How Easy Is It To Install A Loaded Pickguard?

So you’ve got a Strat and you want to upgrade the pickups and electronics, but you hate the idea of having to solder all of the connections? The Seymour Duncan Loaded Pickguards for Strat® are exactly what you need. With the Liberator solderless pots installed on most models, the Loaded Pickguards make changing your pickups and electronics a breeze.
I wanted to test out how easy it actually was to install one of these pickguards, but to make things more difficult I picked the YJM Fury Loaded Pickguard – the only model not to feature a Liberator (because it features the YJM High Speed Volume Potentiometer where the Liberator would usually be). Lets break it down and see what’s involved with installing the pickguard.

Open up the box and you’ll find the Loaded Pickguard filled with YJM Fury goodness, and an installation instruction sheet.

Turn it over and you’ll see a really well wired-up setup. So much neater than what I could do myself! So lets get onto it.

First thing you need to do is take your existing pickguard off. This is nice and easy with a vintage six-hole Strat bridge. If your bridge is floating, it might help to remove the tremolo springs and loosen the strings a little. If it’s set flush against the body, you’ll just need to loosen the strings. Remove all of the screws holding your pickguard on and carefully lift the pickguard away from the guitar body.
You might not have much length in the wires running to your output jack, so it’s best to remove the jack plate and de-solder the wires there before you remove the pickguard. De-solder the bridge and body ground wires (if your guitar has one) from the back of the volume pot. The whole pickguard should come away from the guitar now.
Loaded Pickguard
Get the new Loaded Pickguard and solder the bridge and body ground wires to the back of the volume pot.
Loaded Pickguard
Run the black and white output jack wires and connect them to the tip and sleeve lugs on the output jack.
Loaded Pickguard
Place the pickguard and output jack plate back in their respective resting spots and screw all the screws back in. Pop the bridge springs back in place, tune up your guitar and you’re ready to go!
It really is that easy to radically transform the sound of your Strat and replace the pots and switches with high quality parts in around 15 minutes. All you need is a screwdriver, soldering iron and solder, and maybe something to help you put the bridge springs back in place. The YJM Fury pickguard would be the most complicated model to install due to the lack of a Liberator solderless pot, but even so it’s still a cinch to install. So if you’ve got a Strat with pickups that just don’t inspire you, and electronics that just don’t quite feel up to the job, and you really don’t want to spend ages soldering up heaps of wires, give a Seymour Duncan Loaded Pickguard for Strat® a go.

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  1. Funny, I recently installed a DiMarzio HS pre-wired pickguard to replace the stock one in a 2011 American Standard Strat…and a couple of the holes were a bit off. It was a little easier to deal with the wiring, which thankfully is solderless. Ah well…

    1. There’s a few different hole configurations on stratocasters, most of the time it’s a doddle to just drill new holes (which in turn will be covered up if you decide to go back to your old pick-guard 🙂

  2. Replacement re-wired pickguard plates a great idea The only problem is most plate are not an exact replacement for the pickguard you are replacing. Screw holes are never in line, neck width is verry often the wrong size and the new plate will not refit the guitar easily, Modifying the plate can be a bigger job then fitting pickups into your own pickguard you can always get pickups fitted to your on guitars pickguard by a professional guitar tech your guitars own plate is guaranteed to fit. No hassle.

    1. Or you could just un-mount the pickups and pots and stick them in your existing pickguard??

  3. guitars are one of the simplest instruments to work on. Learning how and why your guitar makes the tones it does is just as important as practicing the scales. Pre-loads are great for the novice, but no guitarist worth their salt would go that route, unless the parts worked out costing significantly less in a package than individually.

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