Electric Guitar Wiring, and eliminating Ground Loops

ground loop

I'm continually amazed in the sloppiness of electric guitar wiring from the factory. I could understand if some home builder decided to be a slob, but I expect a little more from a factory wiring job. My Ibanez RG450DX was a little more noisy than it should be, and was making more noise than a humbucker equipped guitar should. I popped the pickguard off, and found this hornets nest of wires, direct from the factory.

Not only was the wiring a mess, but the ground wire to the tremolo was bare, not a problem unless it comes in contact with a hot lead. There was no ground wire to the metal painted pickguard cavity, and there was an obvious ground loop.

ibanez electric guitar

I'm not suggesting to any of you to rewire your guitar if it's a mess, but sounds fine. I'm a firm believer in "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" but mine was a little broke so I fixed it. An electric guitar is loaded with all kinds of electro-magnetic activity, so the less jumbled up wires the better. If you note the mess picture on top you'll see a green wire running between the volume pot, and the tone pot. Note in the cleaned up picture that this wire is gone. This is because the pots, and five way switch, all sit on foil backing. This foil backing ties the metal bodies of the pots and switch together. The green wire was an additional, unnecessary ground run, that could result in a ground loop. A ground loop is nothing more than two redundant paths to ground that end up with an ever so slight potential difference, which results in unwanted noise. If you're going to rewire make sure you eliminate these.

The verdict, the guitar is much quieter after the cleanup of the guitar wiring, and removal of the ground loop. I'll probably shield the pickguard cavity at some point, but it's quiet enough for now. Thanks for reading J.B.

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