There are two different types of wiring in electric guitars: Series and parallel.
These wiring methods, used to connect a guitar's pickups and/or humbuckers, are not only physically different, but actually produce a significantly different sounding tone, depending on the pickups used.
In this article we're going to cover the two types of wiring and the primary differences between them.
Read more: Best guitar pickups overall
Series Wiring: Richer and Fuller Tone
In series wiring, the guitar's pickups are connected one after another. This setup is known for producing a fuller, warmer sound. When pickups are wired in series, their output is combined, resulting in a stronger signal. This setup often leads to increased sustain and a more pronounced midrange. However, it can sometimes make the sound too muddy, especially on guitars with high-output pickups.
Series wiring is typically used in electric guitars with two humbuckers to produce a heavier and more percussive sound. For that reason, it's usually better able to handle higher gain levels and heavier distortion.
Parallel Wiring: Clarity and Brightness
Parallel wiring, on the other hand, connects the pickups in a way that each one feeds the output separately. This configuration produces a clearer and brighter tone. It maintains the individual character of each pickup, allowing for a more articulate sound, which is much better suited for single coil pickups, like you find in Stratocasters and Telecasters. Guitars with parallel wiring will generally have a more balanced tone, with less midrange emphasis compared to series wiring.
Summary of Guitar Wiring Types
So series and parallel wiring in guitars offer two distinct tone leanings.
But keep in mind these are just conventions and are not true in every case. You'll need to dig into the specs sheet, or perhaps even the user manuals of a given guitar, or pickup set, to find out the type of wiring used.
But if you want to paint in broad strokes, think of it this way:
- Series wiring: Heavier, more mid-range, and more output, better for humbuckers
- Parallel wiring: Brighter, more articulate, and better for single coils
If you have questions, feel free to hit us up in the comments section below, and we'll do our best to help out.
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