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Neck Alignment For Routing The Pocket

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Here's something that's caused me problems with guitar body builds, aligning the neck pocket rout accurately. The bodies I've made so far have all been without templates.


By making three of these little paper clip sights, you can attach one to the centre of the nut on the neck, one at the centre of the top fret then gently clamp the neck roughly in the right position. I stick a piece of masking tape across the body 3" in where the heel of the neck rout should be roughly positioned.

The third paper clip sight then goes at the base of the body on the centre line, or at the centre of where you want to position the bridge.


With these three sights in place, it is then really easy to sight down from the head of the guitar and gently move the neck into the right position so it is perfectly aligned.

You can then tighten the clamp and draw round the heel with a pencil onto the body, and use this marking line to position your template/straight edges for routing.

Whilst some of you may think I am completely mad, this really helped me get the neck pocket of my fretless bass rout exactly lined up.

Maybe it's time I bought one of those cheap laser guides?

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  • 1 month later...

Easier: put the bridge on. Put the two outer strings on. Clamp neck, adjust until the whole shebang lines up. Although I kinda like the paperclips and tap approach....

+1 I think I am going to try Mattia's approach on my next build. I have an inexpensive laser (the kind that shoots a visible straight line across a flat surface) and used it to align the neck like this:

Laser Alignment

I found that my neck pockets were close, but not perfect. The problem I have with the laser is that it does not shoot a perfectly sharp line. The light beam is a bit fuzzy (as you can see on the white card placed in the nut slot on the neck in the pic) , so it is hard to get pin point accuracy with it.

It wasn't until I installed the bridge and the strings that I could tell that the alignment was a tad off. May as well use the bridge and strings from the start to know what you are going to end up with.

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My son chewed up my ruler.

Centre line is good for starters, then I find I cannot get the neck pocket rout perfect to within a tenth of a millimetre, and if everything is fed off the centre line, then a tiny misalignment on the neck pocket translates to a noticable shift in the neck and ferrules alignment. I prefer to use a centre line to start with, then get the neck pocket rout as bang on as is possiblem, then clamp the neck in place and use this to dictate exactly where the pickup poles, the bridge and the ferrlues should sit.

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I've used the laser and that's worked really well for me. The fuzziness is a bit of an issue --my laser puts out a line close to 2mm thick...my (mechanical) pencil line is 0.5 thick, so I make sure the laser line itself is centered on that.

I prefer to position the bridge to the neck, not the other way around --that way even if the neck is slightly off-line, the bridge is still positioned in line with the neck, which is what counts anyway.

So I route the neck pocket according to the center line on the body, then position the bridge once the neck has been attached.

I think Al's idea of adding a sight is quite nice (at least to the headstock/nut) --but it'd be important that it stand perfectly straight. So I'd worry about adding another variable in the mix.

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