How to Properly Install an Output Jack on your Guitar

Installing an Output Jack is an essential skill to have under your belt. Installing it wrong, however, can give you a literal headache. At Fralin Pickups, we wire Switchcraft® Output Jacks on our Telecaster Control Plates all the time. This guide will teach you how an output jack actually works, so you never need to Google a diagram again.

To understand how an Output Jack works, it’s best to start with the guitar cable. The cable sends your pickups’ signal through your amp and speaker, and part of the signal to Ground. Let’s take a look at a guitar cord and dive in:
How to Install an Output Jack
On a cable, the Tip is the “Hot” signal – your music. The Sleeve is the Ground signal that contains unwanted noise from your guitar. Also, there’s a black plastic piece separating the two. Wiring the Output Jack backwards would reverse these – not what you want to do! Follow the following diagram to show you how to install this effectively:

How does it Work?

When you insert your guitar cable, the guitar cord is slid through a metal tube. This tube is the Sleeve, or the Ground connection. Also, when you insert your cord, you should notice a “snap”, securing the cord in place. That “snapping” feeling is the tip of the guitar cord locking in to the Tip Arm (pictured below). The Tip Arm is completely separate from the rest of the Jack, being sandwiched between two layers of Phenolic.

There are a few things going on when you insert your guitar cord. The Sleeve is coming in contact with the Metal Tubing, and the Tip is locked in to the Tip Arm. Now that you know how it works, you can easily identify the correct way to install the wires.


Installing the jack is very simple, but there’s a few important steps to perform before you begin. Before you install, it’s important to do two things: 1.) pre-tin your terminals, and your wire. 2.) put a kink in the tip of your wire to create a mechanical connection. Creating a mechanical connection will ensure a strong connection.




To install: 

  1. Install your White wire on your Tip terminal.
  2. Install your Black wire on your Sleeve Terminal
  3. Give yourself a pat on the back!

We hope that this guide is useful to you. As always, more to come! Thanks for reading.


  1. Thanks Tyler. I suddenly realised when faced with this task (after 50 years playing) I didn’t have a clue what went where and more importantly WHY. Nickey Stepehenson’s comment and your answer also explained the wiring on my Gretsch guitarlele and Ibanez mandolin.

  2. Stagg electric ukulele. 1 white wire, 1 red wire, 1 black wire. Please , where do these wires attach on my new output jack. Please help me. Thank You so much.

    1. Hey Nickey,

      White Wire would be Tip (Hot) Black Wire would be Sleeve (Ground), and Red might be a battery? If you have a battery in your Uke, that might be the culprit.

      If that’s the case, you need an Active Output Jack, with 3 terminals (Tip / Ring / Sleeve). The Ring connection would be where the Red goes.

  3. Thank you Lindy for your tips ! – Jim, 64 year old engineer General Motors , 50 year player. I learned a lot just from your basic tips that I wish I new a LONG time ago. JD Jones Lake Wales, Florida

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