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Req Sticky: What You Need And Where You Need It


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After reading up on guitar electrics I am still confused about how to wire a guitar. I know that some wires go from pickups to somewhere, but where is that somewhere, and what is that something that brings sound from pickups to the output jack?

Any explanation (with pictures from a guitar) would be great!

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Read some of the stuff from guitarnuts (after being refered to eBay and other companies for each click), must say it is rather confusing. After some massive googling, I found guitarelectronics.com, where they had some simple-to-understand wiring diagrams (not the standard "professional-electrician" ones, but understandable for the DIY user) and read some about it on Stewmac.com, who explained the basics of the components.

So, as far as I can figure it, it goes like this:


Pickups -> Switch/Selector -> Tone Controls -> Capacitor -> Volume Controls -> Output Jack


Pickups (picks up vibration to turn into sound)

Switch/Selector (choose which pickup you play on)

Tone Controls (choose tone level)

Capacitor (remove noise by blocking frequencies, different capacitors will block different frequencies)

Volume Controls (choose volum level)

Output Jack (connects to the amplifier to produce the sound)

If anyone could confirm this (that this is all the components needed for a standard electric guitar, and that the order is logical), then that would be really helpful.

Edited by Gingah
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Your "explained" information is basically correct.

Tone control works by filtering high or low frequency ranges.

StewMac has a lot of info too.


As far as what components you'll need, that depends on what you want. There are tons of different ways to do it. (One volume, one tone; two volumes, two tones; coil splitters; phase switches; etc. etc. etc.)

The guitar I'm building right now will have two humbuckers, one push/pull coil splitter that will split both humbuckers, one volume, and one tone (same knob as the coil splitter), and a 3-way pickup switch wired for neck/both/bridge. So it'll need two pickups, one 500KOhm audio taper push/pull pot (for tone/splitter), 3-way switch, one 500KOhm linear pot (for volume), .022uF (or so) capacitor, an output jack, some copper foil, and some wire and solder.

Edited by Rick500
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Ok, but is it technically possible to connect pickups straight through to the output jack? Are the components marked with italian not "required"?

Pickups -> Switch/Selector -> Tone Controls -> Capacitor -> Volume Controls -> Output Jack

And could I ideally get a clean good sound by dropping tone controls but keeping capacitor? So basically it will pre-filter certain frequencies based on the capacitors, and not use the tone control.

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Someone should definately make a sticky post including info like this, I spent days trying to figure out what electronics I needed for a guitar. And virtually no site has a understandable explanation of what goes to what and what each component does and where it is placed, just like the wiring diagrams - hard to understand for someone never done electrics before, and didn't pay much attention in physics class.

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I know how you feel. When I first started reading up on guitar building, electronics was the hardest part to understand. Virtually no one has a tutorial worth a damn unless you are familiar with basic electronics terms and concepts (I wasn't). After a lot of reading, eventually it all started to click. Of course, I still have a lot to learn in any case. Make sure you check out the guitarnuts forum as well, lots of useful stuff there and friendly folks to boot.


Edited by CrazyManAndy
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