How to replace pickups in ES-335?

Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
I know some people put rubber tubing over the shaft of the pots and then pull everything through the pickup routs.

Others tie string around the shafts.

Do I have to pull everything, including the output jack, out?

Will the ground wire from the tailpiece need to be unsoldered? I hope not.

How to get the output jack back in place again? Or will it not be necessary to remove It?

It's been over 30 years since I've done this in a 335 and it took all day last time.

I'm a lot more experienced now.

Plus I've watched a few YouTube videos on the subject.
 
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Killcrop

Member
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12,393
What model 335? Some have a huge hole next to the bridge pickup to pull everything through. The historic are trickier. I did it once and watched a tutorial on youtube. I think everything had surgical tubing attached so I could pull it back into place once the solder work was done. It wasn't too bad but took couple hours of fiddling around.
 

Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
Splice the new pickup wires to the old ones. You don't have to remove anything but the pups that way. If you really decide to keep the new pickups you can always go back and spend hours fulfilling your OCD requirements later. :>) But likely as not, you'll be changing again!
No, I need to do more than that.

Jol Danzig put new pots and caps in this guitar about 8 years ago.

He wired the tone pots 50's style and I no longer like that.

I need to change it to modern...as well as install different pickups.
 

Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
What model 335? Some have a huge hole next to the bridge pickup to pull everything through. The historic are trickier. I did it once and watched a tutorial on youtube. I think everything had surgical tubing attached so I could pull it back into place once the solder work was done. It wasn't too bad but took couple hours of fiddling around.
Yes, it has the large space between pickups. It's a year 2000. Not a historic or custom. But it's a great guitar. Had it for 10 or 12 years.
 

Joe L

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,444
Splice the new pickup wires to the old ones. You don't have to remove anything but the pups that way. If you really decide to keep the new pickups you can always go back and spend hours fulfilling your OCD requirements later. :>) But likely as not, you'll be changing again!
I spliced wires on my Gretsch 5420 and used shrink wrap on the splice. Works 100%!
 

Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
I spliced wires on my Gretsch 5420 and used shrink wrap on the splice. Works 100%!
As I said, I have to reverse the 50's mod to the tone controls. That will require removing or having access to the volume pots.
 

tjmicsak

Member
Messages
5,676
It is as simple as it looks, but takes time and patience. A lot of time, and a lot of patience.
I have done it on three hollow/semi hollow body guitars.
Don't be too concerned on the removals. Everything can be fished back. use a thin flexible but solid wire to run string pieces from the pickup cavity to each hole, keeping them from crossing or twisting each other. That is important. As things get pulled back into the guitar, keep the components relative to their positions, moving each one a little at a time.
String tied around the pot stems works best. When the pots and string get up to the holes, drop the washer and nut down the string so that you can start threading the nuts while holding the string. Be sure to flip the left over string tails up through the washer and nut before starting to thread them. Once you get the nuts started you can use a small jewelers screwdriver or careful razor blade to remove the strings. Tie them tight.

The other thing to be careful of is watching the other string going to the end pin or side jacks to be sure they don't pull in on you. I tape them in place to keep that from happening.

Anything you do is reversible if you loose a string. It simply means you start over, so take your time.
If you are fairly experienced with this you could also try getting the pots out in a group of four, one at a time, through the F hole. You might have enough wire length to do that which would allow the pickup wires to be switched, and also the wiring to be changed between them.
That will require some close soldering work near the body, so once you get the pots out, be sure to blanket cover the guitar. Even if you don't get near the body, when soldering, small flux or solder splatters that you don't even see can happen that you don't want to find later.
 

p.mo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,490
Splice the new pickup wires to the old ones. You don't have to remove anything but the pups that way. If you really decide to keep the new pickups you can always go back and spend hours fulfilling your OCD requirements later. :>) But likely as not, you'll be changing again!

totally agree. but, everyone should go through the pain and suffering of a complete hollow-body re-wiring. puts hair on your chest.
 

swiveltung

Member
Messages
14,483
Another advantage, find a set of pickups you want that have short leads..... those usually sold cheap!
 

ripgtr

Member
Messages
12,776
I just did my h535, new harness and pickups. Fun, fun.
I used string but once I got the jack in place, with push the pots in place through the f hole and using a long thin pair of needle noise pliers, it wasn't that bad, Just time consuming.
The harness had long wires so I have been able to try different pickups, without pulling it all out, that is a great idea.
I did a 330 last year. Old guitar, one of the wires came off. A lot easier with the full hollow, but still not a lot of fun. And took time.

I was talking about doing that with my guitar repair guy the other day and he says he uses aquarium tubing. he said it was still a pain
 
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icr

Member
Messages
3,003
Not every year ES335 has the same size opening to pass the wires. For my model year, I laid out the wiring harness so the pots can go in single-file with the output jack first. This harness is awaiting the neck pickup. That one can't be pre-attached to the chain because the wire for that one has to be fed from through the neck pickup opening. So it is going to be soldered to the neck volume pot with the assembly laying on the protected surface of the guitar. The rest of the chain was pre-assembled on a cardboard jig.
file-78.jpg
 
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Don A

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,911
I once rewired the volume pots on an ES-335 without taking the harness out. I was able to loosen the bridge volume pot and pass it through the f-hole without disconnecting anything else. I had to pull the switch out in order to get the neck volume pot out.

It actually went very well.
 

Bossanova

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,736
I know some people put rubber tubing over the shaft of the pots and then pull everything through the pickup routs.

Others tie string around the shafts.

Do I have to pull everything, including the output jack, out?

Will the ground wire from the tailpiece need to be unsoldered? I hope not.

How to get the output jack back in place again? Or will it not be necessary to remove It?

It's been over 30 years since I've done this in a 335 and it took all day last time.

I'm a lot more experienced now.

Plus I've watched a few YouTube videos on the subject.
Here's how, it's easy: take it to the guy, give him the pickups and some money, then some time later go pick it up! Enjoy!!
 

fitz

Member
Messages
2,994
I've done it twice on hollow bodies. Never again. I was prepared, saw the vids, used string on one, tubing on the other, and I have been doing electronic repairs/mods on my guitars all my life. As I said, never again. I'd search out a good luthier for a good price to do the work.

Every time I look at my ES330 reissue, I think about the time spent on the re wire and it makes me shudder.
 

vivaoaxaca

Member
Messages
288
The tricks I learned doing my ES-330 are:

Patience, patience patience. Really. Take your time. Go slow. Don't get frustrated. Have a good light so that you can see into the guitar body through the f-holes and the holes for the pots.

For the wiring: Make a template that exactly matches the pattern of the holes on the guitar. Build your wiring harness so that it exactly matches the template. This requires that your cap leads and ground wires are accurately measured and that there is no slop. Leave the wire to the output jack a little longer than the actual distance from the holes for the pots so you have some room to move the whole harness around once it's inside the guitar.

For the output jack: Use a long piece of wire. Long enough to go from the output jack hole to the pickup route with 4-5" of extra wire at each end. Thread the wire into the output jack from the top and out of the pickup route. Thread the nut/washer onto the wire at the output jack end. Thread the end of the wire at the pickup route end through the output jack and make a little wad of wire that's a little bigger than the size of the output jack. You'll use this wire to pull the entire harness through the body of the guitar. You'll need to help the harness through the pickup route and it will deform from your perfect template shape. That's ok. Once you get the harness in, gently pull the output jack into place with the wire. As soon as you have some threads through the hole start the nut on the threads to hold it in place. Then you can pull the wire and the little wad you created should unravel a little and pull right through.

For the pots: Get four different colors of markers. Mark the top of each pot shaft with a unique color. This will help to make sure you can tell them apart once they're inside the guitar. Start with the bridge tone, then then bridge volume. Next you'll do the neck tone, then neck volume. Forget string or tubing or any of that. Instead get a chopstick and some long thin needle nose pliers. Use the chopstick (and probably your fingers through the f-hole) to position the pots beneath the holes, then just grab the shaft with the pliers through the hole. Be sure to have your nuts/washers ready once you get the shaft through. It might take a couple of tries to find a technique that allows you to hold the shaft while you position the nut/washer, but once you figure out what works for you the job gets much easier.

The switch is the only thing left and that's the easy part because it's so close to the f-hole. Once the rest is in place the switch should be sitting right beneath it's hole.

The last thing I wish I had known before the first time I did this was to use a nice rigid wire to ground the pots together. This will help stabilize the harness and keep it from flopping around as you thread it through the pickup route.
 
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Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
Those of you who have done it:

Where is the ground wire from the tailpiece connected and it is long enough to come out with the rest of controls?

I have to pull at least the volume controls because I want the tone controls connected to the input of the volume controls.

Not to the middle terminal which is the output and the way 50's wiring is done.
 

RileyBoy

Member
Messages
2,035
I'm a really, "do it yourself kinda guy", but my heads swimming from just reading this stuff!
And I sold my 335 at least 25 years ago.
You guys rock!
 

Laurence

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,433
(Maxwell Smart voice) "Very carefully".

Everything out thru the F hole in one piece, everything back into the F hole in one piece with hanger hooks and pencils in important places to pull all the pars back into position (as already described). It's a PITA. The gound wire to the bridge/tailpiece is typcaily a heavier solid piece of wire, usually not covered. You can usually tell by it's position that's it's the ground wire. Do eveything you can not to mess with that wire.

That's the only advice I can give. I've done it on two semi-hollows and will never do myself again. My eyesight and paitence is not what it used to be...
 




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