How to Change Your Guitar's Output Jack - Fender Strat, Tele, Bass
- Sep 07, 2013
- in MDM How-To
We want the nice, new guitar cable you buy from us here at Metro DC Music to sound great and noise-free, but a bad output jack on your guitar can ruin the fun. Over time and with extended use the jack on your guitar might become intermittent or just stop working altogether. Fortunately it's not very hard to replace the jack with a new one. We're going to illustrate the process to replace the jack using some common Fender instruments such as a Strat, Tele, P-Bass or J-Bass. The process is very similar for most other guitars, the only thing that changes is the method for accessing the jack.
But we should mention one difference. If your guitar uses a battery for a built-in preamp or some other device, or if your guitar is a stereo model, then the jack used will be different (probably a stereo jack with 3 terminals) than the one shown in this article (mono with 2 terminals) and there will likely be an additional wire or two to disconnect and re-connect. Again, the process for removal of the jack and rewiring will be very similar, but you'll need to make careful notes about which wire(s) go on which terminals of the jack, and be sure to re-install them in the same way.
The tools needed for this job are typically a nut driver or wrench that fits the nut on the jack, a screwdriver, a soldering iron and the new jack. If you have a small vise that can hold parts for you (as shown in video), or an assistant to do the same, it will make the job easier. If you're not experienced working with the soldering iron we recommend having someone more experienced to assist you and remember please take all safety precautions when working with a hot soldering iron!
We'll use this great video from Fender as a visual reference and then outline the steps below for reference as needed. But one note - in the video they do their soldering over the unprotected guitar body, knobs and pickguard. It would be very easy in this scenario to accidentally let the soldering iron tip or shaft touch one of these items and do some damage that melts the finish or plastic. Likewise a drop of hot solder that falls off a terminal will do some melt damage. We suggest getting a towel or rag and putting it beneath the jack and over the guitar body in the area where you are soldering to prevent damage. OK on to the video:
HOW TO REPLACE GUITAR JACK STEP BY STEP
STEP 1 - REMOVE THE JACK FROM THE GUITAR BODY
For the following steps take care when removing the jack to retain and note the placement of all washers, and to reinstall them the same way.
On a Telecaster-style guitar with a vintage-style jack cup (shown at left) use a wrench or nut driver to loosen and remove the nut. The jack cup will probably be loose and can be lifted off for now.
If the Telecaster-style guitar has a curved jack plate with screws then remove the screws, hold the jack and loosen the nut.
For either style of jack holder the next step is to remove the screws on the Tele control plate, shown below. Lift the control plate and gently pull on the two wires leading to the jack to remove it from the body cavity.
On a J-Bass-style guitar, shown below, you'll need to remove the control plate, typically with 3 screws, then lift the plate, hold the jack, loosen the nut, and remove the jack.
On a P-Bass-style guitar, see below, the entire pickguard needs to be removed to gain access to the jack. Remove the pickguard screws and lift and turn-over the pickguard to see the jack. Note that some pickguards have a metal shield layer on the underside of the pickguard that makes contact with jack and serves as the ground wire, meaning that you'll only see one wire connected to the jack. If the pickguard does not have a shield layer then there will be two wires. In either case hold the jack, loosen the nut and remove the jack from the pickguard.
Other brands, models and variants of guitars will probably use a jack-mounting scheme that is similar to one of those listed here, and the method can be adapted as needed.
STEP 2 - DE-SOLDER OLD JACK, RE-SOLDER NEW JACK
With the jack removed from the jack plate we can begin the process of de-soldering the wires from the old jack and re-soldering them to the new one. The job will be easier if you have a jig or vise that can hold the jack for you while soldering the wires as seen in the video. If not, an assistant to hold the jack with needle-nose pliers will be a help, or a cloth towel beneath the jack will help keep it from sliding and protect the finish on the guitar or pickguard.
Make a note of which color wire is connected to which terminal of the jack. Then using a soldering iron with a clean tip, go ahead and remove the wires from the old jack, as seen in this clip from the video:
STEP 3 - RE-INSTALL NEW JACK
For most guitars re-installing the jack is simply a reverse process to that used to remove it. On a telecaster the jack is gently pushed back into the cavity and through the opening in the jack holder, then held momentarily while the nut is tightened. For all guitars take care that when mounting plates, control plates or pickguards are re-installed that wires fit neatly back into the guitar body and are not pinched or caught between the plate and body. Tighten all screws and you're ready to go.