Inserts vs. wood screws for neck/pickup mounting?

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by pott, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. pott

    pott SS.org Regular

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    I'm having to make a decision on whether to use ye olde filed pickup tabs + wood screws for pickup mounting, and the Fender method for neck/body mount, vs. the more modern inserts method.

    The luthier's point-of-view is that wood screws work just fine (they do) and that a stripped mounting hole can be plugged and re-drilled (they can).
    However, if an insert gets stripped it's a whole different issue!

    Inserts however have significant advantages:
    1) Using the right size machine screws means you may not have to file down pickup mounting tabs
    2) Failing this, getting rid of the screw thread near the top and finding matching inserts will get the same results
    3) Smooth feel, action, + better coupling (I think) as tightening happens both ways. Note that I do not care about any potential tonal benefits here, I'm mostly going from the construction and ease of adjustments side of things

    +, why fix something that's not fundamentally broken? :)

    What do you guys think? Have you ever seen stripped inserts?
     
  2. immortalx

    immortalx SS.org Regular

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    This is the best thing to do IMHO. If my memory serves me well, you can use 2mm machine screws and matching inserts to avoid filing the pickup tabs.

    However, as I'm having trouble finding a supplier of such inserts in europe, I've used regular pickup screws, by drilling 2mm holes directly in wood and hardening the inside with CA glue. Of course it doesn't compare with using inserts but it works surprisingly well and you don't have to file down the pickup tabs.
     
  3. KnightroExpress

    KnightroExpress Guitar Nerd Vendor

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    I'm a fan of inserts. If you use the proper screw and avoid cross threading it, you really shouldn't have to worry about stripping it.
     
  4. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein SS.org Regular

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    Haven't tried inserts yet, and I'm not too motivated to do so. Wood screws have worked for ages, and a plug and redrill is nearly effortless for even the layman. The risk of cross threading an insert and having to remove it is too great to justify the need for them, IMO. Neck pockets are another story. I'd be more willing to use inserts in that application.
     
  5. sehnomatic

    sehnomatic SS.org Regular

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    I always use inserts with pickups because pickup mounting bolts are among the most often adjusted parts on the guitar only third to the tuners, and potentiometers.

    The way inserts are used, I doubt you can get a severe enough angle to cross thread.
     
  6. foreright

    foreright SS.org Regular

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    You cannot get 2mm wood inserts in Europe for love nor money... where are people getting these from?? I've spent quite some considerable time looking for 2mm / 2.5mm inserts and can only find the type that is used in plastics.

    Unless I'm being particularly blind of course which is always a possibility :)
     
  7. pott

    pott SS.org Regular

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    Alright... so I guess the biggest blocker for us is availability of the correct screws.

    I'm going to go with wood screws for the pickups and inserts for the neck :) Seems to make the most sense. Thanks y'all!
     
  8. UnderTheSign

    UnderTheSign SS.org Regular

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    The Smallest I've found so far is M3. I've been on the lookout too so I'll PM you when I've found some!

    You could try a shop that's specialised in model kits, RC cars and the like, they usually have weird small screws and inserts.

    What I do when I make knobs on the lathe is drill a hole, glue in a piece of 4mm metal tubing (with epoxy or the like) and use a tap&die to thread the inside to fit M2 bolts.


    edit: i find their site terribly annoying to navigate but they do seem to have inserts that fit M2 and M2.5 thread. Maybe drop them a mail to see if any are usable in wood?
    http://www.tappex.co.uk
     
  9. vansinn

    vansinn SS.org Regular

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    Then make them! Mr. Zorg says: if you want some done, do it yourself..

    Use ordinary metal raisers (for mounting circuit boars et al..) - the ones with fairly thick walls, buy a 2 mm thread-cutter, cut the thread, drill suitable holes matching the outer diameter of the raiser/inserts, glue them in with a drop of CA clue (one drop, stick-in, turn to spread glue, press in).

    For securing the raiser during threading, drill a matching hole in a piece of metal or hard wood, slice it in two, place the raiser between the two halves, lock it up in the vice.
     
  10. immortalx

    immortalx SS.org Regular

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    Believe it or not I thought of doing exactly that, as I have tons of motherboard spacers from my days of fiddling countless hours with PCs!
    But isn't just easier getting those nice inserts and call it a day? :D For some reason it's hard to find many other common stuff in Europe.
     
  11. spn_phoenix_92

    spn_phoenix_92 The Black Winter

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    not to thread jack, but how does one go about mounting a humbucker directly to a body?
     
  12. ElysianGuitars

    ElysianGuitars SS.org Regular

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    Wood screws for neck mounting works obviously, but I far prefer inserts and actual bolts. You'll have a much harder time getting the same clamping pressure from wood screws as you can get from a nice socket cap screw, and will be much more likely to strip the screw head than with a socket cap screw. I use 1/4-20 bolts on all my bolt ons.
     
  13. pott

    pott SS.org Regular

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    I know I'm no native speaker but still, I've never even heard of most of these screw/insert types! I guess if anyone can get them though it'd be the luthier.

    Are socket cap screws quite generic and easy to get? Or would other type of inserts serve well for neck/body join?
     
  14. foreright

    foreright SS.org Regular

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    For neck to body joins I use 6mm tee nuts and either socket head machine bolts or what I believe are called furniture connector bolts which have a large flat low profile head. Both are tightened by an Allen / hex key. As mentioned above this gives good reliable clamping pressure and can be undone and re fastened repeatedly without weakening :)
     
  15. JuliusJahn

    JuliusJahn Luthier

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    I use bolts too for the neck, but don't see the need for pickups. Arguably, you're only adjusting it once (except for pup swaps) per lifetime of the guitar. Worst case, you glue in some match sticks and have a repair in 10 minutes. Drilling out metal thats in wood is not a fun or easy task unless you have a proper mill. Most metal drill bits will flex and rather go in the wood.

    If you're going to do an insert for the pickups, why not your tuners as well? Bridge mounting screws? TOM bridges?

    All I'm saying is if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
     

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