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Sometimes it’s necessary to change out the wiring in your electric guitar.
It might be to upgrade the existing wiring and improve your guitar’s tone. It might be to fix broken wiring.
All things being equal, it’s better to use solderless guitar wiring kits. After all, this will make the installation process a lot easier as you won’t need to use a soldering gun or iron, which can be kind of technical.
But if you’re planning to replace your wiring all by yourself, you’re still going to need to have a good idea of what you want your guitar to sound like as well as how you want your pickup setup to be.
With that in mind, here are the best solderless guitar wiring kits available.
EMG Solderless Wiring Kit For 1 – 2 Active Pickups – Short Shaft
The highly rated EMG solderless wiring kit is easy to use and high quality.
It comes with two volume and tone pots, a 12b output jack with battery clip, an output cable, four interconnect cables and three pickup cables.
As you may have guessed from the name, this kit is specifically for EMG-equipped guitars. So, if you’re using something else, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Most buyers rave about the EMG solderless wiring kit, noting that the instructions are dependable and that it’s basically plug and play.
Some even say it’s the best upgrade you can buy for your EMG equipped guitar.
There isn’t much by way of negative reviews, so this EMG kit is sure to serve you well. It isn’t too expensive either.
ObsidianWire Pro-Wired Custom Blender For Strat Solderless Writing Harness 250k
The ObsidianWire comes with a matched Emerson Pro CTS Blender split shaft pot 250k with 250” shaft pots (audio taper), genuine Oak Grigsby five-way switch, NOS Russian cold war era 0.047uf K42Y-2 PIO capacitor, premium volume mod/treble bleed and wiring diagram.
This unit has been hand-wired with quality components. This wiring system should give you added clarity and control over your guitar’s tone.
If you’re interested in swapping out pickups, this unit will come in handy, as it makes changing your pickups effortless. If you like to experiment with tone, you’ll love this feature.
The reason this unit is called a “Blender” is because it has a master volume and tone control, leaving the second tone control free to be used as a blending knob.
In the neck position, you can blend the bridge pickup into your sound, and vice versa (i.e. in the bridge position, you can blend the neck pickup into the mix).
And, in the second and fourth positions, you can use all three pickups simultaneously.
The volume mod/treble bleed upgrade keeps your higher frequencies and improves taper as you roll off the volume.
Readers should note, however, that this wiring system is designed especially for American and Mexican Stratocasters. It may work with other instruments, but this is not a guarantee.
As well, 250k pots are designed for single coil pickups while 500k pots are for double coil pickups. Always keep this in mind.
Buyers of this product are largely satisfied with the results, though some had trouble getting the five-way switch to work.
Essentially, all this means is you may need to make some minor adjustments to your guitar for everything to fit nicely. But you may not have to do this for every guitar.
Again, if you’d like to experiment with a mix of pickups, you’ll love the Obsidian Wire, as it makes it easy for you to swap out your pickups.
Mojotone Pre-Wired Strat Standard 5-Way Wiring Kit
The Mojotone pre-wired kit includes a Mojotone custom CTS 250k split shaft potentiometers, CRL five-way switch, Switchcraft mono input jack, Mojotone Vitamin T Paper & Oil, 0.047uf capacitor, pre-tinned cloth covered wire, volume mod (treble bleed) and wiring diagram.
These electronics are specifically for Stratocaster guitars. These kits are made in the USA with high quality parts.
They’ve designed this unit to be as easy to install as possible. And, it makes swapping out pickups painless too.
This should prove a solid electronic upgrade for your Strat and no extras are required to make it work.
All these features make the Mojotone an attractive option for an upgrade.
Bonus (Not Solderless, But Top Quality): Fender Stratocaster Strat 5-Way Wiring Kit – CRL Switch – CTS Pots
The Fender Stratocaster wiring kit comes with a genuine CRL five-way switch, CTS 250K split shaft pots, Gavitt vintage wiring and a Switchcraft output jack.
As you can guess from the product name, this wiring kit is specifically for Stratocasters.
The high-quality parts will likely appeal to discerning guitarists, including the top of the line 450G series CTS pots with solid brass brushing and shafts, low noise, special lubricant for smooth operation, a .022µF Orange Drop capacitor and genuine Switchcraft output jack.
The USA Gavitt vintage wiring has been used on many guitars and comes with a “push-back” cloth covering.
If your Strat-style guitar doesn't have the best electronics in it already, this wiring kit should serve as a fantastic upgrade.
This kit, however, is far from solderless. Be prepared for some manual assembly.
What Should I Look For In A Solderless Guitar Wiring Kit?
Although solderless wiring kits are all different, there are only so many out there, leaving us with only a few factors to consider.
First, you should ask yourself if you’re buying the right kit.
Guitars tend to have different pickup systems depending on brand and model. The most common configurations are two or three pickups.
Then, you have single coil and humbucking pickups, which is a determining factor in choosing potentiometers (250k for single coil and 500k for humbucking).
As well, you need to match the pickup selector switch to your pickups. Five-ways are generally used for single coils and three-ways are typically used for humbuckers. But there are exceptions, of course.
Basically, you need to know whether you’re buying a kit that works with your guitar.
Second, you should consider if you’re buying the right features.
Do you need a blend knob? Is treble bleed a feature you’re interested in having?
Wiring kits typically have some built-in technology and that can be a good thing. Just be sure you know what you want.
Third, you need to ask yourself whether you’re planning to install the electronics yourself.
You can read the reviews and find out relatively quickly whether a unit is easy to install. I’d suggest double checking.
As well, you may need to be prepared with a soldering iron, or “worst” case scenario, bring your guitar to a tech to have the components installed correctly.
I know we’re talking about “solderless” kits but sometimes there are extra steps you need to follow during installation (more on this in a moment).
Wiring kits aren’t expensive so I can’t imagine that being a major buying factor. My only suggestion would be to time the purchase for when you need to replace or upgrade your electronics.
Are There Other Solderless Wiring Kits Out There?
The main ones belong to companies already introduced – EMG, Obsidian Wire and Mojotone.
Other known or reliable brands include Kwikplug.
Of course, there are others out there if you’re willing to do some digging. But in a world where you basically get what you pay for, it may not be worth exploring cheaper brands.
Wiring kits generally aren’t expensive, so be willing to spend a little bit to get quality components.
Are All Solderless Wiring Kits Really Solderless?
Unfortunately, not always.
In some cases, you may not require the use of a soldering iron, which is great.
But in other cases, you may need to do a tiny bit of soldering to complete the installation of your electronics.
Kits claiming to be “solderless” or “prewired” generally require minimal work, so to that extent, they are DIY friendly.
With that in mind, I would advise being prepared for instances where you need to do a bit of soldering or be prepared to bring your axe to a tech who knows what they’re doing.
Can Wiring Affect My Guitar’s Tone?
Isn’t it interesting how there are so many factors that can influence your guitar’s tone, whether it’s the pickups, tonewood, bridge, tuners, pots, wiring or otherwise?
If you’ve picked up on what we’ve already shared about wiring kits and their effect on your guitar’s tone, then you know it can make a difference.
Wiring kits typically include pots, capacitors, selector switches, volume or tone knob upgrades, and so on, which should give you a good idea why.
Now, this isn’t to suggest that tone isn’t subjective and personal, because as we all know, it is.
If it wasn’t, you’d see everyone plugging into a Marshall, but they don’t.
There’s a world of amps out there – Randall, Hughes & Kettner, Matchless, Fender, Peavey, Blackstar, Orange, Vox, Mesa/Boogie, Roland, Ibanez, Boss and many others.
Different guitarists use different amps to suit their tonal needs.
So, when changing electronics, your guitar’s tone will likely change, but for the better or for the worse is subject to the individual.
You may end up trying a variety of parts, which can offer perceived improvements to your tone (or the opposite), depending on what you like and what you’re looking for.
So, the fundamental answer to the question is “yes”, but the answer to the underlying question of improvement is “it depends”.
Improvement is basically going to depend on the wiring kit’s build quality, tolerances, taper, switches and jack sockets, the wire and the capacitors.
And, that’s a much, much lengthier conversation around each of these components.
The only way I can boil it all down is by saying that new electronics will affect your guitar’s tone, assuming you’ve chosen wiring that’s matched to your guitar.
Whether it’s for the better or for the worse is going to come down to your ears.
Are There Other Instances In Which I Might Want To Install A Wiring Kit?
So, you may not be thinking about upgrading your existing wiring.
The only other instance in which you would likely consider replacing your electronics is if your wiring is faulty, defective or broken.
Now, there are examples of guitarists who found their signature tone by messing around with their electronics and wiring it incorrectly.
But that’s basically the exception and not the rule. If your electronics are faulty or defective, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to replace them.
And, that’s the main alternative scenario in which you would consider changing your wiring.
As we all know, parts can break down over time, and it becomes necessary to replace them.
I’ve had to have the frets redressed on one of my guitars, and I’ve also swapped out components here and there as needed.
Similarly, if you end up playing guitar for a long time, you will likely need to change out some parts.
Best Solderless Guitar Wiring Kit 2019, Final Thoughts
For electric guitars, proper wiring is a necessity. Without that, your guitar may not work correctly.
All electric guitars come preinstalled with a set of components and the stock parts aren’t always the best. This may prompt some upgrades.
The more you’re willing to spend on a guitar, the better the components and parts likely are. And, that may reduce the need to change components.
But even then, there can come a time when you need to replace the electronics that have broken down over time.
As we’ve explored, electronics can have an impact on your guitar’s sound, and better electronics might give you access to a wider tonal palette. But this is generally subject to individual tastes.
What sounds good to one person may not to another. And, how a guitarist sounds has a lot to do with their fingers, though gear makes a difference too.
Nevertheless, we’ve covered some of the best solderless wiring kits available, and we hope you’ve found what you’re looking for. Happy trails.