Wednesday February 29, 2012

Wiring a DiMarzio Humbucker Pickup

Wiring a DiMarzio humbucker pickup or any other third party pickup into a guitar can be a challenge. Many guitarists replace the stock pickups to enhance the tone of their guitar in search of the sound they’ve been hearing in their head. But a pickup swap can be a tedious and frustrating. So if you are into some delicate guitar surgery this is a step by step guide on how.

These instructions are for an Ibanez RG1570, which the wiring is routed from the rear. For a Fender Stratocaster style guitar you’ll need to take off the front pickguard instead. The pickup in the photos is a DiMarzio PAF Pro replacing an Ibanez Vintage V7 humbucker pickup. This is for a stock replacement and the humbuckers are in H-S-H configuration connected in series. Nothing fancy with coil tapping.

The stock Ibanez V7 pickups only have 3 conductor wires (red, white and shield) while the has 5 conductor wires (red, white, green, black and shield). This is so the pickups can be wired for split coiled with a push pull knob. You can get a single coil sound using one of the pickup coils of the humbucker. Also note that the Ibanez volume pots are 500K if they ever need replacing.


Ibanez V7 Pickup Left. DiMarzio PAF Pro Right

Ibanez V7 Pickup Left. DiMarzio PAF Pro Right. The screws don't fit an Ibanez RG

  • 1 x new pickup (for Ibanez guitars try to get F-Spaced DiMarzio’s)
  • Philips screw driver
  • Wire cutters
  • Soldering Iron 60 watts
  • Solder
  • Soldering stand
  • Wire strippers (makes it a lot easier)
  • Wiring diagram
  • Cardboard or damp towels
  • Spiral-brass style tip cleaner or damp sponge
  • Long nose pliers or tweezers
  • Towels or a mat


  • Soldering Iron 15 watts
  • Electrical tape
  • New strings
  • Digital camera


  • Lay down a few thick towels on a table to protect your guitar. Some guitar techs use a leather mat for this, but bubble wrap may work too. Make sure the neck is protected and reinforced as well.
  • Remove the strings and any tremolo arm. The Ibanez Edge Pro tremolo bridge saddles have string stopper screws that secure the strings to the holder block. You can remove the strings from the tremolo unit without having to unwind them from the tuners on the Ibanez headstock. Once done I taped the strings together out of the way.
  • Ibanez RG1570 Wiring Diagram

    Ibanez RG1570 Wiring Diagram

  • Remove the back plates to reveal the wiring. Put all screws in a cup because you will need them for later.
  • Take a photo of the wiring and/or draw exactly where things are soldered on to. Obviously if things go wrong you can reverse it.
  • Remove the pickups. Note the cavity wire holes.

    Remove the pickups. Note the cavity wire holes.

  • Flip the guitar and unscrew the pickup to be removed. While pulling the pickup cable, follow it to the rear to see where it is soldered to. Write this down to be sure.
  • Using the wire strippers, strip the new DiMarzio pickup black sheath surrounding wire at about 4cms. This should reveal the shielding and four wires. There is also a thin blue plastic layer around the shielding that should be removed.
  • Twist the black and white wires together.
  • Twist the green and shield together. This will be the earth wire that solders to the volume pot.
  • The red should be left by itself. This is hot.
  • If you are daring you can cut the length of the cables shorter to the same length as the originals but I highly recommend you don’t if this is your first time. It doesn’t look it but the DiMarzio cable is actually quite long.
  • Ibanez V7 top, V8 middle, DiMarzio PAF Pro bottom. Note the 5 wires of the DiMarzio and 3 wires of the V7 and v8.

    Ibanez V7 top, V8 middle, DiMarzio PAF Pro bottom.
    Note the 5 wires of the DiMarzio and 3 wires of the V7 and v8.

  • Tin the new wires by applying the solder iron to the wire for a couple of seconds to heat up and then applying solder to coat the tips of the wires. Use the wet sponge to keep the soldering iron tip clean and keep the soldering iron on its stand away from the guitar when not in use.
  • Cut a hole in the cardboard so that it surrounds the rear cavity so you don’t damage the paint with dripping solder. You can also use damp cloths to surround the edges of the cavity.
  • Now it’s time to unsolder the old pickup and pull it out. Using the 60 watt iron, heat the solder on the volume pot wire and using pliers try to free it. The solder around this is pretty heavy and will not melt without a powerful soldering iron (a 15 watt won’t cut it). Also you may have to leave the iron tip on top of the solder for a few seconds before it starts to melt. Just not too long or you can burn out the pot. Also be careful, the 60 watt iron is unbelievable hot and can melt the paint (hence the cardboard) and other wires without even touching it. Tape the other wires out of the way if you have to.
  • With the 15 watt soldering iron you can now unsolder the two wires connected to the 5 way switch legs.
  • Once free, pull out the old pickup. You’ll notice that there are two foam pads underneath the old Ibanez pickup (what no springs). You will need to reuse the foam pads and also the original screws. The screws provided by DiMarzio are too long, at least for an Ibanez RG1570 I think they’re for a Gibson Les Paul.
  • Remove the foam padding from the V8 and put onto the DiMarzio. The Bridge pickup

    Remove the foam padding from the V8 and put onto the DiMarzio.
    The Bridge pickup "D" should be away from the knobs.

  • Remove the foam pads and try and re-stick them carefully to the bottom of the new DiMarzio pickup. You can also cut the foam padding out of a box if you need to.
  • From the top of the guitar, thread the new pickup wires through the holes where the old ones came through. It’s easy on the Ibanez RG, but I’ve heard of some people using a string attached to the old pickup wire first before pulling it out, and using the string taped to the wire to guide it back in.
  • At this stage you might as well screw in the new pickup. Make sure it’s the right way around. Underneath the humbucker the “D” in DiMarzio should be closest to the knobs for the neck pickup and the opposite for the bridge.
  • Solder the wires onto the legs of the 5-way switch according to the diagram. The volume pot is at the top. Note the big blob of solder.

    Solder the wires onto the legs of the 5-way switch according to the diagram.
    The volume pot is at the top. Note the big blob of solder.

  • Going back to the rear cavity, solder the two wires back onto the 5 way switch legs using preferably the 15 watt soldering iron. It should be easy because you’ve tinned the wires and there’s probably excess solder still on the legs. A good solder joint should be shiny.
  • Now using the 60 watt iron, solder on the earth wire to the big blob of solder on the volume pot. Hold down the wire with pliers or tweezers can as the wire can get hot. Wish you had a third arm now don’t you!
  • Nearly done. The pickup is in the bridge.

    Nearly done. The pickup is in the bridge.

  • That’s pretty much the hard work done. Plug in your guitar to your amp and tap the pickups with a screw driver to test, you should hear a thud. Tap both coils. Also test the other pickups to make sure they’re still OK.
  • If you haven’t managed to electrocute yourself by now and everything is working, tidy up, restring and you’re away. Once restrung you might want to adjust the pickup heights.

Piece of cake! We’ll that’s it. It sounds like a lot but it’s just three wires to unsolder and three wires to solder on. Hopefully your soldering skills are not as sloppy as mine! Like modding an Xbox once you’ve done it, it gets a lot easier. Also check out the videos especially by Jason Lollar which is quite informative.

One last thing: just beaware that the DiMarzio Evolution has some height problems with certain models of Ibanez RG's.



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