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Grounding Question

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Perroid, Jul 3, 2014.

  1. Hello fellow TB'ers,

    I have a bit of a problem with my first J-Bass project. Here it goes.

    I've recently acquired a J-Bass body and my uncle had a spare MIM neck I could use so I figured I try to build my own bass. Except for one major problem: I'm a real novice when it comes to the electronics.

    Here's my problem, the body turns out to be modeled after a 60's J-Bass and it lacks a cavity for the bridge ground wire. And now I have no idea how to ground the bridge and pickups. The pickups are Dimarzio Ultra Jazz.

    Here's a pic of the body.

    Can you guys give me tips and maybe some schematics that would help me to ground and install the pickups? I will be using CTS pots and an Orange Drop capacitor for the control plate electronics. And I will also shield the body.


    Attached Files:

  2. You can ground the bass any way you want. It does not make any difference whatsoever, as long as every ground point is electrically continuous.

    As far as the bridge goes, you will either have to drill a hole, or ground it with a copper strip, as is traditional of '60s Jazz basses. You should be able to find one on eBay.
    AlarmClock314 likes this.
  3. LoveThatBass


    Jun 28, 2004
    Perroid, I once had the very same problem on a bass. What I did was take a small diameter drill bit and drilled at an angle from under the bridge (as close to the edge of the bridge as possible and still covers the wire) down to the bridge pickup cavity and ran my wire to the control cavity via the bridge pickup cavity. The best spot to drill toward would be where the pickup screw area of the pickup fits as it is the closest point to the bridge. You only need 1/8" or smaller drill size. Hopefully you can find one long enough. If not you will have to do what I did and attack it from both ends but if you do that use a slightly larger diameter bit when drilling from the pickup cavity toward the hole from the bridge so you hit it easily. Might use a piece of painters tape from the cavity to the bridge as a sighting guide along it's edge. It is much easier than it sounds. Just take your time, ok
    AlarmClock314, Perroid and petrus61 like this.
  4. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    Don't all traditional Fender bodies have a bridge ground route? Were there years this wasn't done?
  5. LoveThatBass


    Jun 28, 2004
    Yes, the bass I was referring to was an SX I believe. No longer have it as their necks flex to much
  6. Nope. The early ones had ground strips. See Jaco's Bass of Doom, for instance.
  7. So I just solder a conducting piece of wire to the bridge and run it along to the output jack where it's supposed to be soldered? Anyway, thank you for the pointers! I will ask my uncle if he has a powerdrill with small drill bits.
  8. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    Ah yes. Forgot all about that.
  9. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    Here's an image of how the ground strip was utilized on early 60's/RI jazz basses, if it helps:
    Just a copper strip that I imagine connects to the bottom plate of the bridge pickup?
  10. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    petrus61 likes this.
  11. Are bottom plates supplied with pickups? Because my Ultra Jazz pickups didn't come supplied with one. Hopkins, thanks for the tip! And also a thank you to all the other guys! This has helped me a lot so far. I've already bought some copper shielding tape and new screws to fit a new pickguard and I had already bought the control electronics. All I need now is a new control plate and some strap buttons but I think I'll go with Dunlop Straploks.

    Another thing I was worrying about: are the Ultra Jazz pickups harder to install because of the four wires? I've seen that most pickups are just connected with two wires.
  12. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    No, as far as I know only Fender supplies the ground plates with and they come wired to RI and current AmStd pickups. Not sure many other, if any companies still do. They aren't really necessary in a properly grounded bass from what I've read.
  13. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Really? I always though it looked kinda cool in an old school kind of way, like a panhead looks slicker than a shovelhead.

    But yes, if you want to drill a hole for a hidden ground, you need an aircraft or bell hanger drill bit.
  14. I fully shielded mine and ran a 22gauge wire from the pickup cavities to the control cavity soldered the wires from each cavity to the copper tape and covered the connection with black tape all clean and hidden
  15. No matter how hard you try, solder is not going to stick to a bridge. The bridge is supposed to sit on top of either the copper strip, or a piece of wire with the strands fanned out.

    It definitely looks sloppy. I can understand it for '60s instruments, because manufacturing was a bit more crude in those days, but it just looks silly now. The redneck approach, if you will.

    Nobody uses those things, except to be vintage-correct. They don't do anything, and that's why Fender abandoned them long ago.

    Four conductor wiring means that at most, there is one extra solder joint to be made, per pickup. Hardly a more difficult install.
    Perroid likes this.
  16. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I have an UltraJazz in a P/J setup. The UltraJazz is not designed for a bottom bridge plate. It has the ceramic magnets on the bottom instead, all encased in the epoxy you see when you turn the pickup upside down.
  17. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    For what it's worth, Fender reissues have the routing done for a ground wire, they just use the strip to be period correct. My Jaco relic already had a route from factory.
  18. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    One thing I'd advise if you are going to drill a hole for a bridge ground wire. First, use a bigger drill bit, something like 3/8", and drill straight down underneath where your bridge goes (avoiding the screw holes, of course). You only have to go down about 1/8" or so. Then, use that hole as the starting point for your wire hole. That will help you to avoid the possibility of damaging your bass by trying to drill at an angle and having the drill slip.

    The other thing it will do is give you some room to solder, if you choose to do so. What I do to ground a bridge is lay down a copper tape foundation that is the same shape as the bridge, just a hair smaller. That gives the bridge a stable platform. Then I run the bridge ground wire, and I solder it to the copper tape. The hole that is in place for most bridge routes allows me room to solder the wire to the tape, which gives me a 100% secure connection without the risk of something under the bridge acting as a pivot point, creating a less stable bridge.

    The bridge screws going through the copper tape also helps the ground connection.
    Perroid likes this.
  19. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I guess it just looks like a bandaid for an over thought to me.

    I agree on the panhead vs shovelhead thing though.
  20. Fernando Costa

    Fernando Costa

    Aug 4, 2013
    Aguilar uses. See the plate screwed down, and the 3 wires.


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