We are back with my DIY Les Paul Guitar Kit and we are on the final step for completing this build. This time I will show you how to wire pickups for this guitar kit. Once again, this Les Paul guitar kit was purchased from this seller on eBay. I have had a lot of fun building this guitar and encourage you to start your very own project.
Lets first talk about the wires that are included in this guitar kit. The kit provides more than enough wires to complete the installation of the pickups. There are basically 3 sets of wires that are included.
*Please take note that the color of the wires is not important. You just need to know what each wire does and where they go. Use my guide as a reference but your kit could come with different colored wires.*
The longest pair of wires (blue and green) is used to connect the 3 way switch to the output jack for the guitar cable. You only need 1 wire for this application, I chose the blue wire. The other wire in this pair can be used for grounding the components in the cavity of the body. I will explain more on the grounding process further down.
The slightly shorter wires (green, yellow, orange, and red) is used to connect the 3 way switch to the volume potentiometers. I used the yellow and red wires in this set because they correspond to the color of wires on the neck and bridge pickups. I also used the green wire as my grounding wire for the 3 way switch.
Finally you have the shortest set of 4 wires (green, yellow, orange, and red). These can be used to connect different components like the pots and capacitors inside the cavity. I, however, did not end up using this set of shore wires. The green wire from the longest pair of wires was used for all the connections inside the cavity.
How to Wire 3 way Switch
Now let’s take a closer look at the 3 way switch. There are 4 different connectors that need to be wired on the switch. The outer connector is used for grounding the 3 way switch to the rest of the guitar components. In my case, this will be the green wire as explained earlier. To make it easier to follow, all my ground wires will be green.
The middle connector is the active output that will be used to send the pickup signals to the output jack. I have selected the blue wire for this application.
The other two connectors are input connections that receive signals from the pickups and sends the signals to the output (blue wire) of the 3 way switch. As mentioned, I am using the yellow and red wires for these because they match up with the color of wires on the pickups.
Solder all these connections together, then route the wires through the body of the guitar and into the cavity located on the back. Tape these wires off to the side because you will come back to them at a later time. You can now secure the 3 way switch by tightening the locking nut from the front of the guitar.
Grounding the Guitar
Next we move onto grounding all the components of the guitar. We will start with the potentiometers. These are 500k pots for both volume and tone controls. The pots labeled with B500k are used for controlling the volume and pots labeled A500k are used for the tone controls. Arrange the pots so that the neck volume/tone control is on top and the bridge volume/tone control are on the bottom.
Start by grounding each pot by bending the outer right leg of the potentiometer up so that it touches the top of the pot. Complete the connection by soldering both the connector leg and the top of potentiometer together. You may need to use a lot of solder for this process to ensure a solid connection.
Now that each individual potentiometer is grounded, we must ground all of the components to each other. We do this by running a wire and soldering it to the top of each pot starting at the bridge tone pot, to the bridge volume pot, then moving to the neck volume pot, then to the neck tone pot and finally out to the cable jack. You also want to ensure that the ground wire (green) from the 3 way switch is also grounded to one of the potentiometers.
*Please note that on some guitars, there is a ground wire that connects to the bridge post. If your guitar has this wire, go ahead and solder that ground wire to the top of any potentiometer.*
How to Wire Pickups
Once the main ground wires have been completed, we can now move forward with the actual pickups installation. The neck and bridge pickups are easy to differentiate on this kit by looking at the pre-mounted pickup rings. The pickup for the neck will have a thinner mounting ring while the bridge pickup will have a thicker mounting ring. In my kit, the neck pickup was wired with yellow wires while the bridge pickup with red.
Route the wires through the body starting with the neck pickup, then route both neck and bridge pickup wires into the body cavity of the guitar. You can now mount the pickups to the guitar body with the supplied screws.
Before soldering any pickup wires, we must first connect the tone capacitors to the potentiometers. Attach one leg of the capacitor to the middle connector of the tone pot, then connect the other leg of the capacitor to the outter left connector of the volume pot. Go ahead and solder the capacitor on the tone side only for the time being. We will hold off soldering the volume side until we have connected the pickup wires explained in the next step.
So let’s take a look at the yellow and red pickup wires again. Within each pickup wire, there are 2 separate wires. One wire is bare for grounding to the potentiometer; the other wire is white which is for the active signal. Connect the white wire to the same volume pot connector as the capacitor (outer left connector of both pots). You can now solder the white neck/bridge pickup wire to its corresponding volume potentiometer.
After soldering the active white pickup wires, go ahead and solder the bare pickup wires to the top of the potentiometer to ground the pickups.
Just a Few More Wires
The wiring is almost finished at this point, just a few more wires left. Let’s re-visit the wires from the 3 way switch that we had taped off to the side. What is left is a blue wire (goes to cable jack), a yellow wire and a red wire. The yellow and red wires receive the pickup signal by connecting to the output connector leg of the volume pots.
The output connector is the middle leg of each volume potentiometer. I went ahead and solder the yellow wire from the 3 way switch to the middle leg of the neck volume pot and did the same with the red wire to the bridge volume pot.
This leaves two wires left, a blue wire and the green wire. Once again the blue wire came from the 3 way switch and will be soldered to the active connector on the cable jack. The green wire is the ground. This is the wire that was used to ground out all of the components in the cavity. You will want to connect this green wire to the ground connector of the cable jack.
It is very easy to figure out which cable jack prongs are active and which are ground. Basically, any prong that touches the pole piece of the cable itself, will act as the ground. Whichever prong that touches the top of the cable will therefore be the active signal.
Final step is to solder these last two wires and you are done!
Just put everything back together, string up the guitar, and rock out!
I know this tutorial may have been difficult to follow. I know this because it was extremely difficult for me to write. However, I am hoping that this article and video will at least guide you in the right directions on how to wire pickups for a DIY Les Paul Guitar Kit.
Building this guitar kit and documenting the build has been very enjoyable for me. I have received many great comments from those that are also building this kit and really hope my articles have been beneficial.
See you on the next build!