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difference in parallel/series HB tone?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by sonicnuance, Jan 1, 2012.


  1. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Ok, I am dealing in generalities here, but stick with me..

    For a typical hum bucking pickup (side by side coils ala musician and four conductor wires), what is the tonal difference between series and parallel modes? I am aware that there will be a large volume difference.

    For the sake of argument, assume that the pickup is going into a high input impedance preamp.

    Thank you

    P.S. Believe it or not I haven't been able to find an answer to this using search
     
  2. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Carolinas
    I have two basses with MM buckers at the bridge...a Brubaker Brute with SGD pickups, and a Warwick Streamer with stock MEC's.

    Series is of course the most powerful. To me, the thing about series is that it boosts the mids a TON which is what gives it that classic punch.

    Parallel is..as you know already..a little lower volume. It also sounds brighter and more scooped. I don't THINK there's much difference in the low end either way, but series sounds like it has more low end just because it's so dang powerful. Especially the SGD in my Brute.

    A good idea might be to find some clips of a MusicMan Stingray which is wired in series, and a MusicMan Sterling, which is parallel.
     
  3. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Everything you said is spot on, except the Stingray is also in parallel. Musicman pickups are different in that they are medium impedance pickups. So they are wound on the low side, and then wired in parallel. In series they sound fuller with more lower mids, just as you described.

    The only audio example I have to illustrate series/parallel/single is from a Neo Jazzbucker:

    Series/Parallel/Single
     
  4. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Carolinas
    Wow I always thought Stingrays were series only. Interesting!

    If I can get off my lazy duff today I'll do some soundclips of my Brute with the SGD MM Neo pickup I got from David. I've got it wired with a series/single/parallel switch but I keep it in series. I could probably take the switch out.....but that 'lazy' thing keeps coming up :)
     
  5. sonicnuance

    sonicnuance Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 30, 2003
    California, USA
    Engineer & Owner, Sonic Nuance Electronics
    Very interesting example. Thanks for the help.

    I tend to prefer parallel mode when using a preamp so I can manipulate the tone to make it sound fuller yet get the clarity that seems to be lacking in series mode. So your description makes sense with what I have been noticing and it helps me tweak things to reach my goals.

    Thanks again!
     
  6. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Appleton
    You could install push/pull pots so you can go from series to parallel on the fly. I did this to one of my Hamers, I put a DiMarzio Model J in the bridge position. (It's a dual coil end to end design.) I put in a push/pull vol pot. Loud and full in series, woody and hollower in parallel.
     
  7. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Yep, parallel. Each coil is about 4k, so you end up with a 2k pickup.

    Why not hop over to the SGD thread, because someone was asking about putting the pickups in a Brute. :)

    I designed my pickups to be used in series, but that doesn't mean they aren't useful in parallel either. It's always nice to have options, if you want.
     
  8. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Carolinas
    I'm going to open this back up for discussion! Read post #2:
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f8/sterling-tone-ray-tone-841403/

    I had them backwards, but I KNEW one was series and one was parallel. I thought I was going nuts after 15 years of hearing that info!
     
  9. ehque

    ehque

    Jan 8, 2006
    Singapore
    I feel like parallel goes higher and lower (more flat) and series is more mid heavy.

    My Zon Vinny has 2 humbuckers which are both parallel-single-series switchable.
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    if you do a 3-way switch for parallel/split/series, you'll notice that parallel and the single coil mode are close to equal volume, and series is well boosted in the lows and mids.
     

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