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Mr.GEARHEAD™ presents...

Aftermarket Pickup Madness
The most common aftermarket modification is
changing pickups, and here’s an easy and safe way
to change pickups out of a Strat-style guitar. The
best way is not to simply change out the old pickups but to swap the entire pickguard assembly for a
new one. That way, there is a minimum of disassembly. The costs involved are minimal, and if you
change your mind later, you can pop the old pickup
assembly back into your guitar.
Before we get started, of course, you’ll need
the following parts and common tools:
• Philips screwdrivers and 1/2” socket wrench
• Wire cutters/strippers and needle-nosed pliers
• Soldering iron and rosin-core solder
• Your new pickups
• Five-way switch with screws
• Set of volume/tone knobs
• Black and white wire
• (3) 3250k potentiometers with nuts and washers
• .022 mfg. capacitor
• A new pickguard (make sure it fits your guitar)
Now, let’s build our new pickguard assembly.

prongs on two that will be used as tone controls at
each other. Finally, mount the switch on to the

ing screws, and then slowly ease the pickguard
loose from the body, taking care not to scratch the
body with the controls.

Step 3. Wire the Pickguard
Now we’re ready to wire the pickguard. Measure
and cut the wires to necessary lengths using the
wiring diagram as a guide (there is also one included with each set of most aftermarket pickups).
Using the wire strippers, carefully strip back
the ends of the wire covering, about 1/8” from the
end. Then, neatly solder the capacitor and the wires
to the appropriate connections, using white wire for
the positive (hot) and black wire for the negative

Step 6. Unsolder Existing Connections and Add
New Pickguard Assembly
From the existing pickguard, unsolder the black
ground wires coming from the bridge, the ground
lug on the body, and the input jack from the volume potentiometer.
Next, unsolder the white (hot) wire from the
volume potentiometer. Solder these wires to the
new pickguard assembly. Carefully mount the new
assembly to the body and screw in the pickguard

Step 1. Install Your New Pickups in the Pickguard
Start by removing the pickups from the packaging.
In most cases, you will find six pickup mounting
screws and six pieces of surgical tubing in the package. Mount the screws to the new pickguard by
placing the screw in the appropriate hole and slipping the tubing over the threads from the back.
Each pickup is color coded on the bottom of the
pickup as to its position on the pickguard (a red dot
for the bridge position, blue for the neck, etc.).
Now mount the pickups on to the screws carefully,
keeping the pickup cover tight to the pickup itself,
as you thread the screw into the pickup.

Step 4. Add the Knobs
Press fit the volume and tone control knobs on to
the potentiometers. Your pickguard is now ready to
be installed on your guitar.

Restring the guitar with the new Fender strings and
tune to pitch. Check and adjust the pickup height by
depressing the strings at the last fret and measure
the distance between the top of the pole piece and
the bottom of the first string for the treble side, and
the sixth string for the bass side.
Adjust the outside pickup mounting screws to
achieve a distance of approximately 4/32”. Check
your tuning one last time.

Step 2. Mount the Potentiometers and Switch
Next, place the washer on the
potentiometers and
mount them to the
pickguard with the
1/2” nut, facing the

Step 7. Put it All Back Together,
Restring and You’re There

Step 5. Remove Your Old Pickguard Assembly

When you have completed the steps above, you
should able to go and try out your new sound.
Remember that there are variations among guitars,
and you may have to adapt these directions slightly
to account for any minor discrepancies. But when all
is in place, you’ll be ready to plug in and rock!

Take your guitar, loosen the strings, and then cut
them off altogether. Remove the pickguard mount-


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