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Pickup Router Depth Question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by siin82, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. siin82


    Jul 10, 2019
    First time Warmoth build:

    I'm in the middle of the build - it's a short-scale (30") and I'm using Nordstand Big Splits - 2 of them.

    Any advice on route depth?

    I'm simultaneously building a guitar with P-90s. For the guitar I'm routing 3/4" neck, 3/8" bridge per a video I saw on Lollar's website (I'm using Lollar pickups). Not sure if the bass pickups would be the same.
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    This calls for......Dimensional Measurement and Calculation! Real engineering fun!

    Fit the neck into the neck pocket and measure how high the fingerboard surface is above the body surface. That's your top limit. The highest the pickups will need to go is being even with the fingerboard surface. And they may need to be adjusted as much as 1/4" below that. That's the range of where the top surface of the pickup needs to be.

    Measure the pickup to see its depth from the top surface down to the bottom of whatever is hanging underneath. Do the math to see how deep you need to rout the pickup cavity.

    Most electric basses are built flat; there's no neck angle, and the strings go parallel across the top of the body. On most Fender-pattern basses, the fingerboard surface is 3/8" above the body surface. That's fairly standard. And the pickup routs are usually 3/8" to 1/2" deep.

    But, some pickups are extra tall, some necks are set in lower, and some basses do have a small neck angle. So, you do need to look at and measure these things on the bass you are building.

    You also need to look at the pickup rout depth vs the body thickness. There needs to be at least 3/8" of wood left under the rout for the screws to screw into. You really, really don't want to drive the pickup screws out through the back of the body.

    Check, measure, verify. And maybe do it again.
  3. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    5/8" is usually a safe bet for most mass market bass pickups.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
    Beej likes this.
  4. siin82


    Jul 10, 2019
    So, both the neck and bridge pickup should be 1/4" from the strings? Got it - thanks!
  5. bruce bennett

    bruce bennett Commercial User

    Sep 8, 2009
    Chattanooga TN
    Owner and Luther for Bennett Music Labs
    the BEST method is to draw it out on paper and measure it. ( or draw it in CAD if thats your thing)
  6. siin82


    Jul 10, 2019
    Yeah, that's pretty much my approach. My calculation is as follows:

    Pickup height - distance between the bottom of the strings and the body + distance between the bottom of the strings and the top of the pickup (which I'm targeting 1/8")

    I don't have my pickups yet (ordered, but not received) but if the pickup height is 3/4" (as I'm expecting), the route depth will be about 3/8" (roughly). Nordstand advised to route to 3/4" and shim with foam. I don't think I'm going to take this approach, unless my route goes too deep.

  7. I always put foam or springs in, you want some amount of adjustability.

    I'm a "show me" kind of person, regardless of what measurements I can get off of a drawing I always do the measuring off the actual piece. I won't cut a hole without having the part in hand. I know that's not necessary, but I feel better that way.
    rwkeating and Beej like this.
  8. I don’t have an answer sorry, but I found it hilarious that this is the ad that’s showing up for me on this post.


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