How To Wire An Electric Guitar

You've got a great set of new pickups–the problem is, they're wired to nothing and you need to need to know how to wire an electric guitar. This article will help you to accomplish this goal. Guitar wiring can be confusing, but it easier today than ever before.

Things you will need:

  • Guitar body
  • Pickups
  • Jack Plate
  • Wiring harness
  • Soldering iron
  • Medium solder
  • Wire stripper
  1. Initial steps. You will need to buy a wiring harness. They are relatively inexpensive and a good solution to wiring problems. However, make sure to get a quality harness and not one with cheap parts. Gribline Engineering recommends, "the part which has the biggest say in how an electric guitar sounds is the ELECTRONICS." Make sure to buy the right type; if you have a guitar with two humbuckers, two volume and one tone, then search online for a harness that meets those specifications. If you do not have pickups and are starting from scratch, decide what type of pickup fits the routing of your guitar body (humbucker, single-coil, soapbar, or other) and purchase the appropriate pickups. 
  2. Preparing the wires. Once the pickups are attached to the guitar body or pickguard, prepare the wires. You will need to strip about 1/4" of plastic casing from the end of the hot or core wire. If the ground wire is bare, simply twist the end of the wire until it is a tight, single strand. Do the same with the bare hot wire. With the hot soldering iron, coat the end of the ground and hot wires lightly with solder (this is called " tinning the wire") Repeat this with the other pickup wires.
  3. Making the connections. If your electric guitar has only one pickup, the hot wire will be attached to a terminal of the volume pot. If it has two or more, you will be wiring the hot wires to a toggle or blade switch. The ground wires will be soldered to the volume pot. If there are two volume pots, you will be grounding each ground wire to its corresponding volume pot. Finally, there should be a long wire running from the out jack that is not attached to anything. This will be the ground wire for the entire wiring system. Normally it is soldered to the base of the bridge; sometimes it is run through a narrow hole through the body beforehand. Remove the nut from the out jack and use it to tighten the jack to the jack plate or jack hole in the pickguard. Attach the pickguard or jack plate to the guitar body with small screws. Your electric guitar is now fully wired and ready to play. Put the strings on, tune up and test the sound; if there is buzzing or no sound, check for crossed wires, soldered wires that have come loose, or broken terminals. If the sound is fine, you've done your job well.

Plug in and have fun!