All the Screws That’s Fit

Starting at the top left-pickup height adjustment (4), pickup pole screws (12), bridge pickup ring (4), neck pickup ring (4), bobbin (8). Lower row starting at left: pickguard (2), truss cover (2) and tuner (12)

The real 335 geeks (like me) get all obsessive over the small details. when I get a “new” guitar, the first thing I do -if only for a minute or two-is play it. Then I take it apart. I pay a lot of attention to the screws because they can tell you a lot. If any of them are not right, then you know that someone has been in there. You just don’t know to what extent. Screws don’t get changed by themselves and the factory was relatively consistent in the type of screws they used for each function that requires them. Let’s take a quick inventory of all the screws and then I’ll describe each one and talk about whatever variation there is. There are two pickguard screws-both phillips, both countersunk oval head and both the same size. They are nickel plated on a 335 and gold plated on a 345 and 355. This will be true of all the screws on the guitars except for the pickup surround screws and the pickup bobbin screws. There are eight pickup surround screws-4 short and 4 long. They are flathead wood screws and are almost always phillips and are always black. Occasionally, especially in 1958 and 1959, the neck pickup will have slotted screws. The bridge pickup will have long screws on all four corners and the neck pickup should have short screws on all four corners. These screws tend to strip out fairly easily so it isn’t unusual to find a couple of long screws in the neck pickup. I don’t think Gibson put them there, however. There are two screws in the truss rod cover. They are round head, phillips  wood screws and are the same length. There are 12 tuner screws-all the same round head wood screws but there seems to be some variation in the screw type. From 58-65, they appear to all be phillips round head although slotted screws show up on earlier Gibsons. My 53 J-200 has slotted tuner screws. They are almost always threaded all the way to the head but I keep seeing tuner screws that have a section of the shaft non threaded. I believe Gibson used both.  There are two height adjustment screws in each pickup ring and they are round head machine screws that are threaded from head to end. They, of course, each have a spring and they are threaded into the bottom plate of the pickup. Next, there are the six pickup pole screws on one of the bobbins for each pickup. These are slotted fillister head machine screws. A fillister head is a screw head with flat sides and a slightly rounded top. They are nickel plated on 335s up until 1965 when they switched to chrome. Generally, if the pickup has a chrome cover, the pole screws will be chrome plated. I have seen nickel screws in a chrome plated pickup cover but never the reverse. Flip the pickups over and you’ll find four round head nickel or brass phillips screws on each, holding the bobbins in place. The earlier PAFs have nickel, later brass. You start finding slot heads in the mid to late 60’s and these usually indicate T-top pickups. If you find slot heads on a 65 or earlier, I would question the pickup. Finally, each strap button has a screw holding it in place. These are countersunk oval head phillips wood screws and are usually the same size. The screw that holds the strap button at the butt end is sometimes slightly longer than the one at the base of the neck. If the screws on your 335, 345 or 355 don’t correspond to what I’ve found, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Nobody deducts much value for a wrong screw and most folks don’t ever check. Besides, correct screws are available from all the usual sources.

And two more I forgot in the other photo. The strap button screws. They should be the same although, I've seen a longer one at the butt end.

5 Responses to “All the Screws That’s Fit”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, superb detail and commentary on this subject. I don’t have to caution Charlie but perhaps for the benefit other readers always make sure to use the correct sized screwdriver should you need to remove any of these screws! Stripped or damaged screw heads are no fun and can be problematic particularly on pickup ring and tuner screws! Investing in some high quality jewelers type screwdrivers is highly recommended when working on guitars!

  2. rob says:

    Great article. When I was taking the pickups out of my 355 getting it ready to take the photos I sent to you last fall, the phone on my basement den/workshop/library/music room rang and I knocked half of the eight plastic ring screws to the floor. Of course, the floor had to be covered by an old grungy low shag area rug that was all light browns, orange and yellows. It took me about a half an hour on my knees with my big mangnifying glass to find them all. The dog came in looking for biscuits and I yelled at him to get the you-know-what out and my wife came in to see what all the fuss was about. Thought I was losing it in my old age.

  3. OK Guitars says:

    Every time I work on a guitar, I end up with one less screw than I started with. My friend Chris, who is “our” Varitone guru, made me this nifty screw holder with a headstock and tuners and a pickup rout that holds the screws-I’ll have to post a photo. Having some kind of receptacle helps a lot. Even so, my wife still keeps finding stray screws on the laundry room floor-yes, it’s true-I don’t have a “workshop” or even a basement. I have the laundry room (when she isn’t using it).

  4. ty millsaps says:

    stick the screws on a piece of sticky tape!

  5. OK Guitars says:

    Then the tape gets stuck to my sleeve and I can’t find any of the screws until my wife says “what’s that piece of tape doing on your elbow?”

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