Ground shipping now free and expedited only $2!
Cart 0

What is a "tapped" strat or tele guitar pickup and how does it sound?

Some of the Seymour Duncan single-coil pickups are available tapped, like the well-regarded Custom Staggered Strat SSL-5.  First, let's describe a normal pickup.  Essentially what you have in the SSL-5 is copper wire wound around a bobbin, with 6 rod magnets going up through the center.  The SSL-5 is a pretty high-output single coil, so it has more turns of wire than say a SSL-1.  You can see that in their different DC resistances - 13.3K for the SSL-5 vs. 6.5K for the SSL-1.  Now, you can't equate that to number of turns of wire directly unless they used exactly the same wire (which they may but I am unsure of that), but suffice to say the SSL-5 has roughly double the turns of wire as the SSL-1 and so will have roughly double the output (with accompanying high-frequency loss from more turns).  

What a tapped pickup does is take that one big coil, which for the SSL-5 is say roughly 10K turns of wire, and splits it into two coils, which for Seymour Duncan my understanding is this is roughly 60/40, or 6K and 4K turns in this case.  If you connect those coils in series then you have exactly the same thing (electrically) as a normal SSL-5.  But you can take just one, say the 6K one, and connect that only to your amp.  That would give you a vintage wound pickup.  So in essence you now have a hot pickup and a vintage pickup, all in one.  Unlike humbucker coil tapping this isn't a compromised way of getting a different, lower-output sound - this truly is just like having a vintage output single coil with little downside and the upside of having the high-output single coil sound as well.  There may be some slight high frequency loss when tapped (vs. just having a 6K coil) as the dummy coil is still there causing eddy currents, but my guess is the smart people at Seymour Duncan have put that coil on the bottom where those currents matter less and I'd be surprised if it makes much of a difference sonically.  

Below Matt Perkins shows off what the SSL-5 can do tapped/untapped and some general good SSL-5 tones.  

Here Hayley McLean is playing a Fender American Standard Tele loaded with the Seymour Duncan '53 Custom Tapped Tele pickups through a '95 Fender Blues DeVille.  She's also using for strings the Fender Super Bullets 10-52 and for pedals an EP Boost from Xotic, the 4 knob compressor from Keeley, and the Boiling Point from Rockbox.  In the video "Bridge 1" is the lower-output tapped version and "Bridge 2" is the higher-output version.  1:09 is Bridge 1 clean, 1:41 is the bridge 1 + neck clean, 2:19 is the neck clean, 3:00 is high output bridge + neck, 3:28 is high output bridge alone, 4:00 is low output bridge distortion, 4:28 high-output bridge + neck distortion, 


Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published