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Fender P-Bass Custom Pickup Installation

2/2/15

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1. A Fender P-Bass 5 String

1. A Fender P-Bass 5 String

 

The owner of this newer bass wants to install a jazz bass pick up in the bridge position.

 

2. An Aftermarket Pickup

2. An Aftermarket Pickup

 

The customer has provided me with both the pickup and the template I’ll be using for routing the new cavity.

 

3. Layout is Key

3. Layout is Key

 

With the outside strings tuned to pitch, I’m marking the ends of the new cavity with a fine-tip sharpie.  The sharpie will easily wash away with some acetone without damaging the poly finish.

 

4. Centering the Pickup

4. Centering the Pickup

 

I’m setting the center of the new pickups pole-pieces 31.875” from the nut.  This measurement was provided by the customer.  Next, I’ll square off of the center line for ease of template placement.

 

5. Scoring the Finish

5. Scoring the Finish

 

I’ve mounted the template to the body by drilling and countersinking two holes in the template that align with two of the pickguard mounting holes.  Now I’m scoring the finish around the perimeter of the template to prevent the router from accidentally chipping the finish.

 

6. Routing the Cavity

6. Routing the Cavity

 

I’m using a bosch laminate trimer with a shop-made plexiglass base to route the new cavity.  The plexiglass makes it easier to watch my routing as I work.  I removed most of the waste with a ½” downcut bit with a bearing on the shank. Now I’m making a final pass with  a ⅜” bit to help get into the tight corners of the template.

 

7. Tight Corners

7. Tight Corners

 

The corners of the router template are a smaller diameter than my smallest (⅜”) bearing-guided downcut router bit.

 

8. Cleaning Up the Corners

8. Cleaning Up the Corners

 

Cleaning up the corners with a gouge, or curved chisel, only takes a few minutes.  Another approach is to drill out the corners with the drill press and a ¼” drill bit prior to routing, although the chances are that some minor tweaking to the cavity with hand tools would still be required.

 

9. Routing Complete

9. Routing Complete

 

The corners are all cleaned up and are looking pretty good.  The cavity is just deep enough to allow the “ears” on the pickup cover to sit flush with the top of the bass when there is no foam in the bottom of the cavity.

 

10. Ensuring Finish Adhesion

10. Ensuring Finish Adhesion

 

The scoring and routing of the finish can loosen the bond between the finish and the alder body.  A quick application of thin super glue keeps the black conductive paint from creeping beneath the finish and prevents future finish chipping.

 

11. Shielding Paint

11. Shielding Paint

 

I’m applying a couple of coats of black conductive shielding paint.

 

12. Drilling the Access Hole

12. Drilling the Access Hole

 

Drilling the access hole with a long drill bit allows me to connect the pickup cavity to the control cavity without accidentally drilling through the back of the guitar or marring the top of the body with the chuck of my drill.

 

13. Woodworking is Done

13. Woodworking is Done

 

The customer is going to reassemble the bass, mount and wire the pickup on his own.

 

14. A Custom Fender Bass.

14. A Custom Fender Bass.