Lowering the action

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Weldaar, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. Weldaar

    Weldaar TDPRI Member

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    I have a Tele copy and I need to lower the action. The saddles are as low as they can go. Most likely I need to shim the neck. Do I shim the entire cavity or just close to the body?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  2. NewKid

    NewKid Tele-Holic

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    Does your neck have a truss rod? Lowering the action usually involves adjusting the truss rod to change the bow of the neck, checking the nut slot depths so the strings are not too high at the first fret, and then lowering the saddles. I would do this first before shimming the neck pocket. But yes, you would shim to change the angle of the neck.

    Fender has some good instructions on their website for setting up Telecasters and there are also lots of good YouTube videos on lowering the action on a Tele.
     
  3. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    I'm in the same boat with a used strat copy and have been reading up on it this week. The wisdom of the inter webs is that if you only shim half of the neck pocket, over time you run the risk of creating a warp as there will be a gap. Stewmac sells full-pocket shims at various angles, which seems to be the best practice.
     
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  4. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's

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    For what you want to accomplish, shim the side of the neck pocket closest to the bridge.

    Straightening your neck out via the truss rod will effectively lower your action, but you will notice this in the middle(ish) of the neck more than elsewhere, so if you need an overall lowering this may not be the best course of action (on the other hand, if your action is fine near the ends of the fretboard, it may be just what the doctor ordered).

    People have been using improvised partial neck shims forever, and I've never heard of or seen a specific example where this had any ill effect on the neck* (and if it did, I'd first suspect an over-tightening of the neck screws). My American Deluxe Strat has the Micro-Tilt feature, which is effectively a partial shim you can dial in. When I've needed shims to raise the butt end of a neck, I've used the StewMac shims just because I can afford them and they're there, but I wouldn't hesitate to use a partial shim otherwise.

    *Perhaps if the partial shim was high enough, but I don't see why you'd need to angle the neck so much in the first place. 1.5 - 2 degrees doesn't sound like much, but once you get the neck back on it feels like the neck and body are going two different directions.
     
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  5. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The truss rod is not there to lower action. It's there to counteract string tension. If relief is right for the string gauge, no need to touch the truss rod.
     
  6. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    Just get the stewmac shims and avoid second thoughts and regrets and BS discussions on how an inch of maple will bend over a length of 2 inches.
     
  7. Tommyd55

    Tommyd55 Tele-Meister

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  8. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Holic

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    So true! There are so many myths about that.
     
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  9. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    If you are doing a proper setup, nothing starts with the saddles until while tuned the nut slot and neck relief are correctly done. Only, and only after that do you consider the need for a shim.

    Also, make sure the heal of the neck is fully seated. It is a very common issue to either have it hang up a hair because of binding or wood fibers from the screw holes.

    Eric
     
  10. Corvus

    Corvus Tele-Meister

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    Usually I find if you get the neck straight - ie just enough relief then start adjusting the saddle height, you can get a good setup. Often I get guitars brought to me where it's been thought the action is too high and the guy has worked the saddles too low because of excessive neck relief. These days with CNC machined necks/bodies, I rarely find the need for neck shims.
     
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  11. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

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    I too have a supply of the Stewmac full-pocket shims, mainly because I had a coupon that made them practically free. I like them a lot, but I suspect that's mostly for psychosomatic reasons. Can't honestly claim to hear any real difference in how the guitar sounds with one of those versus a small shim. Based on what I've read and my own experience, solid contact between the base of the neck and the guitar body is more vital than solid contact between the back of the neck and the body.
     
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