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Coil Split VS Coil Tap: Is there a difference?

In short, yes...

Though the two are often confused, they have quite different functions. Most commonly found is coil splitting, which is in reference to humbucking pickups, coil tapping is less common but usually found in single coil pickups.

Coil Splitting

A method of 'turning off' one of the coils in a humbucker, so that, when 'split,' you will only hear a single coil, the output will halve (usually,) and you will get a quieter, quackier, single coil tone. You will also get more unwanted 60 cycle hum, as the pickup is no longer 'bucking' the hum.

Coil Tapping

This differs from splitting as although we are lowering the output to get a thinner sound, we are not working with 2 coils. Tapping occurs in single coil pickups, it can technically be a feature of humbuckers but is less common. A coil tapped single coil will have 3 wires, 1 ground and 2 lead wires, the first lead wire will be your standard single coil pickup. However, if you wire up the second wire to you output instead, you will now have a reduced signal output. This is because when the pickup is wound, the maker will get partially through the thousands of winds and will hookup a lead wire, then will continue to wind the pickup until they have reached the desired amount of winds, they will then take another lead wire from this end point. This creates two different lead wires which, when wired up seperately, will result in different outputs as one will have fewer winds than the other. You can change which lead wire you are activating using a push/pull or mini toggle, allowing you to have 2 outputs and 2 unique tones from a single pickup. You may suggest though, why not just lower the volume to lower the output? Well the tapped pickup will not just be quieter, but will have a very different character.


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