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Bolt On Neck Angle - Using Shims It To Achieve The Angle?


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I have two reasons for asking. I am just getting interested in building solid body guitars, plus I have a cheap archtop guitar with a bolt on neck which doesn't have enough angle on the neck and so the bridge won't adjust quite low enough.

So, can you, or should you, use a wedge shaped shim in the pocket between the neck and body to alter the angle?

If building a guitar from scratch that needs the neck angled back (not just bolted in parallel) how do you prepare the pocket for the neck? Do you route as for a parallel installation, then file or chisel to achieve the angle - or do you use a wedge shaped shim?

Edited by bluesy
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i'll bet that you won't find any new builds that use a shim, but I think you could use it to great effect in your case. It's easy to fabricate, and can be easily adjusted or removed should there be any problems with it. Just make sure that it completely covers the footprint of the heel within the pocket (or beyond). I'm sure someone else might chime in with an opinion against them for tonal-exchange/vibration-loss reason, but I doubt you'd be able to tell the difference if it were properly fitted. I have used decorative shims on both of my fender-ish builds, and the guitars still sound beautiful and have excellent sustain.

be sure to take into account any angle adjustment that would need to be made on the back of the heel (if your guitar has one). You would have to remove the same angle that you added as your shim. But if you remove wood past where the @ is in my crude diagram you will begin to shorten the scale and have intonation issues (theoretically) although they may arise anyway as a result of the shimming. I say just try it out, it's either gonna get better or stay the same.

----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+----j

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''']'''''''

_____....side view of neck.......]

-----,------------ @------------------'

------.\...........--!

..........\............!

............\..........! <--- back of heel

..............\........!

Edited by eljib
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for an existing neck pocket I would just shim it. Since it's a bolt on arch top it likely does not have a neck heel. You don't need to make an exact wedge to match your angle. In most cases a piece of card stock or even a dime will do. I use to "dime" Fender strats all the time to get the right angle.

As for doing a pocket from scratch; i use templates to make sure my pocket is snug. I just angle the template (higher on the butt end, that way the router travels higher as I get closer to the butt of the guitar.

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Given all the fuss people make about tight neck joints, and removing the finish of the neck heel etc, it always surprises me when people stick a small shim in a neck pocket, thus massively reducing contact area.

I machine tapered wedges out of hardwood, these contact the whole of the neck pocket, and all of the heel of the neck. IMO this improves stability, and whilst I'm not going to claim I can hear a difference, it certainly doesn't hurt the tone, so I feel it's worth the extra effort.

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Thanks for the great help. I can tell this place will be a great resource.

Some of you brought up the question of a heel. No, it doesn't have one. In fact, it's a very unusual construction cheap guitar from Asia. It has a plastic bowl shaped back like Ovation used, but with a bolt on neck. The neck screws are recessed deeply into molded holes from the back - i.e. no neck plate - unless it's internal.

I don't know what the front face is made of, probably some inferior wood, (even ply?), and the acoustic sound is unusual. It sounds quite nice with w small neck pickup however. It's a nice cheap item to experiment with.

Here's a picture from an ebay ad for one - I think it's funny how the bridge has fallen over, but the photographer hasn't noticed.

hg0155_yl_01.jpg

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