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While i was installing the bridge on my bass, one of the screws that holds the peice on snapped off inside the body. Is there any way to get this out? The head of the screw is snapped off, and the rest of the screw is all the way in the body just below the surface of the wood.

Thanks :D

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While i was installing the bridge on my bass, one of the screws that holds the peice on snapped off inside the body. Is there any way to get this out? The head of the screw is snapped off, and the rest of the screw is all the way in the body just below the surface of the wood.

Thanks :D

God I hate that!! I have drilled out the broken screw in a drill press before. you have to secure the body on the table so it WILL NOT move.

Go slow with a metal cutting drill bit with some lubricant.

You would want a drill bit larger than the screw. After it is drilled out plug the hole with a dowel and drill a pilot hole.

This time make sure the pilot hole is big enough for the screw and use wax on the threads. ( candle wax works fine)

On a side note; having done building and repairs for 30 years now, I have seen the screw quality go down the tubes.

good luck,

Roman

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While i was installing the bridge on my bass, one of the screws that holds the peice on snapped off inside the body. Is there any way to get this out? The head of the screw is snapped off, and the rest of the screw is all the way in the body just below the surface of the wood.

Thanks :D

You can buy special screw extractors at most hardware stores. Never used one, but they probably work. At work we use reverse direction drill bits in the mill. They will often grab the screw and pull it out, saving the need to actually bore it out.

On a side note; having done building and repairs for 30 years now, I have seen the screw quality go down the tubes.

Very true. When I buy cheap imported hardware, I almost always go to the hardware store and buy quality stainless screws to replace the junky pot metal screws. I've stripped more crap screws that I care to think about.

Edited by fookgub
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Upon closer inspection of my bridge, it looks like Warmoth sent me a refurbished one. There's wear on the spaces where the strings pass through. So that's one bad part. The other bad part is that all the screws that came with the bridge are brass... Who uses brass screws to hold in high tension stuff? I think whoever returned my bridge couldn't find the original screws, so they just threw in some matching ones and said "that'll do." Well... that's a long shot, but whatever. I'll head over to the shop tomorrow and use the drill press like you said, Roman.

I think my pilot holes were definately large enough. I'd already had the bridge mounted before so i could figure out pickup placement, intonation, body limits and all that good stuff. The screw fit in snugly with enough force to keep it in there, but apparently that force was too much for the screw itself. *heads to work to buy new gold plated stainless ones*

Thanks guys!

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What these guys have said pretty much covers it.

My first response is to see what the broken face of the screw looks like. If it's got a part that sticks up (it broke at an angle), you could try using a hammer and an awl to tap the screw in a circle by placing the awl on the part that sicks up and whacking it until it turns. This is tedious, and something that I learned by doing it on engine blocks. Take appopriate precautions for your bass.

Once it's far enough out that you can get some vicegrips or pliers around it, use those to turn it the rest of the way.

If this is not possible, I'd try the extractor that fookgub mentioned. It might be called an "EZ Out" or some other clever misspelling. It basically works like the reverse thread bit he mentioned, if I remember right.

Roman's method is time tested and will work 100% of the time, but I'd do that last because of two things that might apply, and I have a feeling both of them do.

The first would be that you may already have a finish applied, or be planning on doing a transparent finish. Drilling and doweling would necessitate refinishing, possibly in a solid color.

The second would be if you have mounting studs, you're going to need a new ones after you do this!

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a few ideas ive used, most probably not applicable to this situation though but its good to have a few methods in the one thread:

dremel a slot in the stud and unscrew with a flathead

smack the stud with a chisel (not your prized wood chisel!!) to create a slot for a flathead

If you've *almost* got it, heat it with a soldering iron (heat cool repeat can work for really stubborn ones)

of course, use common sense as to what could/will happen to the surrounding finish....

Edited by borge
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God I hate that!! I have drilled out the broken screw in a drill press before. you have to secure the body on the table so it WILL NOT move.

Go slow with a metal cutting drill bit with some lubricant.

You would want a drill bit larger than the screw. After it is drilled out plug the hole with a dowel and drill a pilot hole.

This time make sure the pilot hole is big enough for the screw and use wax on the threads. ( candle wax works fine)

On a side note; having done building and repairs for 30 years now, I have seen the screw quality go down the tubes.

good luck,

Roman

well, I for one wouldn't use any lubricant on wood. If you mess up and need to refinish that lubricant will create havoc with your paint. Also the make sure that the dowel you use is of solid wood, not those cheap ones sold at Lowes made out of balsa wood. Candle wax works great!

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God I hate that!! I have drilled out the broken screw in a drill press before. you have to secure the body on the table so it WILL NOT move.

Go slow with a metal cutting drill bit with some lubricant.

You would want a drill bit larger than the screw. After it is drilled out plug the hole with a dowel and drill a pilot hole.

This time make sure the pilot hole is big enough for the screw and use wax on the threads. ( candle wax works fine)

On a side note; having done building and repairs for 30 years now, I have seen the screw quality go down the tubes.

good luck,

Roman

well, I for one wouldn't use any lubricant on wood. If you mess up and need to refinish that lubricant will create havoc with your paint. Also the make sure that the dowel you use is of solid wood, not those cheap ones sold at Lowes made out of balsa wood. Candle wax works great!

I should clarify. I typed in a hurry. :D

I use 2 drill sizes. One is the diameter of the broken screw, and the second one is the size of the dowel. Any cutting oil used in drilling out the screw is gone when the second hole is drilled.

Sometimes, nothing is needed because the screw is soft metal to begin with. Bottom line is this, you got to do what you have to do to get the screw out.

Also, you can use a plug cutter if one is available.

I guess the real trick is to not break off screws in the first place. Sure, it happens from time to time, but usually after the second or third time of it happening, it never happens again!

PS. A a cleaning with naptha will take care of any oil.

Roman

Edited by RFR
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I like crazy glue. I put a tiny bit on the piece I have, put it in, wait, and try to back the screw out.

Um, has this *ever* worked? I'm guessing no, with a capital *NO*.

EZ outs and screw extractors can work, but are really intended for removing broken machine screws or larger diameter, which have sheared in tapped holes. I tend to either:

-Make a plug cutter and drill out the screw, then plug the hole with a dowel. Use a bit of hobby shop brass tube, slightly larger than the threads of the screw, and cut teeth into the end with a file.

or:

-Drill a second hole to one side of the screw, and force it sideways into the new hole. Then grab it with snipe nose pliers, pull it out, and drill out larger and plug.

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The long and short of it is, if you don't have a head left on the screw then it'll be painful, whether in result or process :-\

Lubricating screws with soap or candle wax before you screw them in gives you a bit of reassurance that they'll go in easier in the first place, and be a little easier to remove if needs be. If you lubricate the screw and get resistance - back it out and open up the hole a little.

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Um, has this *ever* worked? I'm guessing no, with a capital *NO*.

Oh my God, you're so old fashioned ! Don't you know the method of drilling screw holes so that the threads bite and hold firmly in the wood is so last century ?

Screw holes should be drilled so the screw presses right down in with finger pressure. Real quick and modern !

Never mind that right after assembling your guitar, the bomb sqad has to be called in before she blows.

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These are very good ideas! I like the one where you cut a slot in the top and use a flathead screwdriver to get it out. That seems to be the least damaging way to do it. The EZ Out things i looked at were all too big for extracting the screw, and are mainly for removing screws that still have the head intact. So i'm going to try putting a slot in the broken screw first. It sucks because the screw is broken off just below the surface of the wood, but luckily i don't have to worry about finish details because the area will be covered by the bridge. Either way, when i get this thing out i'll be putting in stainless steel screws and then i'll paint them gold or something.

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I recently bought some Gotoh replacement tuners for my Epiphone Les Paul, and the screws that came with them were crap! Two of them broke and the heads were really weak and got stripped really easily. To get the screws out of the headstock I bought a screw extractor, but even the smallest one I could find was to big for these screws.

In the end I simply drilled them out with a handheld drill with a bit that was slightly smaller than the screws. I somehow (Murphy must have been sleeping) managed to drill down the centre of both the screws with no wandering. I then used the screw extractor to clear what was left of the screw in the hole.

After that I bought some new screws from a place that sells quality screws, nuts and bolts. They were about 0.2 mm larger than the original ones, and I had no further problems (other than having to redrill one hole on the headstock because the original drilling was severly out of line)

Heggis

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Yeah, the screw extractor i found was the smallest one that was offered. I ended up just drilling a hole next to the original broken screw, digging the screw out, drilling in a dowil sized hole, inserting a dowil, and then sanding it off. It came out pretty sexy!

I'm still picking screws. is zinc okay? i'm assuming your standard wood screw is going to end up being kind of weak. I'll probably just go stainless.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest RavenT

Take a brass tub that is a little bit bigger then the screw, cut the tub a litter longer then the screw that is broken. Lets say the screw is 1” then you need to cut your tub about 1 ½”. At one end of the tub with a file make little cutting teeth in it all around and put it in the drill and drill around the screw to its dept and then with a small tool push on it to make it go sideway and it well brake. Pull it out, drill a new hole for a dowel and your done.

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  • 3 months later...

So i figured out the problem. Turns out when you lose power in your house, and temperatures go below 10F, screws get brittle (no matter what type apparently). Two of my pickup screws broke off in the body, along with 2 different types of bridge screws. One bridge screw was brass (the one covered in this post), and the other was stainless steel. So in total, that's 4 screws i've broken off in this project. I was thinking that maybe EMG was just sending me crappy hardware, or that i was just plain having a bad batch of screws, but i guess that cold weather did it. I mean, yeah, it's obvious that that'll happen, but i never put two and two together.

So what have i learned?

Keep your instruments in normal climates.

Don't screw in and unscrew hardware constantly. Just make sure it fits and then get rid of it till its ready to be put on perminantly.

Drill your pilot holes just enough so that the thread from the screws is biting. Mahogany and maple are strong enough to hold them... Basswood is another story.

Don't install screws into softwood using a power drill.

Thanks for your help everyone! I'm really good at extracting screws using a drill and a pair of needle nose pliers now!

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So what have i learned?

Keep your instruments in normal climates.

Don't screw in and unscrew hardware constantly. Just make sure it fits and then get rid of it till its ready to be put on perminantly.

Drill your pilot holes just enough so that the thread from the screws is biting. Mahogany and maple are strong enough to hold them... Basswood is another story.

Don't install screws into softwood using a power drill.

All of that is good advice,especially the part about making the pilot holes larger in harder woods.I learned that the har way with maple...Luckily by the time I made the bubinga guitar I already knew all that and had no issues.

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-Make a plug cutter and drill out the screw, then plug the hole with a dowel. Use a bit of hobby shop brass tube, slightly larger than the threads of the screw, and cut teeth into the end with a file.

+1

I had this happen with not one but 2 screws in the same maple top :D

Luckilly they were located in what would soon become pickup cavities.

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+2 yeah ditto, I've got 2 busted off screws to extract after installing a hardtail bridge into mahogany. I just moved the whole bridge 1/16" and used new screws. What the hell, still some intonation room in the saddles. But I've decided to recess the bridge a tad anyway, so...out they come! :D

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I used long brass woodsrews for my bass bridge in the hope for more sustain.

For guitar hardware screws I generally always use a Jewellers screwdriver set, the ones with handles about 1'4" diameter. If the screw is too tight to turn I make a larger hole. A rub with candle wax or soap on the threads reduces friction markedly.

The beauty of the Jewellers set is its almost impossible to break a screw as you aren't exerting the torque that a normal screwdriver would exert. Sorry this doesnt solve your broblem.

Edited by Acousticraft
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Here's another approach.

Get a roll pin that has an inner diameter that is slightly smaller then the outer diameter of the screw you are pulling. File a couple of teeth in one end, chuck it in your drill and drill it right over the screw with the missing head. It will grab that screw and thread itself over the top of the screw. When it's on the screw the screw will come right out.

They sell kits at the woodenboat shows that I go to that are roll pins that have teeth cut into them. They demo pulling brass screws out of oak. Pulls them right out. It only works with screws where the head is missing because the old screw has to thread itself into the roll pin. Once it's on there, it's harder to unscrew from the roll pin then the wood and it pulls out. You take some pliers and unscrew the broken screw from the modified roll pin and you can use it again and again. You have to make different sizes for different screw diameters.

I don't remember the name of the company that makes these, but they sold a set for different diameter screws.

-John

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