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Thread: Anyone here change their own pickups?

  1. #1
    Senior Member slowro's Avatar
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    Anyone here change their own pickups?

    I have only changed one set of pickups on a telecaster that was easy enough but I'm thinking of changing a bridge pickup on one of my ce's with a 5 way rotary, have you got any tips on doing a clean good quality job?

  2. #2
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    I'd help but you specified "clean good quality job"

  3. #3
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    Plenty of practice with a soldering iron.
    I am not a luthier but i am in my own workshop.
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  4. #4
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    The rotary is reasonably easy to solder to, but the dangerous thing is it's not a common part that costs a few bucks so if you mess it up, it can be expensive to replace. So, be careful with your work, don't drink heavily and/or take lots of prescription drugs beforehand.

    Solder from the back side, not the side where the wires attach on the front, but where they stick through on the back. Don't use much solder; if you can just use what's already there. Don't over heat the PC board, just get it hot enough to make/break connections. Have a good quality soldering iron and clean tips. Experience helps quite a bit too. My soldering work is reasonably clean these days but circa 1998 when I was doing it the first time with a POS iron and no real idea what I was doing, talk about messy!
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  5. #5
    Senior Member clcwarlock's Avatar
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    I have changed many sets. You will need a soldering Iron, I use a 40watt that I got at Radio Shack for $9. I have used smaller wattage but this works best when you need to solder a ground on the the back of a pot. Get a small sponge and make it damp and use this to clean the soldering tip after you tin it. Find some old wires or something the you can practice on before you go to the real deal, Don't keep the heat on it for to long like John said, just long enough to melt the soldier. Have your plan for how to connect the new pickups before you start ie wich pickup wire goes where. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Senior Member slowro's Avatar
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    Thanks guys

    I will take them on board, I can't wait to get it installed this weekend. Ran out of new strings so waiting on them is holding me back just now.

  7. #7
    Member TFC's Avatar
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    I've found soldering/unsoldering to the rotary switch to be easier than the typical Strat/Tele. As someone else mentioned, touch the soldering iron to the back side, not the front. You should be able to do it without using any new solder. And you shouldn't have to touch the iron to the switch board for more than a second. One other thing I do, is use needle nose pliers. When unsoldering, grab the wire you're unsoldering with the pliers and pull with a very slight amount of pressure. Then touch the iron to the other side of the switch board and as soon as the solder heats and melts, the wire will come right out and you can remove the iron. When soldering, hold the wire with the pliers, line up the end of the wire where the hole will be (once the solder melts) and push with a tiny amount of pressure. Touch the iron to the other side and as soon as the solder melts, the wire will be pushed into the hole from the pressure, and you can remove the iron. Much easier and quicker, in my experience, that changing pickups in a Fender.

  8. #8
    Senior Member frankb56's Avatar
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    I tried several times to install new pickups and pots. Total disaster. Can anyone tell me why we have to solder connections to the back of pots....why can't they make them with connection loops or something easier to deal with.
    Frank Bello
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  9. #9
    Member RichardJ's Avatar
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    Let's be honest, we are essentially dealing with 1940's radio technology here. Plenty of manufacturers produce plug and play solder-less options but they are all aftermarket. The best way is still a welded/soldered metal to metal contact and that's what the manufacturer wants coming out of the factory. I also presume (although I am happy to be corrected) that any tinkering by the customer rather than the factory to the electronics etc voids the warranty. Hasn't stopped me with my Fenders but they are after all the original modular guitar system.

  10. #10
    Senior Member frankb56's Avatar
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    Plenty of manufacturers produce plug and play solder-less options

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardJ View Post
    Let's be honest, we are essentially dealing with 1940's radio technology here. Plenty of manufacturers produce plug and play solder-less options but they are all aftermarket. The best way is still a welded/soldered metal to metal contact and that's what the manufacturer wants coming out of the factory. I also presume (although I am happy to be corrected) that any tinkering by the customer rather than the factory to the electronics etc voids the warranty. Hasn't stopped me with my Fenders but they are after all the original modular guitar system.
    I'll have to look those up....never knew that and never saw them in the Stewie Mac catalog. I have a beat up Epiphone Dot that I have tried to fix several times. I am terrible at soldering. I know this is the easy route but what the hell. Any particular manufacturers or websites you can direct me?
    Frank Bello
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  11. #11
    Senior Member VHTStark's Avatar
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    Have been changing out pickups on my own for years! Soldering is an easy skill, for the most part, to learn.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    I did a complete "rebuild" of a MIM Strat. It had these crappy weird pickups that were sort of active - all three ran to one winding hidden under the pick guard. I got all new Pick ups, pots and wiring. Used the old stuff to practice on and then went for it. I found pretty much I needed to know on Youtube - the most helpful videos for me were posted by Jason Lollar:
    If I thought I was going to live this long I'd have taken better care of myself!

  13. #13
    Member RichardJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frankb56 View Post
    I'll have to look those up....never knew that and never saw them in the Stewie Mac catalog. I have a beat up Epiphone Dot that I have tried to fix several times. I am terrible at soldering. I know this is the easy route but what the hell. Any particular manufacturers or websites you can direct me?
    OK, now I'm on the spot! Seymour Duncan offers their 'liberator' range of pots which are a simple screw down fit and Dimarzio offer a solder-less replacement setup for LPs etc.

  14. #14
    deus ex machina
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    Quote Originally Posted by frankb56 View Post
    I tried several times to install new pickups and pots. Total disaster. Can anyone tell me why we have to solder connections to the back of pots....why can't they make them with connection loops or something easier to deal with.
    The back of a potentiometer (pot) acts like a shield when it is connected to signal ground.

  15. #15
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Changed pups, pots, switches, etc a few times on various guitars including the Bernie and Strat.

    I've got some basic soldering skills from a job I did years back. It's not the best work but perfectly acceptable. Only time I ran / run into issues is if I try to rush the job or use inferior equipment. I had a soldering iron that wasn't up to the job once but the biggest issue seemed to be when I used lead free solder. Most places that sell solder in the UK use the lead free stuff and I found that harder to work with.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member frankb56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardJ View Post
    OK, now I'm on the spot! Seymour Duncan offers their 'liberator' range of pots which are a simple screw down fit and Dimarzio offer a solder-less replacement setup for LPs etc.
    Thank you for this info!
    Frank Bello
    PRS CUSTOM 24
    http://frankbello56.blogspot.com/



  17. #17
    Member RichardJ's Avatar
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    I got me a Dremel gas powered iron after my electric one freaked out and started zapping me. To be honest it is the best iron I have owned, really consistent heat and easy to control.

  18. #18
    Senior Member slowro's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the help guys. I got the pickup in and I am very happy with the finish.

    I did leave my wire stripping tools at work and it was a pain to go back to old school ways.

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