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Upgrade Your Guitar Wiring for Better Tone

Upgrade Your Guitar Wiring for Better Tone
Transform your guitar's tone with our guide on wiring and potentiometers. Upgrade Your Guitar Wiring.

Upgrade the Wiring Harness Before Pickups: Elevate Your Electric Guitar. Are you eyeing a budget guitar like a Squier, Epiphone, or Harley Benton, dreaming of making it sound like a high-end instrument? Many guitarists rush to replace pickups, but there’s a smarter first step: upgrading your guitar’s wiring harness. This guide explains why and how upgrading your wiring harness can be a significant improvement to your guitar’s sound.

Upgrade the Wiring Harness

Transform your electric guitar’s sound with our guide on upgrading the wiring harness and potentiometers. Learn how this cost-effective change can outperform new pickups.

Elevate Your Electric Guitar- Upgrade the Wiring Harness Before Pickups
Elevate Your Electric Guitar- Upgrade the Wiring Harness Before Pickups

Understanding the Role of Wiring and Potentiometers

– What Makes Wiring Crucial? Wiring and potentiometers (pots) are the backbone of your guitar’s sound quality. They determine how well your guitar communicates with the amplifier, affecting everything from tone clarity to volume control. Cheaper guitars often have lower-quality wiring and pots, so upgrading these can bring a remarkable difference.

Allparts CTS 250K 9,5 Spl Aud.Taper Pot
Allparts CTS 250K 9,5 Spl Aud.Taper Pot

– Potentiometers Explained:
Pots control the resistance in the electric flow from your pickups, allowing you to adjust volume and tone. There are numerous pot types available, each offering different qualities and controls to suit various playing styles.

Choosing the Right Components

– High-Quality Pots for Better Sound:
Opt for renowned brands like CTS, known for their ‘450′ premium range, which includes durable casings and precise manufacturing. Avoid one-size-fits-all solutions; instead, look for pots that match your guitar’s needs and your playing style.

– Taper Types – Linear vs. Logarithmic (Audio):
Your choice here affects how your guitar’s volume and tone changes are perceived. Most players find logarithmic (audio) taper pots more intuitive and responsive.

Thomann sells a huge range of quality potentiometers for guitar and bass.

Mojotone ST Standard Prewired Harness
Mojotone ST Standard Prewired Harness

DIY Upgrades vs. Professional Solutions

Harnesses on the Market:
Professionally made wiring harnesses are available, simplifying the upgrade process by requiring minimal soldering. Below are some of the most popular Mojotone Prewired Harness kits.

Solderless Options are also available and simpler to fit for many people.

– DIY Approach:
If you’re comfortable with soldering, you can save money by purchasing pots individually and rewiring your guitar yourself. We would advise you also to invest in some good quality vintage-style cloth-covered wire. As it makes the job a lot easier and neater.

Allparts Cloth Covered Stranded Wire WH
Allparts Cloth Covered Stranded Wire WH


Good-quality capacitors will also improve the durability of your guitar’s wiring and affect the tone of the guitar.

Below is an example of a paper-in-oil capacitor sometimes referred to as a PIO capacitor.

Mojotone Vitamin T Oil Filled 22nF Cap
Mojotone Vitamin T Oil Filled 22nF Cap

The popular Orange Drop polyester capacitors below are probably the most durable and easiest to obtain.

TAD Cap Orange Drop 22nF 600V
TAD Cap Orange Drop 22nF 600V

Selecting the Ideal Capacitor Value

When deciding on a capacitor value for your guitar, understand that a higher capacitance will more significantly reduce high frequencies.

For instance, a capacitor with a .022µF value will mainly influence the high-frequency sounds. Conversely, a .1µF capacitor will have a broader effect, noticeably reducing both high frequencies and extending into the midrange, leading to a more evident tonal decrease.

Why Upgrade Wiring Before Pickups?

– Cost-Effective Solution:
Upgrading wiring and pots is often a more affordable way to enhance your guitar’s sound. It can reveal the true potential of your existing pickups, saving you the cost of new ones.

Maintenance and Care

– Regular Maintenance for Optimal Performance:
Just like strings, pots need regular maintenance. Using products like WD-40 contact cleaner can prolong their lifespan and ensure consistent performance.

WD-40 Contact Cleaner
WD-40 Contact Cleaner


Before you invest in new pickups, consider upgrading your guitar’s wiring harness and pots. This can be a cost-effective way to significantly improve your guitar’s sound quality, responsiveness, and overall playability.

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