Clean guitar wiring is something I take very seriously. Unfortunately, most production guitars are wired sloppily because it’s something people don’t see before they buy.
I have a background in building custom FPV racing drones. For this reason, I have spent thousands of hours soldering. I’m a firm believer in clean solder work and craftsman-like wiring. The thing is, most guitar companies are happy with wiring that simply works, even if it isn’t pretty. Me on the other hand, I like to see shiny round soldering joints, no excess cables and flux cleaned off any solder work.
After rewiring various guitars I can honestly say that someone with some knowledge of electronics, wiring and soldering can generally do a better job than most production line guitar factories. Clean guitar wiring comes from care and time spent on the project. Most production line guitars are wired in a bit of a hurry to get them out the door.
Most solder work done on guitars, and pedals too for that matter, isn’t cleaned after the work is completed. For example, after I have finished all my solder joints I take a few Q-Tips dipped in flux remover and I go over all my work to remove the unsightly yellow flux that’s left behind.
Rewiring an MIM Fender Telecaster Deluxe Chris Shiflett Signature Model
In these photos you can see some before and after shots of the wiring in a Fender Chris Shiflett Telecaster Deluxe.
The original wiring is typical production line stuff. It works, but it’s ugly and messy. I was going to replace the potentiometers with good CTS 500k pots and replace the stock pickups. While I was in there I decided to just gut the entire thing and replace everything. I even replaced the pickguard because the Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz neck pickup and the Seymour Duncan TB-APH1 Alnico 2 Pro Slash Trembucker Bridge are not exactly the same size as the stock covered Fender pickups. This required I have a new pickguard custom cut for the new pickups.
The following photos shows the wiring around the pots mostly complete. Note the difference. I’m using a combination of vintage style cloth covered guitar wire, and some of the stock wires to complete the work. I also used a Switchcraft jack and Switchcraft toggle switch.
Fully Rewired Fender Powercaster Control Cavity
Over on this photo you can see the control cavity of a Fender Powercaster I also completely rewired. The CTS pots, Switchcraft toggle switch and Fender Hot Rod capacitor are all new and cleanly wired using cloth covered vintage wires. This one got a Seymour Duncan SP90-1N Vintage P90 at the neck and a Seymour Duncan Nazgul humbucker at the bridge. Unlike the Chris Shiflett Telecaster Deluxe that was wired using an Emerson Custom kit, this Powercaster was rewired using all individual components.
You Too Can Have Clean Guitar Wiring
Most guitarists are not interested in rewiring their own guitars. That’s OK. A good tech can do a great job as well. I’ve seen some Fender Custom Shop guitar innards and the wiring and soldering work is definitely much better than on MIM and even MIA production guitars. It’s obvious the quality of the wiring goes up with the amount of care put into it. With a bit of practice and learning about how guitars are wired, you took can achieve clean guitar wiring for your own guitars if you wish.