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Where is the ground wire channel?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by franvarin, Sep 28, 2017.


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  1. franvarin

    franvarin

    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    A while ago I picked up what looks like a Fender Jazz body. Based on markings I'm pretty sure it is. I've been working on this as a project bass. The body did not come with any of the previous wiring or pickups etc. ...just the body.

    So, Im at a point where I'm ready to install the pups and noticed something odd. There is a small hole in the vacinity of the bridge mouting screw holes, where the groud wire would normally slip under the bridge. So, I assumed that's what it was. I snaked some wire into the hole so I could see where the channel was drilled. To my surprise the hole goes straight down about a half inch and stops! The only hole in the control cavity is for the wire for the two pickups. I'm stumped at this point; has anyone got any idea what is going on here? Has anyone seen this before?
     
    GrantR likes this.
  2. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    image-jpeg.jpg
     
    FenderB, bholder, RobTheRiot and 2 others like this.
  3. franvarin

    franvarin

    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    Here's a quick picture of the hole I'm talking about.
    20170928_180710 (1).jpg
    What is that?
     
  4. MYLOWFREQ

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    that thing coming out of the bridge and going to the bridge pickup is your ground. that was like that on vintage instruments I guess.
     
    bholder, Spidey2112 and Reedt2000 like this.
  5. franvarin

    franvarin

    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    WOW, I guess you learn something every day. I've never seen one before.
     
    MYLOWFREQ likes this.
  6. I had an 80's Korean made squire that was just like this on my bench a few weeks ago. originally in the 60's this ugly thing was hidden by the bridge cover. but on the 80's and 90's it was common to see these on certain models. the brass strap folds down onto the pickup cavity and is soldered to the earth plate under the pickup. unless you are using active emg pickups, you should reinstate a bridge earth wire. you'll need a long series drill bit. it looks a simple job, but there are a few pitfalls. the drill is at a very shallow angle. make sure you mark the drill for depth as it can flex and wander, missing the bottom of the pickup route, then potentially emerging through the back...
     
  7. "What's that?"

    Looks like a grounding strap.
    Flat, wide.
    Perhaps cut from a piece of adhesive backed shielding copper?
     
  8. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    Only half right. See the post above yours.
    Stock grounding on tens of thousands of J basses. Solid metal ribbon.
     
    Old Garage-Bander and franvarin like this.
  9. Before Fender could drill out channels for bridge grounds, they used a strip of copper over the top of the body, between the bridge and bridge pickup cavity. (As the picture that Iz4005 posted shows.) This practice stopped once it became cost effective to ground bridges the "normal" way that we do today. If you look at Jazz basses from the early 1960s, they had copper strips. Some people still choose to ground their bridges that old fashioned way, in order to chase after vintage-correctness.
     
    franvarin likes this.
  10. Well, you could go with EMG active pickups, then wouldn't have bother with any type of bridge ground.
    Don't need it with those,,,
     
    pudge, mikewalker and franvarin like this.
  11. franvarin

    franvarin

    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    Thank you, I'm considering drilling the channel into the bridge pickup hole and then run the ground wire from the control cavity to the pickup route and to the bridge for grounding. I've seen this done on other OEM bodies and it always struck me as a very clean way to do that.
     
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  12. franvarin

    franvarin

    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    That approach strikes me as a "hack". I have to believe it was some kind of cost savings on the part of Fender. Someone who replied mentioned that it was hidden under the bridge cover. I can certainly see that but, you would think they would just taken a bit more pride and came up with an approach like we have now if for nothing else than it is just the right thing to do.
     
  13. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Back then Fender basses weren't given immediate Excalibur status in the ridiculous way we do now. It was a tool to get a job done. Leo Fender barely played. He made tools for workers who did a job. He didn't make pieces of art to be doated over and copied to the inth degree. Never mind that he never figured anyone would take the covers off. To him, I'm sure the pickups themselves (and bridges with all their screws and springs) were too utilitarian looking and needed to be covered.

    Relax. Ground your bass however you want. Fender wasn't being a hack or a slacker. That metal strip didn't bother him like it does you. End of story.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  14. MYLOWFREQ

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    I like the green color btw. would look great with a red tort :bag:
     
  15. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011

    It was done when long drill bits were bloody expensive and the only industry that could really afford them was the one they were originally developed and manufactured for, airplane manufacture. It was a time when precision drilling to a depth of more than 4 times diameter was a specialized art unto itself so it was more a practical thing that allowed Fender to produce instruments rather than piles of scrapped bodies as he trained his workforce how to angle drill with a bit made from unobtainium.

    Kinda like titanium, before the fall of the Soviet union, titanium was also known as unobtainium, but it was because the only customer allowed to legally purchase it in the US was contractors working for our Uncle on projects that specifically required it. It was produced in (relatively) small batches to make it easier to keep up with and scrap from production had to be accounted for. Some small amounts slipped into the civilian world, usually from overseas suppliers, but the per ounce price was more than 4 times the per ounce cost of gold. Once carbon fiber was fully developed and integrated into defense, restrictions were relaxed a bit, but it was not until the the fall of the USSR that Uncle Sam removed restrictions on who could buy it and amounts manufactured. These days it's cheap enough to be found in a plethora of consumer goods where lightweight and strength are big selling points.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
    Cardinal Fang and Lvjoebass like this.
  16. In the modern day, I agree that it's a very mickey mouse solution. Too tacky for my taste, and I don't see why people still do it. But it made sense in its time.
     
    franvarin likes this.
  17. franvarin

    franvarin

    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    Thanks! I opted for a mint green. looks sweet!
     
    MYLOWFREQ likes this.
  18. franvarin

    franvarin

    May 30, 2013
    Rhode Island
    Well, that makes sense. I had not considered that as a possibility. Thanks for educating me!
     
  19. howlin

    howlin

    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    Ya know, I'm a bit baffled by all the BS floating around in this thread. Bits made of unobtainium? Too expensive to drill a hole? WHAT?!? Go check out the images on this site and see if you find any ground straps running from the bridge to the pickup. Nope! And keep in mind - you're looking at original instruments made in '51 & '52. They drilled plenty of holes at an angle and quite long ones at that.

    Granted, on the early J basses they were most likely trying to save a few bucks, but it wasn't due to it not being possible to drill a hole. They already had a hubcap over the bridge & pickup, so why drill a hole when you can recoup a few bucks in the process with a cheesy ground strap? :thumbsup:
     
  20. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    There are ways to ground, and then there are ways to ground.

    1965 Magnatone Hurricane X-10 Bass | Musician's Enemy

    It would be instructive to know when bridge grounding became SOP. I have seen many fifties, and even sixties, basses with no grounding whatsoever.
     

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