I got a new guitar a little while ago and I wanted to change the pickups. See Upgrading To Active Pickups. In this blog I talk about why I decided to use active pickups. In this post I talk about the installation process and what happend. Changing the pickups in my guitar did not go as planned because some wires broke, I had to expand the pickup cavities and I ran into a problem with the configuration of the wires.
The first thing I did was remove the old pickups. I tried to keep everything in order so if I wanted to put them back in it would not be to hard to figure out the wiring.
After I took out the old pickups, I started putting in the new ones. The pickups I got were solder-less which means instead of soldering wires onto connecters the EMG upgrade kit had a control unit in which you plugged cables.
I followed the instructions and THOUGHT I pretty much got everything right. There were a few little wires coming from the selector switch and they plugged into the control unit. Unfortunately, one of the little wires broke because it was short and small. This completely disabled the selector switch and I was not happy about that. I soldered on a new wire and went on to the actual pickups.
The pickups that were in the guitar before fit perfectly into the cavities, but the new ones were a bit bigger. When Jackson painted the guitar there was a little bit of a build up paint on the corners so I had to us a Dremel tool to sand out the corners of the cavities to make the pickups fit. It took a few tries because I didn’t want to remove any more than necessary After a fair amount of sanding they fit, so I finished putting the guitar together.
Once everything was put back together I went to play the guitar. Immediately, I noticed that the selector switch and tone knob were not working. Also, it didn’t have the right amount of tone. I played it for a few minutes, but nothing changed. I looked at the wiring for a bit and nothing seemed out of place. Like I said earlier, this was a solder-less kit. That means that you do not solder connections; you just plug them in and that eliminates problems like having the wrong gauge of wire and other things. The only thing I changed was the wire going from the selector switch to the terminal. It was a heavier gauge wire so I replaced it with a lighter gauge wire closer to the original gauge, but that didn’t change anything. I was really confused. I looked on the EMG site and a few forums and the most common answer was to follow the instructions exactly, so I went back and looked at it for a few minutes and I found out that I had three wires plugged in the wrong order. I fixed the order and when I tested the guitar it sounded perfect.
My guitar sounds great now and I love it, but there is still one problem. When I sanded out the cavities for the pickups I just did the corners. The pickups fit now, but they are slightly angled because there is not enough room. I went to talk to the guys at Axe Music and they said that it would not make any difference in the sound; it is just for looks. Since the pickups being angled does not affect the sound, I will not fix it right away. I will wait till the next time I take off the strings and then I will sand out the cavities.
Some people said that it would take about twenty minutes to install these pickups (YA RIGHT). It took me two days to figure everything out. Even if I knew what I was doing it would have taken me more than twenty minutes. Even though changing the pickups in my guitar did not go as planned because of broken wires, small pickups cavities and wiring configuration I still had fun and learned a lot.