Repairing bad pickup routes

Regarding anything we humans do in life, there are usually two potential approaches: the quick way and the right way, with all of our actions and efforts falling somewhere in line on that spectrum. This specimen fell victim to someone routing pickup cavities the quick way – with a hand held Dremel tool – so I will be focusing on doing pickup routes the right way, which is usually a much longer and more tedious process. Of course, having to fix someone else’s questionable work often complicates things and makes for a much bigger job than just having it done right the first time.

Before I go any further its important to say that this Kiesel Guitar is a very well made instrument and these pickup cavities did not come out of the factory like this. This was a rogue aftermarket “mod”, and our client, Jordan, got a great pre-owned deal on an otherwise expensive guitar. [Full disclosure: I once worked for Kiesel many moons ago.]

Here’s how the pickup cavities looked when Jordan took delivery of the instrument:
IMG_0122IMG_0121As you can see, the pickup routes are rather poorly done – the lines aren’t straight, the work is sloppy, and they are far larger than necessary. I’m gonna talk about how I’m going to fix this. Since the pickups Jordan wants to install are smaller than these cavities, the first thing I have to do is cover them with custom made inlays, into which I can cut the proper holes. Together, we decided to go with something similar to a P-90 shape to cover the height adjustment tabs. However, since the shape we need is a little different than a P-90, I have to first make a custom routing template by hand.
IMG_0135IMG_0136IMG_0137IMG_0138IMG_0139Now I can use this template to cut the recesses for the inlays.

IMG_0140IMG_0144IMG_0148The next step is to make the inlays. I went with ebony because it’ll look nice with the black pickups and have a nice pickup bezel aesthetic.

IMG_0142IMG_0145IMG_0147Once they’re glued in I can level them out and polish them. (Jordan opted out of doing any further finish work, which would have required over spraying the entire guitar, so I went with the hand oiled look instead.)


IMG_0150Phase one is complete. This guitar is already looking a lot better! Now I need to make a second template for the pickups themselves.


The routing is complete! It’s time to get these pickups installed. Jordan decided on a Fishman Fluence system, which could be an entirely separate blog post itself! Benjamin wired this up using Tosin Abasi’s wiring scheme, and we must admit that it sounds rather impressive.


The pickups are installed and this thing is ready to rock! We think it came out great, and Jordan was thrilled. Mission accomplished.
IMG_0245 IMG_0249


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