Stripped pickguard screws?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by tenthstreet, May 7, 2021.

  1. tenthstreet

    tenthstreet TDPRI Member

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    Hi all,

    Back in high school, my friend helped me mod my 1998 MIM Strat with some new pickups. Cue to 21 years later, and I think something's up with some of the connections.

    I just tried to unscrew everything to take a look under the hood and...I can't, because a couple of the pickguard screws are completely stripped.

    Any techniques that anyone's come across to help with this? Not bad work for a couple of high schoolers—it lasted this long and sounded pretty good...but alas.

    Also need to figure out if it's the screw or the hole itself that's stripped—it's hard to start loosening it, and then it seems like it's spinning around a bit, then it's hard to start loosening it again.

    Thanks for any tips or suggestions on this one!
     
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  2. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    Get one of your fingernails under the edge of the pickguard and put put a little upward tension on it while unscrewing with the other hand.
    It's likely that the wood is stripped but original type screws are really cheap if there's any doubt about them.
     
  3. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted

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    The pickguard screws don't need to support any stress, pull, etc. So don't fret, there's lots of solutions that will work, and be invisible.

    The screw threads are fine, it's just that the wood has been turned into mush.

    You need to get the screws out, and then almost anything you put in the hole will solve the problem. Even just a teeny bit of CNA glue, quickly wiped off, will probably work fine. Or some saw dust with some CNA. Or other glue with a wood sliver. Or anything. This is not a scary situation, lots of easy fixes.
     
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  4. tenthstreet

    tenthstreet TDPRI Member

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    Awesome - thanks, @RodeoTex and @TeleTucson! I'll order up some new screws, some CNA glue, and I'll get to work. Thanks again. Can't wait to see and/or laugh at the handiwork that awaits me under that pickguard.
     
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  5. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted

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    Don't need new screws. Wood will not strip the threads off metal screws. The problem is that the screws at some point were over-tightened, and pulled apart the fibers of the wood. You just need to get some reasonably firm material in the holes that will either expand against the hole perimeter to hold tight by friction (like putting in a small wood sliver, a very small gauge wire, or pretty much anything) or some glue and fiber that will firm up and actually bond with the perimeter wood to give the metal threads some bite. Just don't over-tighten - it doesn't need to hold down the fort, just the pickguard.
     
  6. tenthstreet

    tenthstreet TDPRI Member

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    Thanks! In this case, it looks like it’s both - some of the screws are completely stripped, too, and what was once a Philips head is now a small canyon. Teenagers, right?!
     
  7. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Afflicted

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    OK - so it's not the threads, but the Philips head slots on the head. Yeah, new screws ... and somebody was really heavy handed or, more likely, struggling to get the screws out with the wrong screwdriver. :( They should be keel-hauled. Or drawn and quartered. Or both. And then fired.
     
  8. Telekarster

    Telekarster Tele-Afflicted

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    Yep... what these guys all said ;)
     
  9. guitar_paul1

    guitar_paul1 Tele-Meister

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    Elmer's glue and flat maple toothpicks cut flush. I even put the screws in before the glue has all the way set.
     
  10. wabashslim

    wabashslim Friend of Leo's

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    Can't believe this thread even exists, let alone goes to 10 posts...!
     
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  11. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Welcome to the club!

    CA adhesive (super glue) can be tricky; as good as it is for many jobs in the building and repair of guitars, it's fraught with danger for people that don't often use it. There are no second chances. If you get any of the stuff--even a small dot--where it's not supposed to go, any attempt to wipe it off will leave a permanent skid mark in the finish.

    The other danger is the vapor from CA as it cures: it etches glossy surfaces, and the milky haze that results is damn hard to polish out.

    Best approach is maple or birch toothpicks and Elmer's or woodworker's glue, such as Titebond I or II. Any excess glue you get anywhere can safely be wiped up with a damp paper towel. If you sweat a lot on your guitar, do not use Elmer's or Titebone I because they soften when wet. Use Titebond II instead.
     
  12. Lies&Distortion

    Lies&Distortion Tele-Afflicted

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    I have drilled into stripped phillips head screws with small drill bits and used the smallest torx or square head driver bits, with one of those screw drivers that has interchangeable tips. Or use tiny easy-out bits. Works, but it's not for the mechanically challenged. The drill can wander and mess up the guitar finish. You can also scratch the finish if you aren't careful with the drill shavings. Not a huge problem - those screws are small. But takes a little skill and thought.

    Some times you can lightly tap a new, sharp screwdriver into the bad screw head using something as a small hammer, and it will grip enough to loosen the screw.

    If there isn't enough screw head to work with, you could also "drill the head off" with a bit that is the diameter of the head, then remove the pickgaurd and grab what's left of the screw with locking pliers. If you are comfortable. Easy way to make a mess!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
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  13. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    I use a smaller standard screwdriver on those. Usually does the trick.
    Not philips.
     
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  14. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't go near any sort of glue for a fix like this. IME... toothpicks, broken off flush provides all the strength the new (or reused) screws require to bite and stay secure. The same goes for end pins. Fill the stripped hole with toothpicks then screw them back in.
     
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  15. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    for removing phillips screws that have the head stripped, sometimes you can put a wide rubber band over the head of the screwdriver and that will give enough 'grab' to get the screw out.
     
  16. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    My answer is always a new guitar!
     
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  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    You can touch up an old, worn flat-blade screwdriver on a fine wheel, diamond stone, or carborundum stone. If you're careful enough, the new end will be more square and much sharper than a brand new one. Don't heat it too much; you'll burn the metal and draw out the temper. Keep it dipped in water.

    Touching up a worn Phillips or JIS screwdriver is a bit trickier, but is 100% doable with a little practice.
     
  18. nedorama

    nedorama Tele-Meister

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    Screw extractors come in multiple sizes and are inexpensive; you drill into the screw and it backs out the damaged screw. Handy around the house as well.

    As for fixing holes, while matches and Titebond are best, I'd do dowels and titebond and then re-drill the holes, and coat the screws with soap before putting in.

    I'll be doing this on an MIM Strat soon where several screws are stripped.
     
  19. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Friend of Leo's

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    Yeah, you're gonna want tap that out to an oversize Hard Maple or Oak Helicoil insert, it'll be reverse threaded, but I'd butter it with some nice epoxy or gorilla glue (make sure its made with synthetic gorilla, some of the natural species are nearly endangered due to their habit of standing too close to the amps during performances and then due to hearing loss walk out in front of motor traffic - so make sure its synthetic gorilla)

    and then warm you pick guard screws to about 178.5 degrees F, for about 3.45 minutes and using a anti-static coated titanium screwdriver with the approriate tip, start the screw by holding it in position, while an assistant turns the guitar in a clockwise direction until the screw seats firmly against the pickguard. Wait 2 weeks before playing for the tone to settle down. And you should be good to go. if you are unsure or have not worked with these sorts of tools before, probably better to take it to a CNC machine shop that has a guitar doctor on site. There are many 24 hour service next to most music venues in larger metropolitan areas.

    Once your done, your gonna wanna put a nice piece of duct tape over the screw so you can be sure it don't fall our or happen again.
     
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  20. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Carefully put some CA glue in the holes that are stripped. Let it dry. Be sure you have good screws not some cheap ones that have "token" threads!
    If you put in too hard a wood dowel instead, your screw will not center and drift off at an angle.
     
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