Enlarging a pickup route help.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BornboreD, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. I'm trying to drop a set of Fender Original Jazz Pickups into a MIM Jazz I'm fixing up. And yes, the bass is from 2000 and therefore has the smaller than normal bridge pickup cavity.

    How do I go about enlarging it in both an accurate and aesthetically pleasing manner?? I have never done anything like this before and have next to no tools. Is there a way to do this easily and cheaply???
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    If you're good with tools and VERY careful and patient, you may be able to use a Dremel tool with sanding bit. You'll have to tape over the surface and be extra-careful not to end up with finish damage if the bit slips. You will also have to re-paint the sanded area.

    A router is the best, most precise way to do this, but you don't have one.

    Hand tools? Chisels and such? NO, NO, NO. You might as well carve it out with a Bowie knife and destroy the body cheaply.
  3. Yeah, I don't have a router or dremel. The clearance I need is so minimal (like 1/16 or even 1mm of each end) that I was hoping not to drop cash on tools for this one task.
  4. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    Go to Harbor Freight, on line or even better a store if you have one nearby. You can get a dremel clone for cheap. A LOT cheaper than messing up your bass! They even have cheap routers (I think), but if you have never used one, I'd stick with the dremel/sanding bit. Or pay someone who kows what they are doing (and already has the tools). This would probably be your best option. You could probably get it done RIGHT, for the cost of buying tools.
  5. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    Even if you have a full-blown router and a template, it is almost impossible to make a nice looking route enhancement in something not covered by a pickguard or a pickup ring. Some paint is likely to flake off and even if not, you definitely lose the paint "around the corner".
  6. Grissle


    May 17, 2009
    I've done it using files, round and flat, just takes awhile.
    flojob likes this.
  7. Was just about to post saying that the task was completed with a rat tail file, sandpaper, and great caution. :)

    It really is just a matter getting through the paint on either end of the cavity.
  8. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    Yeah, I wouldn't think a dremel is a good idea. You don't need to remove much material and the dremel can take stuff off fast.

    Hand files will be the safest and cleanest.
  9. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown

    Feb 16, 2011

    A pro will have a router template (and router) which will make a nice neat hole the right size and depth. To avoid a complete refin, mask it off and paint it with flat black.

    Unless the pro is famous the price will absolutely be cheaper than you can buy the tools to do the job.
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses

    If you take your time with a dremel tool you can get very good results.

    Even with a routher be slow and careful.

    Buy a cheap squier or SX to practice on.
  11. There is no way to do this in an aesthetically-pleasing manner. There will be gaps, unless you choose a different pickup shape altogether, such as a soapbar.
  12. Immigrant

    Immigrant In Memoriam

    This is true. If you've never Dremeled or routed before, it's easy to mess it up. They can drift. The first MIM neck pocket I widened looked like I had a convulsion mid-route.

    It's a MIM poly-coated beast also. That stuff chips off like mad. The good thing is if you only need to remove 1/16th or so, you may be able to sand that much off without going all the way through the poly.;)
  13. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Caveat: Router and template is the way to go.

    This can be done with hand tools. Here is how it is done.

    1. Remove pickguard and any hardware that is in the way.
    2. Mask top to finish lines.
    3. Using a fine tooth file, create a bevel from the masking tape into the cavity.
    4. Using a fine tooth rat tail file, do the same in the corners.
    5. Using a SHARP chisel, pare the wall at the line to the bottom of the cavity.
    6. Using a SHARP gouge, do the same at the corners.
    7. Remove masking tape.
    8. Reinstall pickup.
    9. Reinstall hardware.

    Sharp means incredibly sharp. That means creating a finer edge than a double edge blade used in a safety razor. If you do not know how to sharpen a chisel to a fine edge, take it to a professional.

    Additional caveat: This is a job for the seriously handy only. If you are not a regular tool user do not attempt this job. If you think changing a tire is working on your car, store your chisels in a drawer with other tools, or that installing a replacement window is fine woodworking, seek professional help.
  14. It has nothing to do with how you do the routing. The mounting tabs on Jazz pickups are in different locations for neck and bridge sizes. There will be gaps from the old mounting tabs, no matter how well you route.
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    And don't forget that after you make the change, you need to re-paint the cavity. Black paint and a good steady hand with a fine-tip artist brush will get it done.
  16. This task has already been completed. Used a rat tail file, sandpaper and a lot if care to basically remove the paint from both ends of the cavity. Gave me the perfect clearance. Sharpied it back to black. And you can't even really tell. Just waiting for my shielding tape and wiring kit to arrive so I can complete the job.
  17. J Posega

    J Posega Cat Dad and Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    You can do it with a chisel, you just have to have a little more skill and sharper tools than the average hackjob.
  18. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Line 6 man is absolutely correct. If it is a MIM Fender with the two short pickups, no matter what you do the gaps around the pickup will not look right if opened up to fit a standard long/short set.

    As far as routing through a poly finish and it flaking off. You guys must have extremely dull bits. I have routed many P basses for bridge pickups. I havent once had a problem with the finish flaking off.