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Coil splitting and coil tapping have been used interchangeably in the past, but they are definitely not the same thing.

Here's what you need to know to differentiate between the terms:

Coil Splitting

Coil splitting refers to humbucking pickups, in which two coils of wire and two magnets are used together. These coils and magnets are of opposite polarity, which cancels (“bucks”) unwanted noise and hum and produces higher output and a thicker, heavier sound.

In coil splitting, the connection between the two coils of a humbucking pickup is broken, disabling one coil and allowing the other to continue to function, essentially turning it into a single-coil pickup.

Coil Tapping

Coil tapping refers in particular to single-coil pickups. Tapping a coil means taking the signal from somewhere within the coil of wire rather than from the end of it, thus reducing pickup output (more windings means higher output).

Some high-output, single-coil pickups use coil taps to produce lower output that more closely resembles that of, say, a vintage Fender single-coil pickup.

Of the two features, coil splitting is more prevalent than coil tapping. As such, Fender offers a handful of guitars that feature coil splitting, but none with coil tapping. Models that feature coil-splitting circuitry include the Meteora HH, Player Series Telecaster HH, the Classic Player Jaguar Special HH and the Deluxe Stratocaster HSS.

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