Friday, March 12, 2010

How to install Stratocaster pickups

So you've decided to upgrade your tone, great! One of the most exciting and satisfying modifications you can make to your Stratocaster is replacing the pickups. In this post I'll show you how it's done, you'll be surprised how easy it is.

Required tools:
soldering iron
wire cutters
wire strippers
phillips head screwdriver

Recommended tools:
tuning peg winder
electric tuner
electric drill driver

First, detach the strings from the tuners and lay them over the back of the guitar as shown.

Next, take all 11 screws out that hold the pickguard to the body, a drill driver makes this go much quicker.

You'll find there are 4 wires attached to the body (2 grounds and two leads to the input jack), leave these attached and rotate the pickguard back over the bridge as shown, this will make it easy to work on.

Working on one pickup at a time, carefully unsolder both leads from the pickup and remove from the pickguard by unscrewing the phillips head screws. Use the old leads to judge how long you need the new leads to be. Do all of your cutting and wire stripping before installing the new pickups. Carefully solder the new pickups to their appropriate places, if you get confused, you can find wiring diagrams here.

Once everything is wired up, reinstall the pickguard and the strings.

Plug in to your amp and play on a good clean channel in all 5 positions to make sure there are no phase issues. If you notice a big drop in lows and a weak tone in positions 2 or 4 you have phase issues and probably wired the middle pickup backwards. If you notice a volume difference in the three pickups, simply adjust the height of the pickups using the phillips head screws, the closer the pickup is to the string the louder it will be.

I hope this helps, if there are any other questions feel free to email me at

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