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Pickup Wireing? From Electronics Idiot


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I have a couple of humbuckers from GFS that I am installing in my new guitar. I used a wiring diagram from the seymour duncan site for 2 hbs with 1 vol pot and a 3 way switch. I got it all wired up and all it does is hum. So I started looking more closely and according the the diagrams on stewmacs site, on SD pickups the black wire is hot and the green is ground. According to the paper that came with the GFS pickups their green wire is hot and the black is ground. So apparently I have my hot wire and ground flipped around. Can I just switch the wiring at the input jack? Or do I have to go back and change all my black and green wires? This is what I get for assuming there was some standard color code for pickup wires :D

Please be gentle....I'm probably the most electronically challenged person here.

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It sounds like you have hot and ground mixed up for the whole circuit, or else either hot or ground is not connected (which gives an open-circuit buzz like a naked cable plugged into an amp).

You may need to swap it at the jack. That would be an easy test--just move two wires, if it sounds normal, you fixed it. :D

Edited by Geo
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Hey John,

Here is the wiring diagram I grabbed from seymour duncan.

duncan diagram

this diagram does not say whether the green and black wires are + or -.....so I found this page on Stew Macs website.

stewmac diagram

This says a SD humbucker is hot or + on the black wire and - on the green wire.

The sheet that came with my GFS humbuckers said that their green wire was hot and their black wire was -.

So by following the original SD diagram I had my + and - reversed. So last night I switched the greens and the blacks and I still have a wicked hum and only the faintest guitar sound. The hum gets louder and quieter when I turn the pot, but it is there no matter what switch position I use. I have everything grounded to the back of the pot.

I am at work right now so I don't have an actual picture of my wiring, but if it would help I can post one this afternoon.

I'm about ready to disconnect everything and hook each PU to the jack individually just to see if they are working and then add the switch and the pot. Any help you can throw at me would be great.

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I was going to suggest hooking the pickups directly to the jack one at a time.. That's first. Once you have the pickups working, you can add the pot and switch.

You have it figured out. Don't need me.

If that doesn't work, don't throw it across the room. Check your pot with your meter. Check your switch.

When you are just testing you don't have to solder.. You can twist.

If you have trouble after that give us a shout.


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It is most likely that if your switch is different, you are confused about the connections.

Similarly...while SD diagrams are excellent, they are colour coded for their pickups...

wiring the + and - consistently back to front makes no practical difference. Where things go wrong though is with 4 conductor wired HB where the connected wires that put the two coils in series is misidentified. You could end up with split, parallel, or even little or no sound at all with varying amounts of noise!

All it really takes is one wire not connected or a tone pot wired to create a short to make something almost right, wrong.

Your symptom appears to be no ground...so a little bit of sound and a lot of noise...

Wiring the pickups direct to a jack socket is a quick and dirty way of identifying the leads (unless GFS have supplied or can supply a colour code for their pickups) that combined will give you the full power (often two of the 4 conductors will already be connected for series).

Most likely though, your fault is in the switch connections. Wiring without the tone, and connecting one pickup at a time and testing through an amp is generally a good way to go adding pickups and controls so you can identify what is wrong, before you have built all the problems that can occur into a wiring...

Probably best to start again and check your colour codes and switch type so you know what you are doing...even re drawing it or altering the diagram to your actual guitar...

best of luck.

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Thanks for the input guys!

If that doesn't work, don't throw it across the room.

I was almost to that point Thurs afternoon...then family stuff pulled me away from what I was doing. It was probably a good thing!

When you are just testing you don't have to solder.. You can twist.

So clipping things together with some alligator clips should be good for the testing phase? That would be great...I'm getting sick of desoldering, LOL.

Pete, The red and white wire on these pickups came already soldered together, so those should be right. As far as the switch goes, it is just a standard 3-way toggle (1 pos =neck, mid pos = both, 3 pos = bridge). There are 3 lugs on one side of the switch and 1 lug on the other. The 2 outside lugs on the 3 lug side of the switch are connected to the hot wires from each pickup. The center lug on that side goes to ground. The single lug on the other side of the switch goes to the volume pot. Does this sound right?

Thanks again for the help.


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Oh...ok...I thought it was some weird strat switch...

So...that should work as is...

the HB's have two coils wired so the coil is connecteed through one and into the other (with the red and white joined as it comes) and out the other side. So, either way is identical in effect as long as you do the same for both pickups....

Ahhhh....I see where you might have a problem....

In the SD drawing the switch is drawn a little odd...

Here is a pic of my bluetelecaster...


The selector switch has has the pickup signals going to either of the outer connections(white and red as it happens here)...there are two joined together between them which is the signal out to the volume control (orange in this case) and there is a ground lead to the back solid tag (black leads in this guitar are ground)...

So, the switch pushes a leaf spring away from the centre connection, either the bridge or neck pickup wire disconnect and in the centre position, lets both connect... (ignore the rest of the complex wiring, just that big toggle selector)

The problem could be that in the SD diagram, they have the hot lead at the back tag and the signal from the front between the pickup connections...this is a most unlikely arrangement (I have not seen one) and if you reversed these wires, the symptoms you seem to have may well be the result...

If this is the case, simply reversing the wires should bring it instantly to life...that is the hot out to volume and the ground lead to the switch should be reversed...the hot out is often two joined tags between the two outer pickup tags as in the switch above...

It is also possible to wire the volume control back to front, so make sure you turn it back and forth in case you have it turned all the way down and if it is working backwards, reverse the outer tags...

With such a simple scheme, this is the only likely thing I can think of...if not, it is pic time...

hope that helps...pete

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