have you ever wondered how you could clean up the looks and mess of wires connecting your electronics in your single coil guitar? have you though about installing a PCB but aren't sure where to find one? this has been my biggest fantasy when building a new guitar, and for years i had searched for an answer, but have not yet heard of any existing board for guitars, so i created a board and tested it to work with the stock wiring for a single coil Strat, but will work with almost any American single coil guitar with 2 tone knobs and a 3-5way switch.

in the following steps i will tell you how to print and create your circuit board, either using the design attached or by creating your own, and then proceed instructions on how to wore and solder the board into your guitar, from start to finish its a simple project that will greatly reduce the mess of tangled wires.

Materials you will need:
2-3/8"x3-3/8" copper clad circuit board (single sided or dual sided, doesnt matter)
Glossy paper
copper etching solution
lead core soldering wire
18-22AWG wire, preferably in different colors
(1x) .14, .222, .333, or .6uf capacitor

Tools you will need:
soldering iron,
steam iron
drill/dremel/ drill press
small drill bits (1/32"-1/16" diameter)
wire cutters/strippers
fine sandpaper

(i will include step by step pictures once i get a new battery for my camera first)

Step 1: Step One: Printing and Attatching Circuit Design

to start you will need your gloss paper, a laser jet printer, and a design, there is one attached to this guide, that will work for any guitar with 3 pickups and a slider switch, or you can research and/or design your own.

first you want to print your design onto glossy paper with your laser jet printer,

cut out your copper clad board to fit your circuit,

place your paper on the copper board so that the inked circuit fits completely within the copper on the board and the ink side is against the copper blank side on the outside towards you, otherwise you could lose part of your circuit. remember to either leave extra room to fold it over the back of the board and tape it, or tape the edges, that way your paper doesn't slide around and mess up your board.

once your design is added to your board so that the ink doesn't hang off any of the edges, carefully take your steam iron and iron the paper onto the board for 50-60 seconds, to transfer the ink to the copper. this will protect the copper under the ink from corrosion, creating your circuit.

once you have ironed the ink to the copper, run the board and paper under cold water and rub the paper off, leaving ONLY the ink on the copper.

below is what my guitar electronics looked like before i started working on a pcb design for it, what a mess! (will be replacing original photos with more current ones of the project itself soon, camera has no battery, so these pics are a bit before i started the original project)

Step 2: Step 2: Etching the Copper Board and Drilling Component Holes

for this  step you will need your etchant solution, a plastic container, your printed circuit board, and your drill.

make sure your container is big enough for your board, and pour enough solution that when you place the board inside, it completely covers the top, you may wait for the etchant to work on its own, or you may carefully agitate it, moving the board with a pair of pliers,

once the copper around your circuit is dissolved, remove the PCB with a pair of pliers, and rinse it off with water thoroughly and then dry with a paper towel,

with fine sandpaper, lightly sand the ink away from the board, exposing the bare copper circuit,

once all the ink is removed, you may drill the holes for your wires/components, with a 1/32" to a 1/16" drill bit,
one hole for each of your contact points. note: it may be easier to use a center punch or awl to create a center point to drill, this prevents the bit from wandering before drilling the hole.

below is a picture of my guitar finished without the pcb, and while its playable, it doesn't sound all that great... that was when i decided to put a circuit board in it. (will be replacing original photos with more current ones of the project itself soon, camera has no battery, so these pics are a bit before i started the original project)

Step 3: Step 3: Tinning Your Contacts and Connecting Your Pickups

for this step you will need your 18-22AWG wire, wire cutters/strippers, soldering iron, solder, and your guitar components.

first you want to make sure your board is clean and free of debris from drilling and sanding by wiping it with a moist or dry paper towel, make sure the board is dry before you start soldering.

second, head up the board enough for the solder to stick to the contacts, forming a circle around the hole to provide a base for soldering the wires,

third, take the pickup wires and run them through your wire cavities to your pots and board, cut the COLORED wires to length, and strip  1/4" of the insulation from the ends, solder them into the board so that your Bridge pickup is soldered into Bp contact, Neck pickup is coldered into Np contact, and Middle pickup is soldered into Mp contact

then solder the BLACK wires or BARE wires (depending on what kind of pickups you have) to the ground loop, bridge connecting to Bp-, middle to Mp-, and neck to Np-.

fourth, you can take your 18-22AWG wire and strip 1/4" from the end of your wires, red for positive, black for ground, and if possible match your connecting wires based on the pickup they are routing for (color at this point doesnt matter matter unless you have a hard time remembering which wire goes where, if that is not an issue for you then there is no need for color coding)

deconstruction commencing of the guitar electronics.(will be replacing original photos with more current ones of the project itself soon, camera has no battery, so these pics are a bit before i started the original project)

Step 4: Step 4: Connecting Your 3 or 5 Way Slide Switch.

for this step you will need your slide switch, wire, soldering iron, solder, and PCB,

if you have an american style switch, your lugs will appear as follows:

  c    n   m   b
b  m   n    c

if you have an import, it will show as follows:

b m n c c n m b

if you have the american, take your wire and solder one end to SV connection, then cut to length, strip the other end and solder it to the very end of your switch on one side, then cut and solder another wire from the same terminal to the opposite end on the opposite side, as shown in the wiring diagram attached.

solder a second wire to ST1, connecting the other end to one of the 3 remaining terminals on one side, closest to the end connected to SV on the circuit board,

solder a third wire to ST2, and connect the free end to the next terminal after ST1 on the same side, you can bridge the thrid terminal to the last one on that side, or you can leave it the way it is, either way will not effect performance or sound.

take your wire and solder one to BS, one to MS, and one to NS. then connect the wires on the opposite side of the switch, NOT the ones you have already soldered, so that from one end to the other it is connected to bridge, middle, and then neck, as shown in the attached wiring diagram. bridge or neck first, doesnt matter, but for strat sound middle must be the middle terminal, (however, if you choose to experiment with custom sound combinations, you may solder them in whatever order sounds appealing to you)

if you have an import, then solder the c lugs together, and connect them to to SV connection, and connect Bs to b, Ms to m, and Ns to n on one end of the switch, and on the other, connect ST1 to b, ST2 to M, and if you choose to connect neck position to the tone, then simply solder n to m on the switch.

(will be replacing original photos with more current ones of the project itself soon, camera has no battery, so these pics are a bit before i started the original project)

Step 5: Step 5: Connecting Your Potentiometers (pots) and Capacitors (caps)

for this step you will need your potentiometers, 1 or 2 capacitors, (depending on how much you want to experiment with sound) wire, cutters/strippers, soldering iron, and solder,

connect a wire from T1- to the Right lug of one of your pots, then connect a cap of your desired uf from the lug to the pot lid, (bottom of the pot) as shown in the diagram, and connect the lid to T1-2 on the pcb. this will be tone pot 1, your main tone control, which controls what frequencies bleed into the ground, thus determining how heavy or warm your sound is.

then connect a wire from the MIDDLE lug of tone pot 1 and connect the other end to T1+.

connect T2- to the RIGHT lug on your second pot, this will be Tone pot 2, your second tone control. a cap is not required here, but if you wish to further experiment with sound you may connect another cap between the right lug and the pot lid as you did with tone pot 1, if not, connect the lug to the pot lid with another wire, and connect the lid to T2-2.

then connect a wire from the MIDDLE lug on tone pot 2 to T2+

connect a wire from the LEFT lug on your last pot, to V+ on the PCB, this will now be your volume pot, then connect V on the PCB to the MIDDLE lug on the volume pot, and connect the RIGHT lug with a wire to the pot lid, then another wire from the lid to V-.

(will be replacing original photos with more current ones of the project itself soon, camera has no battery, so these pics are a bit before i started the original project)

Step 6: Step 6: Connecting Output Jack (mono)

for this step you will need: wire, solder and iron, pcb, and 1/4" mono output jack.

solder positive wire from Tip+ to the TIP lug on the jack,

solder Ground wire from Tip- to the SLEEVE lug on the jack.

feed wire through body cavity and solder to the copper plate on the tremolo, or the bridge depending what style guitar you have, and then connect the other end to  -  on the PCB.

intall strings and tune if not already assembled, install cavity covers, plug in and play.

(will be replacing original photos with more current ones of the project itself soon, camera has no battery, so these pics are a bit before i started the original project)
Please reply when you have uploaded the new pictures, I'm eager to se how it looks! PCB are used in everything for a reason, and electric guitars shouldn't be the exception.

About This Instructable




Bio: i am a musician singer and songrwiter, lookin to start making my own gear, so far instructables has been a great help with other things ... More »
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