How to Install a Pickup in a Taylor Guitar

Written by barry index
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How to Install a Pickup in a Taylor Guitar
A Taylor acoustic guitar requires less modification for a pickup than other acoustic guitars. (acoustic guitar image by Jeffrey Zalesny from Fotolia.com)

Adding a pickup to an acoustic guitar allows the sound to be amplified so that all the natural acoustic harmonies and string vibrations can be reproduced in a larger venue. Installing a pickup on a Taylor guitar requires less modification than other guitars because the strap pinhole, where the patch cord plugs in from the amplifier, is already the correct size. Modifying a Taylor guitar is less intrusive so the amplified reproduction stays true to the guitar's original sound.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Drill and 1/8-inch bit
  • Pickup installation kit
  • Vernier caliper
  • 1,000-grit sandpaper flattened against a board
  • Allen wrench
  • Crescent wrench

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove the guitar strings by pulling out the bridge pins located just behind the sound hole. A bridge pin holds each string inside the guitar. Set the strings aside for now. With your fingers, pull up the saddle, the plastic or bone strip on which the strings sit across the bridge of the guitar. With your drill, drill a 1/8-inch hole straight down through the channel on the bridge where the saddle sat. This hole, which is for the new pickup lead, goes on the left side of the bridge.

  2. 2

    Measure the height of the new pickup with the Vernier caliper, an extremely precise instrument, to find out how much material to shave off the original saddle, the bone or plastic strip the strings sit on. Because the new pickup adds height to the saddle and would cause the strings to sit too high, the extra thickness needs to be shaved off the original saddle to compensate. Sand off the precise amount from the original saddle indicated by the Vernier caliper measurement with 1,000-grit sandpaper.

  3. 3

    Insert the pickup lead cable and end-pin jack into the guitar body. The pickup lead, shaped a bit like a toothpick, amplifies the guitar strings and the end-pin jack receives the patch cable that is plugged into the guitar from the amplifier. Let the end-pin jack sit inside the guitar for now, while feeding the toothpick-shaped pickup lead through the bridge hole drilled in Step 1. Lay the pickup lead across the saddle channel and stick it down with the double-sided tape included with the kit. Fit the shaved saddle directly over it.

  4. 4

    Unscrew the end cap from the guitar with your fingers. The end cap is where a guitar player attaches a strap to the guitar. With the end cap off, the pinhole sleeve is exposed. Stick an Allen wrench into the hex-shaped hole in the side of the pinhole sleeve to hold it firmly. Then, unscrew the nut that holds the pinhole sleeve in the guitar with a small crescent wrench. Finish unscrewing the nut with your fingers and then you can pull out the pinhole sleeve. As mentioned, the pinhole is already the proper size for the end-pin jack to fit through so no further modification of the hole is necessary.

  5. 5

    Feed the end-pin jack through the strap pinhole from inside the guitar so you can screw it directly onto the threads of the pinhole sleeve with your fingers. Then pull the jack back through the pinhole to the interior of the guitar, replace the pinhole sleeve and tighten down the pinhole sleeve nut with the small crescent wrench. Screw the end cap back on with your fingers. Stick the cable inside the guitar to the interior surface using double-sided tape provided with the kit. Restring the guitar and it is ready to play.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure the saddle remains vertical when restringing the guitar, and that it does not lean forward from the added pickup.

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