Hey gents - 

I'm closing in on my first build and threw some strings on her last night. Man, this has rekindled my love for guitar. While my slide technique is sloppy, it was so great to hear sound coming out of her for the first time.

Surprisingly, without even plugging her in, she threw some good sound. She needs some tweaking to get the intonation and action right, but that's minor.

Tonight, I plugged her in for the first time but have no sound coming from the electronics. I'm running a simple setup (pickup, volume and input jack), thought I had it right but I've made a mistake somewhere along the line.

I checked wiring diagrams online but can't see what I"m doing wrong.

Here's what I can tell you:

1) The pickup came from China but has the same 'S' that Seymour Duncan has... not sure if this is a true SD pickup...

2) The wiring looks like this: black wire, a red/green soldered together and a white wire.

I'll post a photo of how I have it soldered but here's what I did:

1) Looking at the volume pot from the back (3 tangs), I have the far right lead soldered to the back of the pot as a ground.

2) THe middle the hot wire (I think) and goes to the input jack 'hot'

3) The left-most volume pot tang I have hooked up to the pickup 'white' (hot?) wire.

4) Black ground wire runs from the input jack ground to the back of the volume pot. I've also soldered the black wire from the pickup to this location.

5) The red and green wires coming off the pickup were soldered together. I just put some heat-shrink on these and left them

If I tap the pickup with my finger, I can hear some 'percussion' through the amp, but the strings don't resonate at all.

I'm completely green w/ electronics and appreciate any help.

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I used a Google Translate app that can read characters in an image (pretty slick) and determined:

RED/GREEN - 'Cut a single line' (not sure what this would mean)
WHITE - 'Main line' (assuming 'positive')
BLACK - 'Ground'

Going by the v/c pot wiring (3 tangs, left to right 3-2-1), would this be correct:

3 = White wire

2 = Red / green?

1 = Grounded to back of v/c pot + black wire from pickup


Determined that red/green is 'single pole' (I'm assuming for a single / three-way switch).

Since I'm not using a switch, would I just leave the red/green wires off?

That sounds like a wiring mod to switch between humbucker and single coil. The wiring you want (one humbucker, one volume) is like you did at the start of the thread - red and green soldered together, white to the pot lug, black and bare wire to ground.

When others have had a problem it tends to be due to (in order of most common)-

A cold solder joint (i.e. The solder has stayed as a blob on the surface and underneath the wires have burnt. Tinning the ends of the wire first helps this. Also if you use the back of a pot as your common ground point rub the back with sand paper or a file first because the pots have a coating that can stop the solder from fixing properly, after clearing the coating melt a bolb of solder to this area ready to fix the tinned wire ends to.

At the Jack positive and negative wires reversed (just check the positive is connected to the lug connecting to the Jack plug tip and negative to the lug connecting yo the shaft.

Tiny wire causing a short to ground.

Bad potentiometer - even cheap ones seem reasonably reliable, but every year somebody runs through the problem list and trying a new pot sorted things out. If you have test clips (length of wire with crocodile clips at each end) you can bypass the pot and see if the circuit works.

Faulty pickup (check the Kohm ratings with a multimeter).

Broken amp lead/problem with the amp (check with another guitar).

If you are planning to wire a few guitars it is worth buying a cheap multimeter (off eBay they are a few dollars). This lets you check the pickup and the potentiometer before you start and the continuity checker function lets you check each solder joint is good.

If I had to pick the likely problem I would think there is a bad solder joint. If you look at the wiring I am currently working on and compare the wiring to the back of your pot to mine. My wiring looked like yours until I started tinning and clearing the pot coating.

David L.
Pot wiring after clearing pot coat and tinning wires and back of pot.
I would wire it up like you did before as per the diagram below.

What I don't understand is the Kohm ratings they have shown - if I have the wiring code correct the reading between the white and black (with red and green soldered together) should be around 7kohms.

I think David is probably correct Mike, did you have a bare woven wire originally as well? If so that, along with the black need to go to ground, green and red stay connected to each other only, i'm sorry if i misled you earlier, as there was no mention of the bare wire that  i can see now in your last pic

Scrolling down the page they have the expected meter readings written as I thought they should be.

Thanks gents - this is extremely helpful. David - I appreciate the time to detail and for the 101-sketch ;). This is a good road map for me.

Darryl - no worries at all. My photo didn't show the woven wire around the black wire very clearly. I can't even really see it and would have to remove the jacket to see for sure.


I assume the black wire from the jack goes to the far right tang on the pot (denoted by the 'ground' symbol) - sorry if this is obvious, I want to make sure I have this right.

Also, should I be running another ground wire from the instrument jack to the tail-piece?

I didn't sand my volume put and it did have a bit of a 'slick' on it. Thanks for the above tips. I'm also wondering if my second run at this is using too thin of wire. What gauge should I be using here (I think the first run was too thick....).


Sorry the ground symbols was me being lazy. With the grounds added it should be like the attachment.

The third lug on the pot is grounded, usually via the back of the pot. Often as a short cut people bend the third lug up to touch the pot side and add solder so once a ground is added to the back of the pot the third lug gets grounded without having to bother using wire. So for your circuit regarding the grounds - pickup black and bare wire are soldered to the back of the pot. The third lug is wired to the back of this pot (using wire or bend and solder method). If you want to ground the strings you can also add this to the back of the volume pot and then a final common ground goes from the back of the volume pot to the ground lug on the Jack socket (check it is the one touching the Jack plug shaft).

Adding a wire to ground the guitar strings is a must for single coil pickups. For piezo or humbuckers you might not need it. I usually add one because I wire four wire humbuckers with a single coil option. As you have the box open it would be easier to put one in now.

To wire things up I tend to use 7 stranded wire with an external diameter of 1.2mm (https://www.bitsbox.co.uk/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=200_2... UK site so not much use to you). If I have thicker stranded wire and the lug us too small to fit the whole lot through I trim some of the strands off.
Attached is a photo to show grounding the third lug without using wire

Where is the emoji showing the heavens opening up, golden light beaming down and angelic CBG melodies filling the air?

That sums up how I felt when the first amplified note came through my little tube amp. I even went so far as clipping the strings for a small 'finale'.

Now I can focus on setting the intonation, tweaking the bridge / nut and celebrating the completion of my first build. Sounds like a a night for a scotch.


I was pulling my hair out last night. Your advice and images helped get her going. After my first attempt tonight, I just wired the jack directly to the pickup, which worked, so I knew there had to be an issue with the pot or my wiring.

I then grabbed a brand new volume pot, sanded the back, carefully soldered, added a ground wire to the tail piece while in there, and now she sounds great!!

Thanks a ton gents!

wqell done mate. a faulty pot seems to be the issue. it really looked like you had it wired correctly. happy playing


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