Putting Strat picups in series?


Hero Member
Hey, probably a dumb question, but...

Would wiring Strat pickups in series (Neck+Middle, probably) produce any tone similar to a Neck Humbucker? Or is the (Humbucker) tone found in some engineering/architectural aspect of the pickups aside from the number of coils?  :icon_scratch:

Thanks for any help.
you would probably get a sound like Brian May's red special. His guitar has three sigle coils wired in series. Should be able to find diarams of it on the net.

I don't know about series, I'd like to try it someday, But let me tell you about a guitar I built for a buddy.

He wanted SSH, we added a push/push pot to turn on the neck pup, so the neck bridge combination sounds totally amazing,

he used a JB junior (humbucker) in the bridge, and  VanZants in the mid and neck.  all pups sound good individually, the Jb jr. is underpowered a bit. But the combination of the bridge/neck is like the "Too Die For" tone - sound.

with the push push "OUT" the neck is on all the time, so with the switch in the 2nd position ( bridge and middle) all 3 pups are on.

I wanna build a guitar with an SD custom custom in the bridge and 2 VanZants all wired like my buddies guitar, and maybe add some of them peizo pickup saddles too, that would be the ultimate guitar- painted black with gold Van Halen stripes and gold hardware
Sounds nice.
Basically, here's what's going on inside my head:
I have an absolutely worthless guitar (made of something like particle board  :evil4: ) and it's a long story how I got that thing. But I have a really nice amp. The neck pickup of said guitar sounds really nice compared tot the bridge, so that's a tone I want. I would like the option of a thicker than strat tone, aside from that, I'd just like strat switching. I don't need much else.

So what about the miniature single coils? I've heard that they are far from the exact sound, but if they come closer, I may like on in the neck position, and then put together something similar to what you've done with your buddy's guitar. It sound really cool!  :icon_thumright:

Right now, I need to figure out what kind of pickup route (and, I don't really want a swimmingpool route *shiver* ) to get because I'm about ready to order a body and neck , and I'd like to order them at the same time, etc.
Thanks for your help!
i wouldn't say it'll sound like a humbucker but that's a subjective thing. the magnetic feild has a lot to do with to sound. typical humbuckers have a shorter coil and are normally wound with a slightly heavier wire. they have a dc resistance of somewhat less than double a single coil.
of course there are many many exeptions. if you decide to do this i'd choose a low output single coil. who knows you may end up with something that sounds good. be warned that the output will be very high.

if you decide to try a rails p/u they're not bad. don't expect a gibson sound though. i have a lil' scremin deamon from seymour duncan in the neck position on my strat and i'd say it's like a singe coil but less sparkly. more of a sizzly sound. not really a full warm neck humbucker.
Single coils and humbuckers both use #42 wire as standard, with tele neck pickups using #43 wire as the rule.  Of course, recipes vary.

Lets see.  Using a tele 4 way switch on a 3 way series.....

one position does nothing, so you have all three in series
one position shorts middle to itself, so you have neck and bridge in series
one position shorts neck to itself, so you have middle and bridge in series
one position shorts neck to itself and middle to itself, so you have bridge only

Using a "standard" Fender switch, you have two poles, so any two of the three pickups can be shorted it itself (bypass if you will) in a series chain.  If you really like the neck pickup -

one position does nothing - all three in series
one position shorts middle to itself - neck and bridge in series
one position shorts bridge to itself - leaving neck and middle in series
one position shorts bridge and middle to themselves - leaving neck only

This would be one FAT sounding strat, and you might find that the "neck only" position is the brightest.  Naturally you can rearrange the locations of the switch positions to suit your preferences.

If you used a "super switch" the wiring possibilities are far more intricate - thats up to your own imagination to work out.

I'm all in favor of the first scenario, provided that the tone controls are split, such that the bridge pickup has its own.
I'm thinking more and more about this and I'm beginning to think that I may just use standard Strat wiring and pickups; no series. I don't think I'll really need it that much. I think I'd mostly use Single Coil sounds anyway. If I did use series, I'd want it for rhythm, which rhythm output way too high for lead. Therefore, I think I'll just go Standard Strat route (in the body, as I hope to order it very soon). If I really need any sort of HB sound, I may try series or SC sized HB. I don't think I'll need to, though.
You can order "universal" routes on your strat body, it's a rout big enough to handle P90, single coil, or HB, but not a swimming pool. Maybe Universal, SC, Universal? Then when you change your mind later, you just need a pickguard and pups. I'm not sure what the tonal advantage of having SC routes would be.
I have 2 Warmoth strats with universal routing and think this is the bee's knees.

Have put everything from DeArmonds to P90s to Humbuckers to single coils in them with really good results.

It gives you a great platform to experiment. You sacrifice "body tone" but my poor old ears are too far gone to hear those sirens singing.

Thanks for the thoughts, guys.
I'm deciding more and more that I won't miss anything humbuckers had to offer (tonally, that is. I'm sure I'll mis the lack of hum, but so be it).
Basically, I spend all my time trying to coax brighter, clearer sounds out of that poor old guitar with its blunt, worthless pickups and particleboard neck.  :icon_jokercolor:
I like the neck pickups cause it's closer to the SC tones which I'm after.

I was just a little confused... Versatility is not going to be a major feature of this guitar currently in planning. I'll let the amp do most of that.

Thanks again, guys!