Half Shaved Yaks

Guitar Pickups

I have been making split coil pickups.

Single coil pickups pickup hum. But regular humbuckers with two full width coils have their own darker sound.

If you want a twangy fender sound (or even a P90 sound) there isn't really a commercially available pickup that does it without being susceptible to hum.

But the answer is right there in Leo Fender's early designs in the P-bass pickup. It is known as a split-coil pickup. (not to be confused with a coil split, which means using only one coil of a trad humbucker)

There are two coils, but each only covers half the strings, so there is only one coil covering each string, so you get a single coil sound and also the humbucking effect.

This is hardly ever done on guitar and I can't see why not.

Leo did it with his Z pickups on some G&L guitars in the 80s, but the design was also different in other ways (I haven't heard them). There's also an early Fender 12 string that has split pickups. Aside from that this excellent system, though commonplace on bass, has been largely ignored on guitar.

So I decided to build some split coil guitar pickups.

I am willing to make these for others. I'm also open to commissions of unusual pickup designs. If you are interested please email me (at parenthetical at this domain) to discuss it.

Model S1 - a split coil strat style pickup with alnico 5 polepieces

split coil strat pickups

split coil strat pickups

split coil strat pickups in a natural wood telecaster

A set of 3 pickups for a strat style sound, these ones are made in a humbucker sized frame and can be installed in any guitar routed for standard humbuckers.

Model WR - a split coil pickup with a fatter sound in a widerange size frame

split coil widerange size pickups

split coil strat pickups in a squier CV 70s telecaster

These have a fatter but still single coil sound, and are designed to fit in a widerange rout such as on Thinline telecasters. The larger format gives more leeway in designing the coils.

Model PP - a split coil pickup with adjustable polepieces

split coil P90 type pickups

split coil P90 type pickups

split coil P90 type pickups

split coil P90 type pickups

These pickups have adjustable polepieces like a P90 and opposed magnets under the coil like a P-90. They also have wider coils than a strat pickup and sound, unsurprisingly, more like a P90, but without the hum.

These pickups are mounted directly on the scratchplate like a strat pickup, not in a frame. This allows more space for the magnets underneath.

These could also be made with alnico polepiece magnets as in the above designs, but mounted on the scratchplate as these ones are.

These can be made with Neodymium, Alnico or Ceramic magnets. The magnets pictured are neodymium, which gives a very direct, precise, almost agressive sound. Alnico magnets are not available in a suitable size, but I have had some modest success with breaking longer alnico bars in half and I'll try those next.

These are not made to fit an existing standard routing, so may not be suitable for retrofit unless you are willing to rout out the pickup cavity on your guitar.