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3 Bolt Neck

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Martin R, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's

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    I've got a '74 Custom with a 3 bolt neck that will not stay in place. I'm about to take it to my local guitar tech. Any suggestions on how to correct the problem? I'd like to have some ideas to discuss.

    Thanks,
    Martin

    E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier
     
  2. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    What exactly do you mean by "will not stay in place"? I've had my Tele Custom for over 30 years and the 3-bolt neck has never given me any problems.

    How is the fit in the pocket? How well screwed down is the neck plate?
     
  3. MickM

    MickM Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Do you mean that it eventually "cocks" to one side to where one of the E strings is going to ride off the fingerboard? If so, pretty common. I would slightly loosen the 2 top neck screws, position the neck where you want it and use a feeler guage to see how much of a gap there is. Once you've determined that just take some snips and cut off the feeler blades that you measured the gap with(feeler guages are cheap especially for calibrated shims) and tuck 'em in the gap nice and tight. Now put the neck back where you want it and re tighten the screws. That's about it!

    No, you won't notice any loss of tone or sustain. :>)
     
  4. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, Mick...that's exactly it. I've had it adjusted periodically, but one small jolt and no more playing in tune.

    So shims it is, are? As for sustain, I just put on a new bridge some Glendale saddles...there's actually a little more sustain than I'd like.

    Thanks,
    Martin

    E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier
     
  5. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Martin... clean the neck pocket and the heel of the neck....then shim, with sandpaper...

    Ron Kirn
     
  6. Beatbx

    Beatbx Tele-Meister

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    On a friend's three-bolter, I screwed in the micro tilt bolt to render it inoperative and put a shim (cut from a feeler guage,) to provide the neck tilt. It is more stable method than the micro tilt mechanism.
     
  7. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's

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    More stable than the micro tilt!!!!!!

    How can that be?


    Martin
    E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier
     
  8. Beatbx

    Beatbx Tele-Meister

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    It's just physics. The shim contacts the neck across the width of the neck, whereas the micro tilt bolt only contacts the neck at one small point. Still the three bolt neck is more prone to shifting than a four bolt.
     
  9. DrBoBo

    DrBoBo TDPRI Member

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    Here's another option to fixing your three bolt neck:
    http://www.onyxforgeguitars.com/Insert kit.html

    Installed this on my 72 Thinline and it worked perfectly. Neck is solid with no side to side drift.

    DrBoBo
     
  10. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's

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    I like those big screws. I suppose they'll work with a 3 screw neck.

    Another is that this guitar has apparently gained some value over the years, (I bought it for $275). I'm not sure how it would effect resell. But with Schaller tuners, a Semour Duncan bridge pup and various "relicing", I'm not sure how much collectibility is left.

    Looks like shims, still.

    Thanks,
    Martin

    E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier
     
  11. TxTeleMan

    TxTeleMan Tele-Afflicted

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    I had one of those and you could move the neck all over the place, with it screwed down tight. There's a reason why pre-CBS meant something in the 1970s.

    Take the plate off and install a 4th screw under the plate.
     
  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Before ya knock the 3 bolter to hard..... It was Leo that created it....and suggested it while acting as a consultant for CBS..

    rk
     
  13. rob2

    rob2 Tele-Holic

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    Check the round plate on the bottom of the neck that the large bolt threads into,its held by two small screws.(bolts in Fenderspeak of course)On most wobbly necks I've seen the screws have worked loose.The cure is simply refill the screw holes and reattach.I generally wound the tilt "grub" out of contact too,you should get away without a shim.
    The 3-bolt works well when properly set up,Leo knew what he was doing.Very likely it was CBS specced under-sized screws for the Job!
    To be pedantic we should call these "4 woodscrew,I bolt" necks-the trad Tele has a "4 woodscrew neck" but I think for marketing purposes "bolt" sounds a lot more solid!
    Loads of nice 70's Fenders have had the most damaging of "fixes" done when theres a lot less wrong than you might imagine-a LOT OF URBAN MYTH ABOUT THE 3-BOLT!
    The neck pocket isn't the only culprit though sloppy ones speed up the loosening process.Theoretically a 3-point neck should be solid on a plank,and these would be if the third bolt went directly into the maple!Its the little plate gives most trouble.
    Heres my take on what happened to a lot of these in the 70's
    Happy owner brought expensive new Fender home
    After a while neck felt a bit less secure,one day during a big bend,probably between 7th fret and the nut he hears or feels a "click" and tuning goes flat.
    He tightens the "bolts" and theres now even more pressure on the two little screws,which work even looser..
    The cycle repeats,and in the early 80's he buys a Squier if he hasn't already bought a copy or a G----n!
    So do check that before comitting to any "fix" that could cost more or reduce the guitars originality.I've been able to pull these plates out with my fingernails the screwholes have become so worn...the necks will hold in with just the two front screws but will give with sideways pressure....
    There was also an old dodge that I was told about but never used whereby aluminium mesh as used in car body repair was used as a shim under the back of the neck,like the sandpaper trick it adds friction.
    The 3-bolt neck,not bad,more misunderstood.......
     
  14. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's

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    Okay...

    Perhaps I should have said, I'm having a misunderstanding with my 3-bolt neck...

    Anyway, shims for sure and I like the idea of refilling the holes. I'll see what my repair guy says.

    Thanks for the suggestions and the history lessons. Gotta love this board.

    Martin
    E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier
     
  15. dangerine49

    dangerine49 Tele-Afflicted

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    I had a 3 bolt CIJ Strat for a while. My luthier recommended adding a 4th bolt countersunk under the neck plate. He swears that this was the recommended Fender fix for loose Strats back in the day.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. user name

    user name Tele-Meister

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    My '77 jazz bass is a three bolter and it's as solid as any four bolter I've played. It's never given me any trouble and I've not always been so gentle with it. Maybe I just got a good one?
     
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