shimming a neck pocket????

studiodunn

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,554
So, I have been on this "I need to build a tele" kick of late and as in most cases of my OCD I now have a workbench full of parts and tools and Im all about building this guitar. I knew I wouldn't become a luthier over night so i went with a tele on the cheap. I spec'd out everything and started ordering. The body was the first arrival, a 3pc alder job off fleabay. It looked ok. Nothing to get worked up over, but for the money I figured it would be fine. While waiting for the parts to start flowing in I set out to roadhouse this body like a bad step child, let me just say fire was involved. I beat it, carved it, sanded, scraped, and sanded alot more. Too my surprise it turned out really cool. I spent about a week of after works just putzing in the garage working on it. By this time most the parts had shown up and the first thing I go for is the neck. I unpack it, take it to meet it's new life partner and GOOD GOD! The neck is rattling around in the pocket like hot dog in a hallway. The neck specs right at 2.1875".....the body on the other hand is not so much. Needless to say I have a lot of work in this body and it looks cool, but what can be done about a .125" gap in the pocket? Now I understand this is a huge oversight on my part for not checking this before starting, but I already understand that so let's move on to the what now type of remarks. Can this situation be helped by shimming the side of the neck?
 

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
44,924
First off, let me say that as a matter of physics - not wacky guitarist perception but physics - the modulus of elasticity of the wood and solidity of the primary neck/body connection makes way way WAY more of a difference than having neck pocket tightness on the sides of the neck to the body. You know this is true if you've played a gaggle of vintage Fenders. The neck pocket gaps are all over the map on those and I've never experienced any relationship whatsoever as to the size of the gap (or lack of any) and sustain/overall tone.

Why, then, do we guitarists (myself included! :eek: ) so often make a big f-deal about wanting neck pockets that are tighter than a virgin on her wedding night? My theory is that what's really going on is the typical guitarist is using the tightness of the connection as a proxy for "overall high quality construction" and that's the crux of it.

This being said, sure, go ahead and shim the sides: it's like a NYC taxi-cab receipt: "Can't hurt, might help." :) In particular, you don't want the neck slipping in the pocket while you play which can lead to tuning and intonation issues, among other undesirable outcomes.
 

Dana Olsen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,956
First off, let me say that as a matter of physics - not wacky guitarist perception but physics - the modulus of elasticity of the wood and solidity of the primary neck/body connection makes way way WAY more of a difference than having neck pocket tightness on the sides of the neck to the body. You know this is true if you've played a gaggle of vintage Fenders. The neck pocket gaps are all over the map on those and I've never experienced any relationship whatsoever as to the size of the gap (or lack of any) and sustain/overall tone.

Why, then, do we guitarists (myself included! :eek: ) so often make a big f-deal about wanting neck pockets that are tighter than a virgin on her wedding night? My theory is that what's really going on is the typical guitarist is using the tightness of the connection as a proxy for "overall high quality construction" and that's the crux of it.

This being said, sure, go ahead and shim the sides: it's like a NYC taxi-cab receipt: "Can't hurt, might help." :) In particular, you don't want the neck slipping in the pocket while you play which can lead to tuning and intonation issues, among other undesirable outcomes.
Jon hit the nail on the head, IMHO.

Shim it - it'll help keep it from moving around. A tight neck pocket is mostly cosmetic, IMHO. My '56 Tele has a pretty visible gap, and it sounds pretty good (GRIN) to me.

Good Call Jon, Dana O.
 

Mike9

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,983
Did someone way "Hot Dog in a Hallway"???

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Gasp100

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
26,718
I have to say I fretted (no pun intended) over this for quite a while when researching a replacement neck for my Jay Turser Tele. I went with a $90 Mighty Mite Rosewood off of fleabay and the fit is PERFECT!. Better than my Fender James Burton Tele neck and body... I must say, I'm surprised you didn't measure the pocket before you ordered (or did you?) but I guess you can't do much but shim at this point.
One thing Dan Erlewine suggests as a cool shim material is screening (ie. a screen door). It will latch onto the wood, but it's also very thin and should not move as you are putting stuff together. In your case you might have to go thicker (piece of credit card or something?).
Anyway, don't worry about it. What you NEED to do before you mount the neck is string up the high and low E. What I'm sure is MUCH more important is that the strings sit fairly equal to the ends of the fretboard. That is something I am wrestling with a bit right now (high E is much closer to the edge of the fretboard, feels like it might fall of with some bending and it's not getting close enough to the pole piece either.
Shimming is okay in my book. Partscasters RULE! Have fun!
 

K-Line

Vendor
Messages
8,901
Business cards, work great. I am with many other that it don't mean a thing if there are gaps. Never heard it hurt a thang.
 

billstets

Member
Messages
891
I don't think it's so much the tone as the fact that the heel might move around if there's a gap. I had this problem on my strat partscaster. I thought the pocket was pretty tight, but there was a very tiny gap on the upper bout side. I could actually pivot the neck in the pocket a tiny bit. The only way I could really notice that it actually moved was to compare the distance between the low E string and the edge of the fretboard. Once a put a tiny but of cardboard in there, it stopped moving.
 




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