What's the best way to shim a Strat?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by dreamspace, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. dreamspace

    dreamspace Member

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    Okay, so I've usually only shimmed a neck if the action was too high...but after some reading here, it seems like it's pretty standard to shim to sides of the pocket too? To get tighter/better connection between body and neck.

    On a very well built strat, you should be able to take off all neck screws and lift the guitar by the neck without the body falling off. Correct?

    So: What are the best shimming materials to use?
     
  2. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    I only shim a neck pocket when I'm far from home and my back is against the wall.

    There's a means of seating the neck in the pocket, sometimes called the "Walter W Chiropractic Neck Adjustment Trick" and that's worth doing.

    Chasing a pocket join where you can lift the guitar holding the portion of the neck and lifting as though you're removing just the neck, is a false goal. I like to think about what will happen when the guitar falls, and the headstock hits hard. Can the blow be attentuated, or does the finish crack and maybe even the wood around the pocket? Does the heel splinter? You can easily get too much of this "good thing" you are chasing.
     
  3. burningyen

    burningyen Vendor

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    Opinions differ. There's another thread on this running right now.
     
  4. schristie

    schristie Supporting Member

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    Two words.....Carpet Tape

    Two sided, cut a piece to fit the neck pocket shims and secures at the same time as it is two sided.

    You can lift away and the neck will not come out of the pocket.

    I kid of course...or do I ????
     
  5. DRS

    DRS Member

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    Oh no, not a shim in the strat thread
    :eek::worried:mob
     
  6. tjmicsak

    tjmicsak Member

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    While I won't discount that there might be some slim margin of affect from the side of the pocket, the use of shims is normally just for action, and was common with the early floating trems, before it became the norm to shave the pocket bottom and provide a SOLID tip instead of a shim.

    There is no real compression between the neck and the pocket sides.
    The real important spot is the neck butt end front of the pocket.
    This is where string tension and thereby sustian is greatly affected.
    The WWC adjustment is done by snugging the four neck screws, tuning the guitar to pitch, then backing the four screws out slightly so that the strings pull the neck in tight. then you re-snug the four screws.
    Neck pockets are usually cut with parallel sides, so this makes no tension or compression change to the side walls of the pocket or of the neck.
    Remember that the neck wood, unless kept under extreme and perfect climate can expand and contract. So if you shim with something that needs to have a bit of compression for that allowance, how affective will that side shim really be?
     
  7. rockonomics

    rockonomics Member

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    When a shim is needed I like to mix up some PC7 2 part epoxy. I find the thickness needed by trial and error with guitar picks or what ever. Once I know the thickness needed I trim that material down to almost nuttin' then I place that in the neck pocket, use the epoxy to make a nice flat surface and put the neck, wrapped in cellophane, back in the pocket. Then I bolt it in place. The epoxy will sneak around the corners of the neck and fill those areas so that the neck can't shift much when the neck is bolted back permanently. I like to put some soap on the screws so the epoxy doesn't stick to them and leave it overnight. When I come back after at least 12 hours I remove the Saran wrap and bolt the neck back down. Shimming the sides isn't really needed and won't affect the tone. I do like to make a tight fit with the epoxy if I'm repainting the guitar. Then I can be absolutely certain the neck can't shift even if you do your best Pete Townsend imitation.
     
  8. peskypesky

    peskypesky Member

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    i have to shim one of my strats' necks. might do it tonight if i get home at a somewhat decent hour. the shim needs to be fairly thick so i'm not sure what i'm going to use. maybe the plastic from a cd case....or would card-stock be better?
     
  9. Neer

    Neer Supporting Member

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    Ken Parker once showed me how to shim a Strat neck with a match. Yup--just one paper match (of course, with the head burned off).
     
  10. sabby

    sabby Member

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    Business card cut into strips or the cardboard punch-out from a packaging of guitar strings (from where they hang on display in the store).

    I like the cardboard match idea. No scissors!
     
  11. Drew68

    Drew68 Supporting Member

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    This worked for me.

    [​IMG]

    Had a problem bending strings on the 14th fret and higher. They'd go dead. Slipped this in the neck pocket between the two forward neck screws and it fixed it perfectly. Now my Strat rings like a bell and I can bend all the strings everywhere on the neck.

    Edit: Didn't even take off the strings. Just detuned it, loosened the neck screws a little bit, pulled the neck up, slipped the shim in , tightened and retuned. Quick, easy fix that solved all my Strat dead-string headaches.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  12. m-m-m

    m-m-m Member

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    I like to keep a few used itunes cards in my tool box when I need a quick shim. Once I made full size wood shim out of poplar, BY HAND!! A belt sander woulda been much faster, but I don't have one of those.

    EDIT-check later in the thread. uploaded pics
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  13. rockonomics

    rockonomics Member

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    This is just wrong. You need to use Lucky Strike cig paks for the pure, unfiltered toanz:D
     
  14. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    plastic shirt collar stays work too. almost perfect size... Just round the pinty end a bit and you're golden.

    need more just stack them ala Fender. I had an AVRI jaguar that had 5-6 shims stacked on top of each other.

    that said I would wager the best shim would be made of wood and fill the entire pocket, graduated from 0-(whatever size needed)
     
  15. Gevalt

    Gevalt Member

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    I don't see how plastic of any kind could be better than wood. Some maple veneer worked wonders for me.
     
  16. Joe Naylor

    Joe Naylor Supporting Member

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    Window screen material cut to a 1/2" wide strip, with screw holes made with a paper punch. Or a sandpaper strip, glued to neck pocket with craft spray adhesive. Either one works great, and because they're textured, they grip the neck and keep it from shifting side-to-side.

    Also, a shim should always be positioned directly over the screw holes. Otherwise, you can cause deformation of the neck, which can cause fret buzz problems in the high registers.
     
  17. bismark

    bismark Member

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    It's OK to have a dreaded "shim in a strat" thread as long as you're mindful and sensitive enough not to mention Fender Custom Shop......er...oops.
     
  18. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    No. That's too tight. If the humidity gets too high it could crack the wood.

    I like those little business cards. They're the right thickness.
     
  19. m-m-m

    m-m-m Member

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    So, as i mentioned earlier in this thread, I once made a full size shim by hand. Is it perfect? No. Did it fix the neck angle on the bolt-on it belongs with? Yes.

    I removed the neck on the guitar - had a hairline crack under the nut and it's being repaired at the moment, so I took a few pics of the shim.

    [​IMG]
    it's hard to get a feel for the thickness or taper from pics ....
    [​IMG]
     
  20. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I've used sandpaper. I only shim if I don't have proper saddle height range and I'm out of adjustment. I never shim the side. A little gap on the side makes no difference, unless the neck is moving, and then you have bigger problems.
     

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