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Pick Up Wiring Problems


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Hi I'm new so sorry if I'm covering old ground. I've had a look around and can't see a similar problem. A few months back I'd been having some problems with the bridge pick up on my old strat copy, it kept cutting out or sounding low in volume. I figured that after 20 odd years I should take the opportunity to change things. I'd always fancied putting in a humbucker at the bridge in place of the SC. Looking around I decided to buy a Wilkinson all in one drop in pick guard rig with 2 SC's and a HB at the bridge (WHSN, WHSM and WHHBA B are the pup refs). Initially everything was fine and I loved the tone. However after a few weeks the old problems seemed to creep back. I looked around this forum for ideas and decided to re-do the soldering as I'm a newbie to electronics. However no luck, so after months of using only the middle and bridge pickups I'd decided to address the problem with your help.

For your info if I touch the HB when playing or press the volume control or the 5 way switch, the HB momentarily sounds as it should. I think it must be my soldering or the wiring is suspect inside. I've had a close look at the wiring and compared to some of the info on here and it's left me even more confused.

The wire from the HB contains 4 separate leads. Red and white which are soldered together and taped off. A black which is soldered to one of the 8 lugs on the top of the switch unit and finally a green wire which has wire surrounding it. The green and the wire surround are soldered to a lug on the side of the switch units metal casing, not the top. Also a couple of the individual wires that surround the green lead appear to have come loose from the solder joint on the lug.

All that said I seems odd that I have the same problem as previously. Should I be checking something else? Any help or suggestions to end this long running problem is appreciated. I have a multimeter and I'm not afraid to use it!


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It sounds like some of your connections are questionable. I would resolder all of them.

If you only got "good" sound when pressing one component, I would think that component was failing internally... but you have it with the switch and volume pot, so that's probably not the problem.

The other thing is maybe your pickup is shorting internally. You could test this by measuring its DC resistance with your multimeter. Plug a short 1/4" cable into the guitar; set all controls to full/10; set the switch for humbucker alone; and measure the DC resistance between the two contacts on the end of the cable. It would be helpful if you know the correct reading for this pickup (i.e. if you measured it when you first got it). But I would expect to see 8k-16k. If it's something like 2k or 0, or if you can consistently get different readings, then the pickup is probably shorted internally.

One other test... you could disconnect the pickup from its switches/volume/tone controls and solder the two leads directly to a 1/4" jack and see if it sounds normal "naked". If it does, then the problem is with the stuff between the pickup and the jack.

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Cheers Geo, will give this a go. Took the rig out earlier on and everything seemed ok, clean solders and nothing loose. When I popped the rig back in and tried it nothing worked. I took it out and had another look and a white lead on the volume pot had become disconnected when I was putting the rig back in (must inspect connections more closely in future), so resoldered and tried again. Everything seemed fine, good sound from the HB. Decided to have a wee test run but again after a few minutes of playing it started cutting out, or more precisely the volume and "growl" of the pickup drops off. I have the guitar hooked up to a Zoom multi effects pedal, I've wondered if it might be overloading/interfering with it some how? The AC input for the pedal is right next to the lead input on the back of the effects box and if they touch a loud crackle comes through the amp not dissimilar to the problem with the HB.

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Hm, I would test the pickup straight into an amp that you know works well. If the humbucker is super hot, I could imagine it overloading an input and seeming to lose volume, although you would hear nasty solid-state distortion with that.

"The AC input for the pedal is right next to the lead input on the back of the effects box and if they touch a loud crackle comes through the amp not dissimilar to the problem with the HB."

I'm not sure I understand.

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Sorry Geo if I confused the matter by mentioning the effects box. I should have tried the guitar direct into the amp first, to see if I still had the problem, which I've now done...and I still get the problem. So it's nothing to do with the effects box.

I'll get back to you when I've had a chance to try out your suggestions.

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