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shimming neck to lower action, just checking


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Hello,

i have now built my first guitar, problem is the action is very high. i did not know about checking the height of the bridge at lowest setting and routing the neck pocket accordingly. the bridge is a chinese floyd rose and i have not recessed into the body. i just want to use the bar to go down not up and i heard this causes less issues with tuning. should i shim the neck to bring action down? or is there some other way. any suggestions on next move? also, how do i change the height of the individual strings? they seem to be at different heights.

thanks

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well floyd is generally not able to be individually height adjustable... you generally want to ensure the bridge you buy is machined to match the neck.  That said, not uncommon to cut a square piece of brass and put it under 1 or two saddles to adjust the height.  other than that... the anchor screws are the only height ajustment.

if you need to lower action, and you don't want to recess the trem... then the only option is to put an angle into the neck.  looks like it won't take much based on your pics.  You can take the neck out (assuming bolt) and put it in a vise at an angle and use a belt sander to bring it down, or you can put in a shim at the heel, or you can route the front of the pocket.  you could also hand sand the angle into it... but that is going to take some serious effort and is prone to issue.  I would first experiment with shims to get the correct angle, and then if the shim bothers you... or still isn't enough... one of the other options I mentioned might help.

nice looking guitar.  reminds me of the bc rich gunslingers of the 80's. 

edit - looking at your pocket it looks pretty deep so... shims might be your only answer.

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How high is the action at the 1st fret? If that's low enough then the action at the end of the fretboard doesn't look bad at all!

The clearance on my guitars between the 1st fret (wire) and the string is about 0,5 - 0,6mm - I just took a 0,58mm flatpick and it snugly fit and stayed under the e strings. Under the 12th fret I could slide picks combined 3mm. As that was the case with several guitars that don't buzz I'd consider those "normal" - easy to play but not ultra low.

Shimming is a valid option. If you need to change the neck break angle, a wedge shaped shim is tonally a better option than just a tiny block at the end of the cavity as that will give full wood to wood contact through the entire length of the heel. A handplane is a good tool for making one. Attaching the shim with masking tape and super glue on a larger board will help during the planing.

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Yes - a shim is perfectly acceptable.  And it won't need to be very thick.  It's worth trying a piece cut from an old store/credit card.  Cut it to fit between the body-side neck bolts and the heel end.  Even credit card thickness might turn out to be too thick!  Don't use cardboard or anything similarly compressible but even some plastic food packaging trays can be useful if there is a large enough flat piece in one of them. 

Personally, I would never sand the angle into the heel - it is almost impossible to get it completely flat, straight and even and you end up like trying to sort a wobbly table by sanding one of the legs...you eventually have a very low table that still wobbles :D

I also personally don't generally worry about tapering the shim unless it is very thick (which is very rare and certainly not necessary for the action correction you show on your photo).

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