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drilling pickup lead tunnels...?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by klocwerk, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    Ok, so maybe I'm an idiot, but how do you drill the holes from the control cavity to the pups/bridge? Because you sure aren't getting in there with a drill press...
    Handheld with a right-angle adapter?

    someone enlighten me please!
  2. all my basses have figured tops, so I just route the body core before glueing the top. If your body does not have laminated tops, just use a long drill bit (1/4" or less diam) and drill at the smallest angle you can to the face of the body.
  3. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    Yeah, I'll be working with a solid body.
    So you think it's just a matter of doing the lowest angle you can with a long thin(ish) bit?
  4. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    Just a tip:
    I would drill from the pup cavities and bridge area to the control cavity rather than the other way around. It seems a bit easier to hit the large area from the small.
  5. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    Makes sense, also you have the whole length of the pickup cavity to reduce your angle...
  6. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    Disclaimer: I am not a luthier.

    Definitely start from the large cavity, for reasons of angle.

    Consider using a flex shaft tool or right-angle drill or drill adapter to get the drill bit in there closer to perpendicular.
  7. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I've always drilled from the pickup cavity for what was mentioned above, the cavity is long and you can get a pretty low angle, especially if your cavities line up horizontally on the body. Also, the depth at which the hole enters is more critical on the pickup cavity. If the hole is too high you won't have room to run the wire between the pickup and the cavity (unless there's a large space between them). In the control cavity there is no real need for it to be at any specific height.
  8. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    I use a very long drill bit. I drill from the pickup routes, the bridge location (which has a counter sunk hole predrilled) and the battery box location to the control cavity. I also have a thin piece of masonite handy to lay the drill bit against so I don't accidently grind into the body with the drill bit shaft if my drilling angle gets too shallow.
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    This is a rather important thing - to protect the edge of the pup cavity from the drill. I almost ruined a pice due to that - yuck!
    And always start drilling from the end where placement is most important. In this casse, usually the pup cavity.
  10. "aircraft" drill bit. 12" long. 1/4" diameter, or smaller if you can find it. From either the control cavity to the pickup pocket, or like Warmoth does, from the neck pocket all the way to the electronics cavity. Watch your angle, make a jig if need be, it's not rocket science. work it slow, back the bit out occasionally to clear everything out.

  11. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    wait, from the neck pocket?
    You mean they drill from the neck pocket, through the pickup routes, to the electronics cavity?
    hunh. interesting...
  12. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    i bought a 12" drill bit (3/16") from Lowes for a couple of bucks. works like a champ.

    i start from the pick up routes and drill to the control cavity. as was said before back the bit out often. and go slowly, the length and thinness of the bit allow it to wander a bit.
  13. bwbass


    May 6, 2002
    No. We often drill from the neck pocket straight through all 2 or 3 pickup cavities to connect them, and then drill from the last one to the control cavity separately. Never the other way around - I would advise against trying to hit the pickup from the control cavity side. If you miss this way, you've got a hole in the top next to your pickup. :bawl: The other way, which is easier anyway, the worst that can happen is a hole in the back.

    We use very long aircraft bits to allow a very shallow angle. If you try drilling with a normal-length bit, you have to use a steeper angle to keep the chuck from hitting the body, which increases your chances of missing the target.
  14. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Nah, that doesn't happen...does it? :bawl: :bawl:

    Thank God for dowels...
  15. Yup, I've drilled from the lower corner of my neck pocket through both pup cavities to connect them, then used the channel from the last pup to the control cavity for the wiring for both pups. Worked great.

    And the long bits are available from Home Depot too!
  16. I apologise for the misleading, improper wording. I only noticed this method (starting from the neck pocket) on a LP special body I worked on from them...and yes, it's two seperate drill paths. Again, sorry for the misinformation on my part...I trust I wasn't instrumental on destroying a piece.

    Sorry about that.

    And as for the start at the control cavity comment, I've had alot of success with that (4 sucesses, no failures) may not be the norm, but it was a solution I tried first when making a drill path to pass the piezo-leads from a tune-o-matic style t-bridge to the control cavity....worked like a charm! I made it look nice overall by milling down a spare threaded-post-ferrule...looks like it was meant to be there...

    , then again, I made angle-specific drill jigs (drawn / mapped out on CAD to ensure clearances) to guide the bit...keept it straight, and I always knew where the bit will show up on the other side.

  17. I used the 1/8" version of that same bit, and let me tell you, it DOES wander! Drilling from the bridge, to ground it, to the control cavity, about six inches across... it came out the back. The angle it went in would have had it come out in the contol cavity about an inch deep, but it went out the back of the 2-inch body instead!

    I'd be scared to use even a 3/16", honestly. 1/4" should be fine, though.

    I use a battery hand drill.
  18. blakeck2


    Jan 26, 2009
    Simi Valley, Ca
    Does the drilling effect the sound of the bass?
  19. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    You dug up a 3 year old thread in the luthier forum to ask that?

    The drilling will affect the sound of the bass far less than not having pickups...

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