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Routing a standard Tele for a humbucker in the neck position

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Bob M, Oct 20, 2020.

  1. Bob M

    Bob M Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    What router bit is favored to open up the neck pick up cavity for a humbucker? Do you do it without a template? How deep?
     
  2. wabashslim

    wabashslim Friend of Leo's

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    I freehand it. It's all going to be covered anyway by the pickguard which I use to scribe the basic outline. 1/4" straight bit usually.

    Guys with real shops are likely sending demeaning waves towards me now.
     
    gregulator450 and Bob M like this.
  3. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    A template is preferable, whether it's just to scribe out the line or to actually guide the router bit. How you cut it depends on the equipment and budget.

    You could hog out everything with a drill press and a forstner bit and clean it up with a chisel. Even with a router you should probably remove the bulk with the forstner and then just use the router to nibble the edge outline. Routers will cut the entire bit diameter plunged into the wood, but they're a lot more controllable if you can set it up to only cut 3/8" or so of wood at a time.

    As for the router bit, it depends on how you're going to constrain the actual router. if you have a guide-collar set, then any straight bit will work, the larger diameter ones saving some time.

    if you're using a template to guide the router, then a TOP-bearing, or "pattern" bit is the first choice. The depth of cut depends on the thickness of your template because you want the bit to ride up and down and still have the bearing riding against the template (which is why I don't understand the 1/4" clear plastic templates that Stewmac sells). I make templates from 1/2 or even better from 3/4" MDF. Any mistakes on the template are instantly forgiven, and you have a jig that can be used many times (you really don't think this is the last humbucker conversion you're going to undertake, right?).
     
  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    Make a template. Even if it's just four boards double-stick taped to the guitar top. Design it so you use the router housing as the locator (but be mindful that the bit is a little off-center due to the typical shoe to housing clamp).

    Use a trim router and take multiple passes. Easier to control and cheaper if you are buying something.

    Next step up is get the bit with a bearing to follow the path.

    .
     
  5. 2manyteles

    2manyteles TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Doing it freehand is a bit of a risk. If your bit is dull, and you hit a knot in the wood, you could really f things up for yourself.
    You can get a template from stewmac or just make one. Just something to keep things from going south.
     
  6. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    no freehand- cut a template out of mdf or plywood that fits your humbucker then use a drill to remove most of the wood, then clamp the template down and route with a straight bit
     
  7. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I use a trimmer and a 3/4x1/2 pattern bit for all my pocket routing... works best with a 3/4 thick mdf pattern to give a range of depths...

    depends on the leg lengths of your pickup for depth... @ 1" maybe....

    clear PG cutting trimmer sm.jpg
     
  8. Esquier

    Esquier TDPRI Member

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    My pine body had a cavity for a strat pup at the neck. I laid my next pickguard with the humbucker cutout on top and with a sharpie, I marked it out. I got a forstner bit chucked up in my drill press and gouged away. I couldn't wait for buddy with the router... It turned out fine
     
  9. TwangBrain

    TwangBrain Tele-Meister

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    I'm going to suggest that you used a template if you're inexperienced with routing pickup cavities. That said, i routed my esquire years ago for a p90 in the neck position using a drill motor, wood chisels, and files/rasps. Time consuming, but fun and a BIG confidence booster.
     
  10. Esquier

    Esquier TDPRI Member

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    I used a chisel too
     
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