Would you accept a neck shim on a Custom Shop?

Discussion in 'Fender Custom Shop Tele Forum' started by Leftys, Oct 20, 2016.

  1. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Afflicted

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    Ever buy a tire that doesn't need balancing? Making the neck pocket shallower could result in a bridge that needs shimming. That would be visible and may be impossible on a trem system.
     
  2. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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  3. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I would like to think that the CS shop tech would take all the right measurements for all the parts before any routing or cutting is done, but it all a CS shop tech does is assemble parts to a "Custom" order. I don't think that is worth 5k.
     
  4. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    I agree with your point, you can't stick a wheel on a car without balancing like you can't expect to stick a neck on a guitar body and for it to work. But the shim is an afterthought, the set screws on the bridge should provide enough adjustment.

    Also has anyone ever had a fender where your saddles were so low you only had 1/16" before the saddle was to bottom out?
     
  5. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    As others have noted, many (most?) who buy a high-end Fender wouldn't disassemble it. I would't know, I don't own any. Further, many in this thread have noted a shim is not a problem, defect, or anything other than part of a good setup. You just seem not to want to read those. Which is your prerogative I guess.

    This reads a bit like you jumped right to CS for your first Strat and maybe have some misgivings about a Strat, to be honest. The issue you note does NOT come from a shim. If anything a shim is often used to REDUCE a "mushy" feel.

    I don't know why folks would want wood rather than cardstock. Which is thinner and more malleable. But if you want wood for some reason, order some wood ones and hope for the best.

    And those who say a shim that thin wouldn't do anything to break angle, action, feel, etc., you're missing the geometry of what happens when you stretch that little extra height/pitch over the whole length of the neck. And you're missing out. Try one, you might like it . . .

    All IMO.
     
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  6. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    I think you need to look at the geometry, on my old strat the E string (largest break angle) the string is nearly touching the saddle on the hole bit where the string passes through so it can go over the saddle. If the angle was increased anymore it would make contact with it and would reduce the tuning stability. This is the same on most strats I've played so they're almost maxed out in terms of break angle. And a 1 degree change at the neck would get you about 3 degrees at the bridge max, still insignificant and if it was a thing it would be on fenders setup guide. You're pulling it out of nowhere, shims are used purely to get a guitar neck at an angle where the saddles can be adjusted to an appropriate action not as tone enhancers. It also won't make your guitar feel less mushy it'll make it feel more mushy, I'd draw out a force diagram but that requires effort and it's late. The general idea is that the tension over the bridge is in a very different direction (almost perpendicular) to the extra tension produced by a bend. Sticking a shim in the neck would allow the bridge to be setup further from the body making it possible when doing a bend the force would have a bigger torque on the pivot point so would feel more mushy.
     
  7. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Afflicted

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  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Again, the shim is not making up for a lack of precision!
    The neck pocket is precisely parallel to the top!

    In order to "make the neck joint to a standard that doesn't require a shim", you would have to go to the shop and get the builder to setup another guitar to your specs, and then build you one with an angle to the neck pocker equal to what your preferred setup was shimmed to.
    Conversely they could pick a random angle that would work for some players and require a shim at the other end for some players.
    Or maybe they could have a box on the order form with neck angle options for you to pick from.

    How many degrees of angle on the pocket do you prefer?
    If you don't know what angle you prefer, how is the CS supposed to know?
    If you are ordering a CS guitar to be custom made for you, and you have these very specific expectations, you will probably spend a good amount of time discussing your personal expectations with the builder or rep. Right?

    If people are ordering CS guitsrs from the CS but not making any custom spec requests, than as you say, the price is too high.
    But it's not the fault of the CS for not doing "custom work" if there is no custom work requested.


    It sounds like you're overthinking the design into something you would have preferred for yourself, and overthinking the geometry into what makes theoretical sense based on your personal experience, which is likely less experience than the history of Fender bolt on necks.

    What MilwMark refers to when saying: "if anything a shim is used to reduce a mushy feel"; is I suspect applied to guitars where there is too little break angle and the strings can be moved on the saddles by hard strumming.
    Strings that slide around on the saddles feel mushy.
    Do you have any guitars like that?
    If not, you need to experience it, rather than try to imagine a problem you haven't yet experienced.
    This is more of a problem on Jazzmasters, Jaguars and Mustangs, but also happens on toploader Teles.
    A lot of these guitars will have shims and not be as bad.
    Many including myself prefer a lot of break angle to hold the string very firmly in place on the saddle, because on brass saddles with no groove the string can get pushed out of place resulting in the high or low E getting close to the edge of the fingerboard.
    There is also debate over break angle (tone and feel) with some preferring less and others preferring more.
    Again, this setup variety is an essential part of the success of the Fender bolt on neck.

    To eliminate it and replace it with your individual preference makes no sense for a business model, since every customer has a different setup preference.

    For those who really can't stand the IDEA of a shim on a CS guitar, I'd suggest choosing a set neck CS model.
    Or ordering an angled neck pocket, because you don't like Fender neck shims.
    I'm sure the CS would rout a custom angle to the neck pocket if requested.

    It's quite possible that the Strat the OP wrote about will actually set up fine for you with no shim, but that the majority of players prefer the saddles a little higher, so the CS tech shimmed for a typical players setup.
    I often shim a Strat neck that could be set up with no shim, just because it puts the saddles at a height I prefer. Many players like this.

    Like you, I don't like shims either, but I also don't really like Strats, and Teles seldom need a shim because the bridge plate is very thin.
    Since you haven't seen the OPs guitar, and you say you have no shimmed necks, maybe you have the same preference as I have for no shim and strings close to the top, unlike a LP with the strings running uphill to the bridge.
    If this is the setup you prefer, there is a very good chance the OPs CS Strat could be set up that way by removing the shim and lowering the saddles.

    Lets remember here that the OP asked because he didn't know if his guitar was right or wrong. Maybe it's just fine but not set up for players who prefer strings and saddles on the low side.
    How about keeping in mind the fact that we're complaining about the quality of a guitar we've never seen?

    The Fender design works really really well for many different players and setups!
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
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  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Thinking about the various shredder guitars I've set up, they DO often have angled neck pockets and never need any shimming.
    BUT, the locking trem is mounted on studs that can be raised or lowered to adapt to the players preferred neck relief and action height.
    They also have lots of wood hogged out of the spring pocket, because when the bridge is raised or lowered the springs need to clear the wood.
    In this redesign of the Fender bolt on neck, the bridge is what moves instead of the neck angle.
    Many players prefer this design, and it does have its advantages.
    The main thing I don't like about it aside from the trem, is that the strings are so much further from the body at the bridge than at the neck joint.
    Except when the trem is recessed so that no neck angle is required.

    Shims are indeed archaic.
    The stud mount locking trem is superior in many ways.
    Not my preference though!!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  10. mhainz

    mhainz Tele-Meister

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    Wouldn't bother me as I'd never know it's there. I can't imagine pulling the neck off it unless something didn't seem right. I mean, when you buy a new car do you pull the engine apart when you get it home to make sure it was all "put together properly" at the factory?
     
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  11. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Some are misunderstanding the purpose of a shim. It is to micro-tilt the neck in order, typically, to allow for lower action across the whole neck. You try to setup without a shim first, but if you run into a pattern where frets 15-22, roughly, end up having too high action, then a neck shim can solve that. If you are ok with higher action then it's unnecessary. As others have said the shim actually tells me the CS was taking more effort to have a very tight tolerance, low action setup than you would see for a lower priced model.
     
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  12. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Afflicted

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    There are a many adjustments to be made when setting up a guitar properly. Nut slot height, truss rod adjustment, neck angle (shim or no shim with a bolt-on neck), saddle height, pick up height, break angles, fret leveling, tremolo tension (if equipped), intonation, etc. As has been pointed out by someone else, throw in the player's preferences and you can see how many possibilities there are for how a guitar can be set up. With the nature of bolt-ons some will prefer a set up that might require a shim. I don't buy anything that says that a guitar with a conventional shim is an inferior product. It may be required as per Fender's response when asked. Quibbling about shims is the height (or angle) of anal compulsivity IMHO.
     
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  13. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    A bit of a blanket statement that isn't really true, as I have at least 3 bolt on guitars that have no shims and low action. When I say low, I mean 1mm @ 12th fret.

    As I've stated, several times. Tight build tolerances are what allows me to have a setup like this, without a shim. If you need a shim to get there, that's fine, but I wouldn't be too impressed with a neck shim on a $4k instrument when I have several guitars that cost considerably less that can achieve an extremely low action, with no shim. And if I wanted to, I could still raise the action enough to play slide. Plenty of room for setup, without any shims.

    My Warmoths, all I had to do was pop the neck in, bolt it down, and do a setup and it got me there. 2/2 builds from them, with no issues.
    If they can do that with custom builds, why wouldn't Fender be able to?
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
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  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    We read a post by a new member who seems to have bought his first Strat.
    The OP wanted to know if shims are OK on Strats.
    Or more importantly if the reason for the extra cost of CS Strats was so you wouldn't need a neck shim.
    Hmmm.

    The fact that the setup uses a neck shim does not indicate that Fender cannot get low action without a neck shim.
    It doesn't even mean that the OPs CS Strat can't be set up with low action without a neck shim.
    All we know is there IS a neck shim.
    Lowering the action is one thing a neck shim can do.
    Raising the saddles is another thing a neck shim can do.
    Allowing the spring claw to be backed out to float the bridge is still another thing a neck shim can do.

    We do not know why the assembler used a shim setting up the OPs Strat.

    We do know that the OP was bothered because the Strat had a neck shim and slinky action.

    Slinky action and neck shims are not acceptable on Strats???

    How did we get here again?
     
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  15. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    If I could only meet that CS team member now...

    The Shim that launched a 1000 internet boats..

    In hindsight, I did say I'd be annoyed.
     
  16. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

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    Here's another aspect the OP may want to ponder on: many of our favorite players' guitars, the ones we grew up listening to and are responsible for thousands of great songs, had shimmed necks. Pretty much all of those older Fenders got shims at the factory, but most of the players either didn't care or never even knew. Despite what it may seem from "our" point of view, there are tons of pros who have absolutely no clue about guitar maintenance, taking them apart, etc: they may be brilliant musicians, but that doesn't mean they knew much (or anything!) about the instruments themselves. I've seen and read interviews with a surprising number of famous players that barely know anything about their own rig and leave it all to someone else. As long as the guitar plays and sounds the way they want it to, that's all they care about no matter how it got that way. On the other hand, you have instruments like a late 50's fiesta red Strat that Joe Bonamassa owns and which is worth tens of thousands: he's never taken the neck off and he says he's almost afraid to mess with it because it's such a great guitar, but I'd bet $100 there's a shim in that neck pocket.

    The other side of that are musicians who DO tinker and have no problem packing whatever they could find into a neck pocket to make it work, because they loved the guitar so much. The guy that owns the Music Zoo has one of EVH's old 1984 Kramers, and when he took the neck off (which was in a ridiculously sloppy pocket), he found cut-up pieces of guitar picks in there. The guitar still sounds and plays amazing, and I'd wager it's worth far more than OP's CS Strat.

    The fact of the matter is, wood moves. It always will, whether it was cut yesterday or 200 years ago. That's simply due to it being a natural material. You can never get close to the same kind of precision with wood that you can with metals, simply due to natural movement. You can grind metal parts to within fractions of thousandth of an inch and maintain that accuracy, but in the woodworking world deviations of a comparatively huge 1/64" are considered completely acceptable; I am not aware of any half decent guitar manufacturer in existence that doesn't keep much tighter tolerances than that. You can mill a neck to half a thou tolerance, but it won't keep that tolerance for very long and certainly not forever. No matter how well-seasoned and carefully dried a piece of wood is, movement and changes are always a possibility! Suhr takes months to complete a neck because they do each process and then give the wood a few weeks to acclimate and release any built-in stresses; this means they're more likely to catch a warp before it ever leaves the factory, but it's not a guarantee that a particular neck will never, ever warp. Likewise, there's no guarantee a $4000 Suhr won't need a shim in the neck pocket at some point in the future, just like there's no guarantee a set-neck Les Paul or Martin acoustic won't need a neck removal to take care of an obnoxious hump in the upper registers. The difference (and benefit) of bolt-on instruments is that we don't need to pay $400 just to have the neck popped off, which is great because changes in neck pockets are super-common with ALL stringed instruments, from violins to guitars.

    Lastly, I noticed OP mentioned that if he'd had to install a shim in the pocket, he would've been okay with that. If that's the case, what on Earth is the difference if someone at the factory got to it before you?? The guitar cost the same either way and the outcome is literally identical. He also mentioned that he wasn't too keen on the pickups, in which case I'd have to ask why he spent thousands on a guitar whose tone he didn't totally dig. Unless he absolutely loved everything else about the guitar, it seems odd to spend (I'm assuming) at least $2500 for "meh" tone. It almost seems like OP might be having some Buyer's Remorse and is just trying to find reasons to convince himself to return the guitar.
     
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  17. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    A shim may be needed on some occasions.
    I would not be angry if it was mentioned first as a CS guitar should be great
    as necessary.
    My luthier put a shim in one my Teles and it plays best of my three Teles.
    As a matter of courtesy the CS guys should mention the shim and only go ahead with it with your permission. JMHO
     
  18. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes you probably would see it unless you filled in the seem between the shim and the body and painted over it. Just sticking a partial shim on the back side of the pocket can often cause visible gaps between the body and neck which can also be unsightly depending on the size of the shim. In this case, there most likely wasn't a visible gap.
     
  19. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire

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    Bunch of prissy Fender fanboys here. All Fender guitars are cnc machined these days. Custom shop guys aren't standing in their perfect little shops routing out bodies and necks for the elite...that includes Fessler the guitar show snitch. Lol.

    All the CS guys grab bodies and necks off the assembly line. So why a given body/neck combination would require a shim is beyond me. It would probably indicate a crappy setup.

    Try taking the shim out and set the guitar up again. Probably be just fine. And yes, shims often interfere with the tone a little, because the neck heel and pocket were absolutely meant to be in full contact with each other.
     
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  20. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I was thinking that with the saddle height adjustment, trem plate height adjustment and trussrod adjustment for string height issues that a neck pocket shim wouldn't be necessary for a good setup unless something isn't right in the first place. That could be an issue with the neck pocket, neck heel or the person doing the setup wrong.
    But what the heck do I know, I've only been playing and setting up Strats and Strat clone guitars since the early 80's.

    Someone mentioned that the shims weren't needed on Tele's. A Strat has more adjustment options than a Tele, but it still needs shims?

    I'm sure that there's some Strats out there that don't need shims. So why is it that some need shims and some don't?
    Either you have people doing setups that will use a shim as a short cut, or there's a problem with manufacturing variables in machinery or personnel.
     
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