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String ground wire on Les Paul

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  • String ground wire on Les Paul

    I know that a bridge or "string" ground wire is important and is included on many electric guitars, but I don't see one in the wiring diagrams for a Les Paul nor is there anything shown on the plans for the one I am building. Do LP's usually have a ground wire to the bridge or tailpiece, if so how is it routed and how is it connected to the insert?

  • #2
    On some there is a hole that goes to the stud of the stop tailpiece. A wire is returned through a small hole in the control cavity.

    On others there is a ground wire that runs to the back of each pot.

    On others they use braided cable and use the shielding on the cable as a ground.

    So there are three different ways to do it. Good Luck!

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    • #3
      Yeah, pretty much that, with the additional note that ground is ground and everything should eventually connect to the ground lug on the output jack. The string ground is only there to help reduce hum, using your body to do the work. Some builders wire a cap and resistor in parallel to help minimize the risk of getting shocked. Running a wire from the cavity to the stop tailpiece bushing can be an adventure, but it can be done with a 1/8" aircraft bit and some protective shim on the back of the guitar.

      If you're using active pickups, then it's recommended to not have a string ground. On some guitars I've made, string grounding isn't an option because of the parts. For example, the black version of the Hipshot string through bridge is coated with a non-conductive paint or powder coat, so a string bridge won't work on it. The ferrules are also non-conductive, so the only thing I can do is to shield everything which isn't a bad idea anyway.

      Another option you have is to use a trapeze tailpiece or a Bigsby, then run the string ground from the tailpiece mount to the control cavity. That's an easy job with an aircraft bit. I usually stuff one end of the wire down the mounting screw holes in the tailblock, then check continuity with a meter.
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      • #4
        OK, thanks guys. The guitar is far enough along that drilling a hole from the cavity or the the channel from the pickups to either the bridge or tailpiece will be doable but a hassle. The problem is that I can't see how to connect a wire to either of the studs for the tailpiece or the bridge - these are the Gotoh 510. However if you think I need a ground here I'll get it in somehow.

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        • #5
          Some LPs have a string ground, some don't. My 77 standard does not, but I wish it did.

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          • #6
            The Gotoh 510 has bushings, so that's where you'd make the connection. It's possible to solder a wire to the bushing prior to installation, but I haven't done that. With my luck it would separate in the process of pressing in the bushing. I've just used a pressure contact between the bushing hole and the bushing, and they've maintained continuity for years.
            SPAM: Buy my eBook, "Beginning Electric Guitar Design". $4.99 and available at:
            Lulu Edition
            Kindle Edition
            iTunes iBookstore
            Nook Edition

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            • #7
              I bought a 94 Standard that came without a ground to the strings. Was basically unusable because of static noise and hum. For years I used a piece of string, stuck between the TOM and the bridge pickup as ground. I played her like that until she went into the techs for an unrelated issue, and he installed a proper ground from the electronics cavity to the bridge (or tailpiece) posts.
              Hey nonny nonny milord!

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              • #8
                On some there is a hole that goes to the stud of the stop tailpiece. A wire is returned through a small hole in the control cavity.

                On others there is a ground wire that runs to the back of each pot.

                On others they use braided cable and use the shielding on the cable as a ground.

                So there are three different ways to do it. Good Luck!


                im confused by this post

                your first answer is, in my experience, the correct one

                your second, ??? from WHERE to the back of each pot? the bridge or tailpiece? all pots need to be grounded, sure, but what does that have to do with bridge grounding?

                your third has me totally lost, as pertains to bridge grounding

                pardon my confusion, i just dont get it

                Comment


                • #9
                  The Gotoh 510 has bushings, so that's where you'd make the connection. It's possible to solder a wire to the bushing prior to installation, but I haven't done that. With my luck it would separate in the process of pressing in the bushing. I've just used a pressure contact between the bushing hole and the bushing, and they've maintained continuity for years.


                  This is how I do it as well.

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                  • #10
                    I'd definitely ground the tailpiece. The bridge is not so reliable as some saddles or the connection between them and the bushings is not always good (I have a TOM with nylon saddles!).

                    Have you fitted the bushings? If not you can solder the ground wire to the bottom of the bushing.

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                    • #11
                      On a lot of Gibson guitars I have worked on the wire is just folded up under the bushing for the stop bar.

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                      • #12
                        On a lot of Gibson guitars I have worked on the wire is just folded up under the bushing for the stop bar.


                        me too---all of them, in fact

                        still curious about your previous comments

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                        • #13
                          Some LPs have a string ground, some don't. My 77 standard does not, but I wish it did.


                          Something wrong with that. All Pauls should have them.

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                          • #14
                            There should be a ground wire that connects all of the pots, and then connected to the tailpiece or the bridge stud or bushing, you should have both. On my kit that I'm building, I was actually able to take a long drill bit and drill from the output jack hole through the cavity into the tailpiece bushing hole, it lined up perfectly, but yours may vary
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                            • #15
                              im confused by this post

                              your first answer is, in my experience, the correct one

                              your second, ??? from WHERE to the back of each pot? the bridge or tailpiece? all pots need to be grounded, sure, but what does that have to do with bridge grounding?

                              your third has me totally lost, as pertains to bridge grounding

                              pardon my confusion, i just dont get it


                              Ground is ground is ground. They all connect to the sleeve of of the jack.
                              It doesnt matter if its done via the back of the pot or a grounded cable sleeve.

                              The reason the strings are grounded is so when you touch it with your hands, your body
                              becomes a ground potential and the body being a fairly good conductor acts as a shield to absorb
                              AC EMF before it gets to the hot wires which act like antennas.
                              Your body absorbs the AC and carries it to the ground connection. It then passes through the guitar cable shield, to chassis ground,
                              and hopefully to the AC outlet ground, through the house wiring, to the service box then to a metal rod pounded into the ground.

                              Ground blocks magnetic radio emmisions. The ones most important to block are in the audiable spectrum from 10 hz to 20K hz.
                              AC is the strongest because thy are everywhere. You also have the pickup cpils that can act like RF coils in a radio.
                              Some pickups have just enough winds to make them amplify AM radio stations and CB radios. The fix for those is to add additional
                              shielding or a choke coil which detunes the pickup from picking up those radio frequencies.

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