I'm building an electric bass guitar. I'm trying to wire the pickups into it and i need help.

Its from scratch and there's no wires in it yet.

Picture of I'm building an electric bass guitar. I'm trying to wire the pickups into it and i need help.
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What type(s) of pick-ups, and how many of each?  Also give me a list of any switches and/or pots you have.
xxInSAniACxx (author)  MahavishnuMan7 years ago
i decided to use this diagram but i really prefer direct help. so i picked up 1 toggle switch , 1 pack of 2 1/4 mono phone jacks and 2 500k volume control w/ push switch . I made the pick-up and i didn't know if i could only use one or not. please follow links for visuals.

Did you make a single-coil pickup that spans all four strings, or a split single-coil (as found on Fender P-Basses), or a humbucker?

As for the parts, you may want to exchange the pots.  500k is too much resistance, and Radio Shack's description is a bit confusing as they list it as a volume control but spec it as linear taper (which will not smoothly control the volume).  I would recommend 250k audio-taper pots, as well as a 0.022 uF non-polar capacitor.

If you only want one pickup, I'd go with the P-Bass schematic (just ignore the wiring between the split pickup.  For two or more pickups, there are many different ways to wire them depending on what kind of sound you want, as well as how much control you desire.  A humbucker technically counts as two pickups, unless you permanently wired them together; this gives you several ways to use them (such as coil-tapping) that will diversify the sound you get.

Let me know what you have, and I'll be happy to give you some pointers.
xxInSAniACxx (author)  MahavishnuMan7 years ago
what about the on/off switch? or do i not need one since my pots have on off on them? I think my pick-up is single coil but I'm not sure, i added pictures of it to the question. do you know where i could get gears for the tuning pegs?
xxInSAniACxx (author)  xxInSAniACxx7 years ago
the only smaller pot radio-shack has is 100k.
xxInSAniACxx (author)  xxInSAniACxx7 years ago
Could I use this diagram but take out 2 of the pick-ups? Also some were i read that some wires need to be connected to the bridge but i didn't make an electric bridge could you send me a diagram of one or an instructable?
xxInSAniACxx (author)  xxInSAniACxx7 years ago
The pictures are pretty dark, but it looks like you made a single-coil.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, since I know you put a lot of work into it, but it looks like there might be a major design problem with your pickup that requires a redo.  I can't tell the size of the parts from the picture (a ruler in the shot might help), but it seems as if either the winding is way too wide, or the pole pieces are far too close together.  Ideally, each string should pass directly over each pole piece - if it's off (even by a little) the string will not be picked up at all.  Also, the windings should not go so far beyond the ends of the edge pole pieces; if they do, the outer pieces will not create sufficient signal to be heard properly.

I would suggest spacing the screws a distance from about 5/8" to 3/4" from each other, depending on how your strings are spaced.  Then, trim your the excess off the sides of the bobbin.  As an example, if the spacing between each screw is 3/4", then the pickup should be 3/4" wide and 3 3/4" long (4x3/4" for each pole piece, then 3/8" on each side).  Use fat screws too (maybe 3/16" diameter on the shaft), as skinnier ones won't have enough metal to interact with the heft of a bass string.

If you want the pickup in a specific spot on the body, I'd string the bass first, then measure the spacing at that point and build the pickup; otherwise, you can build the pickup first, then before mounting slide it under the strings until you find the point where the strings are directly over each pole piece.

I honestly wouldn't build the tuning pegs from scratch.  It takes way too much precision getting the right fit between them, and unless you have special tools you'll have an impossible time lining them up properly.  Buy a good set from Carvin, paying attention to get the right set depending on your build (2x2 means two on each side of the headstock, inline means they're all on the same side).  They have some of the highest quality tuners I've ever played with at this price ($34.00 US for a set of tuners is unheard of for the quality).  They feel super smooth and stay in tune extremely well.

As to the pots, Radio Shack isn't what they used to be when it comes to actual electronic components.  If you're in the U.S., order them here for $1.20 a piece, as well as the capacitor at the same place for $0.33; I really wouldn't compromise on using the wrong values for these, as it will affect the tone and volume in ways that will make you wish you did it the right way the first time.  Believe me, I've been there.

You don't need to use a switch (or a pot with a switch), but I like switches and I think it's nice to be able to mute an instrument without turning a knob or using a stomp-box.  If you want to incorporate the switch (in any form), just put it on the hot lead (not ground) right before the jack.

The problem with the diagram you found is that it doesn't explain what is in the black box labeled "Hohner VBS-1", which seems pretty important since it has a mess of wires snaking from it to the switch.  For this build, save yourself a heap of frustration and stick with the P-Bass diagram I provided earlier.  If you remove the two extra pickups, the pickup switches, and the tone switch black box thing, it's pretty much the same schematic (although with higher pot values, which I'm assuming is necessary due to the hotter pickups and the fact that there are more of them, hence offering higher output and requiring more resistance).

I hope this helps.  Let me know if you run into any more snags.
xxInSAniACxx (author)  MahavishnuMan7 years ago
Thanks this helped a lot. So I can use one pick-up, I just need to rebuild it though, right? As for the tuners, WAY out of my price range. Is there anywhere I can get them cheaper, possibly used if I have to?
Yes, you can use one pickup.  Even the Fender P-Bass, which appears to have two, is actually one that is split into two parts and wired in series.  The only reason for this is to get tighter, thicker windings for tone.

The tuners might be tricky, as what I showed you is actually fairly cheap compared to most.  You may try e-Bay or something, but this is one of the parts I wouldn't go too budget on.  Tuners are a pretty critical part in terms of overall functionality; low-quality tuners will be difficult to tune and will not stay in tune for long.  Even on the best sounding bass, bad tuners will ruin it due to frustration - and let's face it, a bass never sounds good detuned.
xxInSAniACxx (author)  MahavishnuMan7 years ago
thanks for all the help man!
Re-design7 years ago
Don't forget to put your magnets on before you get it all put inside.
xxInSAniACxx (author)  Re-design7 years ago
Lol. I may not have a brain but I'm not that stupid (just immature).And um, oh ya....That's what she said.
I've done worse.
xxInSAniACxx (author)  Re-design7 years ago
Re-design7 years ago
Here's a link to bass wiring diagrams.  They should help you get started.  Ask a specific question if you have one.
Re-design7 years ago
What do you need?