Poll: How Many of You Shim Your Tele Necks?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by El Tele Lobo, Feb 2, 2020.

Do you shim your neck?

  1. Shim-shimminy shim-shimmy shim-shim shim me!

    23 vote(s)
    12.0%
  2. No shims here...blasphemous!

    31 vote(s)
    16.2%
  3. What's a shim?

    10 vote(s)
    5.2%
  4. I thought this was the 3 Stooges thread...

    2 vote(s)
    1.0%
  5. Only when necessary

    125 vote(s)
    65.4%
  1. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don't have boardroom surveillance but I'd guess Fender decided to angle JM pockets due to internet lore about shims being bad and various threads full of raving about how could a quality guitar need a shim, shims are bad, Fender sucks etc etc.
    It does make sense if the milling is CNC since we know it needs angle, but old Jazzmasters didn't suck due to shims.
    They sucked for a variety of other reasons!
     
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  2. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Try unbolting a neck and leaving it in the pocket with the guitar on a table top.
    Place a straight edge across the tops of the frets and over the bridge, with the neck heel pushed tight in the pocket.
    Move the headstock down to the table and see how the other end of the straight edge goes up, which means the saddles need to go up.
    Press the neck heel back into the pocket, see the headstock come back up off the table, and see the end of the straight edge go down closer to the body.
    That's the geometry of neck shimming.
     
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  3. Wobbles

    Wobbles Tele-Meister

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    Shims are tone killers.
     
  4. Saxonbowman

    Saxonbowman Tele-Meister

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    I shimmed a Squier Affinity Tele once. It made it possible to lower the bridge enough to get the action where I liked it. My current Classic 50s Tele doesn’t need it.
     
  5. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've done an inordinate amount of neck swapping with Fender necks and bodies, and presently at an even dozen Teles - none with their original necks in place. No shims have been required through any of that mixing and matching.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
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  6. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    My action was still high even after putting proper relief in the neck. Trying to get it any lower only caused fret buzz. Shimming the neck allowed me to get my action lower AND eliminate buzz.
     
  7. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    But... had you confirmed that your frets were level?
     
  8. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Many times over the last 25 years I have to shim the headstock and of the pocket, to create less break angle at the saddles for a looser feel.

    if it's a guitar I really like and play a lot I will have the repairman just route the pocket down instead, so there before would contact.

    .

    .
     
  9. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Interesting.

    That bit about the floating trem makes sense in theory, but in reality, I never need a shim to get relatively low action (4/64 @ 12th), with a full step rise on the B string (when pulling up).
     
  10. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Holic

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    I have a tele with a B16 Bigsby. So yes, I have a big fat aluminum shim in my neck pocket.
    It’s glorious!
    B14D7F59-DD9C-41EB-81E8-94D3AA349629.jpeg
     
  11. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Were your saddles at their highest or their lowest before you installed the shim?

     
  12. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I prefer to use a shim the size of the whole neck pocket, though it is more noticeable than using a thinner shim to tilt the neck. I have recently been using thin hobby plywood for shims. It comes in like 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32 thicknesses. You can usually get it in the same bin that they sell balsa and basswood for at the hardware store. I like it because if you are careful drilling out holes for the neck mounting screws, doesn't split it.
     
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  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Hmmm, maybe it's a style of setup thing?
    Are you using vintage stamped steel saddles and burying the screws so they don't dig into your hand?
    Modern cast saddles work better set lower but also then give a weaker break angle, which may not bother all players and some may even prefer the supposedly looser feel of a weaker break angle at the bridge.

    I can't stand the sense that I'm picking strings that can move on the saddle, so I make it a priority to get them anchored hard and impossible to move.
    Might be my own setup style but customers never complain and have often said other techs setups weren't as good as mine.

    Where some claim neck shims are tone killers, I maintain that weak break angle is a tone killer.

    Above we see @That Cal Webway say they shim the other end of the pocket for the looser feel, so I guess my obsession isn't universal!
     
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  14. 53Strat

    53Strat TDPRI Member

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    Only when necessary for me and I think I have only shimmed two necks ever.

    Interesting to read everyone else's experiences and unsubstantiated fears.

    My first "necessary" shim was on a Custom Shop Custom Classic Tele. Bought new it arrived with the saddle adjusting screws sticking out of the saddles about 1/4".

    I played with it like that for a few gigs then used about 3/4" of the famous business card at the heel of the neck and that was all it took.

    No noticeable loss of tone, sustain or looks and it was there until sold 5 or so years later.
     
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  15. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    For me it's simply about aiming the fretboard plane at the target bridge height. I use an 18" straightedge.

    If it comes close, no reason to shim. If saddle screws are at undesirable extremes (e.g. lacerating your palm), a thin shim has corrected the issue for me on a few guitars. I don't hear any effect on tone.

    One combination was weird. I put a Harmony neck on a Teisco body fitted with a DIY "electric sitar" buzz bridge. My usual geometry said I should angle the neck back, but the buzz-bridge 'system' didn't really come together until I angled the neck forward with a "reverse shim" on the front/neck end of the pocket. My other shims have all tilted the neck back.

    As far as teles, one shim was in my tele 12-string kit guitar. No surprise for a $75 kit.

    My new Squier Bullet Tele didn't need shimming. But we know that Fenders have come from the factory with neck shims, I reckon they must be okay.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
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  16. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I was talking about setting up a vintage spec Strat, with trad bridge and bent steel saddles.


    Separately, shims poorly done probably could hurt tone... I guess... If you left three of the screws off...
     
  17. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    I do it if needed. There's no other reason to, unless you specifically want to go to the extreme and give yourself the feel of a more Gibson-esque neck angle.

    I have a build in progress with a routed in 2 degree neck pocket. I just wanted an almost SG sort of feel with this guitar, so I routed in the neck pocket angle, and went with a thinned down body blank compared to the usual 1 3/4" Fender thickness. It's using a sawed-off vintage style bridge, and I'll likely shim the bridge 2 degrees as well (like an old Hamer Special). Otherwise, sinking the pocket about 1/8th inch would be the only way to keep the saddles in a normal position compared to the bridge plate (and your intonation adjustment screws can only handle so much up angle). Then the neck would feel abnormally low compared to the body.

    I also have a build with a Kahler. I used a lot of neck angle on that one too, using a full pocket wedged shim that I cut myself. Having the roller saddles high off the bridge plate makes the Kahler feel and operate much better.

    It should not "improve [your] action" in and of itself (by "action," I assume you mean "string height," as most people erroneously use the term to mean). It just changes the range that your saddle height adjustments cover.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
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  18. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I usually bed the necks that need shimming with AcraGlas. My Warmoth’s hadn’t required shimming ever. Still do the AcraGlas thing. I’ve been slumming with cheapos GFS even a Walmart guitar a couple of years ago. Every GFS required major rework and fitting so they got it. The Walmart neck pocket was not quite as bad as a late 70’s Fender but it still needed it. Best thing you can do to improve the responsiveness and feel of a guitar!! Brass or steel inserts are usually part of this process. I use inserts in both the neck and neck pocket. I adjust the neck pocket inserts (they are threaded) to provide the desired neck angle then bed it in place with AcraGlas. Makes the neck pocket air-tight and guitar just comes alive.
    BC8A653F-4E78-4F2D-AA6D-5052E6C2A0E2.jpeg
     
  19. graybeard65

    graybeard65 Tele-Meister

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    My tele had the saddles down nearly flat against the bridge, and the adjustment screws were painfully high...and the strings were still too high.

    advice from this forum suggested a shim, and it worked wonders. The string height it lower, the guitar is immensely more comfortable, and a guitar that I liked playing before is now one of my favorites.

    I’ve got no issue at all with a shim - but that’s my only experience with one -

    any time I offer an opinion, surely you have to ask yourself what the heck I know - which, if I’m honest, is precious little. YMMV
     
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  20. rolandson

    rolandson Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Ahhh...I can honestly state with absolute certainty that I've never shimmed a Tele neck.

    I don't own a Tele.

    But, I've shimmed Strat type partscasters and a Danelectro. In each case I make my shims from maple verneer cut to the full shape of what I'm working on.

    The Dano's bridge required a shim to prevent the screws Danelectro included with their intonatable bridge from protruding through the body and out the back. As such, the neck also required a similar adjustment to compensate. It works flawlessly.

    With the S-types, I needed to raise the necks so that the saddle height adjustment screws would no longer trash my hand. Again, a piece of maple verneer cut to the full shape of the neck pocket. Again, flawless.

    Whenever I've desired a change in neck angle, I still use maple verneer cut to the full neck pocket which I shape, using sanding blocks made from marble, to achieve the desired angle. It's a slow process, but if one pays attention , it's far superior to ready made, or substitutions like business cards.
     
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