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neck attachment issue

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by jc77, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    Hey y'all --

    I've posted about this guitar before, but I have a new theory as to what may be ailing it.

    (Guitar: MIM Joe Strummer neck on USA 1989? body. Craigslist gamble.)

    issues: weird resonance, extra vibrations felt in neck hand, high strings wavering in pitch.

    Also: when I play my MIJ Squier Strat (apples and oranges, I know) unplugged -- the whole guitar is making a sound, it sounds three dimensional, every note rings, even with flats. On the Tele, I'm only hearing tone from the body -- not much resonance in the neck. (I haven't played enough teles to know what to expect, but the guitar feels sort of dead in that way.)

    It almost looks like there's a little daylight between neck and body -- I can see the shaft of one of the screws. The screws are tight, and I'd be concerned about cranking them more. The neck doesn't feel especially wobbly.

    Also -- when I look at the base of neck from the perspective of the bridge, I can see that the angle of the neck is off (the high E side is higher up than the lower E side)

    Probably I should have a pro take a look -- but I was considering trying a more engineered shim before taking the next step. Right now, I've got a folded piece of index card in there -- it's taped in place, not higher on one side than the other. But I was thinking a StewMac wedge-type shim might get better contact between the neck and body? I don't have tools to measure the neck angle -- anyone have a smart guess what angle a folded index card might add up to? (Obviously, the position matters... can't remember where I've got it -- but to me the action/playability feels totally dialed in)

    THANK YOU all! I know I've been on this one for a while...
     
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  2. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    Pictures.. these folks like pics! Perspectives that would be useful are:
    from bridge down fingerboard, pics of attachment plate in back, maybe a close up look at the upper end of the fingerboard, etc.

    Then, once we see what is going on, we might (*might*) be able to lend some good advice or assistance.

    That is DEFINITELY a problem needing some investigation/attention. The fit between under side of neck to body neck pocket should be flush and snug. You should not even be able to slide a thin sheet of paper between them much less see the shaft of the neck screws (from the side I am assuming). In other words, no practical airspace/deadspace between the two.
    A bad fit between neck/body manifests itself with all sorts of sonic weirdness in many (most?) models of Fender bolt-on guitars (dealt with it myself at least a couple times over the years). You might have either a wonky neck pocket or someone may have shimmed or sanded on the back of the neck where it attaches to the body. In any case, 'it ain't right'.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
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  3. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    This poor guitar

    I hope you get it sorted out
     
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  4. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    It sounds like the holes in the body are too small for the neck screws. This is not unusual. In that situation, the screws bind in the body and will not pull the neck down tight against the floor of the pocket.

    To check it out, remove the neck. Drop a neck screw into each of the body holes. It should pass through freely and turn freely, and the threads should not engage. If you do not have that clearance, you need to correct that. Just run an 11/64" bit through the holes. That will give you the clearance you need. Now your neck will pull down tight with no gap underneath.
     
  5. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

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    Look for "vampire" vibrations anywhere.
     
  6. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'll just add: drill from back to front, to avoid chipping out the finish.
     
  7. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Once you get the neck attachment sorted out...

    If you're hearing weird resonance/disonnance, make sure the pickups are not too clost to the strings.

    Another cause of that sound may be vibrating hardware. You can check for loose stuff by applying moderate pressure with a fingertip on the associated string's saddle, tuner, etc., while plucking the string to reproduce the problem. Hold the guitar in the playing position, apply a fingertip to one of several items shown below, pluck the string, and listen closely.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    Terrible writeup with no pics. "...doesn't feel especially wobbly." What does that even mean? Given your writeup, my suggestion is to inspect everything, align everything better, tighten everything, check the nut slots, shim the neck to the proper angle, and do everything else that might possibly help, too. With no pictures and such pooer descriptions, there's no way to narrow this down. So, well, check, readjust, and fix everything. That should do it.
     
  9. mbr

    mbr TDPRI Member

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    Get rid of the folded card NOW, it will warp the neck heel. Get a set of tapered Stew-Mac shims (.25, .50, 1 degree) so the entire heel has even support. Experiment with each one until you get the proper angle. You can also use them in combination.
    Enlarge the holes in the neck so the screws spin freely and don't "bottom out", as previously stated.
    Clean out the neck cavity and the heel of the neck. Scrape any paint from the corners of the pocket.
    Countersink the holes in the neck or the neck cavity, or both, so when you make the screws tight, the fibers that get pulled around the hole have somewhere to go, instead of getting trapped between the neck and body preventing the two from coming together flush.
    This is all very easy. I've done it with electrics and acoustics with bolt-on necks. This is also why I switched from set-neck guitars to bolt-on.
     
  10. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    Thank you all for your attention and advice. Yes, there may be a few things going on, but you've convinced me that the neck attachment issue is primary. Taking a drill to the guitar may be beyond what I dare to do, but I'm going to get this sorted for sure.
     
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  11. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    My solution to a similar issue ...

    Just go buy another guitar ...

    Sell the problem child ...

    Or stash it til you feel like dealing with it ...
     
  12. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    It seems to me that @jc77 may want to check the alignment etc. with no shim, once the neck is securely attached tightly - it may be that whatever the shim was intended to fix may no longer be an issue at that point.
     
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  13. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Without seeing any pictures, this sounds like a "screw-jacking" to me.

    Also, I must assume that you can see the screw shaft on one of the 'treble-side' screws?
    When I attach a neck, I often use a clamp to hold the neck snug to the body before I start the screws in through the back of the body so that the threads are less likely to push cause the neck to be lifted away from the body when the screws are going in. Hopefully this helps.
     
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  14. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    My personal approach is that the neck fit is absolutely critical to the overall performance of the guitar, and I am meticulous about it. It makes me wonder if whoever attached the neck didn't bother to clamp it prior to driving the screws, a critical step for proper fit.
     
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  15. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    try taking a small clamp and attaching it to the headstock... that adds mass.. let us know how it works out. Oh, pad the clamp's faces..

    r
     
  16. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    Most of the posters above are over-complicating the issue, IMO. Just do what Ricky D. suggested. You can use a hand drill, a reamer, or even a round file or rasp if the holes are only slightly too small.

    There's only a very small chance of the neck heel being deformed by a shim. I've seen it, but it's incredibly rare, especially if the shim is only paper. I'd still take the shim out just to see whether you actually need it. It's obviously not doing anything now.

    Ron Kirn really, really knows his stuff, but I think he might not have noticed what you said about being able to see screw threads between neck and body. That absolutely means that the body holes are too small or that the holes in the neck either aren't deep enough or are slightly misaligned. That's a 100% certainty.
     
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  17. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    If there is a gap between neck and body you can see: (I agree with the "screw jacking" comment above.)
    - maybe the body holes need drilled larger? If the body hole is too small the screw bites into the body wood not allowing the two to be drawn tightly together?
    -Many things are fine for neck shims, but folding is not a good thing. Overlap two layers if necessary.
    -Bought shims are not necessary at all.

    BUT... you only need to shim if your bridge saddles cant be adjusted for the string action you want.
    OR if the bridge saddle screws are digging in your hand.
    All my Fender necks are shimmed. I use that clear hard plastic that comes on packaging. It comes in .005 or .010 thickness it seems. I layer it, so one shim may be 1.25" long and the other maybe .75 long
     
  18. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    Haha well that would be me. ("We are the ones our parents warned us about.") I wasn't happy with my last set-up and decided to have a go at the truss rod. (Good news is that I solved the buzz vs. action problem -- it turned out this was a false choice!)

    gregulator450, I tried the "use-a-clamp" technique and it worked like a charm! I found this awesome clamp in the cellar, buffered the thing out with a strategic towel & some wood shims to protect the instrument. The gap is closed, the screw-view gone. MUCH smoother sailing now -- it was like holding on to a jackhammer before. Way more detail in the amp sound -- it passed the "Princeton Review"

    Yes good point. See, when I originally took the neck off, a shim fell out, so I thought it was necessary. When I got the truss rod right, I (wrongly) thought the folded index card scrap was part of the magic -- it was not. Sea Devil, that folded index card scrap is history!

    Regarding intonation, I've come to regard some sharpness in the cowboy chord zone as part of the deal, unless you want to have some flatness higher up, or unless you want to play one of these

    upload_2020-7-16_16-52-57.jpeg

    Most of my guitar life unfolds in the 4-to-11 fret zone, and the intonation there is pretty consistent. Take 6 strings of different thickness, tune them to different pitches, and carve them up at the same intervals -- you're not going to have a perfectly tempered instrument. (Maybe this is why D minor is the saddest of all keys.)

    Thank you TDPRI, collectively & individually. I love my instrument again.
     

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  19. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Glad to hear that the clamp worked!

    Although the True-Temperament frets may be the best solution to avoid the sharpness up the neck (I have no experience with True Temperament so I can't comment on it), you could also check out the less invasive Buzz Feiten tuning system or the Earvana Nut, both of which are a new nut install.

    I have had both, and I noticed the biggest positive difference with a Feiten-equipped guitar. [Disclaimer: I understood a great deal more about the intonation problems when I had a Feiten-equipped guitar than when I had an Earvana-equipped guitar, so I place some of the difference I noticed toward the fact that I was paying more attention to intonation as I played up the neck.]

    If you're more inclined to stick with the traditional nut and have the 3-barrel saddles on that tele, there is an excellent older thread on here that quotes Jerry Donahue's method for intonation. I have started using his method when I set up three-barrel teles because it works pretty well. Search 'Intonating 3 saddle bridges', it's post #5.
     
  20. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    If the strings are fretting sharp on the first few frets, your nut's cut too high. It's best to have a pro fix that.
     
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