How to Wire a Fender Standard Stratocaster

Written by matthew anderson
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How to Wire a Fender Standard Stratocaster
The Fender American Stratocaster has three single-coil pickups, two tone controls, a volume control and a five-way switch. (strato03 image by diego cervo from Fotolia.com)

The Stratocaster is one of the flagship electric guitar models for Fender. The American Standard Stratocaster has three single-coil pickups connected to a five-way switch. The pickups are controlled with two tone potentiometer controls and a volume control. The first tone control is connected to the neck pickup. The second tone control is connected to the middle and bridge pickups. The volume control is a master control that affects all three pickups.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 7 wires -- 6 inches or less in length
  • Soldering iron
  • Electrical solder

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Place the pickguard face down on a flat surface. The wires for the pickups and controls should be fully visible. Turn the pickguard so the bottom edge is facing toward you. The controls and switch should be clustered in the bottom left corner. The switch and control tabs are identified from this orientation.

  2. 2

    Touch the white wire from the neck pickup to the second tab on the top half of the five-way switch.

  3. 3

    Touch the tip of the soldering iron to the end of the coil of electrical solder. A drop of solder should melt onto the tip.

  4. 4

    Touch the molten solder to where the wire and switch tab meet. The solder solidifies when the soldering iron is removed to hold the wire in place.

  5. 5

    Solder the white wire from the middle pickup to the third tab on the top half of the switch.

  6. 6

    Solder the white wire from the bridge pickup to the fourth tab on the top half of the switch.

  7. 7

    Solder a wire to the first tab on the top half and fourth tab on the bottom half of the switch.

  8. 8

    Solder a wire from the second tab and third tab on the bottom half of the switch.

  9. 9

    Solder the black wires from all three pickups to the back of the volume control, the right-most potentiometer in this orientation. It does not matter if these wires are connected to one another or not. Any wire that is connected somewhere to the metal back of the control is going to be grounded.

  10. 10

    Solder the wire connected to the bridge to the back of the volume control.

  11. 11

    Solder a wire to connect the back of both tone controls, the left and centre potentiometers. This wire does not have to be in a specific location, just somewhere on the back of both controls.

  12. 12

    Solder a wire to connect the back of the centre tone control and volume control.

  13. 13

    Solder a wire from the top tab of the left tone control and the second tab on the bottom half of the switch.

  14. 14

    Solder a wire from the middle tab of the centre tone control to the first tab of the bottom half of the switch.

  15. 15

    Solder a wire from the middle tab of the left tone control to the bottom tab of the centre tone control.

  16. 16

    Solder a wire from the fourth tab of the bottom half of the switch to the top tab of the volume control.

  17. 17

    Solder a wire from the middle tab of the volume control to the inner edge of the output jack.

  18. 18

    Solder a wire from the back of the volume control to the outer edge of the output jack.

Tips and warnings

  • The wire length does not make a significant impact when wiring a Fender American Standard Stratocaster. The control cavity is large enough to accommodate excess wire length. Cutting the wires so they are just long enough to make the correct connections with only a little slack clears up a little clutter in the control cavity.
  • The traditional method of soldering by touching the soldering iron and solder simultaneously to the connection is impractical for guitar wiring in most cases. The method used in this article only requires one hand for soldering. This frees up the second hand to hold wires out of the way, which would be ruined if the soldering iron comes into contact with them.

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