Repairing my Squier Bronco-turned-Bass-VI

Almost three years ago I asked my friend to convert a Squier Bronco bass (30″ scale) to a Bass VI type of instrument. The Bass VIs were something that sits between a bass and a guitar (but isn’t a baritone) with 6 strings tuned E-E, except they’re an octave lower than a guitar. My friend installed a new nut, six new tuners, another pickup (bridge position), replaced the bridge, and finished the body and headstock in Fiesta Red. This is the end result:

Bronco VI

Bronco VI

At some point one of the bridge screws’ head snapped off, and while I don’t think it affected the playing or sound very much, it needed to be fixed. I kept putting it off until last week when my friend expressed serious interest in buying it.

Extracting a screw isn’t an easy task when the head is snapped off. The top of the “stem” of the screw is jagged (because nothing breaks nicely), so the drill bit kept slipping off it and hitting the surrounding wood. Even when I could keep the drill on top of the stem, it didn’t drill through it, just ground it into thin dust. Switching to a thinner drill bit didn’t work either, so it became clear that I’ll have to drill around the screw and wiggle it out. Ugly, but  I had no choice. This is what remained of the screw when I got it out:

Mangled screw

Mangled screw

The next step was to plug the penny sized hole that was left after the extraction. In the process I noticed that two other bridge holes were a little too large, so I plugged them also. I let it sit for a day and mounted the bridge. The old bridge screws were pretty close to being completely stripped, in fact, they didn’t look very good when I got the guitar, so I put new screws on. Last thing I did was intonate the guitar.

Epilogue

To avoid having to repeat this ever again, I’m going to always use good screws and replace ones that look iffy. As I just learned, if the screws are already starting to strip when you first get a gutiar, then they probably need to be replaced. I know it’s usually a good idea to replace all bad hardware, but that isn’t always financially possible. On the other hand, a set of five or six screws is less than $2.

In the process of extracting the screw, I unfortunately scuffed the finish around the bridge:

Scuffs near the bridge

Scuffs near the bridge

If I had to do it again I’d get a 3-4mm thick piece of plastic or wood, mark the bridge holes on it and drill them. Then I’d mount the plastic/wood on the guitar where the bridge goes, and that would serve as a guard for the guitar and a guide for the drill.

Of course, I disclosed to my friend that I had to extract a screw and plug the guitar where needed. He was fine with it.

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