A Collection of Unfinished Projects!

DIY Les Paul Guitar Kit (Part 6: How to Wire Pickups)


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.

Wires

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.*

guitar wiring

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.

how to wire 3 way switch

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.

500k Potentiometer

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.

wiring pickupsRoute 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.

wiring cable jackThe 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!

Final Thoughts

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!

(Get this DIY Les Paul Guitar Kit here or here on Amazon)

36 Comments

  1. Jay says:

    Thanks again Fred, I appreciate the tutoring on this build

    Jay

  2. Matt says:

    How does the guitar sound? How good or bad was the fret work? Was the veneer touching the binding or were there gaps? Yours look great, by the way.

  3. Bobby says:

    The wiring diagrams I have for the Gibson style guitar call for a bridge ground how do you hook up the wire to the bridge
    Thanks
    Bobby

    • fred says:

      Hi Bobby, the ground wire is wedged into the bridge post that you hammer in to the body. Then solder that wire to the top of one of the pots to complete the ground connection.

  4. zack says:

    Hey Fred, awesome job man! I bought one of those kits and when I started combing through the internet researching build tips I ran across your site and pretty much copied you lol! I actually bought a les Paul custom headstock overlay and installed it and I put a silverfoil binder around the body and headstock, but for the most part I copied you. My next step is to glue the neck but I notice you didn’t say anything about your scale measurements. Did you measure 24 3/4″ from nut to bridge and then clamp neck or was it routed perfect from the factory? Mine measures about 25″ from nut to bridge and I was just wondering about the measurements before I glued and clamped. Anyway, thanks again. Zack

    • William says:

      Hi Zack,

      Just Wondering how Did Your Guitar Come Out Playable Wise And Problem With The Neck Anything Or Anything ?

      • zack says:

        William, I just seen your question. I actually just glued my neck a couple days ago ( December 20th 2013) I’ve been busy with dune buggy and big truck projects lol. I actually just checked back in on Fred’s website to study up on how he soldered his wires up so wish me luck and good luck on your build! Thanks again for the tutorial Fred!

  5. Joe says:

    My little boy and I enjoyed watching your videos. He wants to build guitars with his Papa! You did an excellent job explaining everything and your guitar looks great!! Thanks for the inspiration!! Joe and Joe III

  6. zack says:

    Hey Fred did you see my question above about scale length? Again, awesome job man. Thanks, zack

    • fred says:

      Hey Zack, the neck was routed perfectly in my case. I did double check the measurements but did not need to make any adjustments.

  7. Steve Zartman says:

    I bought a kit awhile back but did not start it yet. You videos and explainations should help. If this one goes well I will tackle an Explorer kit and or a Flying V.
    Thanks again. Keep Rockin’

    Zman

  8. zack says:

    Fred,
    Thanks for answering my question. Your awesome man! Now start on the JEM so we can check it out!! :-)

  9. Josh says:

    Hey Fred,
    Thanks a million for the videos!! I’m on the fence about ordering one myself. How is your LP holding up? Have you encountered any problems? I’m not too worried about the electronics and hardware, as I intend to replace those anyway. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!!

    Thanks,
    Josh

  10. Parshay says:

    I dont know how it looks in person obviously. But the people talkin s##t about the ink have to eat crow. The blue looks awesome. But i havnt been able to find a video of u playing it. How were the frets and and did it have any buzz? How low was the action without buzz? I wanna build one but i dont wanna have a guitar to just hang on the wall and say i assembled that. Does it play worth a darn. Dont really care about pickups they are easily replaced.

  11. Josh says:

    I’m with Parshay. I wish Fred would’ve made a follow up video on the LP kit to let us know how it plays. After all, that’s the whole point, right? Or at least let us know on here. I ordered mine already on good faith, but i’m still fairly skeptical.

  12. I would like to see the SG build. also more info on where to buy gibson style necks

  13. Fabricio says:

    Hi Fred, I saw all your videos on the build of the guitar kit.
    A couple of time ago I saw it on ebay and almost bought it, but I didn’t.
    The case is I will be probably by october in Orlando on vacation (I am from Brazil) and I am thinking of bringing a guitar with me, the prices are so much different.
    The idea is maybe bring a LTD one or maybe an Epiphone, not sure.

    The other idea is to buy a kit like that and bring it to assemble it here, but them comes the question apart from the pleasure of building your own guitar, is it worth financially saying?

    By the way really nice job…

  14. William says:

    Hi Fred, I’m Very Interested In Building My Own Guitar ( Les Paul DIY Kit ) But I’ve Seen Some Comments Regarding The Neck And That Some Aren’t Playable. Just Wondering How Did Yours Come Out Playable Wise And How Is The Sound ? I Plan On Getting Better Hardware Then The Standard Stuff That Accompanies The Kit. Just Want To Be Sure I’m Buying Something That Is Playable Instead Of A Dust Rack :/

    Thanks

  15. mike says:

    pretty cool but are you happy with the sound

  16. Gareth says:

    WOW, so there I was looking online to see the best way to “stain a guitar body” when I came across a video of yours highlighted from google…

    Well sitting outside on my iPhone I sat and watched the whole lot on your build and I think after this guitar project (which is a Yamaha ERG121 I’ve had for a few years) I think I shall invest in a DIY kit..

    I must say I have seen them on the internet but thought “cheap and nasty” till I saw what you done..
    And with the wood they use it ain’t going to be that bad..

    Once again THANK YOU,

    G Jackson (from the UK)

  17. Jeff says:

    Hey Fred, I loved your DIY series on the Electric Guitar. Could you please post an analysis of the electronics quality? How do the humbuckers sound? What is the quality of the wiring package as a whole? Thanks, Jeff

    • fred says:

      I don’t quite understand your question regarding electronics quality. The humbuckers that come with the kit work well and sound decent, but they can not compare to aftermarket pickups. They are, however, very easy to upgrade. When you buy the DIY guitar kits, you have to go into it knowing that the parts it comes with are not the best. What you are really after is the guitar body and neck.

  18. Jeff says:

    Looking over others questions, maybe a follow up video would be in order, demonstrating playability, action, tuning pegs, neck trueness, bridge and tailpiece quality, as well as my electronics questions. Seems like a lot of people that are serious about completing the project would like to know. Thanks again for a great series, Jeff.

  19. Arunas says:

    Hi, what type of capacitors you use ?

  20. webster says:

    I also am curious about the neck.

    Will this model intonate properly and is it in tune up and down the neck

    in all chord positions?

    thx

    web

    • Wayne Bohlim says:

      I built the same kit and put on Gibson Brite wires. I also had a professional intunate and setup the guitar, and I am VERY happy with the sound from the guitar was it was setup.

  21. John says:

    How did the Les Paul design turn out? It looked amazing and I am planing on buying one myself but thinking of throwing EMG 81 and 85 in there or maybe Duncin Livewires not sure yet. What do you think?

  22. John says:

    Thanks yeah I think I’m pretty decided on putting the EMGs in there. Are the slots big enough for them or do I have to do some minor adjusting? Also is the wiring the same as those Humbuckers?

  23. Fred, I just want to say great job. Nice color, nice wiring job. Short, direct, to the point. Thanks for the info. Look forward to your next project. Good luck. Rob

  24. george aleong says:

    i love your DIY les paul video.i would like to know how good the les paul plays and sounds.

  25. Mike says:

    How does it play? I just bought one and I was wondering if yours actually feels quality?

Leave a Comment

 

— required *

— required *