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Cutting New Pickup Spots

grape nut

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on my guitar (i don't know the wood) there are 3 spots for single coil pickups. I'm replacing them with humbuckers. what kind of saw would you suggest to cut away the wood so that my  new pickups fit.

Use the search button...or the main page of this site!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Despite the answer just given, I doubt searching will help you since you're looking for a saw for pickup holes.

Saw's won't do it, you need a router and preferably a pickup template. I like to use a 1/2" router bit, I like the radius it gives in the pickup route, though I do switch to a 1/4" bit to do the pickup mounting ears if I want a nice tight route. If you're using a pickup ring or pickguard (which you'll need to do when changing single coil routes to humbuckers since they'll be to wide to look good without a ring) just use one router bit, probably the 1/2" should work fine.

If he'd done any search for "pickup saw" or anything he'd find nothing, Unless you know the terminology in some cases the search will be useless, no need to get mean about it eqdeltar.

Anyway, on to bigger and better things....

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Not to be harsh or anything, but if you don't have at least a basic understanding of woodworking and the tools involved you might want to have someone else do it for you.


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it's not that complicated.

Apparently it is, LGM's advice is spot on but if you don't understand how a router works you're out of luck. That you need to figure out on your own.

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C’mone guys! We all were novices in the beginning. This is for Grape Nut and everybody else that needs to get this straitened out:

“The difference between a router, drill and a saw” or “How to make place for a humbucker in my guitar”

-A saw cuts straight trough the wood. You cannot start in the middle of a piece of wood and cut a recess with a saw (well you can but I wouldn’t advice doing so…)

-A drill is made only for drilling round holes (You were dead right on that one Grape Nut).

-A router is like a drill held in a fixture so that the router bit is always held perpendicular to the surface of the wood. The bit (not drill bit, but router bit) is lowered a suitable amount (max 3mm/0,1”) and the fixture is moved across the surface. By doing so wood is removed. The bit is then lowered and more wood is removed in each new pass with the router.

Be careful. The router bit will try to wander away from the line that you originally planed it to follow. This can be remedied by taking very light passes, go slow and be careful. The other, possibly more used, method is to use a router bit with some kind of bearing: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Routing_...outer_Bits.html with the bearing running against a template: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Routing_..._Templates.html that has been screwed or taped with double sided tape to the body. This will give you a clean cut out and the pickups will fit well within those cavities. Also be aware of that you need to get the recess quite deep before you can run the bearing against the template. If you start too early you will run the cutting edge of the bit against the template and ruin the template.

I assume that you have a strat style guitar with three pickups. In this case you will benefit from also using a template like this: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Routing_..._Templates.html for the cut out in pick guard. Sorry for only referring to StewMac. There are other good suppliers for this material.

All this is very fine if you own or can borrow a router or maybe a Dremel-style tool with a router attachment. Personally I wouldn’t use a Dremel for routing out the pickup cavities. In my opinion it’s not strong enough, but if you are careful and make light passes it might work. Just remember to PRACTICE ON SCRAP before.

In your position I would consider a more low tech approach, the same I used on my first singlecoil-to-humbucker conversions, before I got my self a bunch of guitarmaking goodies: cut the recess with a couple of sharp chisels and enlarge the existing pickguard cutout with files. A pair of sharp scissors or a good knife can in most pickguards get you a good start before you clean it up with the files. Use some masking tape on the top of the pickguard to stop you from scratching it and to get you a surface to draw the new cutout onto. This is the method I strongly recommend for the beginner. God luck and please tell us how it went.


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