Here's a question I get a lot:

"Will your switches work in my Strat, with its RW/RP out of phase middle pickup?"

Stock-wired Strat pickups all play IN PHASE, and always have.
A RW (reverse-WOUND (WIRED) coil)/RP (reversed-POLARITY magnet) pickup STILL plays IN PHASE with the other pups. It is actually incorrect to say that the RW/RP middle pup is out of phase - it is NOT. It is reverse-wound (or reverse wired) (RW) and has the magnets installed with reverse polarity (RP), so that it plays IN phase. Confused? Keep reading...

THE PHASE LESSON:

There are TWO things that control phase:
1. The way its leads are connected to the circuit;
2. The polarity/orientation of the magnet

Think of a pickup's phase as a condition like this: motion (by the strings) through the pickup's magnetic field causes positive electrons to flow in THIS direction (we'll just arbitrarily say, left to right)...

IF I ONLY reverse the positive and negative (aka hot and ground) leads of the coil (RW), the electrons APPEAR to flow the other direction (right to left). The pickup plays out of phase.

IF I ONLY reverse the magnet's orientation from north pole "up" for south pole "up" (RP), the electrons flow the other direction (right to left). The pickup plays out of phase.

HOWEVER, if I do BOTH - reverse the coil connection (RW) AND reverse the magnet's orientation (RP), now the electrons are back flowing left to right, as they do in a "regular" pickup...

So, say it with me now: RW/RP pickups PLAY IN PHASE.

If they PLAY in phase and sound the same, then why go to the trouble of building a RW/RP pickup?

Ah! Because when the COILS are connected with the phase reversed (so that they appear to be wound in the opposite direction), if the RW/RP pickup is paired up with a "standard" pup, the pair has a NOISE-CANCELLATION property that attenuates radio-frequency interference.

Because the R-F noise hits the COILS equally and is unaffected by the magnetic polarity, only the noise is out of phase- the "positive" energy created by the noise from one coil is cancelled out by the "negative" energy it creates from the other coil. You've heard the phrase, "humbucking?" That's it, in a nutshell.

That's the whole point of the RW/RP mid pup, to get some noise-cancellation AND KEEP the "normal" in-phase tones. If they didn't play in phase, a Strat wouldn't sound like a Strat in throws #2 and #4.

ALL my personal Strats have RW/RP/mid-pup sets in them, and all my rotary switches work just fine with a RW/RP mid pup. The switch works just the same as if all the pups were wound identically and had the same polarity, vintage style.

The one thing that IS mentionable is that, when using one of my rotaries in an axe with a RW/RP mid pup, when you are playing on a NOTCH that reverses the phase of the bridge pup (Chromie, V.2, V.3), the noise-cancelling positions change. For the out-of-phase notch, the bridge+mid combo doesn't noise-cancel, but the bridge+neck combo does (the mid+neck combos still does, as well). It has no other effect on the tone - it just "trades places" for the noise canceling combo.

*****

Adding a bit of confusion to this question is the erroneous belief held by some that the #2 and #4 throws on a Strat are "out of phase" tones. They are NOT. That QUACK that we know and love so well is the result of two pickups, in close proximity, wired parallel and IN PHASE. There are NO out of phase tones on a stock Strat. They have been mistakenly called that for years, and it's simply a case of mis-information - just like Leo calling his new invention a "tremelo bridge" - geez, Louise! DUDE, it's a VIBRATO! But, that's a whole other story...

If you have any problems or questions, please e-mail me!


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