Different Types of Jacks

As I devoured the internet to build myself new associations…

I’ve prepared a wonderful two-piece resource for you. We’ll go into different types of jacks, wiring your guitar jack, input, output, the lot!

… so now I can split this page into two great areas:

  1. Learning About the Four Types of Jacks
  2. Understanding Guitar Jack Wiring

Because when it comes to guitar jacks, these are the main building blocks.

Onward, noble steed!

Every guitar has an output jack, just like every vehicle has a set of wheels. And as there are different types of wheels and rims, so are there different types of jacks. Here are the four big ones to refer to.

  • Mono: Used when you’re playing on the lion’s share of guitars with passive pickups.
  • Stereo: Which guitars use stereo? Turns out to be the ones with stereo outputs or active pickups. The main difference between active pickups vs passive pickups that I’ve found is that amplifiers play a more important role than passive pickups.
  • TRS (tip-ring-sleeve): Want to dive deeper with two independent sound sources? That’s where we’ll come across TRS’s.
  • Power: A combination of one of those mentioned above combined with a preamp. From what I’ve read, the main takeaway is not to have jacks be an issue. And then stand out by using other technical add-ons like overdrive pedals. Imagine the shredding on those, huh? Hurray!

Learning about the four different types of jacks

To see where all the work my pickups and switches do come together? I had no idea. Turns out it’s the jack. When I first came across the idea of different types of jacks, I had to sleep on them. Multiple nights. But your brain may connect the dots faster than mine. If you have more background information than I did, go through the four types with that in mind.

The Open Jack

They call them open jacks because they don’t provide any protective housing compared to the enclosed jacks. Mainly found on an electric guitar with a passive pickup, like some of the Ibanez’s or Les Pauls.

The Enclosed Jack

Word on the street is that manufacturers install enclosed jacks on their cheaper guitars. They tend to wear out faster but aren’t unwise when buying a “first” for yourself. If you’re looking for quality, the internet recommends the open jack. If you’re working with a low budget, don’t rule out an enclosed one.

The Barrel Jack & The Flange Jack

Barrel jacks replace the endpin. You know, that’s the area where the strap meets the bottom end of the guitar body. That’s how the signal passes from your single-coil or P90 pickups to the endpin.

Another thing: do you recall those Takamine guitars made of well-seasoned woods? Well, those use flange jacks. At this point, I’m not entirely sure what the main difference is, so you’ll have them right here as a combined category for now.

Guitar Jack Wiring

What’s your plan? Must have a plan. Are you keeping the wiring that’s already there while replacing the socket? Or do you want to do an entire make-over? It depends, you know. Opening up your guitar, and I’ll bet you you’ll see different types of wire. If not, let me know!

Ok, so what you’ll see is three types of wire. One is plastic coated, and one is what they call ‘push-back’ wire, and the third one is similar but braided.

Guitar players with cheaper guitars probably find more plastic coated wire. Look at which one you have and take it from there.

But wait! There’s more!

The Mogami Gold Guitar Jack Cable is 3ft, 6ft, 10ft, 18ft, and 25ft.

This one got my heart racing when I read the report that read, ‘Trust me, you’ll hear the difference’. One of the guitar players used to play good and strong cables but upgraded to an 18ft Mogami. And he hears a noticeable difference. Just imagine what it’s like playing on a cable that’s not high quality. That’s like looking through dirty windows. As we have our windows cleaned every once in a while, so do we buy a new cable, every once. The sound of the Mogami Gold Cable seems clean and dynamic.

The Vintage Forge Black Oval Guitar Jack Plate; Fit for Side Mounted Jacks

If you want top-notch electronics for every single ax you own, then consider Vintage Forge’s Black Oval Jack Plate. People report back that they use this exact type on all kinds of Fender builds. And if it’s good enough to put on a Fender (by a large percentage!), then it’s very likely your next worthwhile purchase.