Guitar Repairs 101: Coil-splitting a humbucking pickup (part five)

Last month I took you through the process of joining wee bits of metal and wire together, better known to guitar tinkerers as soldering. I'm assuming that you've practiced this noble art and are now ready to move on to the next step of the coil-splitting operation. In this part I prepare the push pull potentiometer (or 'pot' for short) that we got from WD Music for solder.

My push pull pot is going to replace the volume control in my Fender Standard Stratocaster HSS. To allow the pot to operate as a volume control the third large tab has to be soldered to the pot's casing. Before that can happen you need to scratch the pot's casing with a file or screwdriver to remove the protective lacquer that prevents corrosion. If you don't remove the lacquer the solder won't adhere to the casing. Only scratch the casing where you'll be applying solder.

Now that you've had a good scratch, apply some solder to the third large tab on the pot. When it has cooled, bend it until it makes contact with the pot casing. Next, apply some solder to join the tab to the casing and allow it to cool. Look at the pic below to see what the finished result should look like.

push pull potentiometer

push pull potentiometer

When you solder always aim for a neat job. Only use as much solder as you need to get the job done and remember that fresh solder should be shiny. If it's dull, do it again. While you have the pot handy, apply solder to the other two large tabs and the six little tabs on the switch part of the pot. It's not quite as easy to access these tabs when the pot has been installed in the guitar. Speaking of which...

Before you solder anything else, you need to mount the new control in the guitar. We'll be looking at that next month. Depending on the guitar you have, the control might not fit. I'll show you how to tackle that particular obstacle without causing any damage to your guitar... or yourself.

Read the rest of the instalments on coil-splitting a humbucking pickup.

Ed Mitchell -

Check out Ed's Shed in Total Guitar issue 206 for advice on troublesome guitar amps.