Bridge and Neck Pickup Routing Questions

Mr. Neutron

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Hey, All!!!

I'm getting ready to rout the bridge and neck pickup cavities, along with the neck as well. I've been searching this forum for the dimensions and "how-to-do-it", but haven't hit on the thread that spells it out plainly for a person like me with a dominant stupidity gene.

I have a Cavalier pickup for the bridge, and will be using a vintage style bridge. I'll likely order a lipstick pickup from Rob for the neck (if I haven't done so already; I need to go through my box I have parts in to see what I have & don't have. I've been working on this for awhile......).

I have a Rev Level "E" drawing I downloaded, but I still have a few questions.....

1. For the bridge pickup: The drawing I have lists 2 different radii for the bridge pickup. One is a .265 radius in 3 places, and the other is a .430 radius in 2 places. A depth of .850 is shown for this one. My question is: for those of us without a CNC using a handheld router, do y'all switch router bits for these 2 different parts of this cavity, or a Dremel, or?? How do you get these 2 different radii for this pocket, or do you simply do it all with a 1/4" radius (1/2" dia.) router bit?

2. For the neck pickup cavity, the drawing I have shows no radius callout that I can find, nor a depth dimension. I don't really like to just "guess" at these, but can if I have to. I do have a set of radius gages, and can kinda "extrapolate" from there. Can someone show me where these are listed in the drawing, or simply tell me what y'all use? Guess I'm spoiled by the aircraft detail parts drawings I worked off of for years.

I seem to be able to find most all the other dims. for the neck, the wiring route, control cavity and etc.. Hopefully, any answers I get here might help someone else with this sickness as well.

Thanks in advance!
 

guitarbuilder

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The neck pickup rout is under a pickguard. It can be as big as a humbucker. Make it larger than your pickup base so you have some wiggle room. I usually rout for a strat pickup which is slightly larger than the tele neck pickup. I would make a template for your bridge pickup and compare it to the tele bridge you are using before you rout. The standard ashtray bridge can reveal a touch of pickup cavity is some cases, as the slot is so close to the edge. Here you don't want the pickup interfering with the rout either. Also your pickguard rout will dictate where the pickup sits too.


 
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Mr. Neutron

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Thanks, Marty!!

Yeah, you're absolutely right about the bridge pickup cavity routing sometimes showing a bit "too much" with a little visible cavity on the left side of a vintage bridge. I routed out an old Strat body to become a hardtail & used a Tele bridge/pickup combo and found that out firsthand. Wound up having to "piece in" a small chunk of wood to fix that, along with paint, & etc..

And thanks for the good advice about comparing a template to my bridge I plan to use. That's mucho appreciated!

Added in Edit: I forgot to mention above that I plan to try to build this with an abbreviated/smaller pickguard, and want the neck pickup cavity to be to size, with maybe a ring around it. I also forgot I have a Strat neck pickup of some kind I can route for. For some reason, my Strat drawing has all the info I need for that.
 
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Mr. Neutron

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And while I'm in the mood for forgetting stuff........

I just had a Homer Simpson "Doh!!!" sorta moment. Remember what I said above about having a Dominant Stupidity Gene?

I have a template for a Tele, as well as a Strat. If my smallest radius in a cavity is, say, a .25"r, then with a .25"r cutter/pattern bit, THE TEMPLATE will drive the bigger radii I'll need for everything else, huh? Man, do I feel like a Dork........
 

old wrench

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It takes a few looks at the T. Downs Tele drawing to fully absorb all the info - it's pretty comprehensive

The 1/2" diameter pattern bit works perfect for all of the routs on a Tele body

The inside "corners" of the Tele neck pocket are .25" radius, so the 1/2" diameter pattern bit, once again :), works perfect

The depth of a Tele neck pocket is a standard 5/8" (.625") deep - that depth works with a regular vintage Tele bridge plate and saddles, and with a "Fender spec" neck which is 1" thick at the heel

.
 

Freeman Keller

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Jimmie, a couple of quickies. You are right that a 1/2 inch diameter follower bit will follow the 1/4 inch radius corners on your templates. I don't know of any radius tighter than that. I make most of my own templates - for something with 1/4 inch corners I would drill those on a drill press with a 1/2 inch forstner bit, then saw between the corner holes and dress the transition with a rasp.

I like to make the neck and pickup templates separate for a couple of reasons - it lets me move things around if needed and I can mix and match putting different pickups on guitars as needed. I always rough shape the body, then route the neck pocket and fit the neck. I use the same template for routing the pocket and making the neck heel - if they both fit the template they will fit each other. Once the neck is fit to the body I can use it to establish the real center line of the guitar and the real scale length. That lets me position the bridge relative to the neck, and once I have the bridge and neck I can locate the pickups.

My neck pocket template has the very small angle that I think is shown on the Downs drawing, it creates a very slightly wedge shaped pocket and a heel that has to be dropped in from the top, you can't push it from the end.

I like to screw my templates into the top of the guitar rather than trust double stick tape (if I use double stick tape I always back it up with a clamp or two). Here is my neck pocket template screwed to a body. The note by the edge of the template tells me its thickness so I can subtract that with I make the measurement. Note that it is screwed into the neck and bridge cavity areas which have been routed yet. I have also put a couple of layers of green 1/4 inch masking tape on the bearing surface - that makes the pocket slightly tight on the neck - I would prefer to have to sand it slightly too fit rather than have it sloppy to start with. One other minor thing, the other end of that template is my Gibson set neck tenon route - I have everything I need in one simple little piece of MDF.

IMG_6822.JPG


Here is the neck dropped into the pocket. At this point the body shape is just band sawn.

View attachment 994007

And somewhat later I've laying out the scale and center line to do the bridge and pups

View attachment 994008
 

Mr. Neutron

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Thank you so much for your reply, Freeman, and yours as well, Marty & Old Wrench!

Yeah, I kinda posted before I thought it through. I was playing with the template and bridge I plan to use, to double check that the bridge will cover the pickup route like Marty suggested. It will. After I posted, I realized just what you said about the .25 rad. cutter being able to do everything needed to do on a Tele. It will.

Like you said, I also realized it would likely be better to first have a NECK done to be able to fit the neck pocket better, and then to position the bridge and pickup routs. I think I kinda got the cart before the horse here on my "Learning Experiment in Cheap Wood".

Thanks for ALL of your help, Guys! Again, it is SO MUCH appreciated!
 




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