For many people, learning to play guitar is only half the battle. Once you've mastered the basics and maybe even developed your own style, you need a sound to set you apart from the rest. There are numerous amp and effects pedal combinations that can help in this regard, but swapping out the pickups on that cheap guitar for better quality ones can add a whole new dimension to the way the instrument sounds. Seymour Duncan has introduced a new system that not only helps guitar technicians to swap out pickups in record time, but also means that bedroom guitarists needn't become a skilled soldering iron operator. All you need is a couple of screwdrivers, and maybe a pair of tweezers.
For guitarists serious about tone, changing the pickups that are supplied with shop-bought models is a fact of life, although any player who wants to open up a whole new world of sonic color will benefit from the process. The only problem is that, in addition to learning to play an instrument, undertaking such a task means that you also need to learn to solder properly. Seymour Duncan is now offering some relief, in the form of the Liberator Universal Solderless Pickup Change System for guitar and bass.
The bare wire lockdown system has been integrated with a high quality volume potentiometer. Since there's no proprietary connectors, the system works with just about any manufacturer's passive pickups. With the new volume pot installed in a guitar, you'll need to thread the wire of the newly purchased pickup through to the inside of the instrument's body.
Sort of akin to a studio patch-bay for pickups, the Liberator Solderless Pickup Change System features a bank of ten station pickup connectors and four station potentiometer connectors. The former corresponds to the connections of two humbucking pickups and the grounding shield wire. The color coding follows Seymour Duncan's own wiring scheme, but the company has included a color guide to help with the installation of single coil pickups, combination installations and products manufactured by other companies.
The bare wires or tinned ends from the pickup leads into the appropriately color-coded connector, and are clamped into place by turning the screw head with a mini screwdriver.
The pot stations link up to the input, output and ground lugs, and the remaining station provides an additional ground for bridge or tremelo systems. If you or your guitar tech simply insist on undertaking some soldering, then the stations can be bypassed in favor of gold-plated solder points... but apart from justifying the cost of a soldering iron, why bother?
The Liberator product page features a video showing Seymour Duncan's Frank Falbo swapping out a pickup on a beautiful dayglo yellow Ibanez git-fiddle in around two minutes. It's said to offer a more secure connection than the plug-in options from the likes of EMG, and removes the worry of making a mess of the solder joint.
The Liberator Solderless Pickup Change System with volume pot is available in 250kiloOhm (typically used for single-coil setups) and 500kiloOhm (for humbuckers) flavors for a retail price of US$35.
The company – which celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2011 – will be expanding the system next year to include pre-connected volume and tone wiring harnesses and pre-wired pickguards.