One-Stop Shopping for Simple Pickup Wiring

Last modified 7-1-2009

This page lists the components you’ll need to purchase to wire up music pickups so they’ll be ready for use. Part lists are given for four different options. (For detailed instructions and diagrams on basic pickup wiring, click here.)

You can purchase from us the items you need to complete the job. We send the parts with instructions for basic wiring, so you’ll know what to connect to what even if you’ve never done this sort of wiring before. The following options are good for either magnetic pickups or piezos.

Option 1: Run the output from a pickup to a plug (male) which can be plugged into an amplifier or mixer input.

You need:

  • Your pickup
  • Shielded cable to run from the pickup to the plug. Two choices:
    A) For a magnetic pickup, either light or heavy cable is OK, but heavy cable has the advantage of being sturdier.
    B) For piezo pickup, either light or heavy cable will work but lightweight cable is preferable because it doesn’t weigh down or rigidify the piezo.
  • Quarter-inch phone plug (male).

Option 2: Run the output from a pickup to a jack (female). This allows you to plug a regular musical instrument lead cord into the jack while plugging the other end of the lead cord into an amplifier or mixer.

You need:

  • Your pickup
  • Shielded cable to run from the pickup to the jack. Three choices:
    A) For a magnetic pickup going to an inline jack, either light or heavy cable is OK, but heavy cable has the advantage of being sturdier.
    B) For a magnetic pickup going to a panel-mount jack, lightweight cable is preferable because it’s more compact and manageable.
    C) For piezo pickup, either light or heavy cable will work but lightweight cable is preferable because it doesn’t weigh down or rigidify the piezo.
  • Quarter-inch jack. Two choices, depending on how you plan to use the jack:
    A) quarter-inch phone plug (female) mounts on the end of a cable.
    B) Panel-mount jack mounts on the body of the instrument or some other surface.

Option 3: Run the output from a pickup to a volume control, and from there to a jack or plug.

You need:

  • Your pickup
  • Volume control (potentiometer).
  • Shielded cable to run from the pickup to the volume control. Either light or heavy cable will work, but lightweight cable is preferable, especially for piezo pickups.
  • Shielded cable to run from the volume control to the jack or plug. Two choices, depending on what it’s connected to:
    A) For connecting to an inline jack or plug, either light or heavy cable will work but heavy cable is preferable because it’s sturdier.
    B) For connecting to a panel-mount jack, either light or heavy cable will work but lightweight cable is preferable because it’s more flexible and less obtrusive for interior wiring.
  • Jack or plug. Three choices, as described in options 1 and 2 above: Quarter-inch phone plug (male), quarter-inch phone plug (female) or quarter-inch panel-mount phone jack.

Option 4: Run the output from a pickup to a local preamp, after which it can be sent to a mixer or amplifier.

  • If you use the K&K Pure Preamp, you’ll follow option 1 above. That will allow you to plug directly into the preamp. You’ll need your pickup, and the preamp, plus the cable and plug listed for option 1.
  • If you use the Fishman Powerjack, you will need your pickup and the preamp, plus a length of narrow gauge shielded cable. This will allow you to solder directly to the terminals inside the preamp, as detailed in the instructions that come with the preamp.

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