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Pickup polarities...

5/24/1999 8:15 PM
Steve A.
Pickup polarities...
    Over the weekend I heard that SD, Lindy Fralin and Van Zandt all wind their single coil pickups in the same direction and with the same magnetic polarities. So that you should be able to mix'n'match a Fralin neck pu, a SD middle pickup (RWRP) and a VZ bridge pickup.  
    DiMarzio pickups are supposedly backwards, so you'd have to get their RWRP version instead of the FWFP (and vice versa). Like use a RWRP DiM for the bridge or neck, or a "regular" DiM for the middle position (if you are mixing and matching with SD, LF or VZ).  
Steve Ahola  
P.S. I haven't tested this out myself so you better double check the polarities before soldering them in!
5/25/1999 8:22 AM

Strange business, this phase of pickups. Every time I want to try new pickups in a strat the phase is wrong! It's actually pretty useful to check the magnet polarities with a compass. But here's some things I've noticed.  
It doesn't make too much difference if the pickups aren't in a hum-cancelling set-up, unless you wire them in series, when the hum gets a bit loud.  
It's pretty easy to swap the phase, but you have to make sure the shield still goes to ground.  
John Atchely's guitar shielding methods mean you can stop worrying about hum, and do what you want with the phase.  
I'll never understand why all replacement pick-up manufacturers can't keep the phase the same as stock Fender. It'd make life a lot easier.  
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5/28/1999 3:43 PM
Dave James

Have you, or anybody here, performed the Atchley "hum buster" mod? I did and achieved some reduction, but not what I expected from reading his article.  
My '95 MIJ Strat is now quieter than my son's '96 Strat Squier and I have to believe that the electronics are similiar.  
Anyway, any feedback would be a great sanity check!  
Dave James  
5/25/1999 11:05 AM
Mark Hammer

Maybe it's just me, but I was under the impression that ALL pickups were wound in the "same direction". What differed between pickups was whether the leads going to the inside of the coil were hot or ground, and whether the magnets pointed "up" or "down". I have been winding pickups for years, and always wind them the same way (not much choice when using a hand drill as your winder). I have no problem getting hum-cancelling, as long as I am careful to attend to which lead is hot and which is ground. As long as the polarity of the polepieces pointing up in one coil is opposite to another coil, all you need to do is reverse the polarity of one of the coils by swapping leads (e.g., if the white goes to hot on one of them, then the black goes to hot on the other), and make sure that any grounded pickup covers are wired appropriately.  
My sense is the kafuffle over winding direction is simply so that users could mindlessly treat one particular lead (e.g., the white one on a Fender pickup) as hot all the time, without having to keep track of anything else.
5/26/1999 1:38 PM

You're much too sensible!  
I guess that a pickup maker's standard coil winding direction had to do with the physical layout of the particular winding apparatus they concocted. Which way the mandrel turns, where the wire spool was located, and even the worker's (right/left) "handedness".  
Magnet polarity is arbitrary. I can't imagine what might be the benefit of one over the other. Everyone knows "north is up" ;-). Not really, but most maps are drawn with that orientation, so it becomes engrained in one's way of thinking. So then what made most folks pick "south-up" polarity for strat pickups??  
I also noticed that strat pickups and tele pickups from the same mfr don't have the same polarities. Even the big"F" changed magnet polarity on strat pickups a couple times since 1954.  
It would be nice if everyone did it your way, Mark.  
We recently talked about the benefit of a thin insulating layer over the magnets, prior to laying on the wire. On some vintage-style pickups I've encountered, there has been some electrical connection between the magnets and the start windings, which will cause a great increase in hum pickup if the start(inside)was used for the signal hot. Some pickups are wound with an insulating layer (DiMarzio says their "Velvet" pickups are built this way), so that polarity reversal does not influence hum pickup. I wish more mfrs would adopt this nice little feature. After all, ease of installation and greater customer satisfaction can only boost popularity and sales.
5/26/1999 9:05 PM
Steve A.

    The suggestion was thrown out awhile back that perhaps a strat pickup would be quieter if the ground lead was on the outside of the coil... like maybe the outer wraps would function as a shield??? Of course as you said if an inner wire is touching a pole piece you'd get an extra dose of noise.  
    BTW can anybody confirm the orientation of a compass needle? If it points to North then the arrow end of the needle itself would be South- right? So if the compass needle was attracted to the top of a coil, the coil top would be North. (Maybe that sounds like a really dumb question but some very obvious standards are in fact backwards...)  
    Moving on to humbuckers, I noticed that SD seems to orient their bridge pickups so that the North-topped coil is on the outside (nearest the bridge). With the SD Jazz neck pickup the North-topped coil is also on the outside (nearer the neck). So the two inside coils are South. Would there be more or less magnetic interference on the strings if the magnetic polarities of all 4 coils were staggered? (As a matter of fact I flipped the magnet and reversed the leads on my SD Jazz neck pickup hoping to create a hum-cancelling effect in split coil mode. BTW it didn't work!)  
    Also, what is the effect if you were to rotate one of your humbuckers 180 degrees? Would that make them out of phase with each other? I'd heard that Peter Green's Les Paul was like that...  
Steve Ahola
5/27/1999 6:44 AM

To get humbucking in coil cut mode you don't need to mess with the magnets. You just have to choose the right combination of coils from each pickup. That is, decide which coil you will cut. See the pickup switching system I use in may guitar at Plate to Plate.  
Peter Green used a bridge pickup on the neck. This gives a hotter signal, but you if you have a metal cover you have to rotate it so that it looks "right". Other than the hotter signal I don't think it makes much difference. The hotter signal is because the amplitude of the string vibration is bigger at the neck than at the bridge, so bridge pickups tend to be hotter to be ballanced with the neck pickup. My guitar uses a bridge pickup that I took from a Les Paul copy on the neck position, so it is just like that.
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