Guitar Repairs 101: Coil-splitting a humbucking pickup (part two)

In this second instalment of the Guitar Repairs 101 column, Ed talks you through the preliminary stages of coil-splitting a humbucking pickup. Read the rest of his instalments on coil-splitting a humbucking pickup.

It's time to do some homework. You'll hopefully have a humbucker with four-conductor wiring otherwise we ain't coil-splitting any time soon. If the pickup is new you should have a wiring diagram tucked safely away in the packaging somewhere. You need to know what the four coloured wires (most commonly coloured red, green, white and black) and that bare earth wire are supposed to solder onto in your guitar's control cavity.

No instructions with your pickups? Read on...

If the pickup didn't come with any instructions, and was supposed to, contact the shop where you bought it and ask them to supply a replacement. It'll save you so much time in the long run. If you bought the pickup secondhand or it's been laying around for a while and you can't find the wiring diagram, don't panic. Most pickup manufacturers have the information you need on their websites. Nail down the pickup's model name and then search for the diagram on the site.

Guitar repairs 101: coil-splitting a humbucking pickup (part two) - seymour duncan diagram

For example: If you have a Seymour Duncan pickup click here. For DiMarzio 'buckers visit the brand's website click on 'Humbuckers' then find your pickup. In the 'Details' section you'll find an 'Installation' button. Click on this and then select the wiring diagram you want. Simple.

Guitar repairs 101: coil-splitting a humbucking pickup (part two) screen shot

Other useful pickup websites (not that kind!)

See the box on the above right for some more useful links. Incidentally, if you can't find the wiring diagram for your particular pickup contact Ed at and he'll see if he can help.

In the next instalment, we'll get round to discussing what switch is right for your project. That's a whole other can o' worms! See you next month!

Ed Mitchell -

Check out Ed's Shed in TG203 (on sale now) for an explanation of the anatomy of a Floyd Rose tremelo.