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Reverse shim to fix saddles at max height

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by fleezinator, Jan 26, 2021.

  1. fleezinator

    fleezinator Tele-Meister

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    I just assembled my tele build and my 6 saddle gotoh bridge saddles are sitting quite high to compensate for some fret out past the 12th fret. The action is too low (unintentionally) and it seems I don’t have the tolerances to finely adjust the saddle heights to beat the fret buzz much less match the fretboard radius.

    The neck is from warmoth (modern build, if that matters) and has relief. I don’t have proper measuring tools but using the trick of fretting the first and last fret to gauge the action at the 12 fret shows some decent play. I'm gonna make the educated guess that this is not a truss rod issue. The body is XGP built to vintage specs according to them. I suspect that the neck pocket just wasn't routed deep enough for my neck or wasn't routed completely level even though the sides of the pocket snugly fit the neck.

    I added a shim (2 stacked 32pt business cards) at the nut end of the neck pocket to see if that would help & it did. I was able to lower the saddles to a 'normal' height and get playability all up & down the neck with the action as I like. The big draw back is the resulting forward angle of the neck and of course the gaping hole in the pocket that will potentially affect the neck in the long term. This Haze Guitars article sums up my issue.

    So yeah, it's now in a playable state but man, this look doesn't sit right with me...
    [​IMG]

    Questions:

    Am I correct in assuming the pocket depth/angle is the main culprit here? Seems like routing away a hair or two deeper would be the "correct" solution but I'm deathly afraid of touching that critical area to the point I taped it up before painting and have never touched it with sandpaper. Am I missing something else that could be causing this?

    Can I use stew mac's full contact shims but reversed?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. mrchen

    mrchen TDPRI Member

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    How is the action at the nut? If you’re fretting out past 12 but the rest plays fine its possible that your nut needs to get adjusted, potentially filed down so that your string action runs at an incline towards the bridge.

    I had a similar problem and the issue was the stock nut being cut way too high from the factory.

    By the looks of your photo it also looks like there’s slightly too much relief in the neck but it could be an optical illusion.
     
  3. USian Pie

    USian Pie Tele-Meister

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    I've had to work with a couple of necks over the years to get them to sit right with builds. I'm hardly an expert.

    First, I would get a high-quality metal ruler and double-check the depth of the XGP pocket at different points. As you said, it may not be level.

    If the sides of the neck pocket are tight, is the neck bottoming out all the way in the pocket? If the sides aren't square, the neck may not be fully seated. You might try taking chalk or crayon, marking a few points in the pocket, seating the neck, and seeing if it rubs off on the neck. If it doesn't, that might indicate somewhere the neck isn't fully seating.

    I would also compare your measurements with known dimensions for Strat neck pockets. Honestly, between Warmoth and XGP, my first guess would be something is off with the XGP body.

    If the XGP pocket is off, I would get out the sandpaper, work carefully, and measure frequently.
     
  4. Mr Green Genes

    Mr Green Genes Tele-Afflicted

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    I've used the Stewart McDonald maple shims, and will do so in the future if the situation calls for it. A much better option than a piece of sandpaper (or part of a match book, or the torn off cover of a pack of Zig Zag orange, or any of the other random things I've found in neck pockets).

    They can be used in either direction, but from the look of that picture, it might be a bit uncomfortable to play (like the opposite of a Gibby).

    I would check the drill holes in both the neck and the body first. Sometimes I find drill holes in a neck that have little "ant hills" around the hole, which prevents the neck from sitting flush in the neck pocket.

    It's likely that the neck pocket is the problem, but rather than mess with it, depending on what kind of equipment you have access to, it might be more practical to change the angle by sanding the part of the neck that fits into the neck pocket, rather than to try to alter the pocket itself.

    To check relief, capo on first fret, fret where the neck attaches to the body (not the last fret) and check distance between the top of the fret and the bottom of the string at the seventh or eighth fret (half way between the two fretted points).

    It's hard to tell from a picture on a phone, but it looks like you've got some bowing going on there.

    .
     
  5. bendercaster

    bendercaster Tele-Afflicted

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    I just went through the same thing with my new Warmoth neck. I used the stew mac shims and just flipped them. I did have to enlarge the holes in them to allow the screws to pass though, but they worked fine that way. It will definitely allow you to lower your saddles. I wasn't crazy about being able to see the shim though and it was a lot of trial and error to get the angle right.

    Before you try that though, set your relief first and give that neck a few days to adjust to being at tension. After the neck settled and I got it set with just the right amount of relief, I was able to remove the shims and get the action low without buzz. The saddles are higher than they were, but not as high as they were at first. The neck and fret work are really nice though and if you get that neck nearly straight, I doubt you will have any fret buzz up high especially if it has a compound radius.
     
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  6. DugT

    DugT Tele-Afflicted

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    If the nut is lowered then the saddles would have to be raised even more. The saddles had to be raised to get the strings further from the frets. Lowering the nut will not get the strings further from the frets.
     
  7. mrchen

    mrchen TDPRI Member

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    Only speaking from experience, here. I had a guitar that exhibited the exact same problems-- neck relief seemed to be fine, neck angle centered to the bridge, but the guitar was still fretting out above the 12th. The solution after consulting luthiers was that my nut was too high and it fixed almost all of my problems short of a fret level to take out the rest of the buzz.
     
  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Your neck cavity should be .625 deep. The neck heel should be 1" thick top of wood to bottom of wood. This will work with a standard tele bridge. You may have a neck cavity problem in the body that needs to be fixed. It could be junk in there or just a poorly made body not the right size or level. Check for debris and that the screws can pass through the neck holes without getting hung up on threads.
     
  9. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    So keep studying and thinking about how the shimming works. And study and acquire a few tools too. And then read up on preferred measurements - I like more action and more relief than some folks, to allow more aggressive attack.

    In the meantime, here's a trick for temporary trail and error so you can sneak up on the size shim that you need. Shimming at the neck pocket changes the angle, or rotates the neck about a point or line. So before you use final shims, do this: use business card stock in the following manner:

    Cut shim *strips* about 1/8" wide. You will have 2" x 1/8" strips.
    Cut the strips in half, so that they are now 1" x 1/8"
    To increase action, place a shim strip between nut-end pocket bolts, and assemble.
    To decrease action, place a shim strip between the bridge-end pocket bolts and and assemble.
    Stack additional strips as needed.
    Or, you can use thicker shim stock in the same manner, such as plastic credit card strips.

    FYI, Squier sometimes shims necks at the factory. I found a maple shim strip on a Squier recently.
     
  10. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Interesting.... But could you explain how the nut affects the string path at all once the string is fretted? The string is a line between the fret and the saddle, right? Maybe there were other relief or level issues from trying to compensate for the tall nut?

    On my latest build with a Warmoth body and Musikraft neck I needed a small 'reverse' angle shim to get the saddles down to a comfortable height. It was either the 0 25 or 0.5mm Stew Mac shim. It's not noticable unless you specifically look for it. I trimmed it a few mm short of the pocket edge. The setup is good now. I like a nearly flat neck/fingerboard.
     
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  11. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    PS - forgot to talk about the fret plane elevation. If your neck is thicker at the pocket end, it will raise the whole fret plane, or if its thinner, it will lower the whole fret plane. So its another sneaky dimension that has nothing to do with angles, relief, action, etc. You might look at that, I've seen more than one posted issue, that turned out to be a replacement neck that wasn't a replacement without adjusting the neck thickness or adjusting the pocket depth to correct the fret plane alignment.
     
  12. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've had that kind of shim in a guitar for that last 8 years with no issues. It works.
     
  13. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    XGP bodies are notorious for having neck pocket issues. I would bet that the Warmoth neck is about as good as you will find and that the floor of the neck pocket is the culprit. Shim the neck inward, or re-route the neck pocket bottom, and it should cure what ails you.
     
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  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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  15. fleezinator

    fleezinator Tele-Meister

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    Having a look now and will let it seep in! If we could upvote to sticky this kind of info to the forums, I know I could easily nominate several of your posts/threads as goldmines Freeman. thanks!
     
  16. fleezinator

    fleezinator Tele-Meister

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    I think I've got it sorted.

    [​IMG]

    I took a small keychain level and moved it around the pocket in various places to find that the bridge end was the biggest offender. I used that level as the guide to sand and would periodically check with the level. I cut a triangle shaped sanding block to get into the corners as much as possible as well as keeping the whole pocket flat but even after several passes of sanding, checking with the level, attaching neck and stringing the low E to gauge progress, the bridge end was still posing problems. The tiniest bit of wood at that right angle wasn't catching on to sandpaper so I took a dremel (!!) with a sanding bit and *gingerly* kissed the heightened areas till the floor was flat.

    I've effectively dropped the floor of the pocket to where I no longer need a shim and the neck sits parallel with the body. The saddles are no longer maxed out but are still at what I consider the higher end a bit. At this point I 'm not complaining although I could sand down another 1/16" or three to get the saddles lower. The action is in a good spot, the guitar is intonated and feels great. I'm calling it good enough for me :) Thanks everyone!
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good job
     
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