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Old June 25th, 2011, 12:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Help me shave down a neck pocket.

I think I need to lose between a 1/16th and an 1/8th out of my neck pocket. The saddles are topped out and the strings are still not clearing the fretboard. Almost but not quite there. I'd rather not have to have to have the saddles cracked up all the way as it keeps the strings too far off the pups and I would think that would effect the tuning stability.

My question is this:

How would you guys go about lowering the depth of the neck pocket? how would you know when it's enough? Level?

It's already finished so chipping the finish is a definite worry. Any ideas would be hugely appreciated.

Neck is a Warmoth and body is a Red Dirt.

Thanks, fellas.

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Old June 25th, 2011, 12:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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What sort of tools do you have access to?

A router w/ table or jig would certainly get the job done.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 12:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I do have a router. No table or jig, though. I was thinking a bit more old school like penciling a grid and filing down. Although that would most certainly screw the finish around the edge.

I've not used the router yet. How would you go about it and what type of bit would I need?

Thanks much for the help!
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Old June 25th, 2011, 02:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If your using a fender neck or it's equivalent,any fender licensed neck,the neck should be a maximum of 5/8th deep some one piece neck may not require a neck pocket that deep.Someone else can touch on that maybe.

As for a router bits you might want a top and bottom bearing flush trim bits,which all are very common bits,they range from$5-$50 each,I buy the cheap ones Rona has, they'll last for a little while
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Old June 25th, 2011, 03:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Have you tried using a shim? Putting a piece of thick business card in the front part of the neck pocket between the body and neck will change the neck angle and allow you to lower the saddles to compensate. It might be worth a shot...
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Old June 25th, 2011, 04:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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This cutter would easily do it:



Agree with the other posters - decide how much you need to remove, and be conservative, get there in three very small cuts rather than one that is too much. I got that cutter from a guy called George Hsu on Ebay, search for planer cutter or bottom cleaning cutter. I've bought a few things from George, great trader. I presume you know how to accurately set the depth of your cutter in this situation? if not just ask. The corner radius of the cutter might be slightly different, if so you will be able to fix it with careful chiselling.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 06:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I had the very same problem and I made a shim out of copper tape.

First try a few business cards shim to check the thickness required and see how long you need the wedge to be in order to mask the gap on the sides.

Build up several thickness of copper tape (every new piece shorter than the previous one to achieve grading. Use a precision file to smooth the edges and you will have a shim not only at the right angle but hiding all gaps and looking like a very thin copper plate.

This trick also takes care of eliminating any air pocket and offer total contact between neck pocket and heel.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 07:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Shaving the neck pocket is the alternative to shimming. This alters the break angle of the neck. Simply lowering the depth of the pocket will not achieve what you desire. It sounds like your neck leans back too far (so you need a higher bridge). You will not need to remove as much as 1/16-in because you are altering the angle.

I would use a chisel. This is not a job for a power tool, not even a Dremel.
I would estimate the amount to be removed from the base of the pocket (nearest the pickup) by using a shim at the top, a flat guitar pick works. You should not need to disturb the finish. You need to check the pocket is straight and level, a chisel has a straight edge, you are holding the tool. It needs to be sharp and you can push it or scrape with it, just never, never put your hand in front of the blade! (Hospital job - nasty) Go slowly and check often. Measure twice, cut once!

This is not a difficult job and quite normal to do, such bodies are normally supplied with the pocket a little too shallow to allow fettling because you can remove wood but not put it back on. Do not remove wood from the neck heel.


Btw if you have never used a router, you need to practice with it lots. They are for removing lots of wood, not making little adjustments. The router is actually the power tool equivalent of the humble chisel (or routing plane, a plane is a chisel held in a block). There are a few other tools suitable: the rabbit plane; the violin makers plane; the carpenter's knife; Skarsten scraper; etc.
If you buy new chisels remember to sharpen them, they might look sharp but they're not, and cheap ones loose their edge very quickly so keep the stone handy, it only takes a couple of licks.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 07:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Another thought. Is the neck truss rod too tight?
If the neck is too flat or curved back it will do that too.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 07:34 AM   #10 (permalink)
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This is where the stew mac router pattern bit shines. You could just use it in your router and run it against the neck pocket to remove some more. You have a couple options.

Take a forstner bit mounted in a drill press and drill out the majority of the wood to the proper depth and clean it up with a chisel. You'll end up with tool marks in the pocket but that shouldn't affect anything.

The other option would be to make a template using the TDowns drawing up above, and then rerout it to the proper depth. Lowes or Woodcraft in Henrietta have the bit needed, although it is 1" long.

Make the template out of something 3/4" thick like basswood or pine and about 3 inches wide on all sides of the cavity. The width is to support your router and keep it from tilting. If you make it extra long, you can clamp it right to the body or use double sided tape. Don't put so much weight on it that it causes the pattern to bend over the body. Maybe you could support the cantilevered part with a piece of scrap too. Make sure to protect the finish during all of this.

Minimum depth is .625. I usually go to to 11/16 deep myself. Practice on scrap before you attempt the body. Don't forget safety glasses too.
You could take the body in and have this done by one of the local repair guys too.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 07:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Stoked View Post
Have you tried using a shim? Putting a piece of thick business card in the front part of the neck pocket between the body and neck will change the neck angle and allow you to lower the saddles to compensate. It might be worth a shot...
Oh man try shimming and trussrod adjustment first before you use your router for the first time...

I would also email Red Dirt and ask them the best way to install your Warmoth neck on the new body so that it plays properly. They may have some additional information for you.

I have never contacted Red Dirt but their les paul type body cut up for tele parts is gonna show up at my house someday. I wonder if I will have the same problem?
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Old June 25th, 2011, 09:24 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Another vote for shimming here. A lot less invasive, 100% reversable, and effective.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 10:16 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Perhaps Reddirt will fix it for you?
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Old June 25th, 2011, 10:20 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I tried shimming but I wasn't really happy with the result. The action was fine down but the nut but got gradually less fine as you approach the 12th. And the shim was noticeable in the pocket.

I do believe that if I was more experienced with the router, I could bang it out in a second but I don't think this is the project to learn on. And with no templates I'm leaning more to the hand tool option.

Or maybe the "bring it to an experienced guitar guy" method Guitar Builder mentioned. (I know it's a cop-out!)
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Old June 25th, 2011, 11:06 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redddog View Post
I tried shimming but I wasn't really happy with the result. The action was fine down but the nut but got gradually less fine as you approach the 12th. And the shim was noticeable in the pocket.

I do believe that if I was more experienced with the router, I could bang it out in a second but I don't think this is the project to learn on. And with no templates I'm leaning more to the hand tool option.

Or maybe the "bring it to an experienced guitar guy" method Guitar Builder mentioned. (I know it's a cop-out!)
I do not understand the bold statement.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 11:12 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redddog View Post
I tried shimming but I wasn't really happy with the result. The action was fine down but the nut but got gradually less fine as you approach the 12th. And the shim was noticeable in the pocket.

I do believe that if I was more experienced with the router, I could bang it out in a second but I don't think this is the project to learn on. And with no templates I'm leaning more to the hand tool option.

Or maybe the "bring it to an experienced guitar guy" method Guitar Builder mentioned. (I know it's a cop-out!)
A single shim will lift the neck and you will see gaps on the 3 sides, not pretty. If you build up copper tape into a wedge shaped plate of the width of the pocket you'll have no gap, a thin strip of copper will be visible between the neck and heel but it will be very discreet and will fade in time .

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Old June 25th, 2011, 11:15 AM   #17 (permalink)
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The action wasn't consistant down the neck. Near the nut, the action was fine. Down by the 12th fret, the action was high.

When it was shimmed, the shim could be seen and it really bothered me. If the problem was 100% fixed, I coulda lived with it.

The neck angle looks fine to me. It just seems like the pocket depth is a little shy.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 11:29 AM   #18 (permalink)
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The action wasn't consistant down the neck. Near the nut, the action was fine. Down by the 12th fret, the action was high.

When it was shimmed, the shim could be seen and it really bothered me. If the problem was 100% fixed, I coulda lived with it.

The neck angle looks fine to me. It just seems like the pocket depth is a little shy.
Routing it is then, you could take a little off from the neck heel but it is usually the practice to modify the neck pocket rather than touch the neck.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 11:33 AM   #19 (permalink)
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What do you guys think a fair price would be if I brought it into someone to do?

Not saying I'm chickening out, just wondering.
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Old June 25th, 2011, 11:34 AM   #20 (permalink)
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from what you are saying:
IF the action is good by the nut AND the neck is shimmed, AND you are having buzzing at the 12th fret
it would seem to me that your neck is not flat....

what adjustment have you done to the truss rod? but before that, have you made sure that the neck is flat PRIOR to stringing it up?
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