Drilling out pickups?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Dan Loader, Jul 6, 2003.

  1. Im rennovating a bass that a friend of mine has donated to me. It's quite old, probably 60s - 70s.
    I've already had to drill out a screw to get the scratchplate off, but I'm facing a much harder problem - the 4 screws for the pickups have had their head's worn off.
    I've tried drilling them out, but all that's done is melted the plastic pickup covers. I've also tried hacksawing a groove in one so I can use a normal screwdriver, but with no luck.

    The pick ups are fairly good, so I don't want to break them out.

    Has anyone ever experienced this problem? Could anyone help?
  2. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Let's give the luthiers a try... moved.
  3. I would mount it securely in my drill press and use a new sharp bit to drill them out. If the heads are rounded making the bit wander, I would touch the head up a little with a Dremel bit to give the bit a flat spot to bite into.

    Of course, if you don't have a drill press you'll have to CAREFULLY drill them out by hand. (If the bit is burning, not drilling, you have a very dull bit.) Buy a new decent-quality bit, use a small one. You may still use the Dremel a tad to give the bit a flat spot to start on.

    Other option is to just grind the head off with the Dremel but that will generate a lot of heat.
  4. Would it be a bad idea to hacksaw off the screwhead and then plier them out? The pickups are on standard springs, so I can push them down and use a saw.
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Why even bother cutting the head off? Get a pair of vise grips and take 'em out that way.
  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    If the vise grips work, great. Otherwise, if you can push the pups down out of the way, and have room to safely get a hacksaw or a Dremel cutter head in there to cut off the screw heads, it sounds like a good idea.

    My concern is that when you then use pliers to remove the remaining stud, you should be careful so that you get the whole screw out. If you break it off at the wood, it will be even more of a pain to get that little tip out.