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How easy is it to drill through a bridge?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Peter Weil, Jan 28, 2006.


  1. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I'm looking at retrofitting a Graphtech piezo system to my Lakland DJ4, but the wires from the saddles need to run through the bridge to the control cavity.

    Anyone have any idea about how easy it is to drill through the bridge's baseplate? If it's potentially too awkward, I'll have the majority of the work done by a guitar tech, or take the bridge to a machine shop (if I can find one....).

    Just wanted to see if anyone had any ideas.


    Thanks in advance.

    Sincerely,
    Peter
     
  2. fookgub

    fookgub

    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Drill a small pilot hole first, preferably with new (sharp) drill bit. Do this while the bridge is on the guitar so you have some markers for the channel you'll need to rout. Then take the bridge off, go buy yourself a stepped drill bit (ie: Unibit), aand enlarge the holes. Don't use the highest speed available as the bridge will get very hot, and you could burn your fingers. A drill press would be helpful, but you really don't need it.
     
  3. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I would do this off of the bass. Most bridges have a chromed brass baseplate, and they are not too hard to drill. I do agree, though, that a drill press would make short work of it. Also, start small witht he drill bit. A unibit would be too large for the small wires that these piezo systems use. You may also want to use a countersink bit or a small round file to get rid of any rough edes that may be created when drilling. You don't want to cut up the wires for the saddle piezos.
     
  4. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Thanks guys.

    I presume I would need a 'metal' drill bit vs a drill bit meant for wood or masonry.

    What's a 'stepped' drill bit? Or, for that matter, a 'Unibit'? I'm in the UK, remember, so US brand names don't necessarily have the same meaning over here....

    Completely agree with the comment about using a countersink bit. No way I want to have my piezo wires chopped off at the knees, as it were.

    I will definitely do this off the bass; I plan to screw the bridge to a nice bit of spare scrap wood for ease of drilling.

    Peter
     
  5. JAUQO III-X

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    CHICAGO,IL.
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Contact Lea Rawlings at Graph Tech,I'm sure he can be of help with your dilemma.

    lea@graphtech.com
     
  6. fookgub

    fookgub

    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    True, but you have to get the connectors through the hole, too, and they're fairly large. I guess he could drill a small hole, then connect it to the string through holes on the bridge. That way he could fit the connector through the string through holes, then slip the wire back into its proper hole.

    As far as drilling while the bridge is on the guitar, you can always mark the channel later. When I did this, I found it convent to drill the pilot holes while the bridge was installed. Definitely don't do any major drilling while the bridge is installed though, as you'll melt the finish on the bass when the piece heats up.

    EDIT: Unitbit is the brand name in the US for a stepped drill bit. They are cone-shaped drill bits that are graduated to allow you to drill different sized holes. They are awesome for drilling metal because they don't tend to tear or pull burrs up (especially awesome for thin sheet metal). They also allow you to de-burr the hole by drilling a small countersink with the next graduation on the bit.
     
  7. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Fookgub,

    Have you installed this system yourself? I'm considering drilling one larger central hole as compared to four smaller ones in order to install the system.....if you've already had to install the system, let me know about how you tackled it.

    Jauqo,

    I've spoken to Lea @ Graphtech before and found him very helpful. I'll chat to him again. Thanks for the tip.

    Thanks for the help guys.

    Pete
     
  8. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    At some point I will post pictures and a (?separate) thread of the installation process also, if anyone else wants to take this kind of project on.

    Pete
     
  9. JAUQO III-X

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    CHICAGO,IL.
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Pete,your'e very welcome
     
  10. fookgub

    fookgub

    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Yes, I have installed the graphtech system before. I left the bridge on the guitar, and drilled a small pilot hole in front of each string through hole in the bridge. Then I screwed the bridge to a piece of scrap, and enlarged the holes using my Unibit. I made the holes large enough for the connectors to fit through. I don't remember how large the holes ended up being, but I think 3/16" is a good guess. I used my dremel to rout a channel under the bridge by "connecting" the pilot holes, then I drilled a hole from the channel to the rear pickup cavity.
     
  11. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Thanks fookgub. Very helpful response. Sounds like I will be doing something similar.

    Any chance you could post a photo of how it turned out?

    Pete
     
  12. fookgub

    fookgub

    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Well, the guitar is off getting its frets levelled right now, and I probably won't have it back for a week. I could take a picture after that, but there won't be a whole lot to see. I'm not going to want to take the bridge off right after it's got a fresh setup.
     
  13. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    God heavens, don't take the bridge off!

    I just meant how the final finished article came out looking!

    That should be OK, shouldn't it?

    Pete
     
  14. fookgub

    fookgub

    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Sure, I'll take a picture of the finished product for you. Just give this thread a bump in a week or so to remind me.

    By the way, if you haven't decided on a preamp yet, I recommend the Graphtech one. It's got a lot of options, and was dead simple to install.