Pickup Wiring with details.

Details on wiring a pickup. I don’t believe in soldering to the back of potentiometers as they are soft carbon and really you need to get them pretty damn hot to solder wires to them. Plus it’s a pain in the rear putting multiple ground wires on one pot. So here is an easier way to do it.

These instructions assume everything is currently removed from the control cavity.

On this page I will modify two of
Dennis Fano’s guitars. The first is my favorite the Psonicsphear, with Fralin pickups. The second is the Rivolta JR, it’s easier to understand the concept since it has a single P90 Pickup. In this case there is a Lollar installed.

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Step 1: Line the bottom of the pickup control with copper tape, install the Tone (right) and on the Volume control add the SPC Solder Lug terminal between the copper tape and the POT. Locate the Solder Lug Terminal close to pin 1 of the POT which is the Ground lug. Now tighten them down but not too much as to damage the wood.
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I have soldered the wire from the selector switch and the wire between the HOT (pin 3) Volume to pin 1 on the Tone.

As you can see I placed the Tone Capacitor wire through Pin 1 Volume and then through the Solder Lug Washer. This in a sense creates a ground between the pots body, copper tape and now the ground reference pin of the Volume control

See the output to the JACK should come directly from the Volume wiper (+) and the Volume ground reference as that is where the signal is coming from. Too many people just ground everything and expect good signal but that doesn’t happen unless you pay attention to the current loop of the signal which is derived from the wiper to the ground on the Volume control.
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I always solder the ground lead to the JACK as well as the tone cap ground wire at the Volume pot pin 1 to follow the point above. I then solder the tone cap ground wire at the Solder Lug to create a ground between the metal in the pots (grounding and shielding them) and the copper tape and it gives me room to ground other wires from the pickups and the bridge.

Next I solder the positive lead to pin 2 of the volume control (wiper).
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Next I trim and solder the positive side of the tone cap making sure it does not touch the back of the tone pot. Here I use teflon tubing available at any electronics warehouse location.
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In this guitar I have 4 wires to ground. I am not sure what the yellow wire is. But the two black are the ground wires from the bridge and neck pickup. The green wire is from the bridge. So between pin 1 of the Volume and the Solder Ground lug I hooked each of the wires and clamped them down then solder all four between pin 1 on the volume and the solder lug. So good ground connection for everything.

This technique is called star grounding. Centralizing the ground in one spot is so much better than grounding to the back of one pot and then expecting the copper tape or metal shell of the control cavity to secure good ground. We use this technology in electronics all the time for low noise and higher fidelity.
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Finished product all set to play into a seafoam green Lunchbox amp. The Lunchbox has a 9V effects power supply which in this case is driving (through The Gig Rig noise cancelling filter). Right to Left Boss tuner, Mythos Gold Fuzz, Wavelength prototype ToneBender 1.6, MXR Carbon Copy Mini, Jam Pedals Ripply Fall, Keeley/That Pedal Show D&M Drive. Total current draw is 121ma @ 9V. Guitar cables are from Analysis Plus, best guitar cables made. Also check out the QI Jacks at Analysis Plus, probably the best made TS and TRS jacks made on the planet. Look, you spent money on the instrument, why not go all the way!
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Here we have the Rivolta JR, control cavity. This is a basic single P90 LP Junior type setup. Just realized I put the wrong value tone cap in this should be a 0.022uF. For reference and this is not in stone, but 250K pots usually use 0.047uF tone caps and 500K pots use 0.022uF. Best to replace the pots with the same value and the same value of tone caps.

As you can see we have the pickup wire going to terminal 3 of the Volume control. We have the tone cap again strung through terminal 1 of the Volume control to the Solder Lug which is placed between the volume control and the copper tape. The red wire links the Pickup wire and the Volume (terminal 3) to the tone control. Terminal 2 of the Tone connected to the hot side of the cap.

Quick note on hot and ground side of a cap. Typically the ground side of a cap (short lead or specified) is the outer layer of the capacitor. Ground that side will in a sense shield the cap from radiated noise.

As you can see the bridge wire and jack wire as well as the shield (negative wire of the pickup) are all connected to terminal 1 of the Volume and also the Solder Lug.


SPC Technology Solder Lug,
available at Newark Electronics world wide.
Pots (Bourns, CTS, Precision Electronics Corp [My Fav], copper tape, solder, tools almost anything electronic ever made @
Tone Caps, my fav are the new
V-Cap ToneCaps simply the best.
Lollar and Fralin are my favorites.

Here is a
PDF of the instructions if you want to download and keep it handy.

If you have questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to
contact me.