Learning how to replace electronics

I’m interested in learning how to do some of my own repairs and upgrades. I have a Squier Stratocaster that I picked up very cheap with the eye that I’d make some upgrades just to learn how to do them. But, I’m quite intimidated by the electronics. I’ve never soldered anything before and while I’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos, I still don’t feel confident.

Anyone have any advice on how to learn how to do this kind of work? I have a notion that I’d upgrade the pickups and the pots.

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Hi welcome to the forum!

Get a decent solder station that you can control temps, it helps a lot, I dont think they are expensive now

Practice on some old junk, wont take long to get confident in soldering its not that hard. Remember you are heating the parts so the solder melts on them, not heating the solder.

Once you ave soldering its just making sure you solder the right wires to the right places etc


Hi David,

welcome to the community! By chance, just a few months ago Michael @sequences has written an excellent tutorial for people new to soldering.
Check it out here:


oh good guide !

Seymour Duncan has a great course on soldering, of course specifically geared towards guitar

I’m also pretty sure if you dont change pots etc you could find a solderless option to avoid soldering at all.

Some pickups already have quick connects you’d just need to add some in somewhere

This for sure. When I pimped my old Affinity I’d never soldered before and all the electrics were replaced. In the write up in my Roadcase (LL) I refer to it as welding ! I was pretty heavy handed but everything connected up ok, including split coils with mini toggles !


Guitar electronics are pretty simple things to solder but it helps if you’ve done a little practice for sure.

Tint the ends of the wires etc before hand too.

Tricky bit can be access and just holding things together


That’s manual by @sequences is awesome but I understand the intimidation. Over the years I have been doing my own setups on my electrics and yet I’ve never replaced a pickup myself… due to the same reasons. I’m handy “in my head”. i’m a creative person and problem solver with data, processes and applications… but the real deal intimidated me

“practice on old junk” seems like the best way to start.
It is how I planned on getting into painting miniature for my first ever Warhammer 40k mini’s :stuck_out_tongue: (ind of same thing there, keeping it at bay :p)

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Soldering is pretty easy. Guitars are a good place to learn how to do it - pots & pickups aren’t going to fry from heat the same way IC’s might. Probably the worst part is that guitars are expensive compared to little electronic equipment!

Watch a bit of youtube and practice a little, you should be fine.


Hi David @djdrysdale

Don’t be too concerned about damaging your guitar. The electronics there doesn’t need much (any?) experience to update. You will need to do something obviously wrong to do damage.

In my tutorial, I mention that you can practice on a couple of bare wires. You can then pull them apart (practice de-soldering!) and solder them back again. Repeat until you think you have a feel for it. Pay attention to how the insulation around the wire melts and try to minimize that and still get a good solder joint.

I mentioned to be mindful that solder is HOT and it can damage your guitar finish. Just protect it with a cover or remove the electronics before soldering if possible. This is probably the biggest danger to your guitar. Not fatal for it, but no-one wants a burn mark scarring the finish.

The final thing you are likely to do is wire it up improperly. There are few options open to you to mess this up, so just draw a picture of what you start with and duplicate that. You’ll be fine if you just pay attention. :slight_smile:

If you get into soldering and something is not going like you think it should, tag me in your question and I’ll help however I can.


Dead simple. Practice soldering two wires of the same diameter together as many times as it takes to feel comfortable. Then buy some good pickups and/or pots with decent instructions. I’m partial to guitarfetish.com with the Kwikplug system.

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Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I’m willing to give it a go. I like the idea of practising on some spare wires before I let loose on my guitar.

My dad was an electrician and would be happy to teach me everything he knows but unfortunately he’s on the other side of the continent!

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Well, he said he has a Squire Strat…:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :joy:
Just joking! :innocent:

The tutorial by @sequences that @franzek referenced is a very nice one!


Ha! I actually like it a lot. One of the reasons I’ve put off doing anything for so long is that I actually do quite like the feel of it. I remember way back in the 90s when my friend got a Squier Bullet and it felt so flimsy. They’ve come a long way since then. The one I have is an Indonesian Affinity and it’s not perfect but it suits me just fine for now. I have a Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster, too, and I love it.

Lmao but to be fair strats are pretty easy to work on, and if your very very careful you can trade them in for a real guitar

I know! I was only joking.
I did my first experiment on a similar platform.
I used rather high end pots and pickups and what I learnt is that they are quite robust. You can’t do any harm to the pickups unless you deliberately mess with the coils and the soldering iron.
The pots and the selector switch are also robust so don’t have any fear.
Resistors or capacitors might be more sensitive but still, all these are cheap components. I’m sure you’ll do great!

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Oh for most guitars your better off mocking yo the layout on board and drilling pot holes etc, soldering it up and transferring it over whole.

But I don’t think that’s worthwhile on a strat given it’s all in the pick guard?

A bit late to this thread but I recently upgraded my affinity telecaster with absolutely minimal soldering.

I don’t have any soldering experience and so I bought a pair of tonerider pickups and a control plate on Reverb already wired with new pots etc. The control plate was good quality. I then only had to solder a few wires from the pickups to the switch and pots. It worked out very well and the upgrade completely transformed not only the sound of my affinity tele but the volume and tone knobs also just felt so much nicer, have more control and look way better. It was 60$ for the pickups and 40$ for the control plate. I know that if I had bought the components separately I could have done it cheaper, but 100$ was well spent as this is now easily the best of my 3 guitars and definitely better than my Squier cv 60’s tele in both sound and feel. Obviously this upgrade is only really worth it if the guitar has a good feel and a nice neck to start with, which is the case with my affinity tele - lovely neck.

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It depends on how far you want to take things. A Strat is relatively easy as the whole pickguard comes off. I’ve done many a strat But I decided to upgrade the pots on my Epi Les Paul. The Epi stock pots from the Far East are metric but the standard Gibson ones are imperial so I had to drill out the holes in the body bigger to get them to fit without damaging the finish. Not for the faint hearted!

Also, from what I remember, there are different ways of wiring a Les Paul so a bit of research is needed. I did find something on the Seymour Duncan website. I did put a thread on here but can’t find it…

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