Lemons (warning: G&L rant)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by smtp4me, Feb 26, 2024.

  1. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    Not really sure if this is a cry for help, or just a rant. Maybe both. Apologies if this a little long...

    I have a G&L LB-100 Tribute, purchased new about two years ago. I immediately swapped the factory strings for Chromes and set it up to my preferred specs. I've made seasonal adjustments to the truss rod, but no other changes.

    I was happy with the bass until I made a change over the holidays. I decided to sand (and then burnish) the factory gloss poly finish off the back of the neck and replace it with Tru Oil. When I removed the neck to begin sanding, a narrow piece of sandpaper fell out of the pocket.

    I am not a professional luthier, but I have done all my own setups and modifications for decades and built a bass or two from parts (e.g. Warmoth). I am well aware of neck shims. This piece of sandpaper was (maybe) 1/4 inch wide, as long as the neck width where it meets the pocket, and one end was slightly folded over on top of itself.

    I had never seen sandpaper used as a shim, especially this small and thin. So I threw it away, completed the sanding and oiling, then put it all back together. That's when the problems started. To summarize: since then, I cannot get the bass properly setup - no matter what/how I try. A quick (but not complete list):
    • Different materials for a shim (wood, metal, paper)
    • Different size shims (width, thickness, length etc.)
    • Different locations within the neck pocket (G&L LB-100 has 6 screws holding the neck in place) and shims that fill the neck pocket vs. strips
    Depending on the above, the bridge saddles are either too high or cannot be lowered enough to get the correct string height because they hit the bottom of the bridge cavity. When I am able to get it close, I'm getting a lot of clank and string noise. I cannot get the intonation set. Every string is sharp to some degree no matter how far I move each saddle away from the nut.

    To be fair, every guitar maker has imperfections and quality issues on some level. And one instrument does not represent the quality of all of them. But... the level of frustration I'm having has pushed me to now look for another P bass, not made by G&L. I feel like I got a lemon, and not only is it past warranty, I've modified it. Argh...!!
  2. Well that'll learn ya... If something falls out of your bass, never toss it until you figure out why it was there.

    Yeah, I've seen all sorts of things used as shims. Sandpaper wouldn't actually be all that unusual because it's got some "stone" to it so it wont really compress. Some of the most expensive bolt-on-neck instruments in the world have shims.

    You can get wood shims in various sizes from StewMac if you don't want to make them yourself.
  3. winojunko

    winojunko Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2023
    If it makes you feel any better I disassembled my 2021 Custom Shop over the weekend and found some nasty little surprises under the hood as well.
    Ethix4, Dust2Dust, MCF and 6 others like this.
  4. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    You have a Tribute series, not a Fullerton. You’ve enjoyed it thoroughly for several years. You disassembled it and altered the finish and there was a shim that did it’s job which you discarded. Now it’s a lemon.

    Am I missing anything?

    Take it to a pro and say you lost the shim and they’ll fix it and it won’t be a lemon anymore.
  5. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Until you've worked the returns desk at a public library you have no idea of "nasty little surprises."
  6. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    Well… the neck issue is related to a defect that is not resolved despite attempting to fix with all the methods described above. This includes a similar strip of sandpaper placed in the same location as the original. I know this because the original left a small, indented pattern in both the neck and pocket. I tried this first before changing/correcting the setup. Which means for all intents and purposes, it was returned to its original state and still did not work. The remainder came after this failed.

    I understand that small variances at this level of precision can have big effect. The fact that so many different variations have failed leads me to believe either the neck pocket was routed too deep or the neck heel was improperly shaped by CNC machine.

    But your point is valid.
    MCF likes this.
  7. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    How in the world is the bass a lemon or defective? It was fine before you took it apart and now you can’t get it back together properly. You completely changed the finish on the neck. That’s on you.

    You’re upset because you ruined your bass and want to place the blame elsewhere.

    This car’s a lemon. I pulled the engine out, modified the cams and now it doesn’t run exactly like it did before.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2024
  8. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i've seen sandpaper used as shims in several basses including squiers and ibanez. it makes sense to me - sand doesn't compress like wood does, and the shops probably have lots of sandpapers in different grits. and the grit probably helps keep the sandpaper shim from moving, too.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2024
  9. ProbablyTooLoud


    Aug 1, 2020
    Vitrius Humor and Dust2Dust like this.
  10. el jeffe bass

    el jeffe bass

    Nov 22, 2013
    New Mexico
    Thank you Talkbass. I’ve been looking around my house for a good shim material, I’ve just found the answer.
    HowieD72, tindrum, Andre678 and 16 others like this.
  11. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2023
    Among the multiple shim materials I saw over the years, here are a few ones :

    Business cards
    Playing cards
    Sand paper
    Guitar pick
    Masking tape (sometimes up to a few layers !)
    Pocket shaped bevel wood shims ($$$)
    Brass shims

    Do they all work fine : yes (at least according to me)

    My favorite is the business card because it’s cheap and works just good enough. And to avoid losing it when removing the neck, I just put a drop of wood glue.

    Best thing for you would be to find that sand paper back and put it back exactly on the same spot. Worst case, something as close in terms of size and compressibility will also work.
  12. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    Hey SMTP,

    I'm sorry that your bass isn't in the optimal playing situation, and you can't get it back to that place. I think it is time to get a new set of eyes on it that you trust. They might be able to get it in prime playing order again.

    Best of luck.

  13. Nightsprinter

    Nightsprinter Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2023
    ʻOumuamua (Mass)
    When I pull a bolt-on neck off of anything that plays great and don't see some type of a shim jammed in there, I'm usually caught off guard with surprise.
    ColdEye, tindrum, paramountz and 17 others like this.
  14. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've seen sandpaper used as a factory shim. It seems to work fine (or medium, depending upon the sandpaper).

    Ranting is fine. Everybody gets frustrated and it feels good to rant. Calling the bass a lemon, though... That's doing G&L a disservice. That bass played just fine before you took it apart so there's clearly something you've missed in the reassembly.
  15. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Shims are used all the time even on expensive basses. All kinds of materials can be used as shims. I use a folded piece of Xerox paper as a shim on my Fender American Pro Jazz, and that crappy paper shim doesn’t affect the tone or sustain.
    tindrum, One Way and mikewalker like this.
  16. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    this issue can most likely be remedied by a qualified tech in under 30 minutes. So like, bring it in for a setup, make sure to mention the shim, and be done with it
  17. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    Just take it to a pro, get the right shim in it, and you’ll be good. The issue is you threw away the shim and what you’re using to replace it isn’t exactly the right thing. This is a fixable problem, you just need to get the bass to someone who can get it set up properly.
  18. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I’ve had the neck off of every Mike Lull bass I’ve owned (Five total).

    I’ll admit, I wasn’t looking, but I don’t recall ever noticing a shim in the neck pocket.

    I’m open to correction by another Lull owner, but I just don’t recall seeing a shim in any of them.
    ajkula66, MCF, Dudaronamous and 3 others like this.
  19. Bass4ThePublic

    Bass4ThePublic Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2019
    Kansas City
    Beware of leo’s magic sandpaper! Lol
  20. You don't mess around with shim.