1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Four-way wiring on a MM pickup

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by kumimajava, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. kumimajava


    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    I've tried to find wiring diagrams for this, but had no luck. Hoping someone here could help me out a bit.

    So - in a single MM-pickup, dual coil with four wires, what would be a good way of wiring up a selector for the following 4 options:

    1. north coil single
    2. south coil single
    3. series
    4. parallel

    (not necessarily in that order)

    Could that be done on a single selector, or would i need multiple?

    any comments welcome & appreciated :)
  2. brianmharrison


    Oct 11, 2007
    You could get a blade switch to do this.


    It gets complicated wiring but you could do a 3 way switch for coil selection the a 2 way switch or push/pull knob for series/parallel.

    I actually putting together a similar bass right now and I decided to do a 3 way mini switch with series/south coil/parallel.
    kumimajava likes this.
  3. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Perhaps use a Stingray 5 wiring diagram as a starting point. It already has as standard 3 of the 4 wiring options on your list.
    kumimajava likes this.
  4. kumimajava


    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks for the suggestion - to my (somewhat great) shame, I've been staring at it for a good long while, and can't figure out how to add the switching from north to south coil :(

    Edit: apologies, i've been looking at a different diagram (one that does series/parallel/single - the Stingray does north/series/south). I'll have a look at the stingray charts now, maybe that'll make more sense :)
    brianmharrison likes this.
  5. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Doing 3 out of 4 is simple and available on most everything with a MM pickup. Getting that 4th one changes everything. I eventually just gave up and found that series/parallel/single was the better option. Never really heard a difference between north coil/south coil switching.
  6. BassGyver


    Jun 29, 2004
    If you want all 4 positions, the best way is to use a rotary switch (3 poles 4 positions).
    Example here with a Nordstrand MM5.2 pu in my Warwick "Maple Monster" Thumb:

    Or use a 4 way toggle switch (each tele pu being one of the coils of your MM pu)
    kumimajava likes this.
  7. kumimajava


    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks for your response, and for the sound clip. Both very helpful :)

    That sounds about perfect, the 4-way rotary switch. I could re-wire the bass/treble to a single stacked pot, and use the 4-way rotary switch instead of one of the current pots. No need to alter any of the woodwork :)

    If you've wired your Nordstrand in that way, any chance I could ask you to take a pic of which "coloured" wire goes where? I know this is a total noob request but - well, that is what i am :(

    I know different pickup makers use different colour coding, for N+/N- S+/S-, but I've not found for the Nordstrands. Working backwards from the wiring diagrams on their website, I've come up with the following:

    Green & red: north. Red = +/start ; green = - / end.
    Black & white: south. Black = + / start ; white =- / end

    Would that be correct?

    Thanks for your help!
  8. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009

    one coil by itself vs the other coil by itself will make a marginal difference.

    series/single/parallel is easily doable with a 3-way DP/DT mini-toggle switch.
  9. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Marginal, but noticeable. More so with a wide pickup like an MM than a soapbar.
  10. I always liked the late 80s Stingray 5 wiring (parallel, series and bridge coil with no dummy coil). I modded my Stingray 4HH by removing the neck pickup und reworking the selector switch to go parallel, bridge coil, series, neck coil, no coil (mute switch). I think there is a noticible sound difference between the bridge and the neck coil.
  11. Personally, I'd use a rotary switch. A three-pole, four-throw (3P4T) rotary switch will only be a few bucks.

    As others have said, having separate single coils is pretty useless in the real world. Yes you can hear a subtle difference when you are in your bedroom, but in a mix, or with a band...?


    You should also know that the series setting will be significantly louder (usually around 6dB) than the other settings. And if you are feeding a Hi Z onboard preamp directly, the tonal difference also will be surprisingly similar. I recommend having an attenuator on the series setting. This way it is the same volume no matter where you place the switch. (Ernie Ball do this with the 3-way switch on the stingrays.) A passive attenuator placed before the preamp will also load the series setting and give you a warmer tone. A much better contrast to the other settings.

    Here's how I'd wire this, using a 3P3T switch. (In reality, you'd actually use a 4P3T rotary and not use one of the poles.)


    If you really still need that other single coil sound, a 3P4T switch can be wired like this, with attenuator on the series setting, but with the fourth throw selecting the other coil.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
    kumimajava likes this.
  12. kumimajava


    May 19, 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks for all the help, everyone. A good idea on matching the output on the series, with the others - will keep that in mind :)

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.