Next, I soldered the primary lead from the vintage WR
bridge pickup to the selector
switch. “That should do it,” I
thought, but I was too quick to
judge. I reassembled the guitar,
did a rough adjustment on the
bridge pickup height, and then
plugged in the guitar to test it.
The pickups sounded great
in the neck and bridge positions, but not so good in the
dual-pickup position. In fact,
the combined pickups sounded
like an amp with a blown
speaker and no bass! Each
pickup was wired correctly to
the guitar, so what could cause
this hideous tone?
It turns out the pickups
were out-of-phase with each
other. This goes back to how
differently these two pickups
were designed and constructed.
Remember, the reissue WR pickup is just a basic humbucker,
whereas the original ’ 72 WR was
a completely different animal. In
the process of combining these
humbuckers, we discovered
they’re wired oppositely from
each other. My solution was to
reverse the start (primary lead)
and the finish (secondary lead)
of the reissue pickup. Once I
swapped its leads around, the
ESSENTIAL SOLDERING TIPS
Soldering can be treacherous. Before you attack an innocent harness with a
30-watt iron, make sure you know what you’re doing. If you are unsure, always
consult a pro. I have seen many damaged components that had to be replaced
because they were overheated or had too much solder spread over them. When
soldering, less is more. You don’t need a lot of solder to secure the wires.
Here are a few helpful tips that will help you to solder like a pro:
1. Use the correct solder. Only use .032" rosin core (60/40 percent) solder—an
thing else will just make a mess. The .032AE" is ultra thin and has rosin inside to
make it easy to melt. Never use acid core or plumbing solder.
2. A 30-watt soldering iron is plenty hot enough for the job. Avoid using a soldering
gun. Its internal transformer can degauss the pickup’s magnets. Ouch!
3. Always “tin” the tip of your soldering iron for easier soldering. Do this by lightly
coating the tip of a hot iron with solder.
4. Be sure to tin the wires before soldering them. Heat the end of the wire with your
iron and lightly coat the wire with solder. Just a touch of solder is all you need.
5. When soldering a wire onto a switch, pot, or jack, place the wire on the desired
location and lay your iron on it. Then touch the solder to the iron and let it flow
on the wire and component. Just a touch of solder will do the trick.
6. Clean the tip of your iron often. After you solder something, gently wipe it on a
damp sponge or paper towel.
7. Let the solder cool on its own. Never blow on a solder joint, as this can cause a
“cold weld,” and result in a bad connection.
When installing pickups or other electronic components, remember these rules:
• Know what you’re doing and why. Consult a professional if you’re not confiden
you can tackle the job.
• Test before you solder. Confirm a pickup is in working order before you install it.
• Keep it clean. Only use what little solder you need and keep the components clean.
• Expect the unexpected! Polarity and phase issues can be confusing, so always check
the wiring diagrams and then see if they’re correct by testing your work.
• Stay grounded. Make sure all of the ground wires are properly attached.
Attaching the lead wire from the vintage WR pickup. A pair of hemostats
comes in handy for getting into tight places and clamping a wire to the
terminal before you solder them together.
After mounting and soldering the replacement pickup, test your work
before installing the pickguard on the guitar. Gently tap each pickup as
you move through the switch selections to assure that everything is wired
correctly, and roll your Volume and Tone pot back and forth to make sure
they’re operating, too.