Is the Big Volume and Tone Knob lobby behind the lack of wiring straight pickup-to-jack diagrams?
November 13, 2010 5:06 PM   Subscribe

How can I wire a bass so that the volume and tone knobs are bypassed?

I have this crappy old electric bass that sometimes works, sometimes doesn't, depending on how the knobs were feeling. I decided to just get rid of the knobs and see if soldering the live wire from one of the two pickups straight to the jack (and wiring the ground to the ground hole on the jack) would work. It didn't.

My googling is not showing me any wiring diagrams that show how to do this: Just hook up two pickups (or one, if two is somehow not possible) to an input jack. No volume, no tone. Anyone here know how?
posted by ignignokt to Technology (5 answers total)
Just ask

They will know.
posted by fantasticninety at 5:29 PM on November 13, 2010

The pickup will have two conductors coming from it - either two separate wires or one wire with an inner (hot) and outer (ground) conductor. Hot goes to the "tip" terminal on the jack, ground goes to the "sleeve" terminal.

There's also usually a ground wire that grounds the bridge and so on so you get less hum. You'd probably also want to run this to the "sleeve" terminal.
posted by zombiedance at 6:05 PM on November 13, 2010

It's absolutely possible, the volume & tone pots are effectively shorted out when they're turned all the way up anyway. If you have two pickups, you'll need a pickup selector switch if there isn't one already. Ground goes to one end of the output jack, selector switch output goes to the other.
posted by mmoncur at 8:50 PM on November 13, 2010

I don't know if it will matter to you, but bypassing these things will change the tone of your instrument. It will not have the exact same tone as if you left them in and turned them up all the way. Since you say it is a crappy bass you may not notice (or care), but it's worth keeping in mind that the tone and volume controls to have an impact on the tone of the instrument even when up full.
posted by markblasco at 1:08 AM on November 14, 2010

The pickups had two red wires coming from them. I assumed it was one hot wire for each of them. The white wire coming from another cavity, I assumed, was the ground for both of them.

After reading zombiedance's comment, I realized the white was the ground to bridge, and maybe one of the two reds was actually the ground for the pickups, wired in serial. I extended the unconnected red and soldered it to the jack's ground to confirm that. It turns out to be the case.

It works now. Thanks!
posted by ignignokt at 8:44 AM on November 14, 2010

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