The following a guest post by Brian Porter of Porter Pickups. The guest post is a very detailed procedure on how to replace pickups in your Fender Strat! If you’re looking to change/replace pickups, please take a look at Porter Pickups, he makes some fantastic pickups that are starting to find themselves in boutique guitars and in guitars of musicians looking to improve their tone. Check out PorterPickups.com for sound clips and make sure you follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
If you are interested in guest posting or submitting a guest review, please contact me!
Installing Strat Pickups. Step by step for putting new pickups in a strat style guitar.
|Tools for the Job:
-25-40Watt Soldering Iron-Solder
|Remove the Strings
String Winders can save some time here.
|Remove Pickguard Screws
Remove all screws around the perimeter of the pickguard. Don’t touch the pickup or selector switch screws yet. If the strings can’t get out of the holes in the backplate, you might need to remove this as well.
|Keep Screws in a Safe Place
Put all the pickguard screws in a safe place, so you don’t lose them. Nothing like having a pickguard with one missing screw!
|Pickguard is off….|
|Flip Pickguard Over….
It will still be attached with the jack wires, and the ground wire to the bridge, so make sure you carefully turn it over and don’t pull too hard on it.
|Find where the wires go
One wire from each pickup will go the the selector switch…
Usually the white or “hot” from the pickup. In this case, the middle pickups “Hot” is yellow.
|And one wire from each pickup will be soldered to the back of the volume pot….
The black wires from the pickups will be the “ground”
Refer to wiring diagrams from places like www.guitarelectronics.com to make sure everything will go back in the right place. Watch where the neck, middle and bridge wires connect to the switch!
|Unsolder Old Pickups
Touch your soldering iron to the metal portion of the switch. The solder will heat up, and you can remove the wires from the old pickups. Eye protection is a good idea here.
|Repeat the same process and unsolder black ground wires from the back of the volume pot…|
|Wires are now off!
Time for some new tone!
|Remove old pickups from pickguard
Unscrew the pickups from each side, and keep the existing screws for mounting the pickups (We’ll use these again)
|Pickups are out!|
|Spring or Tube?
Many Pickups come with either a spring or a tube. We prefer to use the tube for pickup mounting, but you can use the same springs from the old pickups if you would like.
|New pickups ready
We’re installing our Porter 1960’s Strat pickups for this one.
|Time to give this guitar a great new sound….|
|Install new Pickups
Spring tube shown here with the cover on
|It compresses and works to raise and lower the pickup height…
For now, just make sure the pickups are sticking above the pickguard, we’ll fine tune the height later.
To make a neat wire path
|Route the black ground wires
Pull them past the bridge pickup, and tape them together near the volume pot.
|Cut black wires to length
Remember, they will solder to the back of the volume pot, so cut them near the middle of the volume pot.
|Prep wires for soldering
Here we are using vintage style cloth “push back” wire. You can push back the outer cloth to reveal the wire inside. For other plastic coated pickup wires, you.ll need to use a wire stripper. Leave about 1/4″ for soldering.
|Solder to volume pot
Put some solder on your wires before soldering to the back of the volume pot. This will make the connection easier. You might also need to put some more solder on the volume pot. Heat up the solder with your iron, and attach all three wires. Tweezers come in hand here since the wires can get hot.
|Solder wires to switch
Repeat the cutting, push back/ stripping of the white (Hot) wires and solder them to the appropriate lugs of the 5-way switch. Refer to a wiring diagram if you get lost. In this picture it is Bridge, Middle, Neck (Left to right)
|Check your wiring job
Turn the pickguard over and tap on the pickup magnets with your screwdriver to make sure they are making a sound at the right positions (1-5 on the selector switch). Shown here is the checking of the bridge pickup. If the neck and bridge are backwards, you can reverse the wires on your selector switch.
|If it works right , put it back together
Put in all the pickguard screws, and restring the guitar. After you have the strings on and can play it a bit, adjust the pickups heights to taste. Usually a nice balance between all three pickups volume wise is a good idea. Some people like the bridge “hotter” so they will raise that pickup higher than the other.
Enjoy your new pickups Often times a great playing guitar can be upgraded with new pickups for a lot less than buying a new guitar. If you have questions about pickups, please visit us online at www.porterpickups.com