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Different Sized Pickups

grape nut

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right now I have a an old samick guitars (before they were greg bennets). it's got a start based body and neck(I don't know what kind of wood), and I was wondering if I could replace the single coils with humbuckers, or lefty pickups.

I also opened took off the pickgaurd and took a look at the electronics and I saw all the pickups running into the same circut, or what looked like the same circuts, can anyone explain that to me?

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Hi Grape Nut...Welcome to PG....!!!!! :D

And good on you for starting with a "cheap" guitar and modding it, rather than jump in off the deep end and try and build a guitar from scratch...I'm still learning more and more about setups and wiring mods from my "cheapo" strats...once you set them up right (an art in itself), you can have a really nicely playing, servicable guitar...you can even get them to sound quite good...and you're probably more willing to try stuff out on this type of guitar than you would a "real" guitar... B)

The biggest problem with putting in Humbuckers is really cutting the scratchplate and the space (if there's not already, often there is) for them underneath it....

All a guitar's wiring is, is this...

Each pickup is a coil of very fine wire, one end goes to ground (earth), often indicated by an arrow on diagrams, and this ultimately connects to the hole part of the guitar's jack plug.

The other end connects to the "hot", or tip of the jack plug...

So, with multiple pickups, one end of all the pickups connect to "ground" and the other end to "hot"

Now...there are switches and potentiometers (pots) connected between the pickups and the output as described above...

Switches disconnect (or "shorts", connects the hot to ground wires of a pickup) to turn them on and off...typically a single selector switch...but you can add more switches to get fancy with the wiring and the range of sounds (eg coil splits, phase switching, series/parralell switches, etc.)

Pots adjust things like volume and tone (but can also be used to as a blend control, for instance). The pot is a "variable Resistor"...what it does is allow varying amounts of it's connections to be connected to ground.

Just like you can switch off a pickup by connecting it's hot and ground leads together (shorting it), these controls allow an adjustable amount to be connected to ground, that way allowing it to be partially off, and thereby lowering the volume.

The tone control is similar but there is a small component called a capacitor that allows high fequencies to be connected to ground at a varying rate. So with the tone control all the way down the high frequencies are shorted but the bass frequencies still get through.

So...A guitar's wiring is simply the two ends of a pickup's coil being connected...one to hot and one to ground...between the pickup(s) and the output you have switches to turn them on and off and pots to adjust the volume and tone...

Your observation...

I saw all the pickups running into the same circut

is correct...it is just one circuit...the pickups to the output jack...with various controls between them...

Now, Humbucker's are pickups with two coils...they really are just two single coil pickups with the magnets and the coil wires reversed, one coil to the other...this creates it's hum-cancelling qualities.

These pickups often come with 4 wires as there are two coils...normally 2 wires are simply connected together and the others go to hot and ground...

Talking of Hum....hum and noise can get into your guitar through the wiring. You can get special wiring which has a copper shield..."shielded cable"...which is connected to ground...this creates a barrier to things like radio frequencies getting in there.

Often people will talk about shielded cavities. The cavity is the hole, and the pickguard that covers it, that houses the pickups, wiring and pots...I've gotten by without sheilded cavities by using shielded cables for all the connections within the guitar...it's definitely worth doing....

One last thing...there will be a ground wire that connects the strings, usually via the bridge or trem springs...the strings also need to be grounded...

Anyway...hope that helps you and others confounded by the guitar electronics...

As for your project...it will be much harder to work out how to cut the new pickup holes than any of the electronics...

Good luck :D


Oh...I don't know what you mean by lefty pickups...the principles the same however... :D

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