How To Replace Guitar Pickups

If you have ever wanted to replace guitar pickups, this guide will help you. There are many different kinds of pickups, each with a unique sound and design, and installing them is easy, provided you have the right tools and a bit of patience.

To begin with, you will need the following tools:

  • Wire stripper
  • Screw driver
  • Soldering gun
  • New set of strings
  1. Take the strings off. To make this process as simple as possible, unstring your guitar so the pickups are easier to get to.
  2. Remove the pickguard/back plate. Depending on what type of electric guitar you own, you will have to unscrew and remove either the front pickguard or the rear back plate (or in some cases, both). To remove the pickguard, you will have to first remove all nobs and dials.
  3. Examine the wiring. Once you have removed either the pickguard or back plate, the pickup and pickup wiring will be visible. Examine the internal components and determine where each wire goes (to the selector switch, volume dial, and so on) so you can correctly connect your new pickup. Draw your own diagram for reference.
  4. Remove the current pickup. To remove your current pickup, you will have to unsolder each wire from its contact point. Heat up your soldering gun and apply the tip to each contact point until it liquefies and the wire comes free. Please note that every guitar and pickup is different, so the number of wires and their position within the body of the guitar will vary.
  5. Install the new pickup. Strip away one inch of protective coating from each wire that is attached to your new pickup.  Use the wiring diagram that was included with you pickups and the diagram you drew in step three to solder the wires to their corresponding contact points. Secure the pickup using the screws that came with it. It is important to have a good connection, so double check each solder point. If you are unfamiliar with soldering, have a friend help you.
  6. Install the pickguard/back plate. Once your new pickups are correctly hooked up, screw the pickguard/back plate back on. If you had to remove any knobs or dials, make sure you put them back in their correct positions. 
  7. String the guitar. Replace and tune the strings.
  8. Test it out. Plug your guitar in and test it out. If you hear any crackling, hissing, or extreme feedback, check your wiring diagram and solder points.  If everything is fine, then enjoy your new pickups and rock out!
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