Split Coil Pickups Bass Guitars


Mastering the Groove: A Guide to Split Coil Pickups for Bass Players

Split Coil Pickups Bass. Are you a bass player searching for that perfect tone? Look no further – we have the guide to take your bass playing to the next level. This comprehensive article explores the world of split coil pickups and how they can enhance your playing experience.

Split coil pickups are a game-changer for bass players looking to fine-tune their sound. By splitting the coil into two separate sections, these pickups offer a unique blend of clarity, versatility, and punch. Whether you’re into rock, jazz, funk, or any other genre, mastering the art of split coil pickups will give you the groove you’ve been searching for.

Join us as we delve into the technical aspects of split coil pickups, including their construction, wiring configurations, and various tonal options. We’ll also guide you through choosing the right split coil pickups for your bass and demonstrate how they can be an invaluable tool in your musical arsenal.

Get ready to unlock a world of sonic possibilities with split coil pickups. Let’s dive in and master the groove together!

What are Split Coil Pickups Bass

Split coil pickups are a type of pickup commonly used in bass guitars. As the name suggests, these pickups consist of a coil split into two separate sections. Each coil section is wound in opposite directions, resulting in a hum-cancelling effect. This design allows for a cleaner and more focused sound, reducing unwanted noise and interference.

The split coil design provides a unique tonal characteristic that differentiates it from other pickups. It offers a blend of the warmth and depth of a traditional single-coil pickup and a humbucker’s increased output and punch. This combination makes split coil pickups versatile for bass players across different genres and playing styles.

Split coil pickups are commonly found in both passive and active configurations. Passive split coil pickups rely solely on the magnetic properties of the coils to generate a signal. In contrast, active split coil pickups incorporate a built-in preamp for added control and versatility.

Overall, split coil pickups offer bass players a wide range of tonal possibilities, making them an excellent choice for expanding their sonic palette.

How do split coil pickups work

To understand how split coil pickups work, let’s first look at the construction of a typical split coil pickup. A split coil pickup consists of two separate sections, each wound in opposite directions. These two sections are connected in series or parallel to create a hum-canceling effect.

When the bass guitar strings vibrate, they generate a magnetic field that interacts with the pickup coils. As the magnetic field changes, it induces a current in the coils, which is then sent to the amplifier to produce sound.

The split coil design cancels the hum and noise typically associated with single-coil pickups. This is achieved by reversing the phase of one of the coils, resulting in the cancellation of any noise or interference that is picked up by both coils. The result is a cleaner and more focused sound, allowing the true character of the bass to shine through.

Additionally, the split coil design affects the pickup’s frequency response. The coils are wound to emphasize certain frequencies, giving the pickup its unique tonal characteristics. This design allows for a wide range of sounds, from warm and mellow to bright and aggressive, depending on the pickup’s specific configuration.

Benefits of using split coil pickups for bass players

Using split coil pickups can bring several benefits to bass players. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Reduced noise and interference: The hum-canceling design of split coil pickups eliminates the hum and noise commonly associated with single-coil pickups. This allows for a cleaner and more professional sound, mainly when playing in environments with electrical interference.
  2. Versatility: Split coil pickups offer many tonal options, allowing bass players to dial in the perfect sound for any musical style or genre. They can do it all, from warm and smooth tones for jazz to punchy and aggressive tones for rock.
  3. Increased output: Split coil pickups generally have a higher output than traditional single-coil pickups. This increased output can provide more sustain and a stronger signal, making your bass sound more powerful and present in the mix.
  4. Flexibility: With the ability to switch between series and parallel wiring configurations, split coil pickups provide even more flexibility in shaping your sound. Series mode offers a thicker and fuller tone, while parallel mode delivers a brighter, more articulate sound.
  5. Improved string balance: Split coil pickups are designed to capture the vibrations of each string separately, resulting in better string balance and more accurate reproduction of your playing dynamics. This can make your bass sound more even and balanced across all strings.

By taking advantage of these benefits, bass players can achieve a more refined and professional sound that will elevate their playing to new heights.

Best P Bass Pickups for Every Genre


Split coil pickups are distinguished by their construction. Instead of using a single coil wrapped around a magnet, they consist of two coils wound in opposite directions and placed side by side. This design cancels hum and noise, producing a cleaner and more focused tone.

The coils in split coil pickups are typically wound with different amounts of wire, resulting in varying levels of output and tonal characteristics. This allows for many sonic possibilities, from vintage warmth to modern punch.

Wiring Configurations

One key feature of split coil pickups is their wiring configurations. There are several different ways to wire split coil pickups, each offering its unique tonal characteristics.

The most common wiring configuration is parallel wiring, where the two coils are wired parallel. This configuration produces a balanced, transparent tone with clarity and note definition. Bass players who want a versatile and dynamic sound often prefer it.

Another popular wiring configuration is the series wiring, where the coils are wired in series. This configuration produces a thicker and more robust tone, with increased output and sustain. It is often used in genres that require a heavier and more aggressive sound, such as rock and metal.

Tonal Options

Split coil pickups offer many tonal options, allowing bass players to make the perfect sound for any musical style. The combination of different coil windings, wiring configurations, and magnets used in split coil pickups can result in various tonal characteristics.

For example, a split coil bass pickup with vintage-style winding and Alnico magnets will deliver a warm, round tone reminiscent of classic bass sounds from the 1960s. On the other hand, a split coil pickup with high-output winding and ceramic magnets will deliver a punchy and aggressive tone suitable for modern rock and metal.

By experimenting with different combinations of coil windings, wiring configurations, and magnets, you can find the perfect split coil pickup that suits your playing style and musical preferences.

Choosing the Right Split Coil Pickups

Now that you better understand split coil bass pickups, it’s time to choose the right ones for your bass. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

Musical Style

The first thing to consider is your musical style. Different genres require different tonal characteristics, so choosing split coil pickups that suit your preferred style is crucial.

If you play jazz or blues, you may prefer a vintage-style split coil pickup with a warm and round tone. On the other hand, if you play rock or metal, you may prefer a high-output split coil pickup with a punchy and aggressive tone.

Coil Windings and Magnets

The coil windings and magnets used in split coil pickups significantly affect their tonal characteristics. As mentioned earlier, vintage-style windings and Alnico magnets produce a warm and round tone, while high-output and ceramic magnets produce a punchy and aggressive tone.

Consider the specific coil windings and magnets used in a split coil pickup to ensure it delivers the desired sound. Try different pickups with different coil windings and magnets to see which suits your playing style and musical preferences.


Lastly, consider your budget when choosing split coil pickups. While high-end options are available, there are also more affordable options that offer excellent sound quality. It’s essential to balance your budget and the sound quality you’re looking for.

Do some research, read reviews, and listen to audio samples to better understand the sound quality of different split coil pickups within your budget range. Remember, the most expensive option isn’t always the best, so take your time to find the right pickups that offer the best value for your money.

Split Coil Pickups Bass Guitars
Split Coil Pickups Bass Guitars – Lollar P-Bass Split Coil

Check the Wiring

If you’re experiencing issues with your split coil pickups, such as low output or a distorted tone, the first thing to check is the wiring. Ensure all the connections are secure and free from loose or damaged wires. If you find any issues, carefully re-solder the connections or seek professional help.

Clean the Pickups

Over time, dirt, sweat, and grime can build up on your pickups, affecting their performance and tone. Cleaning your split coil pickups regularly is essential to keeping them in optimal condition. Use a soft cloth or a specially formulated pickup cleaner to wipe away any dirt or residue gently. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that scratch or damage the pickups.

Adjust the Pickup Height

The height of your split coil pickups can significantly affect their output and tone. If you’re not satisfied with the sound of your pickups, try adjusting their height—experiment with raising or lowering the pickups to find the sweet spot that delivers the desired sound. Remember to change the pickups evenly to maintain a balanced output.

Protect the Pickups

To ensure the longevity of your split coil pickups, it’s essential to protect them from physical damage. Avoid hitting or dropping your bass guitar, as this can damage the pickups. Consider investing in a quality case or gig bag to safely transport your bass and protect the pickups from accidental bumps or knocks.

Conclusion: Taking Your Bass Playing to the Next Level with Split Coil Pickups

Split coil pickups are a powerful tool that can take your bass playing to new heights. Their unique construction, wiring configurations, and tonal options offer endless possibilities for sonic exploration. By understanding the technical aspects of split coil pickups and choosing the right ones for your bass, you can unlock a world of sonic possibilities and master the groove like never before.

Remember to experiment with different coil windings, wiring configurations, and magnets to find the perfect split coil pickups for your playing style and musical preferences. Also, remember to properly troubleshoot and maintain your pickups to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, it’s time to dive into the world of split coil pickups and experience their transformative power. Get ready to take your bass playing to the next level and master the groove like never before!

Split Coil Pickups Bass Guitars

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