Filing or routing neck pocket angle

highwaycat

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I have some basic questions about modifying the neck pocket but I’m trying to develop a method that blends well with my workflow, basically trying to avoid the trigonometry.
If I want the action to change 1/16” I use a shim around.010”. Basically I’m fine at determining how thick the shim should be, but I still don’t understand what thickness a wedge should be if I was using a template and a router.
The other way I want to learn is marking the heel (headstock side).
I saw a guy mark the heel 1/16th” deep then he filed the neck heel at an angle. If I’m using a .10” thick shim and/or I want the action to change 1/16th”, could I just mark the neck heel 1/16th then file that angle?

I’m hoping I can get the hang of filing the neck heel because that looks like the simplest way to do it.

I also don’t have a router and template yet, I’m holding off because I may go with a router setup for routing the back of necks. I also need to plan out making room for a machine. I already have plenty of suitable files.
 

ChicknPickn

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I dunno, man. I’ve never used trig to build a guitar. Maybe start with a good template and cheap lumber for practice. A Harbor Freight trim router with good bits will provide a good education.
 

eallen

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More info would be helpful. Are you talking a glue or bolt in neck. Les Paul style with tune-o-matic bridge or Fender style with their typical bridges?

If a fender style, in all my years of building I have never had to route a neck pocket anything but the flat to correct dimensions. Same on making necks. Placing a .10" shim at the back of a fender style would be unusable on a standard bridge.

Typically tapered neck pockets go by angle rather than a dimension at the some point in the pocket. That said, if you want the same angle as a .10 shim at the back then just put a .10 shim along the back pocket edge on your template with the front of the template touching & use spacers as needed to maintain it when the template is clamped down.

Eric
 
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highwaycat

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I work with cheap strats, I meant .010”. The neck pockets are usually uneven and after filing them flat that usually improves the setup, but sometimes it still needs a shim. What about filing the neck pocket? I have to keep the labor to a minimum to keep my guitars cheap.
 

Freeman Keller

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Highway, your numbers don't make any sense. Is your shim tapered? Lets assume that it is tapered to zero at one end (most are not) and 0.010 at the other, and is the full length of a tele neck pocket. That means the angle is 0.2 degrees, which happens to be close to one that StewMac sells (its 0.25 degrees). Since the distance from the front end of a tele to the scale point is 10.120 inches if you put a 0.20 shim in you will be raising the string plane by 0.0339 inches, or a hair over 1/32 of an inch. (all this is simple high school geometry)


That is a fairly significant amount. However when you talk about changing the action by 1/16 you completely loose me. Action is normally measured at the 12th fret, to change it by X amount you need to raise or lower the saddle by 2X, which would be four times as much as your shim provides.

The other factor in neck angle is how much the fretboard stands proud of the body, violin makers call that "overstand". In that case you are placing a flat shim in the pocket which raises the action at the saddle by the thickness of the shim.

I think what you really need to do is draw some side profiles of different neck geometries and playing actions and experiment with changings angles and overstand. This might help


My rule of thumb is that for MOST guitars, if I design the neck geometry so the fret plane just hits the tops of the saddles at their very lowest adjustment that I can get reasonably playable action AND have adjustment for future changes if needed. How I get there is up to the guitar and what I have to work with, but that is the goal.
 

Steve Holt

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I routed an angled neck pocket on my current build by making an angled template for the neck pocket.

To do it I figured up the angle I wanted, 4 degrees, and made some rails for my router sled that would give it a 4 degree angle. If I remember right it was something like 2 inches of rise over a 25 or so inch run (don't quote me on that) gave me 4 degrees. So all I did was make my rails 4 inches at the one end and 2 at the other end. Then I made a neck pocket template with mdf and then put it on my router sled. I ended up with this. Worked well for me.

20211217_183607.jpg
20211217_183701.jpg
 

highwaycat

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K I meant 1/64th”. I do multiply the action by two but only on acoustic guitar saddles.
Basically I’ll dial in 4/64th” action at the 17th fret then a .010” shim will give another 1/64th”. I don’t multiply by two though, should I? Maybe because I go off the 17th fret it’s different.
 

highwaycat

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Here’s two successful setups:
Squier se the bridge wouldn’t hardtail correctly so I fixed that by deburring the bridge and using better screws and setup the 6 pivot screws perfectly, trued up the neck pocket because of paint buildup and humps and trimmed the warped pickguard, drilled the 4 body holes larger so the neck mounting screws only bite into the neck. Aligned the neck/string spacing, trued up the frets and nut, extra low nut .005” relief at 17th fret high e 4/64” low E 5/64” played perfectly.

Today I did some measurements, shimmed and another setup.
First I measured:
Top of body to bottom of low E at saddle 9mm.
12” straight edge on top and in the lay of the d string 7mm low E is around 6mm.

Now I shimmed the pocket with a narrow strip of 400 grit sticky back sandpaper that measures 0.008”.
I also measured the neck and pocket.
Neck heel bottom to top of fingerboard is 1.030” measured in the middle (d &g strings)
1.066” with frets.
Neck pocket around 0.670” deep.

Reassembled with 0.008” narrow strip shim achieving same string spacing and neck relief high e is now 3/64” low E is now 4.5/64”.

I then adjust action back to original setup with good results. Both setups were great by the way.

Since I usually true up the neck pocket and enlarge the 4 body holes, it makes sense that I just file the angle into the neck pocket.

Also the low E is now distorted and needs to be replaced.
 

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telemnemonics

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Labor filing neck pockets to save money is time which is money thus no money was saved unless you are locked in a tower with guitars and amps and electricity and food.
Buy the router you’re thinking of buying, make a template, tilt the template to the desired angle, and rout the pocket bottom to the template angle,
 

highwaycat

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So with 0.008” I can multiply that by two and get the desired 1/64th”.
If I wanted to mark the heel it would be 1/64th is that correct?
 

Peegoo

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A 1/2" diameter cutter that's 1/2" long, with top bearing, is ideal for modifying a neck pocket to change neck angle. The bearing follows the existing sides of the pocket. Doing it this way, there's no need to set the height of a router template to obtain the desired depth of cut.
 

telemnemonics

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A 1/2" diameter cutter that's 1/2" long, with top bearing, is ideal for modifying a neck pocket to change neck angle. The bearing follows the existing sides of the pocket. Doing it this way, there's no need to set the height of a router template to obtain the desired depth of cut.
And that cutter is useful for lots of body modding chores so is a good investment on the cheap, when cheap means one tool for many tasks.
I have numerous top bearing bits but couldn’t find my 1/2”x3/4” just a shorter 1/2”x 3/8” and a 3/4” x 1 1/2” but I’ll post a pic so the OP gets an idea of what to shop for.
To be clear, you mean no template with neck pocket side dimensions, but a plywood or MDF deck laid over the body at the desired angle for the router to ride on.
The OP needs a router with a base wide enough to be stable, which for me means if it’s a laminate trimmer I make a new wider base.
Not everyone worried about trimmer tipping but I do!
Some trimmers have crappy little bases that are not even flat.
Lexan is good for making bases, much stronger than Plexi.

CBD61282-210A-4D65-84FC-7FF0E60D46E1.jpeg
 

Freeman Keller

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Once again I can't follow your numbers (I probably could if I wanted to draw it all out but I don't). For one thing you mix decimal and fractional inches and decimal millimeters - please choose one and stick with it. Second, while measuring at the 17th fret is OK I far prefer to measure action at the 12th fret (and I will call it out that way) - the math is simple and if I use the 12th fret on all instruments (acoustic, electric, ukuleles, basses and everything in between) I am being consistant.

You can measure angles with a protractor or by calculating the tangent, if your shim is 3 inches long and tapers from 0.0 to 0.010 inches the tangent of the angle is 0.0333, take the arctangent and you get 0.034 degrees. Steve's example above it 2 divided by 25 which is 0.080, take the arctangent and you get 4.6 degrees (he is probably building a les paul, that is way too much angle for a tele).

I can also pretty much assure you that guitars built to the fender standard, both neck and neck pocket, will generally be pretty close and you shouldn't have to do much fiddling. I can also pretty much assure you that if you make the fret plane hit the tops of the saddles (by whatever gyrations it takes) that you will be able to get playable action within the adjusting range of most bridges. There is nothing sacred about any of the numbers and there are an infinite number of combinations that will work.

Last thought on all of this - I am usually reluctant to make any changes in a guitar that requires removal of wood unless I have really thought it thru. Its one thing when I'm building a guitar, its something entirely different to start routing wood off a production guitar that should have been built to some standard. Think about the repair tech in the future.
 

schmee

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Shimming/tapering the neck heel is only about allowing the bridge segments to have enough adjustment. Other than that the string is a straight line between two points.... regardless of angle to the body.
 

telemnemonics

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Shimming/tapering the neck heel is only about allowing the bridge segments to have enough adjustment. Other than that the string is a straight line between two points.... regardless of angle to the body.
Right and the angle is for the setup, not for a neck or a body.

Like saying I raised and lowered my bicycle seat over and over until it was perfect so now I want to modify the bike so my setting is more permanent.
Should I weld on an extra piece of frame material or epoxy the seat post into the frame?
 

schmee

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Right and the angle is for the setup, not for a neck or a body.

Like saying I raised and lowered my bicycle seat over and over until it was perfect so now I want to modify the bike so my setting is more permanent.
Should I weld on an extra piece of frame material or epoxy the seat post into the frame?
:lol:
Just put a set collar on the seat shaft!
71LGpdJ+O8L._SL1500_.jpg
 

telemnemonics

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:lol:
Just put a set collar on the seat shaft!
View attachment 974679
I didn’t want to disclose sensitive medical info here but I suffer from chronic night tech syndrome.
Basically I sleep walk to my guitar workbench where I change all my guitars setups.
So I need to make them permanent and non adjustable.

As for my bicycles I have not set up the nanny cam there but maybe that’s why my legs keep getting longer and shorter?
 




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