Seymour Duncan wiring
Whenever I fit a Duncan single coil pickup into a two pickup guitar where the other pickup is not a Duncan, the middle switch position (both pickups on) always comes out sounding a bit 'honky' or what is sometimes referred to as 'out of phase'. This doesn't seem to happen with other makes of pickup I've fiddled around with in recent years — Gretsch, TV Jones, Bare Knuckle, Fender, Wilkinson, Hofner, Dearmond etc.
I've recently fitted a Phat Cat (humbucker sized P90) into the neck position of a Tele that has a Wilkinson bridge pickup. With the old Wilkinson neck single coil I always got what I think of as a 'normal' sounding middle position sound. All I've done is replaced like with like — I know I've connected the Phat Cat exactly in the same way as the pickup I've taken out. There is no hum in any position (other than the slight hum if you get too close to the amp, but that's normal with single coils) and the volume is the same in all three pickup positions. Individually the two pickups sound just as you would expect — but the middle sound is a real hollow 'honk'.
If switching one of the pickup wires round the other way is the answer, will it matter which one I switch? I ask this because it will be easier to work with the longer wires of the Wilkinson bridge pickup that the Phat Cat.
Had the same issue with a Phat Cat in the neck of my 72 Custom RI Tele and the stock Fender bridge pup. SD customer support said to switch the bridge pup wires around. It's been a while since I did it, and an SD Jerry Donahue's in there now, but I think I remember having to cut the little jumper ground wire to the bridge pup base and run a new ground wire to the bridge since things were then reversed from the Fender pup's original layout. But it worked. Don't know if the Wilkinson is the same. If that (the ground wire thing) came out as confusing as I'm afraid it did, call SD's customer support and they'll explain it better.
wyowill: Thanks for that, I'll give it a try and see if it sorts it out.
On its own the Phat Cat does sound pretty good, but very 'jazzy' with not a lot of bite, even with the tone pot fully up. I'm wondering if this is due to the value of the Tele pots (no markings, but presumably 250K). I might have expected this effect with a humbucker, but the Phat Cat is still a P90 single coil, albeit a bit beefier than a normal Tele neck pick up. I guess I'll just have to live with this because, as things are, the bridge pickup is as bright as I'd want it anyway — putting in 500K pots would make it far too shrill.
I thought Duncan was kind of notorious for winding their stuff opposite to just about everyone else. I picked up a polarity tester from StewMac a while back after years of frustration. You can take the neck pickup out of the Tele's tone circuit; it's not a common mod but there are schems on the net for it.
"You can take the neck pickup out of the Tele's tone circuit"
ukfuzz: thanks, I'll look out for that. Actually I seldom knock back the tone on a Tele anyway. If I want to try and kid people into thinking I can play something jazzy then I play one of my 'sensible' guitars, back off the tone and try and look like I know what I'm doing!
I'm coming round to thinking what I really want is a Tele with two independent volumes and no tone control. I know Duncan does a circuit diagram for this, but I now wonder if this diagram assumes the use of two Duncan pickups, both wound 'wrong way round'. If that is indeed the case, I'd still need to connect up the Wilkinson bridge pickup t'other way round.
Hey guys---great discussion. I work in New Products at Seymour Duncan, and previously headed up tech-support, so hopefully I can help shed some light on this wiring/phasing stuff.
Our chief engineer told me that when Seymour Duncan began manufacturing pickups in the 1970s, we matched the 1950s specs that both Fender and Gibson used for winding direction and magnetic polarity. Back then, both company's pickups were in-phase with one another. Over the years, however, Fender changed their specs (a few times actually) before they ended up with the specs that they use today. Since the first Fender instruments only selected one pickup at a time, it really didn't matter what the winding direction or magnetism actually was. By using the 50s specs, we were assured that all Duncan pickups would always be in-phase with each other. The downside is that once we began, there was really no turning back without confusing matters even worse.
That said, it is important to us that you know that we understand this issue and how it affects you---and that we will always help in any way we can. You can always call our tech support dept at 800 738-6226 EXT 501 if you have questions about phasing issues, or if you want to know which wires to flip, etc. In the case of the Phat Cat, the leadwire is a vintage-style braided wire, so you can't flip that around without lots of buzzing. If you flip choose to flip the wires on your lead pickup instead, there are a couple of steps (depending on what type of pickup you have).
For Dave_K's above Wilkinson pickup, there are (I think) three wires: red, white & bare. If you need to flip the phase, just reverse the red & white wires on the Wilkinson (leave the bare wire grounded---always).
For flipping the phase on a Fender Tele lead pickup, you need to cut the little jumper on the bottomplate that connects the bottomplate to the black wire. It's a little 1/4" wire on the bottom of the pickup. Once that is cut, you can reverse the hot & ground wires on the fender without complication (Just make sure the bridge is grounded with a separate wire if it is not already).
Hope this is helpful.
^^ This is why I love Seymour Duncan products.
Scott, Thanks so much for joining in on this thread. I'm hoping I have the simple answer to my 'honky' both-pickups-on tone — I've a Duncan Broadcaster bridge pickup in the parts drawer and I'm now planning to use it as a replacement for the Wilkinson bridge pickup (which only has two wires). That ought to do it, I hope.
Incidentally, any thoughts on the pot values for a guitar with one Broadcaster lead pickup and a Phat Cat at the neck? Still the usual 250k?
A case of two 'wrongs' make a right? Replaced the Wilkinson bridge pickup with the Duncan Broadcaster and, hey presto, no more middle position 'hollow honk'. The Broadcaster and the Phat Cat make a decent match for one another.