Joe Barden Pickups — The Ultimate Installation Guide

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This article will discuss how to install a few different types of Joe Barden pickups into your guitar. Joe Barden pickups can suit virtually any guitar, and a long list of well-known players use them, including Bruce Springsteen, Danny Gatton, Jimmy Thackery, Kevin Eknes, Ted Turner, and many more. You can find Joe Barden pickups at many locations around the United States, or you can order them online. Almost all Joe Bardens feature rail-style pickups instead of the more common steel or magnetic posts.

Before you Begin

While this guide intends to show you how to install the many types of pickups that Joe Bardeen makes, we didn’t create it as a step-by-step guide. To get the most from this post, you will need to know how to follow the wiring diagrams we present. The article also assumes you have the equipment required and have experience using it. If you need a step-by-step tutorial, we recommend checking out one of the many pickup wiring articles we have here at Humbucker Soup.
Vintage Stratocaster Wiring

Joe Barden makes a single-coil size pickup suitable for replacing any stock single-coil pickups, including those in a Fender Stratocaster, which typically uses three. Fender tunes each pickup to sound best in its position, so Joe Barden also created a set called the S-DELUXE for Stratocasters, which supplies the bridge, middle, and neck pickups; these special pickups are all humbuckers, rather than the traditional single-coil. These pickups use two coils to provide more punch with less noise, while retaining a trace of the typical single-coil sound.

Here’s the wiring code to install these pickups.

Joe Barden Wiring Code

· Black = HOT
· Red + white = soldered together and taped off
· Green + bare = soldered together and GROUND

We’ve illustrated this wiring code for you in Example 1.

Example 1

Once you have the wiring code, you can install the Joe Barden pickups the same as any two-wire single-coil using the HOT and GROUND. We’ve illustrated a popular way to install these pickups into a Fender Stratocaster in Example 2.

Example 2

Vintage Telecaster Wiring

Joe Barden makes two sets of pickups for the Fender Telecaster, named the Gatton T-Style and the Modern T-Style. Both models are direct replacements for the pickups in your Tele or any guitar where you need that vintage, twangy tone. The Joe Barden telecaster models are mini-humbuckers, similar to their Strat pickups.They use the same wiring code.

We’ve illustrated how to install these Joe Barden pickups into your Fender Telecaster in Example 3.

Example 3

Vintage P90 Wiring

The next pickup we’ll look at in our Joe Barden pickup installation guide is the P90. Joe Barden also makes a set of P90s called the JBE Soapbar that have a vintage look and sound, but with Joe’s modern take on them. These pickups use the rail style poles, and unlike vintage P90s that use a braided wire, these pickups use a special wiring code where the white wire is HOT, and a black and bare wire is the GROUND.

We’ve illustrated how to install Joe Barden P90s into a Gibson Les Paul style guitar in Example 4.

Example 4

Humbucker Wiring (4-Wires)

Joe Barden makes several versions of the four-wire humbucker to swap out on your Les Paul, SG, or any other guitar that uses them. Joe Barden’s humbuckers include the Two/Tone, JBE Tron, and the JBE Jag.

Each of these humbuckers uses the same wiring code as all of the others, except the P90s. We’ve illustrated how to install these pickups in a Gibson Les Paul-style guitar in Example 5.

Example 5

Humbucker Coil Splitting (4-Wires)

Since most Joe Barden pickups are humbuckers, we thought it would be a good idea to show you a simple mod you can perform with them. The coil-split is one of the more popular modifications that result in at least one extra tone, and more often, two extra tones. If you split the bridge pickup, you’ll get an extra tone in the bridge and middle pickup selections on your switch.
To split the coils, you’ll first need to convert one of your tone controls to a push-pull pot. The push-pull pot is identical to a standard pot, but with a built-in switching mechanism that you activate by pulling out and pushing in the shaft. You’ll beginwiring the pot the same way you would for a normal tone knob. See Example 6 for an illustration of the push-pull pot installed.

Example 6

Once you have the push-pull pot installed, you can complete the modification by connecting the red and white wires to the switch and adding a short ground wire from the switch to the tone pot’s back. We have illustrated these final connections in Example 7, and hopefully, you can see how you would complete this modification for any of Joe Barden’s pickups.

Example 7


We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these unique pickups and found our illustrations useful. Changing pickups isn’t hard and can improve or alter your tone quite significantly. The standard pickups in a Fender or a Gibson can sound great out of the box, but if you want to personalize your tone, new pickups are the best way to achieve it, and Joe Barden pickups are a great place to start. You may also want to upgrade your pots from 250k to 500k when you change from single coils to humbuckers.

If you know someone with these unique pickups who could benefit from this article, please feel free to share our Joe Barden pickup installation guide on Facebook and Twitter. For more articles on guitar electronics, visit

Our resident electronics wizard came by his skills honestly — first as an apprentice in his father’s repair shop, later as a working musician and (most recently) as a sound designer for film. His passion for guitar led him to Humbucker Soup, where he continues to decode the wonders of wiring and the vicissitudes of voltage. Ed has never taken his guitar to a shop — he already knows how to fix it.