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paper shim and long-term neck health

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by jc77, Apr 23, 2021.

  1. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    I love my guitar's current set-up -- it's been about a month, and I feel like it's never been more intonated and playable. (Maybe it's the humidity level -- thank you April.)

    Anyway, to get this latest iteration of my guitar (a partscaster: restored MIM Joe Strummer neck, 80's USA body) I put a tri-folded piece of notecard at the bottom of the pocket.

    I've read both sides of the debate: leaving a space will give the wood an opportunity to swell & warp; vs. people have been using slivers of business cards and matchbooks for 60 years, and that's just the Way.

    I'm considering getting a Stew Mac angled full-pocket shim (or a couple of them, to experiment), out of paranoia -- swollen and warped, no thank you! -- but then I'm back to square one, or ground zero, dancing the truss rod/shim/saddle height troika and hoping to hit the golden ratio. I love my guitar, where it is today, and would rather not frig with it.

    Telemasters -- what wisdom can you share on this topic? Thank you in advance.
     
  2. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    IMO...I've seen strats and teles come from the factory with partial shims and I don't think it will matter in the long haul. A small shim won't leave enough 'bare' wood to swell or warp I wouldn't think.
    I've you're happy with the setup, leave it as is until you're not happy with it. Could be many years!
     
  3. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I have banjos with card-stock shims that are over 100yrs old. Hasn't affected the neck joint at all. Yah, different joint but still, the wood hasn't moved.

    Then there's the old adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    OTOH, a tri-fold piece seems very thick to me...and I would be similarly bugged by it...but because of the limited the contact area, not for any warps or wood movement. However, it is an electric guitar (ie, a stick with strings), it isn't acoustic and probably is unaffected by how solid the neck joint is...esp. if it is working fine.
     
  4. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't obsess over it. When your guitar is working correctly, spend time with it making music.

    Too many people spend too much time futzing around with a non-broken guitar and 'fixing' it until it is broken.

    I have lost count of the number of guitars I've had to fix because their owner decided to fix it themselves. And there's no shortage of damaged bodies and necks Fleabay and Reverb. Virtually every seller claims, "I bought it in this condition blah blah blah," because they're too embarrassed to admit they hoop-a-jooped it themselves.

    Play your guitar!
     
  5. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    So why are you messing with it ????

    If there is no issue with the neck angle vs. the body/bridge (which is the shim purpose) than
    all is good.

    So if a person doesn't have a cut, do they still wear a band-aid?
     
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  6. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    It won’t hurt it. Leave it be.
     
  7. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I ended up getting a few of the Stew Mac ones, which worked well. I like the idea of full contact, and wood in there rather than paper. But short of any science on this, do what you think is best overall for you (time, budget, hassle vs worry).
     
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  8. Laren

    Laren Tele-Meister

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    If it's try-folded and you're worried about a gap then try-fold it like this (if my useless drawing helps) :twisted:

    trifold.jpg
     
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  9. jc77

    jc77 TDPRI Member

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    That drawing is tops, thank you.

    All -- maybe some confirmation bias here, but yes, thank you, these are the messages I want to hear. I've struggled with this guitar, and feel like I've finally gotten it right, so taking it apart again is really the last thing I want to do. If & when things go wonky, then it will be time to reopen the case -- meanwhile I will be in the woodshed -- practicing I mean :)
     
  10. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Just because a paper shim CAN be used doesn't mean it should. Is there a reason for the shim? What happens when it is removed? Has the bridge been changed? Is the neck shim covering up another setup or build issue?

    A neck shim isn't going to hurt anything, but if it is going to be permanent, I elect to spend a few bucks on a tapered wood shim. What is the downside?
     
  11. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Afflicted

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    You don't need the 8 dollar Stew Mac shim.

    If the neck is attached firmly and doesn't move, whatever paper you have folded however many times stuck in there is fine.

    I'm pretty open minded about these kinds of things and will readily concede to "It's your guitar. If it matters to you, then it matters." but I think far too much headspace is wasted on neck shims.... as long as we're talking thousandths of an inch.

    If you're sticking three guitar picks and a matchbook in there to get the action where it needs to be, then it's a problem.
     
  12. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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    I had a shim made and installed by a local guy.
    Crudely-shimmed necks with ski jumps at the 21st fret are not unheard of, and I wanted the proper wood coupling, so it was worth it for me.
     
  13. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I use cardstock shims for small adjustments. Save the full pocket shims for Bigsby B16 installs and offsets, which need 1 to 3 degrees pitch at the neck.
     
  14. Crowcaster

    Crowcaster Tele-Holic

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    The more Fender guitars I set up, the more I think they all need a little shim. I know I'm gonna get called an idiot for it, but it works for me. I just use any thin material I find around the house and cut it to shape.

    Get those guitars playing!
     
  15. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    I’ve heard/seen evidence that a neck will warp around the shim

    I’ve spoken at length about this with my woodworking father

    We’ve concluded that technically yes it can happen but.....it’s very unlikely to happen every time

    I have a shin on my jazzmaster with a visable gap from the side and no worries from me
     
  16. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    If it needed a shim to begin with, and if it can be set up properly with the shim you put in, it's fine.

    Forget everything you've ever read or heard about shims, warp, swell, and contact area, and play the guitar. It's fine and will remain so when your great, great, great, great grandchildren are staring at that colorful, stringed object and wondering what it is.
     
  17. Lonn

    Lonn Friend of Leo's

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    My 70s Kramer has 6 pieces of this brass used for a shim. From the looks of them they've been there a very long time so I didn't mess with them.
     
  18. wblynch

    wblynch Tele-Meister

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    Makes me wonder about the factory micro tilt mechanism. Doesn’t that introduce a gap? And with the pressure only on the centerline, not even across the width, what those implications are?
     
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