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Stuck screws

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by SoVeryTired, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I recently bought a very cheap fretless J which is mostly very well put together. However, the pickup screws are like they've been welded into the body. Any good tips on how to get them moving without ruining the screw heads?
  2. Heres a couple of things to try. First , soak the screws in WD 40. Drench them and let them sit for a half hour or so.The stuff is electrically friendly and shouldn't mess with the electrics . I have soaked pots with this stuff , dribbling it all over the place with no ill effects. Next is to make sure you have a good screwdriver with a PH1 tip.Phillips tips come in different sizes and the wrong tip will just spin and strip the screw head. I had to get a driver set with the slip in tips to make a screwdriver with a good sized handle and the right sized tip. When you get ready to try moving the screw , Give it good hard crank. This will either break it loose or if the thing is totally locked up , strip the screw. If it breaks loose . you're done. If it strips the screw you will have to take the thing apart and cut or drill out the screws. Or just leave it as you are no worse off than when you started. Not a perfect solution but I have always been able to loosen them up this way and haven't stripped one out yet. That is not to say that yours will not strip but it might be worth a shot. If you are uncomfortable with this , leave it to the pros. A good repair shop should be able to take care of this for a reasonable cost.
  3. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Thanks - is WD40 finish-friendly?
  4. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I'd be reluctant to heat the screw (soldering iron) as the head is too close to the pup housing...hate to see it melt! Do use a clean, appropriately sized screwdriver tip (#1 or smaller?). If the head is stripped, you can always notch with a Dremel cut-off wheel and use a small flathead screwdriver for extra ooomph.

  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I wouldn't use WD-40. It's not a lubricant and it's not penetrating oil - it's made to displace water. It is often mis-used for other purposes. And most spray-on liquids have potential to make wood swell, not loosen the screw - as well as soaking into the wood surrounding the screw. Experiences may differ on this, but that's my take on it.

    Zooberwerx has the solution I'd take...first, get a new screwdriver with a new tip that fits the screw as fully and perfectly as possible. Exert downward pressure and turn. If the screw head rounds out, the next step I'd take would be to cut a slot across it with a Dremel tool and use a (new) slotted screwdriver that's a tight fit to turn it out.

    If that rounds off, the next step for me would be to carefully drill the head off, remove the pickup and use vise grips to grasp the screw firmly and turn it out.

    Good news is that J pickups are pretty easy to replace if anything happens to them...and pickup screws are easy to some by.
  6. On a couple old basses (Fender and Ibanez) and a epiphone SG that I have , WD 40 has been no problem to the finishes. I dont play the epiphine often and the pots completely stopped working a few weeks ago. I absolutely soaked the area around the pots including the finish. No problem at all with the finish and yeah , the pots came back to life. YMMV though so try it on a small spot on the back of the guitar first. As to WD 40 not being a penetrating oil , technically , that is correct but I can't count the number of screws and bolts I have freed up with the stuff including a bunch of plumbing and automotive stuff. Oh , and the trick with the dremmel if the phillips head strips out is great advice. I had forgotten all about that.
  7. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I managed to get some movement tonight with the right screwdriver and plenty of pressure. One of the screws won't see much more use without the dremmel trick. I think it must be very dense ash and, given the cost of the bass, probably cheap screws.
  8. you need something called an "easy out" screw remover. Google it if you have to .....but if you phone your local hardware supply store and ask if they have them, they will know what your talking about. One company that comes to mind that manufactures them is Rigid Tools.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Put the wd-40 down and step away from the bass.

    Slot the heads if you can't get them out. If you can't get them, push the pups down and nip the heads off with side cutters. Get new screws. Rub the threads with paraffin wax before you put them in.
  10. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    LOVE the paraffin wax trick. I have used it for decades when installing screws. Not oily, doesn't accumulate dirt, eases screws, and is cheap and easy to keep on hand. Definitely worth using when installing tuners - the tiny mounting screws are way too easy to twist off (even with drilled pilot holes) when installing into that hard headstock wood.
  11. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I recently worked on a j style bass that had all 4 screws on the neck pup locked tight as Dick's hatband.

    I took a set of end nippers and pushed down on the pups and popped the heads off with the end nippers. Slid the pups off And put a small set of vice grips on the stumps and they came right out. The screws were already totally screwed up anyway so I just went for the quick and easy way to deal with it.