How much thought do we give to the guts of our guitars? The wire that connects all the other parts that we pay so much for. C’mon, I’m not the only one that’s hit the Radio Shack (well, until recently! lol!) to get whatever wire was handy for a wiring project? Wasn’t it handy to find the multipacks of different colors?…nothing like the wiring looking cool and color coordinated! lol! Well, actually, yes it is, but more on that in a second.
There are a lot of schools of thought on hookup wire. Some look at solid or stranded. Some look at the wire gauge. Some look at the material. Not many look at it all. We think about the hundreds of dollars spent on pickups and the $20+ for a quality switch and the $10+ spent on nice pots. But most of us are guilty of ignoring what connects it all.
A buddy of mine suggested Tefzel wire. It’s a military spec wire used for high stress and reliability situation, most generally in aviation and aerospace. The copper wire is plated, making it easy for solder work. I picked up some from the nice people at Skygeek. The shopping cart of their site was on the fritz that day, but they were super helpful when I called in to place an order. They also have a few gauges to choose from, with multiple colors. At $0.10/ft, the minimum 100′ qty was very easy on the wallet. The shipping fees have a little bit of a sticker shock, but I checked around a lot and it’s in line with the other outlets I found.
For my test subject, I went with an Epiphone Les Paul that’s had a history of being a littler dark and muted, so keep in mind that we’re talking about a LOT more wire than you’re garden variety super strat. I’d already installed some nice Bourn pots and an awesome set of Mojotone pickups and a Switchcraft switch and jack, so I knew there could be nothing else in the way of what I was about to do. Having picked a few colors to work with, it was easy to keep track of what was going where and doing what.
Once back up and running, it was a noted improvement. It really opened up the signal more than I expected, releasing a level of nuance I’d not previously heard from all the other high quality parts loaded into this guitar. What I previously struggled with as a smidge on the lifeless side has been revealed as a new machine, full of character and a more expressive voice.
Tefzel wire might not be ideal for everyone, but giving a second look at what you’re using for hookup wire might very well turn your tone around.
Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas