Kay Neck Upgrade Questions

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Raymond Kallas, Oct 14, 2022.

  1. Greetings all,

    I'm (finally) at a point where I can turn my attention to repairing&restoring my '53 Kay. I want to improve on the neck by adding CF support bars and a shim to improve the neck stiffness and to increase the over-stand. I have some questions regarding this procedure, and hope to get some information from folks who have done this.

    CF Neck Stiffeners: I've read that Dragonplate is popular for these CF strips.

    My questions are:

    1. what dimensions, as far as thickness and height? Is the .125 x .325 a good choice? Or should I use a different size?
    2. Should the neck shim be added prior to routing for the CF bars?

    Neck/Over-stand: The current over-stand is just shy of 1", which gives me less that 6" at the bridge. Also, The fingerboard thickness at the edge is 11/32"

    I would like to add a shim to increase the over-stand and thickness of the neck.

    My questions are:

    1. How much over-stand should I be aiming for?
    2. Should I also add the the heel length along with a shim?
    3. or Should I not add to the heel, and use a tapered shim? And to what degree of angle from nut to the end of the finger board should the shim be?

    Thanks in advance!

    Ray Kallas

    Attached Files:

    dhergert and Keith Rawlings like this.
  2. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    A question first...

    Do you have evidence that the neck needs stiffening, or is the real problem in the heel?
  3. Well, The heel is another problem that I have to deal with as well. It was broken when I purchased the bass.
    Since the neck is off, I figured this would be a good time to improve as much as I can, before I re-attach it.
    dhergert likes this.
  4. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    If you're rebuilding the heel anyway, which will involve work on the block, you might consider making your goals for the neck less interdependent by setting the overstand separately. Lengthening the heel is a common why of handling that. Then you can determine your shim thickness (and neck angle, if it tapers) according to your comfort, as a normal setup option.
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  5. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Ahhh, ok...

    First, I'm not a luthier, and I didn't mean to rain on your parade; I'm sorry if I did. It is your DB and you have every right to do whatever you'd like to it.

    But, if this were me and the neck was off anyway, my dream would be to hold off on everything long enough to take the instrument to a luthier who could replace the existing permanent-attach heel assembly with a removable/adjustable neck heel. In other words, to make this instrument into one that's easier to travel with and to adjust. During this process I'd also love to have an access panel installed, which may actually be required in order to adjust and/or setup a removable/adjustable neck; an access panel would also allow easy user-adjustment to the sound post and a number of other nice things.

    Second, during the process I'd also have the luthier setup the neck with a new properly thick fingerboard and if still necessary, an appropriately sized shim. Unless the neck is actually noticeably warped or bowed, I'd leave the idea of neck reinforcement up to the luthier, although I'd sort of be surprised if the luthier felt it would be necessary after a proper fingerboard and shim are installed.

    So that's just if it were me. I have access to a favorite luthier who I'd arrange to bring this to, and I know he could do all this work in his sleep, at a reasonable cost, and he could do it dramatically better than I ever could.

    Whatever you decide to do, you're already starting to hear in this thread from some very experienced people with more focused information... I wish you the very best as you decide on your path.
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  6. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    James Condino is the go to guy for advice on this, and I'm sure he will chime in soon.

    On the graphite inlays, those dimensions seem a little small to me. Overall it seems that they are always worth doing on a Kay. Some very high end new basses even get them.

    The shim is usually attached to the fingerboard first, so won't affect the inlay procedure. I am bot a proper luthier but have done a few shims. I taper them, adding very little thickness at the nut and more at the heel. As to what thickness and how much taper? It depends on how much overstand and what bridge height you want. Since Kay necks tend to me thin you probably want to add some real thickness down at the nut too and naturally more up at the heel. Replacing the fingerboard should definitely be considered.

    Anyway, As Steven and Dhergert said, you need to deal with the heel and neck pocket first. The joint is notoriously poor on Kays. Better to rebuild it. Making it a RN might actually be less work than creating a traditional joint.
    Keith Rawlings and dhergert like this.
  7. Thanks Steven!
    Good advice as always. And I agree, get the block and heel sorted out first, and then see where I need to go for the neck shim.
    Once the neck is in, I do want to install CF bars, so I am open for any advice on which size of CF bars to use.
    Keith Rawlings and dhergert like this.
  8. Thanks for the feedback Robobass,

    I'm hoping someone can advise on the correct size CF bars.
    I wasn't sure about the order of operation, so thanks for that info.