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Guitar pickups, controls and wiring may seem simple, but we have seen many guitars damaged, devalued, or even completely ruined by failed attempts to repair them. Below are some examples and explanations of the issues. These will be updated as I work on things that I think would be of interest.
An acoustic guitar may have one or more pickups, microphones, or other type of sensors glued, velcroed, embedded in the wood, screwed, or glued to the top of the guitar, sandwiched under the bridge, or under the saddle, or a combination of these. Removing or working on them incorrectly can affect the structure of the guitar, causing changes in tone and playability, or worse, causing the guitar to break. Then a wiring repair becomes a very expensive guitar repair. We have the tools, materials, the wiring diagrams, and the years of experience to do it right, and we stand behind it.
Installing new pickups in an acoustic guitar is equally critical, and requires knowledge and experience to get the best tone, and not damage the guitar. We have a reputation for getting this right too.
BASIC ELECTRIC GUITARS
The controls and wiring take a beating since experienced guitar players change settings frequently. Controls get noisy, loose, and wear out. Pickups can get weak, noisy, or stop working. Guitar cables get jerked and cause damage. Various liquids get spilled on or in the guitar and cause all kinds of problems. All of these are things we see on a daily basis and can repair correctly, and in less time than most shops. We also do partial or complete rewiring, where the original parts or wiring are deteriorated, damaged, or have been modified badly, or you just want to start over with all new controls and pickups.
Below is a guitar that came in not working at all. It was rewired using high quality parts and correct layout, and it sounds good.
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CUSTOM WIRED ELECTRIC GUITARS
This includes one of a kind, hand made, factory custom shop editions, special orders, guitars that have been modified, or something that does not even exist yet except in your imagination. These guitars may have extra pickups, special custom wound pickups, coil splitter and, or, phase switches, custom tone controls, active preamps with batteries. Some are valuable, some are just loved by their owners. We can repair and maintain any of these, or build custom wiring from scratch to your specifications.
If you are looking to have some of this work done, here are some things to consider. We try to get it done so as to keep the labor costs low. But sometimes there are surprises. If pickups or other added parts don’t fit and require drilling, routing, chiselling, partial refinishing, it may add a few extra minutes, to hours of extra labor.
Below is a custom strat body brought in to be wired. Bridge pickup is a humbucker, and a coil splitter switch was added. Wiring is routed and tied to be stable, noise free, and fit correctly in the guitar. Pots and switches are high quality. Tone cap is polypropylene audio grade.
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RARE OR COLLECTIBLE GUITARS
A good example would be an early Gibson Les Paul. In original condition some are worth over $100 thousand dollars. Sadly some were rewired or modified years ago by someone’s cousin who worked at a truckstop wiring up trailers, or by a young guitarist who wanted the latest hot rod pickups and did not know the guitar would become so valuable. This becomes more of a restoration than a repair. We first research the guitar carefully and document exactly what it is supposed to be. Then we painstakingly hunt down any missing or damaged parts; pickups, pots switches, knobs. This includes using the same kind of old wire it came with. Then we carefully put it all back together, using the same soldering style, the same colors and routing of wires. Please note. We do repairs and restorations at a very high level, but we do not, will not, help someone deceptively say a restoration is an untouched original.
When planning this kind of work, a couple things are important to consider. Music electronics has changed a lot in the last 60 years, both in theory and understanding, and in parts manufacturing. So if a guitar is to be played professionally, either for recording or live performance, it should usually be wired and repaired using the best parts and layout for good tone, low noise, and reliability. If it is primarily a collectors piece, then it should usually be wired and repaired using only exact original parts and layout, so as not to reduce the value. In some cases, the original parts are the best for either choice. The decision is up to you, and we can help you decide which approach is best for your instrument.