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Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by chrissh, Aug 8, 2020.
Good thinking. And yes, this is occurring with two different bodies and both are uniformly thick.
that body looks home made? it also looks unfinished so there is the problem. no offence intended but that body looks a mess, what is it? and what on earth is that neck?
That is a MASSIVE shim! I've never seen a Tele that needed a shim that big. I'm guessing you have some sort of wacky combo with the way you have everything else adjusted. Not saying your guitar doesn't need a shim because I dont have it in front of me, but something about that shim just isn't making sense. The action looks sky high as well, but hard to tell from the angle of that photo. I bet you'd get better results with a flat shim that fills the entire neck pocket, not a shim that changes the neck angle like your picture shows. Neck pocket is either too deep, or the body is thinner than a normal Tele body, or your neck heel is thinner, etc.
It is a new unfinished body that I have begun reshaping with a rasp and other coarse abrasives. It did NOT arrive looking like this nor does this work-in-progress interfere with the setup issues. I always first assemble partscasters to fine tune shape and setup before then disassembling to sand and finish. All parts involved are nicely made.
* I just want to make clear that the ugly homemade scratches are my doing, not the manufacturer's.
I agree that something about this shim isn't making sense, but the only thing out of the ordinary are the jumbo frets, and perhaps the two vintage style bridges (Wilkinson and Callaham) I've used would work better with a vintage depth neck pocket (11/16" vs. the modern industry standard 5/8"). The action is around .060 or .070" at the 12th fret which is medium low. I think the closeup photos are somewhat exaggerating the appearance of dimensions. It plays and sounds good but this is just a weird arrangement that I don't want to leave as is.
Since this is happening on two guitar bodies and two bridges it's probably the neck because otherwise both bodies would have to have the same defect which is far less likely.
Best guess is the heel is not parallel to the surface of the frets. The full-size wedge suggested by 63 Vibroverb will fix it or you could adjust the heel to make it parallel.
To check put a straight edge against the heel and another against frets 15-21 with both extending beyond the neck. Measure the gap close to the heel and measure about a foot away. If the gap changes as you move away from the heel then the heel is not parallel to the frets. You could use a flat surface like a table saw or a counter for one of your straight edges.
That's a clever suggestion, thank you. Dial calipers and a machinist rule measure the neck exactly 1" at the 16th and 21st frets, but I hadn't considered that a smaller error could compound by the time it got to the bridge.
And I agree that when I've settled on the correct size shim, I'll make or buy a proper full-pocket wedge shim.
My three comments:
1) In the pic of the bridge, the saddle heights you feel are too high look fairly perfect to me. I prefer high saddles for the stronger break angle so the strings are less prone to sliding around on the saddle when picking closer to the bridge.
2) You said you adjusted the neck straight, and while I like minimal relief, straight is zero relief and will require the saddles to be higher than if you dial in a more common relief setting like .008 or even the .012 Fender suggests.
3) In the pic of the neck/ body/ shim, the high E looks to me to be set very very high!
Why choose zero relief then set the action so high while upset that the saddles are so high?
If you prefer a higher action, which is fine, you can get that with a bit more relief, which will lower the saddles.
As far as the bridge maker saying longer screws would be bad, I'm not sure what they mean, but you can likely solve the issue barking up other trees. Why that particular Bigsby/ toploader bridge?
The saddle photo is after applying the shim, whereas before they were jacked very high and the screws were barely within the saddles. I have ordered longer saddle screws to see if it feels okay with higher-than-recommended adjustment.
I meant the neck was "straight" conversationally; it's about .005" which is the most I could get (the strings just aren't pulling this very-straight neck into a forward bow) otherwise I would be inclined to set the relief to about .010". And the action is not as high as it appears (.070" at the 12th fret).
I like slinky action, and I like Creston Lea's reasoning for using top-loader bridges (apparently he designed this bridge with Callaham). Jim Campilongo and Jimmy Page were able to make top-loaders work well too. I started with a Wilkinson bridge (which was totally fine) on a pine body, but that arrangement did not have enough midrange punch and fullness for my preference so I switched to this Callaham bridge which is substantially heavier. That's when I realized the saddles were too high and Callaham suggested there was some error. Then I switched to this new alder body, thinking the pine body might be slightly warped, but now I think all of these parts are good but they aren't adding up.
The height of the strings above the body can effect the sound of the guitar.
Some guys say that there is a sort of fulcrum effect regarding the height of the bridge saddles vs the top of the guitar body.
Some builders raise the strings high off the face of the body, and compensate with a shim thick at the Butt end...On Purpose.
I call BS on that angle of the saddles story (the problem can't possibly be the bridge that I sold you...gotta be the neck or the body)
...I mean BS again...
Do yourself a favor, and buy $3 worth of longer set screws to try. (See if it work out)
Keep in mind, it's a Telecaster, not a rocket ship
Another thing, if the screws that adjust the saddle intonation are too tight in the bridge plate holes (so that you cannot actually raise the saddles higher)
Open up the holes in the bridge plate one or two drill sizes.
Maybe in the end you might prefer the sound or feel with that "backwards shim"
You can try it both ways
There's a lot of speculation on this thread about what might be going wrong and I will say that it all sounds very odd. How about this - bolt the neck to the body without any shims and without the bridge and pickups mounted. Take a long accurate straight edge and lay it across the top of the frets. A side view should tell you a number of things - if the neck is forward or back bowed, the angle of the neck to the body and the height of the fret plane above the bridge. The straight edge should be parallel to the top of the body indicating that the neck isn't angled forward or backward. The straight edge should be around 9mm above the body at the point where the top of the saddles would be. Are you using Bensonite Products Compensated Fat Saddles? I'm using a set of those. I like them a lot. My height screws are adjusted well down inside the holes. Stops the heel of the hand being torn up by the screw ends.
I had that same issue with a Tele project trying to install a factory Fender fat U neck--I didn't have to go to the 1/16 shim but I did end up using between a 1/64-1/32 to make it work.
after trying to install the Fender neck on a MIM Cabronita and then an after market body--both did not allow enough fretboard clearance without topping out the bridge screws and putting the saddles/screws at an angle-- after checking, the factory Fender neck thickness was off.
So using a factory neck and body provide no guarantees that everything is going to line up --just a comment on parts
Had an issue like that too when I changed my parts caster from a barrel to a modern bridge. Finally took it to a luthier And they did 3 things. Made sure the neck heal and pocket were dead level measuring them in all 4 corners. One of them was off so he fixed it. Then added wood to the pocket (this guy does not like shims)and then set the neck. From what i recall he made a spacer by tracing out the neck on hard wood, cut it on a band saw then shaved pieces to the thickness he wanted and glued them in. It intonates and plays very nice now. Action is perfect and low as I like it
In the end, if you have to use shims, do a good job with them and be proud of your work, Shims have to cover the entire area of the neck/body contact. There is a lot of tension there.
once it is set, don't look back. Since the shim needs to be "perfect" buy these and Stack these until you like it! Watch the video enclosed within the stemac webpage, I found it very informative. Enjoy your your new guitar.
I've had a lot of Warmoth parts, especially necks. I know they stand behind everything. I would measure the neck thickness at the heel and check with them on the Fender specs. I assume that is a modern construction neck, seeing the side truss adjustment. It sure looks like the neck sits too high. I've never run into this with the modern or vintage build necks, and it seems odd to get an out-of-spec neck from Warmoth (being all CNC gnats-fanny-machined parts).
Longer screws are a quick, reversable change that may help with troubleshooting the root cause of the problem.
I think it's clear that the neck and pocket match up improperly. Either one or the other or both could be have been cut poorly and out of alignment. Massive shimming is not the way to go. If there is excess material on either the heel or the pocket, as some observe, then I would rework one or both to fit properly. We count on parts makers to produce necks and bodies that are "true," but, well, they don't always do so. That's what the problem appears to be, from my perspective. And that sucks.
Apparently some guitars are even built with a forward angle like this so I wouldn't be bothered by a small shim, but this relatively large shim is puzzling for a conventional bolt neck guitar. Anyway, longer saddle screws are on the way, we'll see if that reduces this oddness.
I had this exact same issue with my partscaster (see photos). Believe it or not, the problem was that I hadn't adjusted the truss rod yet. Once I did that the problem went away & I was able to lower the saddles to a reasonable height.