Old SE Custom - Want to split coils like new SE Custom


Perpetual musical mid-life crisis
Jun 10, 2013
New England
Hello all,

I'm new to PRS, been playing a tele for a few years now. Recently my friend sold me his used SE Custom for a song and dance. After some minor pickup height adjustments, I'm really enjoying this. What I would really like to do, however, is be able to use the push/pull pot and split the coils like the new SE Custom. I know the standard SE pups (at least my generation, which still has the dot inlays and not the birds) won't split. So...what do I need to transform my SE into a newer version? Is it as simple as new pups and a new tone pot? I thought I read somewhere that there is something else built-in with the PRS's as well.

Well I wouldn't say it's that simple. I'd say that's probably your worst case or most difficult?
I think you can make pretty much any doublecoil humbucker split but dropping-in a new harness and pups might be easier. Meh...probably not....carry-on.
I've never used a soldering iron, however I have a friend that did electronics work on helicopters for the Marines for years, so a guitar shouldn't be too difficult for him. I play the blues and classic rock, and occasionally like to dabble in some jazz. My fear is that my existing pups won't be up to the task, but in doing some research they don't seem to be much different from the pups in the newer SE Customs.
This is how you would need to modify the pickup. No guarantees here, do this at your own risk, I am not responsible, etc. I would never attempt this on a vintage or expensive humbucker, but if you screw up a SE pickup you can usually pick up another one used for $15-20. To modify the existing pickups for coil splitting:

Remove the pickup from the guitar. The four screws on the back of the pickup have to come out.


This is what the inside of the pickup looks like:


The red wire runs between the two coils. You want to carefully cut that wire in half and strip the insulation off the two new ends just a little bit (sorry for the blurry pic).

Solder on a new wire to that. My soldering skills are still not professional or pretty, but they do get the job done.


Now, put some sort of shielding, tape or heat shrink or goo of some sort over those exposed wires and carefully tuck them into the tape around the coils. Run the new wire out the same hole as the existing wire. Reinstall the screws on the back of the pickup.


While you're in there, at least on the bridge pickup, there is a huge tonal improvement also replacing the magnet with an Unoriented alnico 5 magnet ($3 from ebay). I like the stock magnet on the neck pickup pretty well, but the bridge pickup loses its nasal congested midrange and opens up quite a bit with the new magnet.

As for the rest of the mods you'll need to make, you just need a 500K push/pull pot from any reputable guitar parts supplier. Also, I recommend implementing the DGT2012 resistor mod - instead of shutting off one coil completely, it shuts off partially which gives you a fatter single coil tone, less volume drop and less noise.

If your friend does helicopters, guitar electronics should be a little like going back to riding a bike with training wheels.
Nice step-by-step there John. That's a good example of how it's done. Still need to try that magnet mod on something... got a set of SE245 pups laying around, they might be a good candidate. Are all SE pups ceramic? Will the mag change the output level?
I don't know what the magnets in SE pickups are. They're listed as Alnico... somewhere, can't find it now... but as usual for PRS they don't say which alnico. I went with Unoriented Alnico 5 because it's supposed to have the sweetness of Alnico 2 with the extended lows and highs of regular Alnico 5. I did not notice an output level change.
Thank you John, that's hugely informative. The resistor is what I knew I was missing. I'll certainly try this out, hopefully soon. Just so I'm clear, when doing the DGT2012 resistor mod, am I just adding resistors as indicated on the tone pot in the linked schematic? Is that a standard radio shack type item? Thanks again, this is exactly what I was looking for!
Cool, I hope it all works out. Yeah, any ol' resistor will do, radio shack, whatever. They don't even have to be exactly like what PRS specifies on the schematic. I wasn't able to find 2.2K but I found a 2K, it works just fine.
I've done it once, hardwiring the neck pickup to be running in singlecoil mode only. I personally think the stock SE pickup in the neck position while split sounded like ceramic tele neck pickups (MIM Standard pickup), and it made me miss the humbucker tone a lot. So i'd say if you want single coil tones, you've got your tele! But i can't stop you from doing it. :cheers: good luck if you're going to give it a try.
Thanks maxtuna, however the tele has been passed on to my nephew to commence the next generation of rock. I can't say as though I'm looking for single coil tones in particular, just expanding my tone range overall. Plus, I would have to imagine at some point in the future I'll own a strat type guitar.
As for the rest of the mods you'll need to make, you just need a 500K push/pull pot from any reputable guitar parts supplier. Also, I recommend implementing the DGT2012 resistor mod - instead of shutting off one coil completely, it shuts off partially which gives you a fatter single coil tone, less volume drop and less noise.

Looking at that schematic, I only have one volume pot, would I just need to run both pup 'hot' wires to the same post on the volume pot and then do everything else the same? Also, the 2 resistors - do they just attach one side to the post on the push/pull and the other side to ground?

Thanks again!
now that's a real contribution to rock! Then you should add the push/pull pot if you're not grabbing a strat or tele anytime soon.

the first minute in this vid will give you an idea of how it'll sound in coil split mode with the stock pickups.
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Need help!!

Hi, I split the red wires on both pickups in my SE Custom Semihollow and wired it with a push pull using the MC58 wiring. I have the bridge in humbucking mode and when I pull the switch it splits perfectly, but the neck is always in split mode.

I used a multimeter to check for continuity and found out that the new wire coming from the red wire in the neck pickup is grounded. Beats me why... the wiring is exactly the same for both pickups, but only the neck "split" wire is always grounded.

Does anyone know what may be happening? Thanks for the help
Thanks, that's what I thought. Wiring was fine and I had tested the pot before so I decided to open up the pickup again. Once I opened it all looked fine and no short (I had put heat shrinking tube for isolation). I tested again and it wasn't grounded anymore... closed it up and works fine. Beats me... just hope it stays put!

Thanks for chipping in.