At some point, every electric or acoustic-electric guitar player will have trouble with a guitar's input jack. The input jack is the metal piece on the side or top of the guitar where you insert an instrument cable to connect the instrument to an amplifier or other piece of audio equipment. Symptoms of a defective input jack include audible static, an intermittent signal or no signal at all when playing. Using some basic diagnostic skills, you may be able to fix the input jack on your own.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Soldering iron
- Small bag
- New input jack
Remove any instrument cables plugged into your guitar, then place the guitar on a workbench or other stable work surface. Most guitars have a single input jack, but some have two.
Inspect the input jack and metal jack plate, if the jack is mounted to one. Use a screwdriver or wrench to tighten any screws or nuts that may be loose, then use your fingers to test for a tight fit. Simply tightening loose jacks can resolve many problems.
Insert an instrument cable into the jack and wiggle it gently. If it feels tight, connect the other end to a guitar amplifier, turn the amplifier on, and play for a few moments. If the guitar produces a signal that is clean and strong, free of static or other abnormal noises, you have fixed the problem. If problems persist, turn off the amplifier and remove the cable from the guitar's input jack.
Use a screwdriver to remove the screws from the access panel on the rear of the guitar, if one exists. This will allow you to see all of the guitar's wiring, including wires that connect to the input jack. Be sure to save the screws in a safe place. If the input jack is connected to a pick guard on the front of the guitar, remove the screws from the pick guard, gently lift it off the guitar and turn it over. Be careful not to break or stress any of the wiring that connects the guitar's pickups to the volume and tone knobs.
Inspect the two wires connected to the input jack, using your fingers or a pencil tip to check the connections to the terminals. If either wire is disconnected or loose, it will need to be resoldered to the correct terminal. If both wires are connected, you will need to replace the jack. If you are comfortable using a soldering iron, proceed to the next step. If not, contact your local guitar store or guitar technician for professional repair.
Use a wrench to remove the nut on the outside of the defective input jack and set it aside. If the jack is attached to a jack plate, use a screwdriver to remove any screws that affix the plate to the guitar's body. The jack should move freely.
Plug in your soldering iron and allow it to heat up. Heat the solder connecting the wires to the input jack, noting which terminal connects to each wire. Once the solder melts, disconnect the wires and remove the jack from the hole in the guitar or pick guard.
Insert a new jack into the hole that previously held the defective jack. Re-solder the wires to the new jack using fresh solder, reattaching the wires to the correct terminals.
Use the nut removed from the old jack to secure the new jack to the guitar's body or jack plate. Then use the old screws to reattach any control panels or pick guards you removed, reversing the steps. Ensure that all screws and nuts are tight.
Insert an instrument cable into the jack and wiggle it gently. If it feels tight, connect the other end to a guitar amplifier, turn the amplifier on, and play for a few moments. If the guitar produces a signal that is clean and strong, free of static or other abnormal noises, you have fixed the problem. If problems persist, the issue lies with something other than the input jack.
Tips and warnings
- "Input jack" is a misnomer, because guitar signals flow out of the jack, through a cable, and into an amplifier. Typically, guitars do not have a true input jack that accepts a signal from another source, but the term is commonly used for what is technically an "output jack."
- If you have an arch-top, acoustic-electric or semi-hollow-body guitar, do not attempt to replace the input jack on your own. Special tools and techniques, are required, and are best handled by a professional luthier or technician.
- Exercise caution when using soldering irons. They get extremely hot and can burn you or your guitar.
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