No thrills, no shrills. Welcome to our step by step guide to wiring a standard Precision Bass. There is a video in conjunction with this guide and we recommend that you watch the video and study the wiring diagram before starting.
Did You Know?
In the late 40s and early 50s, the growth and popularity of the electric guitar and microphones meant that live performing double bass players were often drowned out. Double basses were very clunky and big and were played upright. To fix this, Leo Fender invented the electric bass – he based the body shape on his recent Telecaster design and added frets and a pickup – a bassist could now play notes with precision and wouldn’t be drowned out in a live situation.
You Will Need
- Precision Bass Wiring Kit (2 x CTS 250k solid shaft pots, 1 x 0.047uF orange drop capacitor, ¼’ Switchcraft jack socket, push back cloth wire)
- Precision Bass pickguard
- 60w soldering iron (preferably temperature adjustable)
- Tinned copper bus wire (optional)
- 3.5mm heat shrink tubing (optional)
The key to soldering is heat transfer – ensure that your soldering iron is tinned and cleaned throughout the process. You also need to tin the terminals and wire ends that need a solder connection. Tinning helps create a more secure mechanical connection and therefore a better electrical connection.
Assemble the two CTS pots and Switchcraft jack socket into the pickguard as per the below photo. The solder lugs of the two pots need to be facing each other.
Step Two: Tinning
Following your wiring diagram, start tinning the lugs which will require a solder connection. Do this my holding your soldering iron behind the lug and flowing in solder from the other side. This includes the lugs on each pot as well as the jack socket
Step Three: Grounding
Start off by grounding the lug on the volume control that won’t be used (third lug). Either use a snippet of wire connecting the lug to the back of the pot casing, or simply bend the lug back and solder it in place. Either way works the same.
Next, tin the sides of each pot – we will lay a ground wire connecting the two pots together. You can use either tinned copper or cloth wire. If using bus wire/tinned copper, cover the wire with heat shrink tubing.
We now need to continue the ground by grounding the jack socket. The ground lug of the jack is the lug on the inner ring. Thread a length of black cloth wire through the eyelet of the lug and solder this in place. If you are using heat shrink tubing, cover the lug with ½’’ of tubing and shrink it down. This helps to create a more durable and longer lasting jack socket. You then need to solder the end of the cloth wire to ground (to the tone pot casing) Put a small puddle of solder on top of the tone pot where you want to ground it. Tin the end of the wire and then solder the wire to the pot casing.
Step Four: Volume and Tone Controls
Connecting the volume and tone controls together is simple. Use a small length of cloth wire and solder it into the input lug (1st lug) of the volume pot. Then solder the other end of the wire to the lug of the tone pot directly opposite.
Step Five: The Capacitor
For your capacitor, use a 0.047uF – it doesn’t matter if it’s paper in oil or foil, they all sound the same. Our wiring kit comes with a 0.047uF orange drop. The capacitor goes on the tone pot. Solder one lead into the middle lug of the tone control. Cover this lead with heat shrink tubing to prevent it from coming into contact with the ground which would render it useless. The other lead needs to go to ground so solder it to the top of the pot casing.
Step Seven: Connecting the pickup and ground
That’s the main controls finished – now you just need to connect your pickup.
Precision bass pickups have one ground wire and one “hot” or live wire. The hot wire needs to be soldered to the input lug of the volume control, whilst the pickup ground goes to the back of the pot casing.
Before everything is installed back into your bass and screwed down, you need to connect the main ground wire coming from the bridge. Again – put this onto the back of either pot. Refer to the below photos.
That's how to wire a Precision Bass. It is a very simple circuit using only two pots, a jack and a capacitor. There are other options to spice things up a bit, including using a 0.068uF capacitor in place of a 0.047uF. This gives a more rounded and what many regard as a more useful tone sweep on the tone control.