Switching - series vs parallel

paddybrown

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Aside from my two Les Pauls I also have a Strat, which I've modified by putting a Seymour Duncan Twangbanger in the bridge and wiring the bridge pickup to the middle position and the middle to the bridge position so I can have the bridge and neck pickups on together, to get a Telecaster-ish sound.

I read that Brian May's guitar has a switching system that can use his three single coil pickups in any combination, in and out of phase, so I bought a Brian May-style wiring kit from Guitar Fetish, thinking it would allow me to switch between strat-style sounds, tele-ish sounds and in-series humbucker-ish sounds.

But my reading on the internet seems to suggest that "out-of-phase" on May's guitar doesn't mean the same thing as "out-of phase" on a strat, which isn't technically out of phase at all, but rather in parallel.

Have I understood that right? If I install this kit as recommended, will I lose those classic Fender in-between tones? Is there a way of using the same switches to switch between series and parallel rather than in and out of phase? Advice would be much appreciated.
 

Zoobiedood

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Well, i am not sure how the harness works..but there is a terminology problem. Strat pickups are always in parallel, and never out of phase. However, people mistakenly describe positions 2 & 4 on a Strat as out of phase, like using 'vibrato' and 'tremolo' interchangeably.
On the GF website, I didn't notice a diagram on that page, so I am not sure what it is electronically doing.
 

AHGrayLensman

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Have I understood that right? If I install this kit as recommended, will I lose those classic Fender in-between tones? Is there a way of using the same switches to switch between series and parallel rather than in and out of phase? Advice would be much appreciated.
There are a couple different ways to have both standard Strat parallel wiring as well as Red Special series-with-on/off-and-phase-reversal wiring:

Classic Player
Wiring Help - Series/Parallel Switch | Fender Stratocaster Guitar Forum
 

Zoobiedood

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From that first diagram, it looks like just series and phase. No parallel.
 

Cols

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Brian May's Red Special has the pickups wired in series, not parallel, with the option to reverse the phase of each pickup. Two pickups on and in phase will be humbucker-ish, while putting them out of phase results in a clear, piercing tone. Additionally, the Burns Trisonic pickups he used (looks like your kit has reproductions of these) have a very different voicing from Strat singlecoils; higher output and creamier.

You'll probably have difficulty getting the traditional Strat in between sounds with this, but it's a fantastic setup with a ton of different tones available, all the way from thick saturation to ice-pick-to-the-eardrum treble.
 

Zoobiedood

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The traditional Brian May set up is its own thing. It really sounds nothing like a Strat to my ears. The quack is gone, but there are new, different sounds there.
 

eddie_bowers

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Well, i am not sure how the harness works..but there is a terminology problem. Strat pickups are always in parallel, and never out of phase. However, people mistakenly describe positions 2 & 4 on a Strat as out of phase, like using 'vibrato' and 'tremolo' interchangeably.
But aren't they? How would the inbetween positions be humbucking unless they are out of phase? Isn't that what RWRP means? ( Reverse Wound Reverse Phase). I guess being bother RW and RP cancels itself out so the signal from the strings is in phase but hum is out?
 

Cols

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But aren't they? How would the inbetween positions be humbucking unless they are out of phase? Isn't that what RWRP means? ( Reverse Wound Reverse Phase). I guess being bother RW and RP cancels itself out so the signal from the strings is in phase but hum is out?
You've got it absolutely correct! There's an article here which goes into more depth.

Pickup Polarity And Phase Made Simple | Seymour Duncan

Basically, the crucial difference for your application is that parallel wiring will retain the open, airy sparkle of single coils without increasing the output while series connection will give a higher output and fatten the tone. Both will be hum bucking.
 

Zoobiedood

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I use RP to mean reverse polarity, not phase.
f you just reversed one, it would be out of phase. The phase isn't reversed, it is the polarity.
From that article:
For two single coil pickups to be in phase, both the magnet polarity and the wind direction have to either be identical, or opposite. In other words, two pickups with the same wind and polarity will be in phase, and so will two pickups that have opposite polarity and wind. If the two pickups have the same wind but different polarity, or the same polarity but different wind, they will be out of phase with each other.
 

rabidhamster

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Yes, strat positions with the cluckng are called in between, not out of phase. Hum canceling is due to reverse polarity not being out of phase. Humbuckers use this premise and aren't out of phase with each other, unless you mod them

To hear a fender out of phase try a mustang. They've got a phase switch built in. It's a real thin sound - that is to say - you only hear the difference between the two pickups only, only what out of phase signal doesn't cancel out between the two pickups. Usually it's good for lead or funk breaks only.

Interesting tone but not nearly as useable as strat inbetween tones Imo

You can get a super switch to wire middle position to be neck and mid instead of just the mid single.
You can also use the super switch and a pull pot to switch between standard strat layout in the middle and neck+bridge instead. Might be more elegant for you than the way it is now
 


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