needed filing to fit the new, larger strings. Lastly, the guitar was strung up and this job was done!
Does your guitar have more to say? Call Andrew from South Austin Guitar Repair (512) 590-1225 to find out more on humbucker wiring modification.