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Adding a J to my P question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bassgod76, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I took my old Mexican Fender P Bass and have hot-roded it with a new bridge, tuners and electronics. I'm also going to add a J pickup in the standard bridge position behind the P pickups.

    Obviously I want to take my time with placement of this piece before routing. Does anyone know the common distance that Fender uses in P Bass specials from the top edge of the bridge, to the bottom of the J pickup? I'm thinking it's around 1 1/2", but I'm a newbie with guitar modification. God, I hope that makes sense.

    Also, I assume the edge of the bridge is a good place to get a correct horizontal level for the J pickup?

    Any advice on this operation would be most helpful.
  2. BatRastard


    Mar 18, 2008
    Santa Fe, NM
    Hey bassgod, I just joined this forum in part to ask this question!

    I am thinking of upgrading my stepson's Squire P-bass and may add
    the jazz pup to it. I went to the Squire site to see how they do it
    on their J-P and it looks like it is 1 1/8" above the bridge. I got this by
    lining up a piece of paper to the gap between the bridge and j-pup
    and by my mark it is the same as the p-pups are wide ... 1 1/8".

    Hopefully someone will chime in soon with more accurate info,
    perhaps even a bassgod with capital letters!:hyper:

    You may want to check out stewmac for routing templates:

    How are you planning on wiring it in? Two volume pots or a blend pot?

  3. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
    Check the Warmoth site. They may be able to help. Good luck
  4. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I saw the stew mac template, but I'm not sure if it would match the EMG pickup measurement. Are J pickups all the same size? I have no idea. I was just going to make my own template.

    I'm just going to wire it the way EMG has it in the directions which is two volumes with one tone. However, I'm going with 18 volts on this.
  5. doktorfeelgood

    doktorfeelgood layin' it down like pavement Supporting Member

    I'm not a luthier, but I've done a fair amount of work on my own instruments within my own capacities as someone who used to make a living as a cabinet maker. Maybe I can help you out a little here.
    I don't know what the specific spacing would be from the P pickup, but if you call this number at Fender in Scottsdale
    800-488-1818 and ask for tech support, whom ever answers I'm sure will be able to answer that question.
    If you really want to attempt this job yourself here's what I would tell you...I would not recommend it. As you have stated, you are a "newbie" to these kinds of modifications and it's a tricky job, especially if you've never done it and don't have a lot of experience working with the tools. And one that even with my experience as a cabinet maker and knowledge of the tools involved, I would not do myself. Swapping out tuners, bridges and sometimes pickups is not too difficult if you have any mechanical apptitude because all of the layout work and routing is already done and if you have basic soldering skills. And the layout work for the router template for a J pickup might be easy enough, but when that router gets turned on, you only get one shot to do it right and if you screw it up, the body could be trashed. I'm not trying to discourage you, but this is one of the tougher jobs to do.
    IMHO, you should pay a competent luthier who will guarentee the work to do that job. You might spend a little more, but it would be well worth it.
    If you do attempt it, I wouldn't use the bridge as a reference because sometimes they get installed at a little bit of an angle. I would use the back edge of the route hole for the rear section of the P pickup (not the pickguard) for a reference line.
    I hope this helps and is not too confusing... )-(
  6. BatRastard


    Mar 18, 2008
    Santa Fe, NM
    From what I've seen from different sites, the Fender/Squire pups run the same dimensions.

  7. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I appreciate your opinion. I know a luthier who could do it and my battery box rout for $80.

    In the mean time, I want it all set up as far as measurements go, so the luthier is only spending time with the router.

    My dad is an experienced wood worker, has tools and experience. Just not with guitars.

    I will also check my measurements since I used the bridge as reference.
  8. xchristopherx


    Mar 22, 2008
    i want to put a MM style pup in a P i recently got my hands on. i am interested in how this is going to work out. please let me know how it goes.
  9. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    This is my update. I contemplated about having a luthier complete the routing. However, my dad has a nice Porter Cable router, and I do have some mechanical know how. For godsake, I used to fix the F-15 in the military! So, I talked myself into it. I went to StewMac, and bought the J pickup bridge routing template.

    While waiting for my order to arrive, I began working with my dad's router. Getting used to how it functions, and its limitations. Of course I practiced on a piece of scrap wood.

    When my template arrived, I was surprised at the high quality of StweMac's template. Not only is it laser etched, but it has vertical and horizontal guide lines.

    The template fit the pickup, perfectly. So, I decided to practice on a piece of scrap wood. I soon discovered that a spinning router tip contacting a plexiglass template is a recipe for disaster. After this misstep, I was sure to let the router stop spinning prior to pulling it off the piece.

    After my first attempt at J pickup routing, I discovered that the router template bit collar was 1/32" bigger than the actual cutting bit. This resulted in a cavity that was slightly smaller. The pickup wouldn't fit in this size cavity, so I tried various ways to increase the hole size. I first tried a technique of moving the template around the piece, but it made the corners messy. After three attempts at this stupidity, on a fluke, I tried moving the template up 1/16", and then down 1/16". It totally worked! I practiced this procedure two more times until it looked like a computer routed out this cavity.

    After a week of trial and error, I was finally ready to rout the real thing! I was scared, so I measured again and again, and again. This was it. No turning back now. Right away I noticed how nicely the guitar's wood peels off. I finished and it looked great. The only snafu I had was when I was removing the template via double sided tape. I was using a flat scraping blade to pry the template away and put a 1/4" gouge above the cavity. It's going to be a black guitar, so I wasn't too concerned. Some wood putty and sanding will remedy that.

    I also routed the battery box. I made my own template. Do yourself a favor and buy the StewMac battery routing templates. They will look nicer than anything you can fabricate by hand. However, the batery box has a nice mounting lip that hides any deffects.

    All I can say is practice, practice practice before touching the real thing. Also, a good router makes a world of difference. I will post pics, tomorrow.
  10. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    two important things to know when routing cavities:

    1) pre-remove much of the material at a drill press using a Forstner bit. in the case of a J pickup, make sure your bit is smaller in diameter than rout finished routing dimension - and leave about 1/16" of room at the edges.

    I tape the area where the cavity will be routed, trace the template outline onto the tape, carefully score around the edge with a razor knife, remove the tape from the cavity area, drill out most of the material leaving 1/16" on the sides and 1/8" in depth, accurately secure the template into location, and then clean up the cavity with the router.

    2) template bearings come in different diameter sizes! if the template you are using is larger than the bit diameter, you most likely have the plywood rabbiting bearing (plywood is alyways slightly smaller than the nominal dimension) ... a bearning should be the same size as the bit diameter, and they are cheap. get the proper bearing instead of moving around your template

    all the best,

  11. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    Thanks for the advice, but it's done and my method didn't work too badly. In fact, I'm quite proud that I didn't destroy my guitar. While I hope to not be doing more routing in the future, it is good to know that I do have the ability to accomplish such a feat of daring.

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