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Thread: Meh, I forgot grounding the bridge

  1. #1
    Member ThatCluelessGerman's Avatar
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    Meh, I forgot grounding the bridge

    Hey there,

    I'm sure this happens to the best ;-) I forgot to drill a hole from the pickup cavity to the bridge hole (LP model).

    So, after some quick googling here are some suggestions I picked up:

    - Use active pickups - wanted to do this anyway, but why do they not have to be grounded to the bridge?

    - Ground to the tailpiece - I picked a tailpiece that gets mounted to the strap pin hole - I could easily drill a hole for the ground there. It would - in a way - also touch the strings, so there should be not much difference than grounding the bridge?

    - drill a hole now, screw in a screw until it touches the stud, solder wire and hope for the best

    - screw a drilled copper penny to the cavity and solder the wire - this would ground to the body but not the strings.

    - or, the weirdest idea (I admit it is mine and I'm probably just dumb) ) - make the cavity cover from blank metal and ground to the back of the cover. It wouldn't touch the strings but it would touch my body while playing.

    Would any of these ideas work?

    I would prefer not to take the stud out again, because it's one of the small studs and I don't want to damage the finish while trying. This guitar is giving me gray hair from the beginning anyway and my patience is worn - I want to play that thing and not spend more weeks to fix my own faults

    Thanks in advance and kind regards!
    I don't know what I'm doing but I hope I will end up with a guitar

  2. #2
    Member jmax's Avatar
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    You need always need to ground the strings. I'm assuming that the ball ends of the strings are anchored in the tailpiece. If that's the case, it should work as a ground.
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  4. #3
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
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    I'm unclear as to why you can't pull out the pickup and bridge post bushing and just drill the hole?
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  5. #4
    Member ThatCluelessGerman's Avatar
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    Because it is super stuck and I don't want to try messing with it because I'll scratch the finish for sure.
    I don't know what I'm doing but I hope I will end up with a guitar

  6. #5
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    Grounding the strings makes good sense for reducing pickup noise, but it does give a very low resistance path to ground for your body if you touch anything that carries mains voltage. Several people have been killed and many more badly shocked when a faulty PA system sent the mic live. Touching the mic whilst holding the guitar formed a very good electrical circuit, and often if there was a hand on the mic and a hand on the guitar, the current would flow straight through the heart.

    The normal ground path through your socks/tights shoes and stage is has a pretty high resistance, but the low resistance ground through the grounded guitar strings allows for a much higher current to flow, and it's current that kills, not voltage.

    The days of valve PAs have (unless you use retro equipment) long gone, so the risk of a high voltage getting to the mic is almost negligible now, and the use of RCDs/ELCBs should cut off power before any real damage is done if it does happen, makes things a lot safer. But people still do stupid things like remove safety grounds from amps to cure ground loop hums, instead of doing it to connecting cable shields or using isolating boxes, so the risk is never zero.

    With low impedance active pickups like EMGs, their noise pickup level is so low that grounding the strings (and allowing your body to be grounded by touching them) has no benefit, so to improve safety they say not to ground the strings.

    Of course if you don't ever play and use a mic, then you are pretty safe. Using a radio lead with a mic (or a radio mic with a guitar) is also a lot safer than using a wired mic and guitar. But you only have safety issues with faulty or damaged equipment, or badly installed wiring (more prevalent in older buildings).

    The tailpiece grounding will work just as well, as long as you can drill a hole to it. It's how my ES-3 strings are grounded.

    Otherwise, I'd pull out the bushing, drill a hole and do it properly. If I remember correctly, you've pulled out a bushing before with a puller, or else there's the old 'end cut off a smaller bolt, dropped down the hole and an M8 screw turned in the bushing to push the bushing out' trick.

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  8. #6
    Member ThatCluelessGerman's Avatar
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    Hey Simon,

    thanks a lot! WOW is all I can say! I didn't know this - but on the other hand, nobody in their right mind would want me to go near a microphone anyway
    I bought a diy tube amplifier kit last year but so far, haven't found the time to solder it yet. Maybe I shouldn't until I actually understand what I'm doing besides just following the instructions

    You are right, I pulled out a bushing before, BUT the tools I used only fit for these big bushings with 11.5mm holes. The bushing I have now is one of these very small bushings - not sure if I have anything that screws into it.

    I think I will try grounding with the tailpiece, will test for continuity first. If that doesn't work, I can consider pulling the bushing out. I'm sure I'll damage the guitar
    I don't know what I'm doing but I hope I will end up with a guitar

  9. #7
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    If it's a small bushing, one for a 4mm thread, then yes, you'll need a proper bushing puller to do it. If you are working on lots of guitars, then it's worth the investment. I use mine a fair bit and I haven't ever done any damage to the finish. I'd have a look for either an Elmer or Schatten 'guitar knob and stud puller'.

  10. #8
    Member ThatCluelessGerman's Avatar
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    I'll take a look, thanks Simon.
    I don't know what I'm doing but I hope I will end up with a guitar

  11. #9
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    1+ for drilling from the tailpiece mount. I think this is the way the strings are grounded on most hollow body and floating bridge guitars. Takes a long bit, but it's the simplest of your ideas and the most tried and true other than pulling the bridge post...which as you say is mightily stuck.

    [edit]...although when I was posting I had not seen Simon's last post. Of course, if there is an opportunity to buy a new tool that changes everything ;-)

  12. #10
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fender3x View Post
    [edit]...although when I was posting I had not seen Simon's last post. Of course, if there is an opportunity to buy a new tool that changes everything ;-)
    ...but after a couple of minutes of thinking about "what could possibly go wrong" I went back to the "ground at the tailpiece" option as my favorite...

    I looked at the tool Simon is referring to, and that took me back to when I needed to pull the studs on an ES style bass, and made a sort of DIY puller that functioned similarly to the one that Simon is recommending. Like the professional puller it involved putting a bolt into the bridge stud. It worked fine to pull the stud and did not mar the finish...but it destroyed the stud. The problem is that the studs are made of either zinc or pot metal which is not very strong, so pulling with a hard steel bolt stripped it. This was not a problem in my case, because I had other studs. You could also re-tap the stud if you have a big enough tap...but it requires one that is bigger than most tap and die sets come with.

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