#1
Countless people on these forums ask how to ground their guitars, what to ground them to, if they need a ground wire, etc. So I've decided to be nice today and help you guys out. And if it's confusing, which I know it is, feel free to ask questions.

Let me begin by explaining what grounding is. It's an electrical term, and it's used in almost all electrical devices, including electric guitars, amps, lamps, computers, remote controls, iPods, cell phones, corded phones... Anything that has an electrical current flowing through it.

But what really is grounding? Basically, electricity moves from a higher voltage to a lower voltage. So if we had a wire like this:
9V----------------0V
The current would flow from the 9V end of the wire to the 0V end (because 9V is higher than 0V). And the 0V shown here is usually the ground. Ground is basically the point in a circuit with the lowest voltage (and for all you that know there's more to it, this is just basics).

Using a battery, for example, you could connect the positive end to one end of a lamp, and then the negative end of the battery to the other end of the lamp. The current would then flow from the positive end of the battery through the lamp towards the negative part of the battery, and the only reason the current moves is because it's flowing towards the negative end of the battery (because the positive end has a higher voltage than the negative end). The negative end is called ground. Without this ground, no current would flow and the lamp wouldn't light up.


In a lamp with a plug that you plug into the wall, you see there'll be two (or sometimes three) prongs sticking out. For simplicity, I'll explain the two. One of them carries the current while the other prong is the ground prong (and again, know-it-alls, this is just for simplicity). The current comes from the wall, goes through the prong, into the lamp, comes out of the lamp at the other end, and travels towards the ground prong, because it's a lower voltage (0V) than the current coming from the wall (in the US, 110V).

Now how about guitars? Well, the pickups also have a + and a ground wire too. Basically, the pickup's ground wire is ultimately connected to the output jack. Standard guitar cables have two conductors running through them: a hot wire and a ground wire. The hot wire carries the signal, and the ground wire carries the ground. By plugging the cable into the output jack, you connect the guitar's ground wire with the ground wire inside the cable. And that cable is then plugged into the amp's input jack, where the ground wire inside the cable is connected to the amp's ground. In other words, the ground from the pickups would be connected to the amp's ground through the cable. And the amp is plugged into the wall, with a ground wire going to the ground (as in the ground you're standing on) which is 0V.

In that image, the green line represents the ground coming from the guitar, going through the cable, into the amp, and finally out of the amp to the wall socket. So technically, the guitar is grounded through all of these things.

And so "where" do you ground a guitar? Just connect everything that has to be grounded to the ground lug on the output jack. The pickups need to be grounded, the backs of pots need to be grounded, and the bridge needs to be grounded.

Some pictures to help explain some stuff:
http://img156.imageshack.us/i/dsc00435aj.jpg/
As you can see here, there are four holes through which wires are fed to various parts of the guitar. The very left one has wires going to the pickups. The one to the right of that has the bridge ground wire. That's basically a wire soldered to the bridge to ground the strings. Next to that are the battery wires (you'll only have a battery if you have active electronics. If you don't have one, just assume you have passive electronics). The black one is the ground wire. And hard to see, but at the very right, there are two black wires going to the output jack. The thin one is the wire connecting the battery ground to the guitar's ground using a stereo jack. The thicker black wire actually contains two wires: a ground wire and a wire carrying the signal.

http://img22.imageshack.us/i/dsc00437rg.jpg/
This is a potentiometer (pot for short). The backs of pots should be grounded, hence the blob of solder on the back.

(And of course the mandatory guitar pic: http://img156.imageshack.us/i/dsc00450qt.jpg/)

Hope this helps explain stuff a little bit, or at least help you understand why grounding is so important.

Edit: Anything to add/change, and was this threadworthy?
Gear:
Schecter Hellraiser Deluxe
Boss DS-1
Crate GTD65

GAS List:
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster
Last edited by asfastasdark at Sep 12, 2009,
#2
Totally threadworthy. I actually need to go through and ground my guitar soon.
Probably a nice idea to show the different parts being grounded. Like a photo or diagram showing the wires from the pickup, wires from the pots, stuff like that. Usually if you dont know what a pot is you probably wouldn't know what to ground.
Remember, a picture is worth how many words again?
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#3
Just wanted to add that these points we are calling "grounding points" and other associated terms are just a pathway of conduction. This is how I see it...

I remember a long time ago when I was rewiring my first guitar to put a new pickup in. I thought I don't understand how these grounds attach back to the ground/earth to protect me.


It is all a pathway/network. Our guitars ground to the shield of the output jack/cable ultimately. This shield of your guitar cable is then also connected to our amps chassis in some way. Our amps chassis have those AC mains safety grounds (you know the green wire on the three prong plug!). This in turn is connected throughout our houses. Finally that ground network path/signal makes it's way somewhere outside to some electrical panel/area. Here there is literally a stake in the earth, this is ground...


EDIT: In two prong plugs there is no ground lug. (that is the issue with all those sweet vintage amps). The two plugs are the live and neutral, no ground. They should have a ground lug for safety reasons.
Last edited by kurtlives91 at Sep 12, 2009,
#4
Quote by kurtlives91
EDIT: In two prong plugs there is no ground lug. (that is the issue with all those sweet vintage amps). The two plugs are the live and neutral, no ground. They should have a ground lug for safety reasons.


I know, but could you explain what exactly the neutral plug is then?

And @Chaos: I'll put up some pictures soon.
Gear:
Schecter Hellraiser Deluxe
Boss DS-1
Crate GTD65

GAS List:
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster
#5
Quote by asfastasdark
I know, but could you explain what exactly the neutral plug is then?

And @Chaos: I'll put up some pictures soon.


Current flows from hot to neutral. Neutral is like the negative terminal of a battery, it not a ground connection.
#6
Quote by XgamerGt04
Current flows from hot to neutral. Neutral is like the negative terminal of a battery, it not a ground connection.



+1 If you ran the voltage to ground as the TS states, your electronic device wouldn't work, because it would be grounded out.

If you put voltage to a ground, your gonna blow a fuse or circuit breaker. Or worse.
And on a 2 prong plug, one isn't the ground. The third prong, that is rounded, is the ground. Not all electronics plugs have that ground. Not all sockets have it either. Especially in older houses. You should delete this thread before you get someone electrocuted by following your advice.
Last edited by Matt420740 at Sep 12, 2009,
#7
Added some pictures. And Matt: I didn't say to directly connect a voltage to ground. And I'd leave before I electrocute you for marching in here and making up things I didn't say.
Gear:
Schecter Hellraiser Deluxe
Boss DS-1
Crate GTD65

GAS List:
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster
#8
Quote by asfastasdark
Added some pictures. And Matt: I didn't say to directly connect a voltage to ground. And I'd leave before I electrocute you for marching in here and making up things I didn't say.



No you didn't say directly connect voltage to ground. You said voltage flows to ground. Which is what happens if you have a short circuit in your amp. Not under normal operation. Your also wrong about the lamp. "The current comes from the wall, goes through the prong, into the lamp, comes out of the lamp at the other end, and travels towards the ground prong, because it's a lower voltage"

If you ran the current from the lamp into the ground you would trip a breaker in your fuse box. And the ground isn't a "lower voltage". It is the ground. There is no voltage there whatsoever. I build tube amplifiers as a hobby, as you can see one here - https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1158541&highlight=cakepan+tube+amp

I'm not trying to be a$$. I just don't like to see misinformation spread. You should delete this thread. If it was correct info it would be great. Buts its not.
#9
I've already told everyone in the thread that it is simplified, beginners' information. Jesus. Christ. Of course there's more to it but I'm just explaining the basics.
Gear:
Schecter Hellraiser Deluxe
Boss DS-1
Crate GTD65

GAS List:
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster
#10
this is somewhat helpfull.
i do havea question.

in some strats and some squiers why is one of the grounds for the pots soldered to the back of the tremolo claw?

thats how it was on my friends guitar and i wondered why.
any info?

im also fixing his guitar lol. im putting in new pots and im not sure whether to try to reground it back or just leave it.
Classical Guitarist
#11
Reground it if the pickups are not active. If you don't you may get some buzzing. There still may be light buzzing after that, but its usually much worse if you don't ground the bridge.

i think this is due to the strings possibly picking up electric signals, but I am not sure entirely why it is.
Last edited by XgamerGt04 at Sep 13, 2009,
#12
It might help to put how to ground al the different kinds of bridges, seen a few threads on that lately.

Ex: TOM, hardtail, trem
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