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Thread: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Has anyone had (or built) an e-mando that had a variable coil-split circuit on a humbucker pickup, along with a pot, so the humbucker could be 'dialed' variably between "full humbucker" mode and "full single-coil" mode?

    I know that some electric guitars have this feature, but I don't think I've seen one on an e-mando.

    Also, when it comes to conventional "on/off" coil-splitting switching, do you prefer a simple toggle or a push/pull on your tone or volume control, and why?
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
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    Closet Banjo Picker P.D. Kirby's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    I have never seen it on an E-Mando either but I have a Schecter Corsair ES-335 copy that has the push pull coil tapping and it's a very cool tone option. I will split the neck pickup and leave the bridge pickup in humbucker mode and it makes for some ferocious sustain and clean overdrive. The new Gibson BB-King model ES-355 has the variable coil splitting and I tried one at Sam Ash in Richmond and it was cool but not 5k cool. I bet it would be an easy mod because you can buy the DeMarizo pickups with coil splitting just about anywhere. Now you got me wondering if I should route out this craigslist Mandobird and upgrade it. Great now I gotta buy something else, Thanks Ed.
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    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Interesting thought.....
    Would that be series or parallel humbucking?
    Push pull switches give 2 options - single coil / series humbucking.
    3 position toggles give 3 options - single coil / series and parallel humbucking so the toggle switch is more versatile.
    Any 4 wire humbucker can be wired to those options.

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Hi Pete:

    The two guitars I'm aware of with the variable coil split are the Peavey T-60 and the new Fender Classic Player Jaguar HH.

    It looks like on the Peavey one controls the variable circuit with the tone knobs, while the Jaguar HH has seperate dials for it.



    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Yes, I have done it. The original 335 used a Varitone switch that is no longer produced but there have been a few knockoffs available but they are pricey. Personally, I don't think anything was gained from it other than crowding the top with more knobs and switches. Maybe the owners of those instruments will chime in. Stereo jacks were used on these as are used on the 335. I think the more controls, translating to resistance, you put in it the more the tone degrades.

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Thanks Andrew.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Yes, I've done that. A few years ago, I bought a 1980s solid-body emando by the now-defunct Canadian company "Amazing Musical Instruments". Their stock pickup was an early piezo in a cavity inside the body, and the tone was rather harsh but the instrument otherwise a great-looking and great-playing design. I modified it in several stages, as discussed in this old thread. In its current configuration, it has a GFS Lil Puncher mini-humbucker (rails type) as well as a separate under-bridge piezo pickup with on-board pre-amp, all in a tiny body about a third the size of most emandos. The GFS pickup has full four-wire configuration for wiring each coil separately in each direction, so I've installed a 5-way rotary switch for five different pickup configurations:

    1. Both coils in series in-phase
    2. Single coil 1
    3. Single coil 2
    4. Both coils in parallel
    5. Both coils in series out-of-phase

    As it's only a single switch controlling all of this, I don't think it degrades the tone significantly: in any one configuration, the signal path is pretty straightforward and I have decent star grounding and low hiss throughout. Whether it was worthwhile to install the switch in terms of getting different tones is a bit more marginal. Because it's a mini-humbucker with the footprint of a single-coil pickup, each coil is a bit weak when run in single-coil setup, and the two coils are so close together that there is no detectable difference in sound when you select one or the other. Inevitably, this also means that when the two are run out-of-phase, they cancel almost completely making setting 5 intriguingly spooky and otherwordly (as you want for out-of-phase tone) but too low in volume to be much use. That leaves only two really useful settings: in-phase serial and parallel. Those two are both strong and a nice contrast -- the parallel sounding much like a typical single-coil tone and the series sounding fatter and more humbuckerish.

    I think this wiring makes more sense with a full-size humbucker: the single coils are then big enough to work on their own, and far enough apart that they sound slightly different from each other, leaving more of an out-of-phase tone if needed.

    Here are some old photos of the pickup and controls.

    Photo 1

    Photo 2

    Martin

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    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    I did an interesting pickup replacement a while back - a Duesenberg guitar with 2 X 4 wire humbuckers, 3 way switch, volume pot and here`s the odd bit......the tone control had a centre detent. Turning it one way, it acted as a conventional tone control and the other way brought in the second coil of the humbucker - neck if I remember rightly.
    I don`t remember being particularly impressed.......................
    CheeryBye

  9. #9

    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    I have done the 5 way rotary switch that Martin did on his amazing and I had the same opinion of it. I really only liked three of the settings, so I settled on a three way switch on my emandos. I think thats about all you can do with a single humbucker. Besides that is what pedals are for. Anyhow, I think that Ed was really asking for a way to blend versus switching.

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Yes, my initial query was about getting a variable blend between single-coil character and humbucking character from the same, single humbucker.
    Another thing I'd like to know, and I'll ask here to avoid starting a new thread...
    What is the best way to get distinctly different (single-coil vs. humbucker) character out of the same humbucker? I'm thinking:
    * Use a regular design humbucker (as opposed to a stacked humbucker),
    * Place it in a middle position (not on the neck, not on the bridge), &
    * Wire it with a 3-way switch for (single-coil / series humbucking / parallel humbucking)
    Thoughts?
    Also, what pick-ups have you found to have great humbucker character and great single-coil character when wired this way?
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Andrew/Ed,

    Yeah, I noticed when I re-read Ed's original post that I had answered the wrong question. Sorry, no experience with the variable blending, and my instinctive feeling is the same as Andrew's, i.e. that having that sort of circuitry in the signal path isn't a good idea as it degrades tone.

    Speaking of variable blending, I did try to blend the tone from my piezo with the magnetic pickup with a blender pot, but that didn't really work as I couldn't get the impedances matched with or without a preamp. I settled on sending the two signals out separately for off-board blending.

    Martin

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Martin, no problem.
    I found your post very informative. Your comment about the difficulty of getting distinctive single-coil performance out of a low-profile humbucker (due to the weakness of the coils when used as a single-coil) was very insightful.
    I really appreciate all the responses...Good stuff!
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Switchable EQ is the way to change the pickup tone, I'd say, more flexible and allows using your ideal locations. Those matter a lot---slightly different spots yield very different harmonic sets.

    Boss has an EQ pedal that saves curves as software presets. To go from thin sparkly single-coil tone to fat humbucker you would boost the 1.6K while bringing down the 3.2K, and so on. Also simply switching any tone/boost pedal in and out gives a large tone/response change. Volume partway down plus tone part way down gives a fatter tone, although quieter than wide open of course. (With overdrive options high pickup output is unnecessary except for tube amp purists.) But it takes much more extreme EQ to get the sparkle with a large humbucker, since the greater separation between the coils cancels more high harmonics.
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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Very interesting way to look at the question, Tom.
    A few follow-up questions:
    * Where would you say is the optimum location for a single humbucker on an OM GDAE tuned solid-bodied electric?
    * What characteristics of a humbucker make it a good candidate for a single pick-up set up, and what characteristics allow a humbucker to work well with a good EQ pedal?
    * I assume the EQ pedal should always be the first pedal in one's chain?
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    I have used that Lil Puncher on a number of instruments. Just sold a four string with one on it two weeks ago. I will be using them on a couple economy builds that I am working on. I use a three way on/on/on switch with them for single coil/humbucker/out of phase and they work well. I don't hear much difference between a series and parallel switch. Hiscock had a formula on pickup placement where he'd start splitting the scale in half, then quarters etc so that it would be on a harmonic note. I place mine where I think they look good in proportion to the brdige and neck while still trying to get it a little ahead of where you pick so you don't hit it. A long scale instrument like an OM would probably require a more refined approach. especially if there is a lot of real estate between the bridge and the neck.

    I really like stacked humbuckers and wish I could find a good, economical source for them. How about it Pete?

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Goist View Post
    Very interesting way to look at the question, Tom.
    A few follow-up questions:
    * Where would you say is the optimum location for a single humbucker on an OM GDAE tuned solid-bodied electric?
    * What characteristics of a humbucker make it a good candidate for a single pick-up set up, and what characteristics allow a humbucker to work well with a good EQ pedal?
    * I assume the EQ pedal should always be the first pedal in one's chain?
    1) I would not settle for a single-pickup electric, why be handicapped? Locations have been found in the early days by guitar builders, I would emulate those. The location will tend to sound the same no matter the scale length---my mandolin bridge pickup sounds exactly like my Strat's bridge pickup (except richer, since it is a Ryder stacked). The neck pickup is identical in distance from the bridge as the Strat middle, so when using both it sounds like Jimi. If you ever played the Frampton-type Les Paul Custom, with three pickups, you would have noticed you get a very similar tone, for the same reason. Location affects tone because the harmonic nodes at that location are NOT picked up, being motionless.

    The reason for two or more pickups is to give you the same tone color range you can get acoustically by picking in the different locations. I guess I would go for near the neck if forced to settle for one.

    2) I don't know if you mean a stacked humbucker or standard type, but assuming the latter, I would look for skinny coils like the Firebird/Les Paul Special. I liked those on the Pauls I had. The brightest-tone design is what I would use, but choices are limited. No particular issue with EQ, except it is easier to make a single coil sound like a double coil than vice versa.

    3) Yes, I usually use EQ first, so the overdrive responds to the different tone. My new overdrive, however, has a rich tone and needs no input EQ for fatness. (King of Tone.)

    Andrew, are Steve's stacked singles too expensive?
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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by thistle3585 View Post
    ...snip...
    I really like stacked humbuckers and wish I could find a good, economical source for them. How about it Pete?
    Andrew, do you find the stacked, rail-style humbuckers from Seymour Duncan (the SCR-1 'Cool Rail', SHR-1 'Hot Rail', & STK-S2 'Hot Stack') and DiMarzio (the DP188 ProTrack, DP189 Tone Zone S, & S DP180 Air Norton) unsatisfactory because of performance or price?
    Last edited by Ed Goist; Mar-21-2012 at 7:52pm.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Tom,
    I assume you mean Steve Ryder. He wont sell to other builders.

    Ed,
    I know of the others, but I was hoping to goad Pete in to making them.

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by thistle3585 View Post
    ...snip...
    Ed,
    I know of the others, but I was hoping to goad Pete in to making them.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
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    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Hmmmm.......stacked humbuckers........have to be a small footprint - I hate the look of whacking great guitar pickups on dinky little emandos
    They`d have to be quite deep...1" minimum since the magnets would have to be half way down the pickup (same as the Fender Noiseless stacked pickups).
    Any concensus on preferred DC resistance?

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soundfarmer Pete View Post
    Hmmmm.......stacked humbuckers........have to be a small footprint - I hate the look of whacking great guitar pickups on dinky little emandos
    They`d have to be quite deep...1" minimum since the magnets would have to be half way down the pickup (same as the Fender Noiseless stacked pickups).
    Any concensus on preferred DC resistance?

    For what it's worth, and hoping it doesn't annoy Steve for me to spill the beans, his stacked HBs are 17mm deep, 18mm pole pieces (extending thru), and 15.5mm across the top, with normal wider bottom flange. DC resistance 7.85K on the one he made for my Buchanan 10-string, heard on the Zappa clip.
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  22. #22

    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    If your main concern is single coils sound, but would also like to have humbucking sound too, you could probably place two single coil pickups immediately adjacent to one another and then wire like a 4-lead humbucker. Isn't this basically what PRS does with one of their guitars now, where it's basically a H/S/H config, but done with 5 single coils? I agree, on an OM, there's no reason not to add 2+ pickups either for appearance sake, or for logistics of getting pickups crammed into a small space. Also, pickup placement is a difficult/impossible thing to emulate with EQ -- you can beef up a single coil to sound like a humbucker, but it would take one heck of an EQ to make a middle or bridge pickup sound like a neck pickup.

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    Créateur des e-mandos Soundfarmer Pete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    For what it's worth, and hoping it doesn't annoy Steve for me to spill the beans, his stacked HBs are 17mm deep, 18mm pole pieces (extending thru), and 15.5mm across the top, with normal wider bottom flange. DC resistance 7.85K on the one he made for my Buchanan 10-string, heard on the Zappa clip.
    Thanks Tom.....not fond of AlNiCo rod pickups though.....obviously these are the easiest to make in principle and so the obvious choice when I first set out experimenting with pickups.
    As I progressed, the main areas that concerned me were a lack of adjustment, availability of a stated magnet grade and magnets that weren`t magnetic.
    The lack of adjustment....not too much of a problem as long as a moulded bobbin is used to isolate the windings from the magnet - sliding the magnet up and down can wreck the insulation on the copper wire.
    Often luthier suppliers sell AlNiCo rods for building / rebuilding guitar pickups without stating whether 2,3,4,5 etc. (don`t think I`ve ever come across AlNiCo1)......they all have different strengths which brings me to the final point -
    Magnets are often sold uncharged....now I`ve seen it done where some makers wave the pickup between another couple of magnets - to my mind, unreliable....trouble is, emando pickups are very much a small niche market.....not a lot of demand (I can go weeks without an order) so the last thing on my "to buy" list would be a magnet zapper.

    Having said all that, I`ve just been out for a smoke and as often happens when I`m sitting in my shed, I get ideas.....I reckon I could do a stacked humbucker the size of a Tele neck pickup.......design time!

    Cheery Bye.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Variable Coil-Splitting Circuit on E-Mando?

    Pete,
    I think I still have an old magnet zapper sitting in storage. We used to make magnetic door alarms about twenty years ago. Maybe we can make a deal.

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