Neck Shim Question
I've read differing opinions on whether a neck shim. "Strategically" placed can eliminate fret buzz. Others say it is only a good option if bridge saddles are too high. That is how I feel, also. Us there a real benefit from placing a shim under 2 acres of the neck that would eliminate fret buzz? It seams geometrically illogical.
never heard that one before. the main reason for shims is either correcting the neck angle due to a neck pocket being cut wrong, or if the string saddles are bottomed out and the action is still not low enough.
I've only had to shim one of my basses. It was a now long gone Epiphone P bass copy. No matter how many times I tried to get it as playable as I wanted; the saddles were bottomed out, there was no relief in the neck, and the action was still too high for my taste. I finally shimmed and it was perfect after.
I used pressboard (similar to business card thickness) and only shimmed a half-inch closest to the pickup.
As far as the geometry goes, if the tongue* of the neck pocket isn't at the right angle, there's no way to get it set up right without shimming or going all out and attempting to re-slope the tongue*.
*Use of the term "tongue" for lack of a better word. I'm a dummy.
no, fretboard "tongue" is indeed the right word for that last bit that's over the body.
as for the OP's question, shims are for changing the neck angle when the saddles run out of adjustment room either up or down; they don't do anything else.
I've read differing opinions on whether a neck shim.
"Strategically" placed can eliminate fret buzz.
Others say it is only a good option if bridge saddles are too high.
When saddles are too low, and your action's still too high.
That's just what I thought. There's posts that claim shims have eliminated fret buzz, but I couldn't figure out how that could even be possible. Bottomed out saddles was the only thing I thought a shim could fix.
Perform necessary setup.
Guitar now plays well.
Mistaking the shim instead of the set up as the reason for eliminating buzz is understandable in a neophyte. Shimming seems a much larger event that doing a set up.
As stated above, shims are inserted to change the geometry of the guitar. Anything else that happens is purely coincidental.
It pushes the headstock back, lowering the strings, allowing one to raise the saddles, with the side effect of increasing the gap between the strings and body. I like low neck action but higher over the body. I tend to wedge my thumb under the E when focusing on the upper register. The micro-tilt on my basses does this perfectly for me. Took a really long time to figure that one out for myself.
I usually prefer to use a flat shim to raise the neck without changing the geometry of the neck/body relationship.
re: "Others say it is only a good option if bridge saddles are too high.
If the saddles are too high with the proper relief dialed in and the strings are still buzzing in the higher registers, a shim in the front of the pocket can help.
This situation is rarely seen, tho.
If the saddles are too high, lower the saddles.
Placing a shim in the neck pocket changes the geometry of the guitar.
New article out now on it...
I've shimmed most of my necks to find the sweet spot. Some need it, some don't.
A shim can change the neck angle as well as lift the neck further from the face of the bass. In some cases either or both may be desired. I prefer, when possible, to make a full pocket shim that is flat on one side and has the desired angle on the other. This keeps a good fit for the neck in the pocket.
when you find a neck with the dreaded "ski-ramp" problem of the rising tongue over the body, you'll see that the "kink" happens where the neck transitions from round in back to square to fit the body, nowhere near any shims.
what's way easier and probably just as solid is to use a strip of whatever thickness you need for a shim at one end, then find a strip of something thinner to put in the middle of the pocket, so as to take the pressure of the screws and provide more support and solidity.
after putting in the "primary shim", just lay a straightedge against it and the other end of the pocket, then slide your thinner "secondary" shim along until it hits the straightedge; a spot of superglue to lock it in place and you're done, with the neck safely supported in the middle between the screws.
that the action is too high. It means that the action is correct, but the saddles had to be raised
unusually high in order to achieve that correct action height.
The solution is a shim at the outer edge of the neck pocket to change the angle of the neck with
respect to the body (and the bridge). The saddles will now have to be lowered in order to restore
the correct action height. But they will also now be well within their allowable adjustment range.
More commonly, a neck will need a shim because because the saddles have to be set too low
in order to reach the desired action height, or can't be lowered enough. A shim at the inner end
of the neck pocket corrects this.
It's important to realize that the only thing that changes when you shim a neck is the angle of the
neck in relation to the body and bridge. The bow (or relief) does not change directly as a result of
changing the neck angle. If the action height is maintained, the relief will not change. If the action
was ridiculously high, the relief might change when the action is lowered after shimming. But that
is a result of lowering the string height, not changing the neck angle.
It's all simply relational between the saddles and the neck. When you can't position the saddles
where you want them in relation to the neck, you move the neck instead.
as any full length tapered shim (or flat unshimmed pocket for that matter).
I also use "fish paper" for shim material. That's the fiber based plastic resin composite that's been used
as an electrical insulator for ages. McMaster Carr has it in 0.005, 0.010, 0.015, etc up to 0.030 thicknesses.
The 0.005 and 0.010 sizes give you "business card" and "half business card" thicknesses.
Fish paper is also less slippery than paper card stock (business card).
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