EMG Solderless Wiring

I do a lot of wiring in my shop. I like it – for some reason I find a hot soldering iron soothing. Unfortunately, EMG pickups are attempting to take away my love of soldering with their so-called solderless connections. EMG has been moving towards solderless connections on all their stuff since 2009, and for the most part this works quite well – except when you’re integrating an EMG pickup into a circuit that uses non-EMG components. This week I wired up a guitar that was to include one EMG pickup and two Anderson pickups, using standard components, which required some minor workarounds.

I was given the guitar and supplied with all the parts to wire it up, but unfortunately the solderless terminal that was supposed to attach to the EMG pickup was missing.


Ordering a new one would take too long, and since I would have to cut one of the solderless terminals off to connect it to the switch anyway, I opted just to solder wires directly to the EMG’s terminals, like so:


This is actually a stronger connection than the EMG solderless wiring setup, which sometimes have a tendency to slip off. Sure, the solderless wiring is convenient, but nothing beats a good strong solder connection.

The next step was to map out the supplied switch. The owner of this guitar brought a box-style 5-way switch, which is commonly used for Humbucker/Single Coil/Humbucker configurations, allowing for split coil operation in positions 2 and 4.


The thing about these kind of switches is that since they’re enclosed, you can’t see which terminals connect in the various switch positions. You also can’t assume that a standard wiring diagram is going to work, as some switches operate differently than others. I wasn’t about to waste time guessing which wire went where – that way lies madness. So I pulled out my multi-meter, and mapped out all the connections in each switch position to figure out where everything was supposed to go:


Now that I knew exactly where everything was supposed to go, it was simply a matter of wiring it up. I like to keep things neat and organized, with heat shrink tubing at the connection points, and use high quality components, like so:


Fortunately, the Andersons and the EMG play nicely together – if they had been out of phase with each other I would have had to flip a few of the leads on the EMG. There’s no real way to know whether they will be in phase until it’s all wired up, so I got lucky this time.

Now that the guitar has been fully rewired and setup, it’s ready to rock like it’s… 1987? Man, you know you’re getting old when you start to see styles getting recycled and becoming cool again. I never thought I’d see swirl finishes on guitars again, but apparently it’s back in a big way. Ok, I’ll accept that – but please, no spandex and Aquanet.


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