Welcome to our in depth guide on wiring an ES-335. The ES-335 (or similar semi hollow bodied models) such as the Casino, ES-330 etc...are very popular - the combination of the classic Gibson setup but with a hollow body offers a unique sound which makes it one of the most adored guitars around.
In this guide, we'll show you how to wire an ES-335 using our wiring kit. We'll be wiring it in the classic "Gibson" style using braided hook up guitar wire. It will also be in the popular "50s" style wiring. This wiring setup is pretty much identical to that of a Les Paul and as usual we'll take you through each step of the way - you can refer to the video above or read the full guide below. We recommend you get familiar with a wiring diagram and the video before starting. There is a wiring diagram at the end of the article - print it off or have a copy to hand too!
You will need:
- 4 x CTS 500k audio pots (short shaft)
- 1 x Switchcraft toggle switch (our kit comes with either the short frame or classic frame)
- 1 x Switchcraft 1/4'' jack socket (long thread)
- 3ft braided hook up wire
- 2 x capacitors of choice (we recommend 0.022uF)
- 3.5mm heat shrink tubing (optional)
- Wiring diagram
All of the above components are available from our guitar electronics range individually or in the form of a wiring kit.
- Wire cutters
- 60w soldering iron (preferably with adjustable temperature settings)
- Lead free silver solder
- Some sturdy cardboard/acrylic (for a template)
Tinning is Winning
As with each of our wiring guides, keeping your soldering iron tip clean and tinned, as well as tinning the wires and components is crucial. Use some brass shavings or a damp sponge to keep the tip clean and make sure to wipe of excess build up before making each solder joint.
Step One - Make a Template
The problem with the 335 model guitar is that there is no back control panel for easy access - so you'll have to do the wiring outside of the guitar. Using a piece of sturdy cardboard or plastic, make a template by placing it underneath the controls of the guitar and tracing the pot and switch holes. You can then drill these holes out to make an accurate template. Assemble the pots and switch as per the below photo - you can label each hole if need be.
Step Two - Grounding the Pots
Next, ground the unused lugs on the volume and control pots (exactly the same as Les Paul wiring). This is the outer lug of each volume pot from a birdseye point of view, and the middle lug of each tone pot. The easiest way to do this is to bend the lug onto the back of the pot casing and solder it in place. Refer to the below photo.
Step Three - The Toggle Switch
Moving onto the switch, we will use a combination of 3 types of wire: braided wire, standard cloth wire, and a bit of tinned copper wire (it is not as complicated as it seems!) As mentioned before, this wiring setup is electronically identical to that in our Les Paul wiring guide, it is just wired up differently. We will be using braided wire running from the switch to the jack, and a second length of braided wire which will be used to connect the 4 pots together and finishing up at the bridge volume control. Sounds complicated? Let's break it down...
Take a 10cm length of tinned copper wire (or remove the cloth from some cloth wire) and thread this through the ground lug of the toggle switch (this is the middle lug). If you are using heat shrink tubing, cover the completed joint with some tubing and shrink it down.
Next, take a length of normal cloth wire and connect this between the volume output lug on the switch to the neck volume output lug (the middle lug) as per the below photo. Again, use rubber tubing to cover the joint on the switch.
Take 2 lengths of braided wire - 1 length will run to the jack socket, the second length will run from the bridge lug of the switch to the bridge volume control (this needs to be a longer length, as it run around the outside of each pot to avoid showing through the f-holes! Push back the outer braid, reveal the inner cloth wire and solder to the lugs on the switch. The output to the jack lugs (there are 2) need to be bent together - make sure the wire goes between both lugs.
To complete the switch, we need to ground everything. Bend the length of tinned copper wire around the two braided wires, nice and snug but not too tight and then solder this in place. From this point on, the outer braids of each wire act as the ground wire (whilst the signal wire is the inner cloth wire).
Step Four - Connecting the jack
For the jack socket, it is very important to identify what the two lugs do. The inner ring is the ground lug, whilst the outer lug is the hot/signal lug. When it comes to braided guitar wire, we need to solder the outer braid to the ground lug of the jack and the inner cloth wire to the hot lug.
Start off by separating the outer braid from the inner wire - you can do this using a pair of fine nosed cutters and cut up the length (like a surgeon does when cutting a patient's trousers) or or by splicing apart the braid and pulling the cloth wire through. The separated braid needs to be twisted together and snipped off, leaving a small ledge approx 3mm long.
Solder the inner cloth wire to the signal lug of the jack - use a small length of heat shrink rubber tubing to cover the joint. For grounding, solder the protuding ledge of braided wire we created earlier to the ground lug. It helps if you tin the lug and the braid first. Refer to the below photos.
Step Five - Grounding
The beauty of working with braided guitar wire is that can use to ground all four pots together AND connect the switch output to the volume control using the same piece of wire. Ground the outer braid of the wire from the switch to the neck volume control. You can watch this video on how to do this.
The idea is to run the braided wire around the outside of the pots, grounding it to each pot along the way. This grounds the four pots together and by putting the wire on the outside, you avoid the potential risk of having wires visible through the f-holes once installed in the guitar. Cover the braid with 3.5mm rubber tubing between each pot if necessary (optional).
Repeat this process for each pot until you get to the bridge volume control. At this point, we will be grounding to the pot and connecting the inner cloth wire to the middle lug (output lug) of the pot. As we did earlier, either cut away or separate the outer braid from the inner cloth wire, twist the loose strands together and cut. The inner cloth wire then gets soldered to the middle lug of the pot, and the outer braid gets grounded to the back of the pot casing, as in the below photos.
Step Six - Capacitors
Install the capacitors in the same way for a Les Paul. In our setup, we are using the popular "50s" wiring. So your capacitor runs from the output lug of the volume control (middle) to the lower lug on the tone control. We are using 0.022uF which are typical values to be paired with humbuckers, but you may find using 0.047 or 0.033 will give you a better roll off. Use some rubber tubing to cover the capacitor leads.
That is how to to wire an ES 335 harness. We will do a video shortly on how to actually install this inside your guitar - getting everything through the pickup hole can be bit of a battle! In the meantime, here is a great video demonstrating a good way to install these types of kits in semi hollow bodies.
This is available as a prewired kit, ready to install into your guitar.