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Drilling an End Pin Hole – Full Text

Today’s Tips du Jour Mailbag question comes to us from Minnesota.

“Dear Robert, I have seen your videos on pickup installation but they already had holes in the end block. I need to install a pickup on my guitar and it’s a first time install, so therefore, I need to drill a hole in the end block. Can you show me how this is done? Thanks for your videos. – Doug in Minnesota”

Doug, I have a guitar on my bench right now waiting for a first time install of a pickup. Now tell me what are the chances of that? It’s amazing. Your email comes in, I’ve got a guitar ready to show you how to do it. I’m going to be installing the LR Baggs lyric acoustic microphone system in this guitar. Therefore I need to dril a hole in the end block. So come on, let me show you how it’s done.

Doug, I’m going to start by putting a piece of masking tape over the area where I want to drill the hole. The reason I’m placing tape here is that I want to minimize damage to the finish. Next, I’m going to come in with my ruler and find the halfway point between the thickness of the sides. This one’s coming in a 115mm so half of that is  57.5mm and I’m going to go ahead and just place a mark at 57.5mm, right there. Now I can just eyeball the centerline of the actual end wedge. Trust your eye – and X marks the spot. Now I’m going to get out my spring loaded punch, place it right on the X that I just made, and give it a little pop. That definitely marks the spot and it increases the pucker factor slightly. Next, come in with your calipers and the actual pickup piece that’s going to go into the end block and measure it. See what the diameter is. Most of these come in at about 1/2″. This one’s coming in at about .075″ so close enough to 1/2″. So a 1/2″ hole is what we’re looking for. To drill the hole, you could probably just come in with a 1/2″ brad point bit and drill your hole. However, what I like to do is start a pilot hole. I’m going to start with a 1/4″ brad point bit and I’m going to use this special step up bit to step it all the way up to a 1/2″. And it tapers it and reams it out nice and smooth without damaging your finish. Because I have a punch hole there, it’s very easy to place the tip of the brad point in it and drill. Now I come in with the tapered bit and go ahead and ream it on out up to a full 1/2″. And the rest of the installation from this point, Doug, is pretty straight forward. You now have a nice, clean 1/2″ hole in your end block that didn’t damage your finish. Now you can go ahead and complete your install.

So Doug, thank you very much for your question and I hope you have found this information useful.