Strange neck alignment Vintage Fender

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by OldSchool50, Apr 7, 2014.


  1. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

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    Mar 15, 2013
    Location:
    Connecticut
    4-9-14: I updated this with photos of realigned neck after a simple fix. Great help from TBers.

    Please let me know if I'm in the wrong forum. I figured LUthiers would have the best idea what wrong with this picture.

    I am looking at a 77-78 Fender J bass with the threebolt neck.
    It's in very nice condition, plays well, except that I've noticed an obvious neck tilt to the left ( I think) when you look at the bass straight ahead. The string alignment seems way off, like something I've not seen before. The photos below show the issue pretty clearly.

    From the nut, The G string gets closer to the edge of neck as you move toward the bridge. At the bridge end of the neck, it's right on the edge. ON the E side, the gap from the edge to the string widens at you move up the neck.
    I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this problem and how it might be fixed. IT has the Fender gap in the pocket so it looks as if there's room to adjust the angle side to side.
    I would take it to a pro for repair but I wonder if it's something to stay away from

    Is it more serious that a simple adjustment Or is it possible the bridge is positioned wrong? It doesn't look quite right to me.
    The owners know nothing about guitars. It was their father's, a pro player who passed away. They believe it's all original.

    Any advice is appreciated and tell me if I"m in the wrong place.

    THanks

    Attached Files:

  2. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

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    Connecticut
    one more, I can take more if needed for different view

    Attached Files:

  3. StarbardGuitar

    StarbardGuitar

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    A lot of times, there is a little movement in the neck pocket which you can use to get good alignment. I've never seen alignment that bad, but a lot of times, you can loosen the neck a little at the neck pocket and move it side to side. Usually, doing that you can get near-perfect alignment. And as you tighten the screws back down you just hold the neck in place so it stays where you want it.

    If there's room to move the neck in the pocket, but you can't tighten it down the way you want, you could fill & redrill the mounting screw holes.

    Your last option would be to fill & redrill the bridge mounting holes. The only problem with that is that the alignment of the strings over the pickups now looks good, but moving the bridge could change that.
  4. MIMike

    MIMike

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2013
    Location:
    West MI
    Looks a little later than 77-78 to me, but that's not what you asked about. This misalignment happens, and can usually be corrected. Loosen the stings and loosen the three bolts, pull the headstock to the left as it appears in the photo. Re tighten what you loosened and it should be OK. It must have been aligned properly at one time if the owner played it professionally.
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  6. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Supporting Member

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    3 bolt neck... danger, Will Robinson!
  7. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

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    Mar 15, 2013
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Thanks guys,
    I will go over and get the OK to try this. Kind of what I thought but I know just enough to be dangerous and didn't want to plunge without some good advice. Seems to be enough room in the pocket to accomplish this. I will report back.
    MIMike, The serial 741XXX on the headstock dates to 77-78 on the fender site, and it seemed early enough number to possibly be 77. If I get it, I will check the pots, pickups etc. NO reason to think now that it's not the original neck.
    Can you explain why you think it might be later? Anything look out of place??

    Thanks
  8. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I'm mulling that also but I've read reams of threads about thhe 3-bolt issue on TB and there sure is a wide range of opinion. My sense is that there are good reliable ones out there.
    I'll keep checking into this one and try to borrow it to get it over to my luthier in RI for an opinion.
    But even with the tilt, it plays very well, nice tone, action and intonation. I set the relief when I first saw it, and just feels good.
    But thanks for the alert. I'll welcome other opinions from the pros here on the three-bolt.
  9. MIMike

    MIMike

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    Jan 1, 2013
    Location:
    West MI
    Sorry to comment like that w/o checking my facts first. I was thinking that the numbered knobs came out in the very late 70's to early 80's. I believe those actually came out right in the period that you have this bass pegged at; 77-78.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the tree bolt necks...there are still thousands of Strats and J-Basses out there that work just fine. Just make sure this one shifts back into alignment, snugs down good and can't easily be yanked back out of alignment.
  10. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

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    MIMike,

    Thanks for clarifying on the date. That's reassuring.

    I will try to get the neck in place, tighten it down, wait a day and recheck. Then I'll bet back to the forum.

    Thanks to all.
  11. David Jayne

    David Jayne

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    Yes, just loosen the screws a bit and give it a tug. Shouldn't be a problem.
  12. megafiddle

    megafiddle

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Looking at the picture on the right, there appears to plenty enough room (gap)
    to move the neck back to where it's supposed to be.

    In fact, the size of the gap suggests that the neck has shifted from it's original
    position. And so the bridge location should be fine.

    -
  13. lz4005

    lz4005

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    Oct 22, 2013
    If there's enough gap you may also be able to put a small shim on the side to help keep it in place.
  14. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

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    What a great wealth of responses, all seeming to suggest the same, with some tweaking options. I will report on this soon, with as photo if it works.

    You guys are Mahveous!
  15. electracoyote

    electracoyote

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    Pretty typical of a bolt-on bass from any manufacturer in my experience. And don't be freaked about the three-bolt thing; I've had some very stable three-bolt Fenders. Once you loosen strings, loosen bolts, reset that neck in the pocket, snug her back down (not so tight as to strip anything, but snug enough so she stays stable), you're good to go.

    Also, be sure the saddles have not slid too far out of position on the bridge plate. That can cause the illusion as well, and a combination of neck alignment and saddle alignment on the bridge plate will get those strings centered perfectly on the fretboard.
  16. 96tbird

    96tbird This Indian movie is really boring man. Supporting Member

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    You can also drop a square of stainless or brass screen in the picket to keep but from shifting. My 75 G-3 has a factory installed piece of brass screen in there and it has never moved. Then you don't have to shim the side of the pocket (unattractive). This neck shifting is a common malady with a simple fix.
  17. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

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    Just where in the pocket should the stainless/screen go? And how big?
  18. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Supporting Member

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    Believers are gonna believer, just as haters are gonna hate. I owned a 3 bolt J bass and I will say two words: never again. Constant neck shift, total instability. But here's the good news: You buy this at a fair price and take a nice test drive - if you don't dig it, you WILL sell it for what you paid. Old Fenders, no matter how old and bad, command a price. You might dig it. Who am I to say?
  19. 96tbird

    96tbird This Indian movie is really boring man. Supporting Member

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    Right flat in the bottom. Aluminum window screen works too. You just don't want something that will rust. Not a tight weave. Not thick strands. You can use brass illicit pipe screens and put 4 in
  20. David Jayne

    David Jayne

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    I've found that plumbers cloth works well for this. It's like screen but coated with abrasive so it holds really well.
  21. megafiddle

    megafiddle

    Joined:
    May 25, 2011
    Some of the problem with those 3 bolt necks is that the neck is perched on the tilt adjust mechanism
    instead of lying flat on the pocket surface.

    You may have a bass where very little or no tilt is required. In that case you can remove the tilt components
    and use normal shimming techniques (if necessary).

    -

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