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Drilling holes for the neckplate in the heel of the neck

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassist22, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. bassist22


    Mar 16, 2007
    I have a mighty mite jazz bass enck with a rosewood fingerbaord. These necks come with a satin finish i believe.
    However they do not come with the neck plate holes already drilled. how deep do i drill the hole? do i use a drill bit which is 1 size smaller than the actual hole?
    The headstock of the neck also doesn't come with the tuner machine attaching holes (4 for each tuner). Can i just line up the tuners and start drilling? How deep do i go?
    Can i just drill away at the neck and not mind the satin finish?
    I am planning to re-lacuqer the back of the neck

  2. first...tape off your work, so you don't damage your finish...

    for the neck holes...use the neck screws (all 4 at once in the body, to line up your holes by "pressing" them to create indents on the back of your neck...do this only AFTER you've made sure that your neck is in the correct position in the pocket....a couple of bits of string through the bridge and through the nut slots makes this an easier task...

    once the indents are made...take your neck and drill holes using a drill press the diameter of your screw SHAFTS (not your screw threads)....depth is CRITICAL as not to go too deep, but deep enough to take the screw into account.

    remember the body is effectively clamped by the neck and the neck plate. therefore, no screw should catch in the body holes....

    to drill your tuners, place them carefully...tape them down, and drill TINY little pilot holes...tape will hold the tuners AND protect them at the same time.
  3. BassBronson


    May 27, 2007
    Las Vegas, NV
    Endorsing Artist: GK amps, Kahler Tremolo, Monster Cable
    well if possible have your local repair shop do the work. if not, then here's some tips...I'm a certified luthier so you can trust me.
    for the neck holes you should use a size 22 drill bit with the screws in the body, line up the drill bit next to one of them and mark the bit with some tape wrapped around it. the idea is to drill in slightly shallower than the screw so that the screw will really grab the neck when it's screwed in. the tape will help to keep you from drilling in to deep.
    for the tuning keys you should use a ruler or straightedge to line them up so that they'll all straight and then use a drill bit to make indents on the headstock itself. move the tuning keys and use a drill bit a size or two smaller then the screw itself and use the same tape technique as before. just make sure the hole is still shallower then the screw itself.
  4. bassist22


    Mar 16, 2007
    does the wood crack/split if i dont drill deep enough and start twisting and inserting the screws?
  5. it could...most of all, it will be really hard to insert the screws cleanly...

    but what bassbronson says is true...what you should do is go a turn or two shy of the screw's shoulder...
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The tuning machines should be installed before the neck because they are crucial to lining up the neck correctly. Here is how to do it. Install the tuner and bushing lightly. Take a machinist square or other small square to line up the tuner so that the shaft is perpendicular to the sideline(s) of the headstock. Mark the tuner screw mounting holes. Repeat with each tuner. If the size is not included in the installation instructions, determine the proper size drill bit by comparing drill bit shafts to the shaft of the screws by holding them up to a light source. The threads should be proud of the silhouette of the drill shaft. Determine the depth of the hole by inserting a screw in a loose tuner plate and measuring. Then flag a drill bit with a piece of masking tape to this depth and carefully bore the holes paying close attention that the drill bit is at a ninety degree angle to the headstock. Respect the flag or the drill bit may exit through to the front of the headstock. Lube the screws with some beeswax or soap before installing the tuners. It is always best to install the screws first to allow the screw to cut (press) threads into the wood and then installing the tuners.

    Once the tuners are mounted, install the neck by inserting it into the neck pocket and clamping with a suitable clamp so that the mounting holes are accessible from the rear of the body. Install the outside strings, on a four string the E and G, and snug up until they are just straight. Sight the neck and measure the margin from the outside of the strings to the outside of the neck at the body end of the neck. On a Fender style guitar it is typically an eight of an inch. What is important is that the margin is even on both sides. This ensures that the neck is now aligned to the centerline of the body. Mark the holes on the neck by taking a drill bit that just slips into the body mounting holes and rotating against the neck. Again, it is important to use the drill bit shaft to determine a slip fit in the body holes. Remove the strings and unclamp the neck. Using the same method cited above, determine the proper size drill bit for the neck mounting screws that you are going to use. Again, flag the bit to the proper depth. Bore the neck holes as outline above. Start the screws the same way, too. Mount the neck and string up the guitar.

    Some caveats for these procedures: All of the boring is best performed on a drill press because it is easier to keep the holes perpendicular to the mounting surfaces. When inserting wood screws into a "threaded" hole in wood, good and tight is just snug. Any more and the screw will strip the threads out of the hole. This is especially important on the tuner screws, the purpose of which is to stop the tuner from spinning in the hole when bringing the string to pitch, not to hold the tuner in the headstock. Most importantly, assess your skill level before attempting a project of this complexity. If you are good with your hands, experienced with wood working tools, and used to working to tight tolerances, this is about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes of work. If you are not this guy, please consider taking your guitar to a pro. It is critical that neck mounting be done correctly the first time. If it is not correct the holes must be plugged and bored again. It is frustrating for the coffee table luthier and more expensive to take to the repair shop.
  7. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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