How to Install Active Pickups

Written by trevorm
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How to Install Active Pickups
Installing active guitar pickups requires finesse. (Guitar player #1 image by Warren Millar from

Installing guitar pickups is a relatively simple process that most guitarists end up paying someone else to do. Having someone else install your pickups can cost up to £32 or more depending on the technician. It requires a manual installation that utilises a bit of finesse, but almost anyone can do it with the right directions and tools. Active pickups vary from passive pickups because they use an on-board preamp that requires a 9-volt battery in order to work. The wiring options are also different in passive pickups. Installing active pickups requires a bit of work, including soldering.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Allen wrenches (optional)
  • Screwdriver
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Pickup wiring diagram
  • Wire cutters
  • 9-volt battery

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  1. 1

    Remove the old strings from the guitar. Unwind the guitar pegs on the guitar neck to loosen the strings. Once the strings are lose, unwind them and remove them from the guitar. Depending on your guitar type, you may need to pull the strings out through the back of the bridge or use a set of Allen wrenches to unlock the Floyd Rose bridge.

  2. 2

    Take off the back plate from the guitar to access the inner components of the guitar. Use a Phillips or flathead screwdriver to loosen the screws on the back plate and set it aside. Once you remove the back plate, you will have access to the inner components, which include the volume and tone knobs, pickups and pickup switch selector.

  3. 3

    Unscrew the previous pickup from the mounting bracket. Slide the pickup out of the mounting bracket. Next, use the soldering iron to remove the wires connected to the pickup. If there is no soldering on the wire you can just simply cut the wire to remove it.

  4. 4

    Connect the new pickup. Look at the wiring diagram that came with your pickup to make sure you are wiring it in correctly. Solder the wires into place to complete the wiring. Once you install the active pickup, mount the pickup to the pickup mount. Next, connect a 9-volt battery to the active pickup battery bay. Active pickups require a 9-volt battery to power the on-board preamp.

  5. 5

    Reconnect the back plate to the guitar by screwing it into place. Restring the guitar. Test the new pickup by plugging the guitar into an amp and strumming the strings.

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