I screwed my screws!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Grubble, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Grubble


    Nov 25, 2012
    Hi all, been looking all over the internet and cannot for the life of me find a solution to my problem!

    I have a casually played, 6 year old Epi thunderbird goth, and have been trying to remove the pickups. The first 2 screws came out fine but the other 4 are being right B@$!@£%$!!! I think epiphone used the softest metal in the world for these screws.

    I have 2 that have just started to round off, but the neck pickup was so far gone that i resorted to drilling them out.


    Even with the heads drilled out, I cannot seem to lift the pickup over the screw bodies, it's as if it is glued to the guitar body! I have searched for the past 2 days for info but have come up with nothing.

    I cannot even find a simple picture of what the humbucker looks like out of the body so I can see what I'm dealing with! Anybody point me in the right direction or have a solution?

    Cheers guys, Gaz
  2. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Can you work the tip of a pair of needle nosed pliers over what is left of the screws to unwind them, or are they too far down in the pickup mounting hole? If there is compressible foam or still compression length of the mounting springs under the pickups, you might be able to push the pickups down far enough to grab what is left of the screwhead this way.
  3. Arial Bender

    Arial Bender

    Oct 28, 2012
    Largo Fla.
    I just happen to have mine apart to install Hipshot bridge, so heres a shot. No stock springs I added my own.
  4. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    You always have to use the right size screw driver.

    If you can cut the heads off you can pull the pickup over the screws and then extract them with a pair of locking pliers.
  5. If the screws were not put in perpendicular to the cavity, perhaps the pickup cannot lift out. Think of those brass paper fasteners, for instance, but with a much less extreme angle.
  6. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Welcome to the wonderful world of bass pickup screws. I don't know why it is, but it seems ALL pickups screws are soft like that and in spite of using brand new screwdrivers to extract them, they STILL always seem to have a few get chewed up. That's why I always have new screws handy and never put the old ones back in.

    I say, come on, people! Just how much money is involved in pickups screws? What can you be saving by making them out of butter? What can some nice hardened screw heads that won't chew up actually cost?

    What gives?
  7. Grubble


    Nov 25, 2012
    SUCCESS I have them out! Thanks for all your replies, and the pictures were really useful. What had happened with the neck pickup, the foam had backed up on itself, maybe on factory installation, and had stuck itself to the body! Brute force and ignorance sorted it out, not for the first time.

    Now to clean everything, tidy up the wiring/soldering and fit me some more screws... Anybody fitted threaded inserts and bolts or not worth the hassle?
  8. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    The screws can't be too hard for them to form the head and stuff. The heads are formed with a die.

    The big problem is usually that the pilot hole is too small. Rubbing a bar of soap on the threads is an old wood working trick to help screws go in.

    I also have this problem with screws, so I'm going to be converting all my instruments to use threaded brass inserts and stainless steel machine screws, instead of this wood screw stuff.
  9. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    An important rule of thumb for the Philips type screws is that for best fit, the diameter of the screwdriver should match the diameter of the screw head. If the sizes are different, you can enhance problems turning the screw and strip them out.
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products

    Larger diameter screw drivers have a different length point on the tip too. That's the part that usually strips the heads.
  11. ih8law


    Aug 8, 2009
    Houston, TX
    I saw a really neat video by Life Hacks on youtube that showed that the secret to removing screws with stripped out heads is to cut a rubberband, lay it over the screw head, then use the screwdriver to remove the screw (with the rubberband strip in between the screw and screwdriver). I haven't tried this yet, but the video demonstration seemed to work like magic.

    Edit: Video link: http://youtu.be/AclA-7YntvE
  12. Angel LaHash

    Angel LaHash

    Aug 24, 2012
    oh nice the guy who nagged me for about my "Dam my Nuts" and he isnt here now .. Piff dam double standards
  13. Road Bull

    Road Bull

    Jul 24, 2011
    Seattle, WA.
    lol. I just went through this little drama with a used Fender p/j I picked up. Three of the four mounting screws got the P pickup were toast. I had to go pretty low tech, as I don't own a power, drill and didn't want to buy one to drill and tap the dead-head screw. I didn't try the rubber band trick. I mustered up as much patience as possible and set to work backing the screws out with needle nose pliers. It took some time, but I got them out.

    I do like the idea of using surgical tubing as a foam alternative, but home depot just sells bundles for around $18. I didn't need this much so I opted for high density foam weather stripping instead.

    I think I will start a specialty hardware store for bass players. I will carry replacement titanium screws for the cheap hardware that comes standard on our basses. lol. If I would pay extra for that, I am sure some of you would as well.
  14. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Yes I often DO use threaded inserts and yes they ARE a big hassle. But they also solve the butter pickup screw problem forever! I hold the pickup down with 4-40 stainless steel socket head cap screws. Inserts are 4-40.

    Let me say that I almost always use threaded inserts on my basses for pickguards, control plates and cover panels. I use black 4-40 flat head screws (or stainless) for that. These:


    and I use these tiny inserts with them:


    I just smear a tiny dab of epoxy on them and hammer them into the right sized hole by putting them on a screw. Works great.

    With pickups you obviously need longer screws with normal socket heads, but that is no problem. The problem is that pickups, especially those with strong foam under them can develop quite a bit of force that can pull out the tiny threaded inserts.

    For that reason I always use this type of insert:


    They are much large diameter. They thread in and are MUCH harder to install. It's sometimes hard to fit the large mount holes inside your pickup cavity. Also if you don't have the special installing tool they tend to break away the brass at the top. And if you don't make the hole slightly oversize they can bind in there, but if you do then they can unscrew (so you put epoxy on them). And getting them into the wood straight can be a real trick.

    But if you do all that hassle, pickup mount problems are solved FORVER! Of course now you have to be sure to have the right sized allen wrenches in your bass case for all adjustments, but having done that you are home free.
  15. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    wish I could find some good ones------any idea where?

    Never mind-----see post above.