If you're sick of calling in a professional every time your electric guitar has a problem and you'd rather keep it in good, working condition yourself, a digital multimeter is the ideal troubleshooting tool. You can use this simple, affordable device to test for a variety of problems with each part of your guitar, avoiding the need for costly repair services. Here are three of the best ways to use one.
1. Testing Your Pickup
The pickup is one of the most important components of any electric guitar, responsible for converting the vibrations of the strings into full, accurate sounds. Of course, it needs to be in full, working order to do that. Whether you need to test the existing pickup on your guitar or you're buying a used pickup, and you want to make sure it works first, a multimeter is the best tool for the job. To test a pickup, all you need to do is turn your multimeter to the ohm (Ω) setting, then touch the red probe to the pickup's primary wire and the black probe to the pickup's ground wire. Your multimeter will give you an impedance reading that you can compare to manufacturer's handbook to tell whether the pickup is in good, working order.
2. Testing Your Cable
If you've set your guitar up to play a session only to find you have no signal, troubleshooting the problem can be a nightmare. In most cases, the problem is the cable, but how can you check that unless you have a spare cable to hand? The answer is with a multimeter. Just set your multimeter to the continuity test setting (often marked by a symbol which looks like speaker waves) and touch one probe to each of the cable's plugs. If there's a connection, your multimeter will produce a solid tone. Make sure you jiggle your cable around a bit during testing to see if there's a short in the wiring.
3. Wiring Your Switch
If you need to wire a new guitar switch and you're planning on taking on the task yourself, use a multimeter to make things easier. Instead of having to map out the switch wiring in advance, you can just set your multimeter to continuity and touch the probe to your wiring. When the circuit is closed, the multimeter will produce a solid tone (the same sound as a working cable produces).