So what exactly is the difference between series and parallel wiring in a pickup?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ImaStupidBaby, Dec 16, 2012.


  1. ImaStupidBaby

    ImaStupidBaby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    Location:
    Newton, Kansas
    Hey guys,
    I have a 99 warwick streamer std, it's a bass that is almost exactly like this one that a TBer was selling a few years back: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f126/near-mint-99-warwick-streamer-std-4-wenge-neck-587272/ except mine is a 5 string, has a lot more knicks and dings and the finish is the same color as the neck. The auction says that the volume pot is a push/pull pot which switches the pickup between series and parallel.

    So my question is what exactly does the series and parallel switch do? I could never really notice a difference in tone, but then again, I just sent it to get the popping sound it would randomly make fixed.

    Has anyone had success changing the pickup out?
  2. Stealth

    Stealth Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    This page will give you a decent explanation on how parallel and series work electrically.

    Sonically, a pickup internally wired in parallel has a more refined tone with pronounced lows and highs, with de-emphasized mids, while one wired in series has a punchier tone with boosted low mids, but reduced highs. Once you get the bass fixed, plug it into an amp, set everything on it to the 12-o-clock position, play something in parallel mode, then switch to series and repeat it. If the switch is properly wired, you should hear quite a clear difference. Whether you want to keep the switch or hardwire the pickup to one of the settings is up to you.

    Note that, if the pickups are properly wired in series and in parallel mode, the pickup will still remain a humbucker, it won't be as noisy as a soloed single-coil.
  3. ImaStupidBaby

    ImaStupidBaby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    Location:
    Newton, Kansas
    awesome, thank you.
  4. line6man

    line6man

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2008
    Location:
    Close to Los Angeles, CA
    [​IMG]

    OUTPUT JACK!

    The resistance of instrument cable is ridiculously insignificant. He is confusing the effects of parasitic capacitance, which creates a low-pass filter with the pickup impedance, to reduce the output impedance at high frequencies.

    There might be more; I just glanced through and noticed those two errors. Otherwise, it's a good website.
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  6. Stealth

    Stealth Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Yeah, the page owner did get his terminology mixed up a bit (the out-of-phase explanation is best avoided altogether) - but those images are still the best ones I'd found around that explain series vs. parallel. :D
  7. ImaStupidBaby

    ImaStupidBaby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    Location:
    Newton, Kansas
    so a humbucker is basically two pickups right next to each other? if i were to remove the plastic cover of the pickup, I'd basically see two pickups (not that I would do that), right?
  8. Stealth

    Stealth Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    You'd see two coils, yes. A pickup is an assembly of one or more coils, usually enclosed in a casing. So, if you put this, a Jazz bass coil, and mounted it on a bass, you'd call that a single-coil pickup:

    [​IMG]

    But if you stuck two together under a bigger casing and put that in a bass, you'd call that a humbucker pickup:

    [​IMG]

    Either way, if it's mounted under one case, has its own rout in the bass body and/or has its own set of wires coming towards the switches, volume and tone controls, it's a pickup, regardless of whether you have one, two, three or even four coils inside. Yes, there are even pickups with that many coils:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The latter has two coils in each line.
  9. ImaStupidBaby

    ImaStupidBaby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    Location:
    Newton, Kansas
    So I got the bass back today and it sounds a lot better. The luthier put in a new input jack, looks like he re-soldered some of the connections, put fresh regular slinkys on it, gave the neck a good cleaning (there was some corrosion near the brass frets) and adjusted the neck. It sounds great now. The push pull pot does make a difference in tone, but I'm considering putting an active preamp in it.

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