Rewiring an Electric Guitar

Woman holding an electric guitar

Rewiring an electric guitar is not an activity for the unskilled, nor the faint of heart. Is a complex procedure that requires, at the very least, a basic working knowledge of electronics and electrical engineering. Those who do not have these prerequisites are advised to consult a professional rather than do the job themselves. Cities and towns of all sizes often have guitar technicians nearby who specialize in fixing and modifying guitars. You should call one of these professionals if your guitar is having electrical problems and you do not have the requisite know how to fix it.

Tips on Rewiring an Electric Guitar

Rewiring an electric guitar can be difficult even for someone with experience. For the best results your first time out, you may wish to have someone with more experience supervise you to make sure that you don't injure yourself or damage the guitar. Beyond that, here is what you'll typically need for the job.

Tools

Before you begin your electric guitar rewiring project, you're going to need the right tools for the job. At the minimum, here are the tools that you will need to do an electrical job on your guitar:

  • A craft knife
  • A wire stripper
  • A soldering iron, preferably one that runs between 25 and 30 watts.
  • Small wire cutters
  • Small needle nose pliers
  • A small slotted electrical screwdriver
  • One each of a size 0, size 1 and size 2 Phillips head screwdriver

After a basic understanding of electricity, soldering is perhaps the next most essential skill you'll need to carry out a an electronics repair or modification on your guitar. You should know how to use a soldering iron properly before you attempt any wiring jobs on your guitar. Always remember to keep the tip of the iron clean and tinned. Never use a file or sandpaper on the tip of the iron.

Diagrams

Having a diagram of your guitar is very important for performing rewiring jobs. If you don't have a diagram of how the guitar's electronics are supposed to be wired, you can permanently damage them. This can be very expensive, particularly if you cause any damage to the guitar's pickups. Guitar diagrams are generally very similar within one specific brand of guitar. The diagram will tell you not only how the guitar should be wired, but also which kind of equipment you will need, such as which type of potentiometers the guitar requires. Similarly, you will need a diagram from the pickup manufacturer if you plan to work on your guitar's pickups. Once again, each manufacturer tends to use the same type or similar wiring across its product line. Whenever possible, you should get diagrams directly from your guitar's manufacturer that are specific to what you are working on.

Different Guitar Wiring Projects

There are a number of reasons that you would want to play around with the wiring on your guitar. You can take a humbucking pickup and split it into two single-coil pickups. Conversely, you can wire two single-coil pickups together to make a single humbucking pickup. You can also change single-coil pickups from either parallel to series or vice versa. If you happen to know enough to begin experimenting, playing around with the wiring on your pickups will allow you to produce sounds that a stock guitar or factory-specification pickup could never make. If you're particularly interested in the more experimental side of rock, adjusting with your wiring can produce results that may make you the envy of your local rock scene.

Rewiring an Electric Guitar