Tips for installing my Pre-wired Les Paul harnesses & instructions for assembling my DIY LP wiring kits
You should have some basic soldering skills, a 25-40 watt soldering iron, some 60/40 rosin core solder and a lot of patience. You will also need a small pair of wire cutters, needle nose pliers, and some other basic tools to install your wiring harness. Quality soldering and good assembly work is key to quiet, reliable wiring. Spend a little time practicing on some old pots and wire so you don't ruin your new wiring harness. If you get any solder down into the pots or overheat them when soldering to the backs of them you might damage them and they may not work right. Also look over any wiring diagrams you might need before hand so you get things right the first time and don't have to go back and re-do your work. Remember, good soldering and assembly work is key to a quiet wiring harness that functions properly.
First you will need to remove the original stock wiring from your guitar. With an epi and many other import guitars it is also important to upgrade the switch and output jack because of the quality and the way they are wired up. If you have an import guitar with metric size holes in the body they are to small for the 3/8" US sized bushing to fit into so you will have to ream the volume and tone control holes open just a little bit (about 1/16") for the 3/8" sized volume and tone pot bushings to fit correctly. Be careful not to scratch the top. A hand wood reamer with a T handle that you can find at most any hardware store works great for opening up the holes in the body. You can also roll up some 100 grit sandpaper into a small tube and use it as a file to enlarge the holes.
New JBCS Wiring Harness Install carefully look over you new harness, try not to bend the capacitor wires or twist any of the wiring. Locate where the bridge and neck volume controls go. They will be marked BV, BT, NV, NT. Te CTS pots come with a star washer that goes on first. Then after pots are mounted through the hole in the top install the dress washer and hex nut. Do not over tighten the nuts or you may damage the pots.
Below: Video showing the inside of a Les Paul control cavity and some tips about soldering the Vintage Braided style wire to the back the pots.
Watch the video above before installing your pickups or wiring harness, it gives you an over view of what's going on in the control cavity.
Installing knobs on the new harness the CTS pots use the 24 fine spline .025" - 1/4" which have a larger hole for the pot shaft end to fit than the metric knobs. The stock metric knobs found on many import guitars are to small to fit on the CTS pots and will damage the split shaft. If you use enough force to try and push the knob on the wrong sized shaft you can actually push the bottom of the CTS pot right out of the bushing. So be sure to have the US, Imperial sized knobs for any of my wiring harnesses. Even the Alpha 500K push pulls I use on the Jimmy Page and MSP rigs need the larger Imperial sized knobs, so if you need a set of US sized knobs let me know I have a wide selection available.
Vintage braided Gibson Style Wire: If you have a vintage 50's style LP harness the Switchcraft switch usually comes with the vintage braided style wire. With that type of wire the outer braid is ground - and the inner black covered lead is Hot + The outer braided ground wire from the switch would solder to the back of each volume pot case and the inner hot lead solders to the center lug that cap lead is connected to for 50's wiring. The 3rd lead from the switch goes directly to the output jack. Slip the black tube over the end of the braided lead first, then solder on the Switchcraft output jack. Braided goes to ring, the inner hot lead solders to the lug that goes to tip +
Below: Video that shows you how to wire up a DIY Switchcraft 3 way toggle switch with the vintage braided Gibson style wire.
BELOW: DIY Video showing you how to wiring up a 50's style Les Paul harness with CTS Pots, .022 Caps and 18 awg ground wire.
Below: Fully assembled Vintage 50's style Les Paul Harness from one of my DIY wiring kits
How 50's Wiring Works In My Own SG
I get a lot of questions asking about how 50's wiring works and if there is a jump on the volume controls between 10 and 8.5 and if there is a volume loss when you roll off your tone controls. I hope these videos clear up some of those misconceptions. Also there is traditional 50's wiring and 50's wiring with Independent volumes (which I don't care for) and I also talk about that as well.
Video Below: How to install a pre-wired 21 tone Jimmy Page harness & Pre-wired switch. Note: my new current 50's style JP rigs have the cap leads connected to the center lugs on the volume pots, same lugs that the switch leads solder to.