What screwdriver for J bass pickup screws?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by eli, Jan 27, 2020.

  1. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I hope this isn't in the wrong forum, but I figured y'all would have the most experience with this.

    My experience with J and P bass pickup screws is, shall we say, less than joyous. A #0 Phillips screwdriver is definitely too small, and a #2 just floats above the recess without engaging.

    But a #1 always seems loose in the recess, and the soft metal that these screws usually seem to be made of is really easily stripped out. Add this to possible incomplete drilling on production basses, and I have a recipe for heartbreak.

    What screwdriver do you use on these little buggers? Do you have to modify something, or is there a special tool for this particular screw head?
  2. John Cribbin

    John Cribbin

    Jan 5, 2018
    Can't give you a size, but what I've found is that the head on screwdrivers is often to 'long' for the depth of the screw. Get a screwdriver that looks like a close fit and file the pointed bottom and with luck the sides will drop nicely into the screw and provide a good fit.

    On a separate issue, I've also been bothered by the quality of grub screws on saddles. I've started replacing them with stainless steel ones which are much better quality. My next plan may well be replacing other screws with stainless.
    fhm555 likes this.
  3. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    There are many kinds of cross-head screws - Phillips, Frearson (ANSI Type 2), JIS, French Recess, Posidriv and ACR Phillips to name a few. They look similar but require different drivers. Typically what we run into are Phillips and Frearson. The Phillips has a pointier tip (57 degrees) while the Frearson has a blunter tip (75 degrees). If you use a Phillips driver on a Frearson screw you will likely chew up the screw head. The fit between driver and slot is poor. But with the proper Frearson driver you will be able to apply a lot more torque without the nasty mashing the Phillips driver will do.

    Unfortunately the screws pretty well look the same. But you can easily tell when you have the right driver for the screw - you'll feel it. And unfortunately Phillips drivers are everywhere. But you really have to go looking for Frearson divers.

    Lownote38 likes this.
  4. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    coupled with the above, owning good quality screwdrivers from proven mfg's with the correct geometry makes this all happen. cheapo tools are often just as bad as cheapo hardware.

    fwiw, the phillips geometry on my swiss army knife has the perfect profile. that thing never seems to cam out of a screw.
  5. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown

    Feb 16, 2011
    I’ve been replacing my guard and control plate screws with stainless and the grub screws in the bridge saddles as well. I’ve thought about replacing them all but i don’t have any issues with any of the others. I replace the guard screws because the plating comes off the screw slot after a few assaults with a driver then the exposed metal darkens and drives me crazy. I replace the bridge saddles because i use mostly Fender pure vintage bridges and they come with the little slotted saddle screws which are a major PITA to adjust, mostly because of finding a slotted driver small enough to not chew the edge of the hole should your grubs get that low, you can grind a driver to work but why. With hex head grubs i can leave the wrench in the screw when i flip the bass up to look down the neck and no defacing the edge if the hole. I tried some black coated steel because i had them, but they looked wonky so i went with stainless. Speaking of, tool fit to the fastener head is important to avoid boogering up your drive recess. There is also the hardness of your fasteners. If you adjust your bridge height under tension avoid fasteners made from 18-8 stainless. It’s fine for guard screws and such but if you have to put some serious torque to a fastener, 316 would be a much better choice. They cost more than 18-8 but they are worth the expense if you are putting any significant pressure on them with your driver. I use 3-16 for all my small stainless fasteners but it’s personal preference rather than required.
    John Cribbin likes this.