There are over a dozen ways to connect the internal hardware of a guitar, depending on whether you’re using stock pickups, coil-tapped magnets, split-coiled pickups, or single-coils.

For this diagram, I’m using one of the most popular models utilizing two humbuckers, one volume pot, one tone pot, and a classic 3-way toggle selector.

Bear in mind that minor changes and tweaks can be made to the guide below if you’re pursuing a specific tone. This diagram illustrates a functional, easy method of wiring your pickups to the potentiometers and the switch.

Pickup Wiring

Assuming that you are using standard-issue 4-conductor humbuckers, they should be wired as follows:

Humbucker 1:

The bare wire goes to the ground
The South Start lead goes to the ground
The South Finish lead and North Finish lead should be run in series
The North Start lead should be routed to the topmost terminal of the pickup selector switch

Humbucker 2:

The same as Humbucker 1, with the only difference being that the North Start lead should be routed to the lowermost terminal of the pickup selector switch

Regardless of how you want to set up your humbuckers (split-coil, coil-tap, or otherwise), or how many conductors they possess, the bare wire is always negative and should go to the ground while the finish leads are positive - they can be more flexibly rearranged depending on the design of the switch you are using.

Switch Wiring

The pickup selector switch is the “hub” connecting the pickups and the potentiometers. It typically features multiple terminals located at its front and sides. A classic 3-way switch is usually configured to activate the individual neck and bridge pickups or both at once, although some players prefer the neck, neck + bridge, and “off” variant.

This guide illustrates how to achieve the former, as switching off the pickups can easily be emulated by rolling off the volume knob.

As mentioned, the topmost terminal should be linked to the positive lead or the “North Start” wire of the first humbucker while the lowermost terminal should be linked to the same wire of the second humbucker.

The central terminal of the switch should be soldered at the leftmost terminal of the Volume Pot, and the central terminal of the Tone Pot.

Potentiometer Wiring

Just like any other piece of guitar hardware, players have a degree of flexibility when it comes to arranging the internal wiring of the guitar’s pots. What’s usually the same for all concepts is that the rightmost (end) terminals of each pot should go to the ground.

One of the most common methods of wiring guitar pots is to have them linked to the central terminal of the switch. The pickup selector then goes through the first socket of the volume, and the second socket of the tone pot.

Alternatively, you can wire one humbucker to the volume pot, and the second to the tone pot, but this would require very specific hardware to avoid wasting the guitar’s tone customization potential.