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Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

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Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby seriousnewbie » Sun Nov 08, 2020 6:10 am

Alright, so I am clearly a newbie when it comes to the internal parts/wiring of guitars. I have this old electric guitar that I found in my basement that has been there for an unbelievable amount of time, so I decided I would attempt to take on the task of giving it a makeover. One of the things I had to do was replace the bridge, so about 20 minutes ago I took off the bridge, without doing research first :headbang:. Also, I don't have any of the parts that I am replacing yet, I was removing the bridge because it was practically a clump of rust. Anyway, when I removed all of the screws and removed the bridge, I noticed a wire peaking out (I think it might be a ground wire, but I am not sure). So I came here to ask what the hell it is. It wasn't cauterized to anything, and the bridge from before didn't have a tremolo bar or anything, so I came here because I can't figure out where the hell it was/is supposed to go/do.

This guitar has one humbucker pickup, so it just has a tone and volume nob. I was under the impression that the wires went from pickups-nobs-guitar output, I guess I was under the wrong impression.

Thanks for reading, I know I have a lot to learn, but I still appreciate all helps and general tips.

P.S. I learned my lesson, and I won't replace anything on my guitar without doing research first.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby Music Wolf » Sun Nov 08, 2020 9:06 am

It's a ground. Somtimes they're soldered to something like the trem claw, sometimes they are just held mechanically by the bridge.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby Luke W » Sun Nov 08, 2020 11:45 am

As above, it is indeed a ground/earth. It makes sure the bridge and strings are connected via the guitar cable to the amps mains saftey earth.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:55 pm

There was and maybe still is some debate as to whether such a wire is entirely safe. It does put the player in intimate contact with amplifier ground and so if there was a fault, live to chassis...AND no trips or fuses operated the srtings would become live. But, you are not dead yet. You would then have to grab an earthed object, most likely a microphone.

That such a sad scenario has played out I have no doubt but it does require a very unfortunate and rare combination of circumstances. If the strings are not bonded and the fault occured the jack plug and any metal on the scratch plate, knobs, screws would be live anyway and the unaware player only inches from copping a packet.

I have read of a suggestion to use a capacitor instead of a sold wire? I tend to think a cap of sufficient nFs to cut hum down would still pass a potentially lethal current ?

These days, everyone and everywhere should have RCD protection and so I say keep the wire...But! Get you own RCD if you gig!

Dave.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby resistorman » Sun Nov 08, 2020 3:32 pm

ef37a wrote:There was and maybe still is some debate as to whether such a wire is entirely safe. It does put the player in intimate contact with amplifier ground and so if there was a fault, live to chassis...AND no trips or fuses operated the srtings would become live. But, you are not dead yet. You would then have to grab an earthed object, most likely a microphone.

That such a sad scenario has played out I have no doubt but it does require a very unfortunate and rare combination of circumstances. If the strings are not bonded and the fault occured the jack plug and any metal on the scratch plate, knobs, screws would be live anyway and the unaware player only inches from copping a packet.

I have read of a suggestion to use a capacitor instead of a sold wire? I tend to think a cap of sufficient nFs to cut hum down would still pass a potentially lethal current ?

These days, everyone and everywhere should have RCD protection and so I say keep the wire...But! Get you own RCD if you gig!

Dave.

It can be dangerous, though it used to be a lot more so as you point out. I know a guitar player who was almost killed at a festival because he touched his mouth to a mic while holding his guitar. I used to do a quick check by touching my guitar or bass strings to the mic. There were a few times when there was a spark and some cursing from the FOH about the resulting bang through the mains, though I think a thank you would have been more appropriate.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Nov 08, 2020 3:41 pm

It is possible to get a static build up causing a tingle from a mic when you touch your lips to it while holding a guitar without it being a fault per-se. That may well cause a pop through th PA too. Either way these days I do take my own RCCD and socket tester* though (and it's almost always my own PA rig as well as backline).

* Or will do when we eventually get back to gigging...
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Nov 08, 2020 4:17 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:socket tester

Has proved itself most useful in the last few years for me by highlighting issues before setup. Gets somebody on the case while we stand around looking expensive.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby seriousnewbie » Sun Nov 08, 2020 4:44 pm

ef37a wrote:There was and maybe still is some debate as to whether such a wire is entirely safe. It does put the player in intimate contact with amplifier ground and so if there was a fault, live to chassis...AND no trips or fuses operated the srtings would become live. But, you are not dead yet. You would then have to grab an earthed object, most likely a microphone.

That such a sad scenario has played out I have no doubt but it does require a very unfortunate and rare combination of circumstances. If the strings are not bonded and the fault occured the jack plug and any metal on the scratch plate, knobs, screws would be live anyway and the unaware player only inches from copping a packet.

I have read of a suggestion to use a capacitor instead of a sold wire? I tend to think a cap of sufficient nFs to cut hum down would still pass a potentially lethal current ?

These days, everyone and everywhere should have RCD protection and so I say keep the wire...But! Get you own RCD if you gig!

Dave.

Alright, thank you for the reply and for the info, although I am still a little confused, and a little scared tbh. The main words I heard from that reply were "you might f*** die if you do the wrong thing". There are no strings on the guitar as of right now, my goal is to pretty much replace everything on the guitar except for the body and neck. I am pretty sure that before the wire was connected to nothing. So where should I connect the wire when putting a new bridge on? Should I just leave the wire alone? Also, this guitar has not been played by me at all, neither has it been hooked up to an amp since I retrieved it. I didn't even want to try it because the guitar has been in a basement and/or attic and not being used for probably at least 15-20 years.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Nov 08, 2020 5:06 pm

This has migrated from a simple guitar wiring post to a gig safety post. All the advice WRT electrical safety on gigs is good and stuff you should consider when giving but don't get scared about it, whatever you do to this guitar will not put you at risk of injury or death (at least no more than any other guitar you plug into your gig rig).

WRT the wire, it will originally have been connected to the bridge simply by being clamped between the metal of the bridge and the wood of the body when the bridge was screwed down. When you restore it do the same thing and you'll be fine. The purpose of the wire is to connect the strings to the earthing in the guitar to reduce electromagnetic interference being picked up by the pickups or wiring.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby seriousnewbie » Sun Nov 08, 2020 5:11 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:This has migrated from a simple guitar wiring post to a gig safety post. All the advice WRT electrical safety on gigs is good and stuff you should consider when giving but don't get scared about it, whatever you do to this guitar will not put you at risk of injury or death (at least no more than any other guitar you plug into your gig rig).

WRT the wire, it will originally have been connected to the bridge simply by being clamped between the metal of the bridge and the wood of the body when the bridge was screwed down. When you restore it do the same thing and you'll be fine. The purpose of the wire is to connect the strings to the earthing in the guitar to reduce electromagnetic interference being picked up by the pickups or wiring.


There is no possible way to describe how much you just took off of my shoulders, thank you. So I can just leave the wire alone and when I put the bridge now it will be connected to the bridge and the guitar wood, and Ill be safe? just double checking :D
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby zenguitar » Sun Nov 08, 2020 5:14 pm

And when you refit the bridge, trap the wire in a slightly different place than it was before. That will give you a better connection.

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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 08, 2020 6:09 pm

seriousnewbie wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:This has migrated from a simple guitar wiring post to a gig safety post. All the advice WRT electrical safety on gigs is good and stuff you should consider when giving but don't get scared about it, whatever you do to this guitar will not put you at risk of injury or death (at least no more than any other guitar you plug into your gig rig).

WRT the wire, it will originally have been connected to the bridge simply by being clamped between the metal of the bridge and the wood of the body when the bridge was screwed down. When you restore it do the same thing and you'll be fine. The purpose of the wire is to connect the strings to the earthing in the guitar to reduce electromagnetic interference being picked up by the pickups or wiring.


There is no possible way to describe how much you just took off of my shoulders, thank you. So I can just leave the wire alone and when I put the bridge now it will be connected to the bridge and the guitar wood, and Ill be safe? just double checking :D

Sorry to have caused you such anguish! The fact is, almost al electric guitars AFAFAIK have such an earthing wire anyway so you are no worse off.

In the grand scheme of things that can kill you, death by electrocution must come very low, at least in EU as a result of very stringent safety regulations. Then, modern equipment is very safe and things like moulded cables and plugs and RCDs make accidents very, very rare. We must of course always be ever watchful and anyone who gigs often (when possible again) should have ALL their equipment PAT tested once a year.

Dave.
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Re: Electric guitar bridge has wiring going to it, why?

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Nov 08, 2020 7:04 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:This has migrated from a simple guitar wiring post to a gig safety post. All the advice WRT electrical safety on gigs is good and stuff you should consider when giving but don't get scared about it, whatever you do to this guitar will not put you at risk of injury or death (at least no more than any other guitar you plug into your gig rig).

Fair point.
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