EMG Pickup Installation in a Gibson Explorer (part 5)

Posted by Andy on November 20, 2007

I finally got everything totally dismantled, which meant that it was time to undertake the job of putting it back together with all new parts. I must have gotten a little lazy during this, I forgot to take pictures along the way. I think the first thing I did was connect the new pots using the provided washers and nuts. I then connected all the controls together with ground wires. The metal casing of all the pots gets soldered to ground, which was a little bit of a pain. Because the solder only bonds if you heat up the metal quite a bit, it takes some time for the whole pot casing to heat up enough to bond with the solder. It was kind of scary holding the soldering iron on the parts for so long, but it seems to have worked okay. Next, I routed the new pickup wires in from the pickup cavity and soldered them to the volume controls. After that, I made all the toggle switch connections, and then finally the output jack connections, along with the battery connector. It all seemed a little bit too easy, and I was sure I had done something wrong, but I wouldn’t be able to tell until after a few more steps. Here’s a pic with the progress so far:

New controls installed

I wasn’t sure how well the battery would fit in this little cavity, and I was right, it doesn’t fit. At the moment, I have it taped on the back of the guitar, but I’m hoping another little side project will permanently move the battery away from the guitar…

Here’s a picture of the top of the guitar:

New cables routed

At this point, everything was in place, all I had to do was cleanup all the wires and screw in all the screws to get it all put back-together. Here’s a pic of the final product:


I got it all put back together, and was amazed to find that it worked! It took me a minute to figure out the mono vs. stereo cable problem, but after that, it was all good. It does sound pretty good, it’s not drastically different, but you can definitely tell the difference before and after. The lows and highs are definitely more pronounced, and I’ve had to adjust some of my sloppy techniques because the pickups are a little more responsive.

Here’s one more pic:

Another finished pic

Thanks for reading this, and if you’re doing this yourself, I hope these posts might give you some good tips.

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4 Comments to EMG Pickup Installation in a Gibson Explorer (part 5)

  • Thanks for blogging this experience. I’ve been wanting to install active EMGs in my Steinberger Spirit which came with passive “EMG Select” pickups. I’ve done a lot of reading, but your description has helped me muster the confidence to move ahead. I’ll be replacing the “Selects” with an EMG-SLV/SLV/85 combo. Wish me luck! 😉

  • Hey man, thanks for writing all this. I’m about to take on wiring my new Gothic Ephiphone Explorer with a set of EMG 81/60’s.

    I’m getting the pickups, 3 25k pots, and the wiring. I know I need a TRS stereo jack, and maybe a few more things, like a new capacitor for the tone pot, but I may be able to use the one out of my old wiring if it’s the right type.

    But, your blog definitely gave me a bit more confidence in the matter.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Hey you’ve had the closest answer i’ve been looking for… I have some EMG bass pickups, i don’t use em because of the battery, so, i was thinking about how to power them using an external power source. I’m ok with electronics but not just great but i have a friend that really good and could help me but i ran across your blog. Did you ever find a for sure way to run power to the pickups without noise. Any info would be GREATLY appreciated.

  • Awesome walk through! I was looking at doing the exact same thing (Gibson Explorer and Zakk Wylde EMG’s) so was amazed when I found this. Great help! Cheers!

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