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How To Determine Your Single Coil Pickups Winding Direction and Pole Piece Polarity Orientation
January 23, 2016 @ 18:28

To correctly install a new single coil pickup in your Strat along with pickups you already have, you need to understand the winding direction and pole piece polarity orientation of each of your pickups before installing them together to avoid the possibility of phasing issues.

For all 3 single coil pickups in a Strat to be in phase with one another when two pickups are selected together all 3 of your pickups must be wound the same direction and have the same pole piece polarity orientation and for Strat's that have hum cancelling capabilities in selector switch positions 2 and 4, the middle pickup needs to be the complete opposite (winding and polarity) of the bridge and neck pickups which means the middle pickup needs to be wound in the opposite direction and have the pole pieces polarity orientated the opposite direction, this is what is known as Reverse Wound / Reverse Polarity (Rw/Rp).  A Reverse Wound / Reverse Polarity pickup is only in reference to the other two pickups in an installation this is because one pickup manufacturer's Rw/Rp pickup can be another manufacturer's normal wind / normal polarity. There is no standard for how single coil pickups are wound and their pole pieces polarity orientation.

So if you are planning on upgrading your Strat with a new pickup, you need to know the winding direction and pole piece polarity orientation of the new pickup as well as your other two existing pickups to avoid phasing issues.

Below Are Some Examples Of How Current Production Fender And Seymour Duncan True Single Coil Pickups Are Wound

Seymour Duncan Normal Wind: Counter Clock-Wise, South Up
Seymour Duncan Rw/Rp Wind: Clock-Wise, North Up
Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Surfer Normal Wind: Clock-Wise, South Up
Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Surfer Rw/Rp Wind: Counter Clock-Wise, North Up
   
The following two pickups are custom wound for us by Seymour Duncan's Custom Shop
Seymour Duncan Custom Shop SSL-1C DG: Clock-Wise, South Up
Seymour Duncan Custom Shop SSL-1C DG Rw/Rp: Counter Clock-Wise, North Up
   
Fender Custom Shop (Bridge and Neck): Clock-Wise, South Up
Fender Custom Shop Rw/Rp (Middle): Counter Clock-Wise, North Up
   
Fender Pure Vintage '54: Clock-Wise, North Up
Fender Pure Vintage '56: Clock-Wise, North Up
Fender Pure Vintage '59: Clock-Wise, North Up
Fender Pure Vintage '65: Clock-Wise, South Up
   
Fender Original '57/'62: Clock-Wise, South Up
   
Eric Johnson (Bridge and Neck): Clock-Wise, South Up
Eric Johnson Rw/Rp (Middle): Counter Clock-Wise, North Up
   
Fender Tex-Mex (Bridge and Neck): Clock-Wise, North Up
Fender Tex-Mex (Middle): Clock-Wise, South Up
 

With the Tex-Mex pickups Fender just reversed the black and white hookup leads on this pickup, it is not actually Reverse Wound. Fender simply connected the black wire to the finish end of the coil wrap and the white wire to the start end of the coil wrap. The pole pieces were flipped end for end for reverse polarity. This accomplishes a Rw/Rp, but is not physically reverse wound in reference to the Bridge and Neck pickups.

   
Fender DeluxeDrive (Bridge and Neck): Clock-Wise, South Up
Fender DeluxeDrive (Middle): Clock-Wise, North Up

With the DeluxeDrive pickups Fender just reversed the black and white hookup leads on this pickup, it is not actually Reverse Wound. Fender simply connected the black wire to the finish end of the coil wrap and the white wire to the start end of the coil wrap. The pole pieces were flipped end for end for reverse polarity. This accomplishes a Rw/Rp, but is not physically reverse wound in reference to the Bridge and Neck pickups.

How A Pickups Winding Direction Can Be Determined

Below is a single coil pickup that is wound Counter Clock-Wise which can easily be identified by a simple visual inspection. Shown below with the Red Arrow is the finish wrap of the pickups winding wire as it comes off the coil.  This is what is will show you the winding direction.  In looking at the photograph you can see how the small copper wire that connects to the white hook-up lead is coming off of the bottom left side which is from the outer-most or final wrap of the pickups coil. This indicates that the winding direction was counter clock-wise. You will also notice the small copper coil winding wire that connects the the black hook-up lead tucks well underneath the windings of the coil on the right side, this indicates that it was the very beginning of the coil winding and subsequent winding wraps built up over it leaving it tucked well underneath.

How A Pickups Pole Pieces Polarity Orientation Can Be Determined

Below is a single coil pickup that has is pole pieces polarity orientated North Up. This pickup construction characteristic can easily be determined by placing a magnetic compass over the pole pieces as shown below. The magnetic pole pieces of the pickup will attract the opposite magnetic polarity end of the compass needle which in the example below is South (white). You can look at it like this; the pole piece polarity of the pickup is the end of the needle that is pointing away from the pickup, and in this case it is the red end of the needle which is North. This pickup is North up for its pole pieces.

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