OK we have all been there before... At some point in our guitar playing careers we discover the difference between a humbucker and a single coil. Assuming I am preaching to the choir here, the discrepancies between the pickup designs often create two distinct religions of tone: the thin, sweet, and chimey single coil cult and the meaty, beefy, thick tone cult who worship the humbucker.
Of course, that isn't to say that these groups ONLY love one or the other. While this is the case for some tone freaks, there are many who adore single coils AND humbuckers, and for these people companies have been trying to make pickups that can either attempt to sound like both merged into one, or a weird Frankenstein blend of the two. But those never really sounded QUITE like a Strat and then like a Les Paul. Some guitars feature a single coil AND a humbucker, perhaps in a H-S-S configuration, but then you are left saying, "dammit! if only that S could be scooted down closer to the bridge, where that H is!" Alas, the struggle ensues.
So guitarists then were treated to the weird and strange world of coil tapping and splitting- one of the ultimate old wives' tales for guitarists (I mean this is up there with "true bypass"). It is perhaps here that I should clarify that there IS a difference between these two ideas, and coil tapping is often the term that is mis-used to describe its far more common brother the coil split. If your guitar has a push pull tone knob, it is very likely a coil split. What does it all mean? A coil split means that there is the ability to fade out or completely remove one coil of your humbucker, giving you "kind of" a single coil as a leftover (more on this later). It effectively removes one coil from the circuit, so your amp only gets tone from one of the humbucker coils, but as we have all learned, while it is somewhat convincing, and CAN get cool tones, it just isn't THE SAME as a REAL single coil.
Then there is coil tapping, which to be briefly explained, is when a "tap" is inserted in a pickup's wiring, short of the full amount. So if there are x amount of windings around a pickup, single or double, a tap could be 1/2x, or 1/4x, or any value short of 100% of the windings. This is more rare, but gives players, especially those with tube amps, the ability to slam the front end with a hotter signal of the full pickup windings, provided they are using an already strong tone with the tapped signal.
Crazy right? Go try one out! You'll be intrigued, but still, it is not the SAME as a REAL single coil!
So what do we do? Do we just own a Strat/Tele and a Les Paul? Well, first, duh, it's always better to own tons of guitars. But secondly, Dean Zelinsky, yes THE Dean formerly from Dean Guitars, may have an answer to help both your tone AND your wallet!
Dean Zelinsky now runs the fantastic luthier company called Dean Zelinsky Private Label Guitars, and just one of many reasons why they are bad ass is because they sell direct to consumers, giving you a guitar that should cost thousands, for a fraction of the cost.
Last year, when Dean introduced his Tagliare guitar (a modded fat Strat), he kept getting customers who were asking for their Tagliare with two single-coils and a humbucker in the bridge position (the same H-S-S thing I was referencing earlier). This of course would raise the ire of a Strat fan, who, well, let's let Dean tell us in his own words:
I worked hard to create these really killer single-coil tones for my new Tagliares and it bothered me that customers would be losing that great single-coil tone in the bridge position.
So he ended up inventing a total go-around. Rather than installing a coil split where you eliminate one coil and lose a ton of volume and what not, he installed his revolutionary new "SideKick" pickup, which is basically two real single coils that can function as a humbucker. This allows players to get the normal humbucker sound, and then select just one for a real single coil tone- get this, all with NO loss in volume!
The only bummer? So far, it only looks like you can get this in a Tagliare guitar, but it's only a $72 upgrade! Hopefully they may offer this pickup as an aftermarket "drop in" that players can install into their guitars of choice!
Either way, it's a cheap, and very revolutionary way to get both tones- effectively turning your guitar into a four pickup guitar (or if you install TWO sidekick humbuckers, then a FIVE pickup guitar!) Not bad huh?
Here's the official dish on it:
The SideKick Pickup is the World’s first pickup that is a true Humbucker and switches to an authentic Single-Coil – all in a single pickup. With SideKick technology, switching from humbucker to single-coil, the pickups actually match volume. There is virtually no volume drop-off as in conventional Humbucker coil-tapping or splitting.
I started to develop this technology after the launch of my Tagliare model in August of 2013. Players kept ordering the Tagliare with two single-coils and a humbucker in the bridge position. I worked hard to create these really killer single-coil tones for my new Tagliares and it bothered me that customers would be losing that great single-coil tone in the bridge position. We do offer coil-taps on a bridge humbucker, but I always thought that half-a-humbucker sound, while we have all been doing it for years, just doesn’t get you there...plus you lose half the volume when tapped. I set out to offer a humbucker that turns into a single-coil, which was true to each pickup’s vintage tone with no volume differential.
What sets us apart from the others; our SideKick Pickups are made with “true single-coil” technology, that’s how we retain the true single-coil tone...the secondary coil or “SideKick coil” along with a few other tweaks under the hood is how we make the single-coil go humbucker...and the volumes absolutely match!
The Tagliare model with a SideKick Pickup in the bridge position virtually becomes a four pickup guitar. When you add the fact that the in-between position on the Tagliare’s 5-way switch, you can combine the middle pickup with a bridge humbucker or a bridge single-coil...the Tagliare becomes one of the world's most versatile rock guitars! Add a SideKick to the neck position too, for a true 5-Pickup guitar!
Check out the above configuration in this H-S-H (AND THEN SOME!) set up:
The SideKick Pickup is available on all Tagliare models as a $72 upgrade. Switching is done with Push-Pull Knob on the Tone Control.
I mean the only thing left now, is for Dean to invent some way to make your Strat body go to a Les Paul shape and back. Kidding, why would you do that!? Don't do that....