Many creative ways to wire a humbucker exist. Some allow each magnet to function independently while others feature intertwining leads, allowing for more flexible combinations on your pickup selector.

Understanding how humbuckers are wired may help you understand how they work; if you have some basic DIY skills, you can rewire your pickups to better suit your playing needs.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common humbucker wiring schemes, explain how to use them when rerouting the wires of your pickups, and give you a few beginner-friendly tips to ease the learning curve.

How do Humbuckers Work?

Before jumping into diagrams, let’s dissect the basic operating principle behind humbuckers.

Countless iterations of the humbucking pickup design have surfaced since the original was made in 1955, but what they all have in common is a pair of copper coils with opposing polarities.

Typically, one of the coils is wound clockwise, and the second counter-clockwise. This changes the direction and behavior of the magnetic field generated by the magnets, as well as the magnetic field of ferrous strings (doesn’t apply to classical guitars with plastic strings, for instance).

Humbucker Wiring Basics

The first thing you need to learn about humbucker wiring is that it has two coils, each with two ends; these are typically called “leads” in electronics, as they lead the electrical current from point A to point B.

Most humbuckers have colored leads to make the process simpler. Although certain manufacturers may color-code the wires a bit differently, we're gonna talk about the process in the following code to make it simpler:

  • Black: the start lead of the North coil
  • White: the finish lead of the North coil
  • Red: the Finish lead of the South coil
  • Green: the start lead of the South coil
  • Gray: bare (ground) wire

If you're not sure about the wire color, please use a Volt-Ohm-Milliammeter to determine.

Example of Typical Humbucker Wiring Diagram

Let’s assume you’re using a guitar with the standard dual humbucker pickup and a 3-way selector switch setup. The simplest and most efficient way to wire both pickups with your guitar’s hardware is as follows:

Neck pickup:

Route the South Start (green) lead to the closest available slot of the neck pot
Route the Bare (gray) lead to the slot directly above the green
Connect South Finish (red) and White Finish in a series link
Route the North Start (black) lead to the slot diagonal to the green

Bridge pickup:

Route the North Start (black) lead to the same slot position as before but on the bridge pot
Route the Bare (gray) lead to the closest available slot
Route the South Start (green) lead directly above the green
South and White Finish lead should be connected with the Series Link

Tips for Wiring Humbuckers

The internal hardware of your guitar should already be properly connected for any wiring diagram to work. If the pickups aren’t working or if any wires are missing, take the guitar to an expert to fix this issue.

The “Series Link” is a technique of connecting the Finish lead of the first coil with the Start lead of the second. Use a soldering iron to do it.

Check if the pots are properly linked. Typically, you should have a tone and volume pot for each pickup connected in pairs.

The first thing you should look for if your pickups aren’t working is if the pots are attached to the capacitors.