Step 11: Shielding and wiring

Picture of Shielding and wiring
Most guitars, especially those with single-coil pickups need additional shielding to prevent noise & hum. Factory shielding just doesn't cut it.

Shielding Basics

--Remove the existing wiring, knobs, etc. Be sure to save all the parts.

--Cover the backside of the pickguard with foil. Use spray-mount glue, and heavy-duty aluminum or copper foil.

--Same with the routed cavities of the guitar body. Spray-mount could work here, but rubber cement is easier to control. The bridge/string ground can be attached directly to the foil with a screw--so it won't need to be desoldered every time the pickguard is removed.

--Separate the shield ground from the main ground. Connect to main ground at only one point (to remove any ground loops.)

Here's a great link describing shielding in detail: www.guitarnuts.com . This includes wiring for standard 'Strat' 3-pickup setup, and was my reference. Be sure to pay special attention to the sections on electric shock!


Take several photos of the existing wiring BEFORE beginning. If you screw it up, you can always start from scratch.

One tip: once the wiring is done, tidy up the jumble with those little plastic zipties. Not only makes it less confusing, but seems to help the noise ratio (maybe my imagination; or could it work like a 'twisted pair' cable?)

Every guitar has a different wiring schema, so best not go into detail on actual connections. Here are a couple links with wiring options:
Acme Guitar Works
Craig's Guitartech Wiring
GuitarElectronics Strat diagrams

Hornpipe25 years ago
Good call on the shielding.  I followed the Guitar Nuts tutorial three years ago on my extremely cheap Strat-like, and found I could play the guitar in front of my CRT monitor or under fluorescent lights without problems any more.  The difference is really night and day.
dadadata6 years ago
Sometimes, when roofers are rehabbing a house, they will leave copper flashing scraps around, e.g., in the dumpster, or ask them for a few odds and ends. It's thicker than the copper shielding material typically used on gtrs, but it works.