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Stripped Pickup Screws

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ddnidd1, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    I just received a used bass in mint condition. The first thing I wanted to do was raise the pickup heigth. The neck pickup was no problem. However the bridge pickup was totally torqued down. There was no way to raise the height since the screws stripped rather easily and would't budge even a fraction of a turn. For what its worth they are EMG pickups.

    I'm comfortable doing varied mechanical and electronic work. I setup and repair all of my basses so I'm not just some klutz who can't turn a screw properly.

    Anyone have any suggestions other than drilling out the screw heads and backing out the screw bodies with small pliers?

    Thanks in advance for any responses.
  2. andvari7


    Aug 28, 2004
    Get a screw extractor. They're usually about $5 at a hardware store.
  3. a dremel cutting blade can make any phillips into a flathead, just don't go too far with it.
  4. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA

    These really do the trick. Good luck! :D
  5. Here's the only correct answer so far!

    ddnidd1 doesn't have screws that have broken off in the body, he has pickup screws that have had the philips head stripped so it won't hold a screwdriver anymore.

    We know this condition very well... :scowl: and wish someone would make a better pup screw. The small round brass heads just don't have enough beef to hold up under more than a few adjustments before losing grip.

    But until I get my magnetic levitation system finished, we'll have to make due! :D
  6. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    Which EMG pickups are they? if the screws are countersunk your only recourse may be to drill the heads out. you might not be able to get a dremel tools' cutting wheel to the screwhead without damaging the pickup. i think those are the only two options you have and the one you use will depend on your particular situation.

    i am with Hambone on this one, there should be an alternative to using a brass screw for the PUs.
  7. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    LOL! Dude, thanks for the smile first thing in the morning! :D
  8. The only thing worse than a stripped pickup screw is a stripped tuner screw, actually the pup IS worse because they are longer. Nickle screws hold up better than chrome, but they all suck.

    Don't use pliers or vise grips, you'll surely break off the screw.
  9. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    The screws were recessed so I finally decided to drill the heads out. After I got the pickup out it took approx 20 minutes using a pair of Craftsman pliers to back out each screw body. This wood is like granite.

    Thanks for everyone's help.
  10. Good work, glad you got them out!
  11. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    Glad you got them out!

    As an aside, I wonder if anybody has ever used those threaded inserts for pickup screws? You know, like the ones you sometimes find on cavity cover screw holes. I think I might give this a shot on my next project, the more I think about it ... Might make things a little easier?

    Cheers! :D
  12. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Funny - I ran into this problem last week. Did not go too well. Here's a play by play:

    How NOT to get a stripped screw out

    Screw is stripped. Damn. Well, maybe if I push down *really* hard with this small jeweler's screwdriver that has no padding on the... nope, that really hurt.

    Aha! Screw extractors! (At this point I rant to the hardware store, which is luckily a few blocks from my house.) Hmm... the smallest one they had is way too big. This isn't going to work at all.

    I know! I have a needle file - I'll just file that sucker down and use a flathead to get it out. (Filing noises.) Oh yeah. I bought this at Radio Shack. No wonder nothing is happening.

    Maybe if I drill the head out, I can get the ...(drilling noises)

    Crap. The head broke off entirely. Good thing I have more screws! At least I can get the pickup out.

    ...but the screw is still firmly in the body. With no head. I'll just use my needlenose pliers to get that bad boy out.

    Well, it seems the top of the screw broke off in the wood, so I have nothing left to grip it with. This certainly is a dilly of a pickle. (That's the edited version of what I said, in any case. At this point, I was also wondering why I hadn't just gone out and bought a _better_ needle file. More profanity.)

    I guess I'll have to drill a little bit down all around the screw in order to get it out. Good thing nobody can see the pickup cavity but me!

    Whew! Got it out. I need a drink.

  13. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    make sure you replace the screws with stainless steel screws.

    there's no way to keep sweat from getting it on with those screwey things .
  14. My pet feature on all of my builds is stainless steel screws. I use them for every attachment except the pups - because I can't find a stainless steel match. But the thing to be careful with stainless steel is that it's softer than other steels and it's very easy to bung up the head of a screw with just a couple of mis-twists. So be careful and make sure to use the proper sized screwdriver for the screw.
  15. My Warwick Rockbass Corvette has those threaded inserts in the body and metal thread pickup screws. They are really wonderful. Ultra precise adjustment from the very fine thread, and no screws or body timber stripping out from making many adjustments.

    I'm going to be commencing my first bass build soon, and I'm planning on using them.

    You can get various different types, sizes and gauges from McMaster Carr www.mcmaster.com

    Just head over to their site and run a search on threaded insert.

    I'm yet to think of a disadvantage to them...

  16. Dude, that site rocks, thanks!