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Just about to replace my pickup, a few questions for you!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by colinmk, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. colinmk


    May 25, 2008
    Hi , I have just got a vintage Gibson humbucker to fit into my Epiphone Rivoli and some help would be well appreciated. There appears to be just one connection, a single wire, should I just solder that directly to the wire connected to the old one?
    I was under the impression there would be two connections but It doesn't look like that now.

    Also does anyone have any tips for improving anything before I fit the pick-up? I red somewhere shielding the pick-up area with foil can improve the amount of noise coming off this bass, any thoughts on that?

    Cheers and thanks for any responses in advance.
  2. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    There are two connections. There's one insulated wire inside metal braided wire.

    You have to peel the braid a bit so you'll have something to work with.. That's your ground (it doubles as shielding since it's wrapped around the hot lead).

    The insulated wire inside is the hot lead, don't let the black insulation make you think it's the ground.
  3. colinmk


    May 25, 2008
    Thanks, can you just explain, do I connect the wire inside the black insulation to the wire going to the existing pick-up? And then where do I connect the braided outside since that is the ground?

  4. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    LOL I just thought of something...is this your "first time" with a hollow body?

    I ask because it sounds like you want to swap pickups without removing the pots.

    I don't know what's there now, but I'd guess the original pickup leads are soldered to the volume pot. If that's the case, and you want to "do it right", you might need to pull the whole harness out (including the bridge ground), OR you may be able to solder to the pot through the f-hole.

    If you don't want to do that you can cut the lead to the original pickup close enough to the pickup so you can splice in the new one. There should be two wires, whether one inside the sheilding or separate.

    I've seen some Epi P90s and they have the braided outside (ground for the baseplate and/or cover) and two conductors inside, one hot and the other is coil ground for the pickup. If that's what's there now you'll have to determine which of the two is the hot lead. Take a DMM or ohmmeter and put one probe on the original braid and the other on the bridge or jack. There should be zero resistance. If so, make the same check, wire to bridge, on both of the insulated wires (one at a time). One of those should have the same results as the braid (zero resistance), and the other should show infinate resistance. You'll want to connect the hot lead of the new pickup to the wire that shows infinate resistance. Disregard the extra insulated (if there is one).

    Easier than all that is like this. After you've got the old pickup out and disconnected, connect braid to braid from the new pickup to the original braid (the part left in the bass) and try the hot lead from the new pickup with the original insluated wires, one at a time. One way will work, the other won't. To tell which way works you can plug it in and lightly contact one of the pole pice screws with something metal like a screwdriver. If you hear a click through the amp that's how you want to connect it. For that test you can just twist the wires together or use alligator clips if you have some. That's the easy way. Don't bother mounting the pickup until you've figured out which wires get connected.

    Edit: Had an afterthought, the Rivoli might be (probably is) a semi-hollow body like a ES-335. If it is, pull the old pickup lead through the f-hole and cut it (pickup mounted) making sure you have plenty left. Then shove the lead of the new pickup through the little hole in the center block and mount the new one. Pull both leads up through the f-hole and connect, tuck away and play.
  5. colinmk


    May 25, 2008
    Right, I've got some pictures. As you can see the old pickup, a stock pickup on a re-issue Epiphone Rivoli is connected by one lead. It's black, I haven't cut it yet because I'm waiting till I know what to do.


    As you can see there is a small piece of something(appears to be tape, conductive?) under where the pick-up was that is holding the ends of two white wires. Here is a picture of the pickup I'm trying to put in.


    So what do you guys think, anyone that has replaced a stock Rivoli pickup with a vintage Gibson then any help would be appreciated. I'm guessing there will be two wires within the black cable and one will be connected to the ground and one connected to the exposed wire from the new pickup?

    Edit: Lost patience and removed the pickup from the bass. The black cable has a white coloured wire with metal shielding around it.

  6. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    It seems like the pickup leads are similar, so that's simple to connect.

    As far as that mystery plate in the first picture, I'd guess it's method of grounding the baseplate on the Epi pickup, since the Epi pickup has the braided shield inside of plastic insulation. I really don't see why there are two wires going to it. I don't know what it is.

    The Gibson pickup should have the braided shield soldered to the pickup. It serves double duty as the ground wire for the coils and the baseplate/cover.

    Since you lost patience, you should act quickly before it finds you.

    Try the new pickup by connecting braid to braid and inside wire to inside wire. Cover up the mystery plate with something non-conductive, plug it in and see what happens. Leave the leads long so hanging out of the f-hole in case it doesn't work. Like this:

    Edit: One thing to check first...put one probe of the meter on the braided shield of the original lead and the other probe on the jack. If there's zero resistance what I said above will probably work.
  7. colinmk


    May 25, 2008
    Cheers for the advice Glenn, pickup is in and working great. Only thing is now would you believe it, one of the studs on my bridge is coming out. Superglued it back in though and is holding so far, really annoying though.
  8. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    Glad it's working for you. I've read more than one thread regarding the 3-point bridge, seems to common, good news is it's easy to correct.

    Did you ever find out what the little plate with the two grey wires under the pickup is?
  9. colinmk


    May 25, 2008
    Never did, I assume it has something to do with grounding for the previous pickup or else something to do with the baritone switch that is found on Rivolis? Incidently the new pickup seems to far less noisy than the previous one.

    Have you heard from other people that the bridge situation is easy to correct? It seems to be holding for now but I don;t have much faith in it tbh and I'm scared to adjust it now.
  10. Cernael


    Jun 28, 2008
    The tape thing looks like it might just be two wires joined together; drawn into the pickup cavity, so they could be soldered together in plain view, and then taped, so they wouldn't connect to the pickup.

    As to why, I dunno. Maybe another way of wiring together the guitar guts left way too much cable rattling about inside it, so someone felt the need to shorten it up?
  11. mikeytbass


    Jun 16, 2010
    I have recently purchased a hollow body, with poor pickups, and have 2 gretsch filtrons, however the problem I have is that the bass has cut out's in the body for the current pickups (not face mounted), and am trying to figure out how to suspend/house these new gretsch pickups (current design is limited to the existing cheap pickups, and not an option to re-use). Any thoughts or suggestions?

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