How to Ground an Acoustic Pickup

Written by keith ruckus
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How to Ground an Acoustic Pickup
Ground the pickup on your acoustic guitar so the audience can hear the tone. (acoustic guitar image by Tanya McConnell from

In a large group, setting it is often necessary to amplify an acoustic guitar during performance. The lightweight and compact design of the acoustic guitar makes it a pleasant-sounding instrument, but not always the loudest. A common method to amplify an acoustic guitar is to hold a microphone to it; however, a more professional method is to install and wire an acoustic pickup. It is very important, however, to make sure it is wired correctly and grounded to avoid buzzing noise.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Acoustic pickup
  • String winder

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  1. 1

    Unwind all strings from the top headstock of the guitar, using the string winder. Unfasten the strings from the top and move them away from the centre sound port. Place acoustic pickup over top of the sound port.

  2. 2

    Separate the two wires coming out of the pickup. Search the base of each wire; one is marked positive, the other negative. If no markings are found, the black wire is the negative. Connect the positive wire to the output jack of the pickup by bending the tip around the jack's steel base.

  3. 3

    Take the negative wire---or ground wire---and bend the tip around the top ring of the output jack. Replace the strings to their stat position: high string to low string. Tighten all the wires once more around the input jack. Make sure the ground wire is tight along top ring as this is what will prevent the buzzing noise.

  4. 4

    Plug the guitar into a guitar amplifier and test. If any buzzing ensues, it is because there is something touching the output jack's outer ring that is not metal. Re-bend the negative wire around the input jack and continue use.

Tips and warnings

  • The ground wire is very important in the process; make sure it is in good condition, with no stripping or rust.
  • Make sure the guitar does not already have an output jack, as this may mean it has interior pickups installed.
  • Pickups are generally fragile, so use caution when handling them.
  • Be careful not to scratch the inner sound port when installing the pickup.

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