How To Connect Wiring On Active Guitar Pickups

Need to know how to connect wiring on an active guitar pickup? A standard, passive guitar pickup is an easy thing to connect. Hot, ground and you're done. But you've decided to buy an amazing active pickup and it's a little more involved. This article should help.

Things you'll need:

  • Active pickup
  • Wire strippers
  • Soldering iron with light solder
  • Guitar
  • Battery pack for nine-volt battery (if battery pack is not already present on guitar)
  • Router (if battery pack is not already present on guitar)
  1. Preparations. If you are adding an active guitar pickup to a guitar that currently has passive pickups, be aware that the guitar will have to have stereo-out jacks and a routed compartment for a battery pack. The pickup may or may not come with a battery pack, so you may also have to purchase materials to install a nine-volt battery. Battery compartments can be purchased inexpensively from electronics outlets, as can output jacks. If you are changing one active pickup for another, these components should already be installed on your guitar.
  2. Sort and get to know your wires. In addition to the two wires coming from one thick wire which are standard for any pickup, you have an extra red wire. The two wires coming from the black wire will be hot and ground. The hot wire essentially carries the signal and the ground keeps it from buzzing. The sole red wire is for connecting to a battery pack. Active wires require the use of a nine-volt battery.
  3. Connect the wires properly. Bridge pickups will have a red hot wire, while neck pickups will have a white hot wire. There are variations on this, but this is the most common. The ground wire will be bare or perhaps black. You will need to connect the ground wire to the correct terminal of your selector or toggle switch or in some cases a terminal on the volume pot. If it is a replacement for another pickup, note the placement of the hot wire on the switch before removing. The ground wire will be soldered to the base of the volume pot. You should see other ground wires already attached to this area. The red wire will be attached to the hot terminal of the battery pack. The ground terminal should be connected to the out jack. Remember that a passive pickup must be attached to a guitar with stereo-out jacks.
  4. Final touches. Set the height of your active pickup using a small Phillips screwdriver to within one-fourth inches of your strings. Plug it in and test the connections. Make sure you are using the jack wired to the active pickup battery. Check the sound of the guitar, making sure there is sound, no buzzes, etc. It's usually a good idea to make sure there are no loose wires.

Assuming everything sounds all right, tune up your guitar and rock out!

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