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New bass needs a shim

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BFunk, Mar 20, 2014.

  1. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I have a new Fender American Deluxe Dimension V. This is actually the second one I've owned. The first one went back to the dealer because the truss rod was not working properly. This second one is so much better. The neck is far better and so is the fret work. It is also lighter by 1/2 lb. Nicer woods and finish too. I've been able to do a decent set up with decent action. I think I could get a really great action out of this bass but the saddle on the B is bottomed out and the G string is not far behind. I think that shimming the neck will turn this into a low-action, fast playing monster. So I have two choices from what I can see, sent it back again and hope that I get something better, or send it to the luthier for a pro set up with a shim. What would you do? I am leaning towards shimming it.
  2. shim it yourself? You just need a business card and a screwdriver
  3. Hey there,

    If you're at least fairly handy with hand tools, I also recommend shimming it yourself.

    I consider it part of the available "bag of tricks" with a DIY setup.

    All the best,

  4. ClassicJazz

    ClassicJazz Bottom Feeders Unite!! Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Delray Beach, Florida

    I did just that on my new Fender PJ Special. There was a bit of neck swell at the heel that caused the upper frets to buzz. Could not get it out simply with the truss rod (plus I like my action low).

    Put in a piece of a thick business card....and she is playing wonderfully!

    I did the same actually on two other of my basses, a mid 80's Fender Jazz fretless and my 1972 Fender Jazz.
  5. .
    I often use cardboard for shim material.
  6. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    Rule of thumb, whatever the thickness of your shim, it will mean movement of 3x that at the bridge for the same action. IOW, a little, really does go a long way. I'm adding this primarily for the benefit of those who have never done a shim, who may not believe that a business card could make much of a difference.
    Zoomaster likes this.
  7. So 1/8" lauan would be overdoing it?
  8. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    _Way_ overdoing it! Cut a strip of business card of wood veneer.
    Geri O likes this.
  9. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I used to shim necks myself. Apparently I did it wrong. I used to put a little strip of something, maybe 1/2' wide to tilt the neck back slightly. Apparently, this causes the fingerboard to rise over time at that spot because of the added pressure. So the way to go is a shim that fills the neck pocket completely. Then you sand it on a belt sander to get the angle right. I don't think the neck pocket is at the wrong angle in this case. It seems more like the pocket or neck as just a hair too thin.
  10. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    The claim that a ski jump is caused by a partial-pocket neck shim is one of those urban myths. There is no conclusive evidence to support it, only popular opinion. In my shop I have seen just as many ski jump conditions on bolt-ons without shims as those that have a shim, so it doesn't seem likely that the shim is the culprit.
  11. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    64 Audio · DR Strings · Source Audio · Hipshot
    Most basses I've shimmed have only needed the thickness of a business card, MAYBE two. I can't see something so small and unobtrusive causing a big chunk of wood to warp, creating a ski jump. Shim away!
  12. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY

    Business card, matchbook cover, thin wood veneer, thin plastic... any of the above.
  13. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    I use brown paper adhesive backed shipping tape. It is very controlable. You can layer it in a shingle pattern to get any angle you need and it can be trimmed to fit the neck pocket exactly... Its also made of wood pulp.
  14. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I have never needed a neck shimmed and I love my action low could you provide some pictures as to how it looks now? I'm always curious about these shim conversations because I feel like I'm missing out on something.
  15. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Not uncommon to have to shim a bolt on neck. Biz cards work fine. I have various gauges of shim brass I like to use, but it's not unheard of for me to use a plain old business card.
  16. coughiefiend


    Nov 12, 2013
    I posted this in another thread, but I have always used picks, positioned between the neck bolt (on whichever end it's needed). I start out with the thinnest I can find and move up from there (rarely ever used anything as thick as a medium fender). It's also a great way to use up those picks that you have accumulated, but hate to use.
  17. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I agree. I've shimmed necks with the strip and it worked fine and did not develop any ski jump or weird twists. On the other hand I can see the correctness of full-contact neck shim. You MAY want to have a good neck-body connection. I say "may" because if you go to great effort to get a solid neck-body joint, it makes the bass play much more like a neck-through instrument. Putting a strip shim in will tend to make it play a bit more punchy (please note these effects are VERY small!)

    So that said, let me say that most of my shims have been a 1/2" strip of business card. Though I have used metal shim material I prefer the cards. The reason is that is compresses slightly giving a much better transfer of energy through the neck joint (at least in my imagination). To me a shimmed bass is much more like it was before shimming if you use card material rather than metal shim stock which I think tends to change the "feel" of the bass.

    And speaking of neck shims, I recently dug out my Fender Jazz V and was playing it and noticed the saddles are all bottomed out and the action has grown a bit higher. Looks like I get to join in the fun!
  18. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

  19. Try one business card cut behind the screw holes. If it is not enough add another.


  20. There is a TB'er who suggests using screen or wire mesh material, which serves the dual purpose of shimming, and also prevents the neck from shifting in the pocket. I'm going to try this with my next shim (MIJ Fender Jaguar).

    I agree to go ahead and give the shim a try as opposed to returning the bass. There is a chance that all the Dimensions were cut the same way, which means the next one you get may have the same issue, and you'll lose the nice neck, fret work, and weight of the one you have. A bird in the hand...

    When dealing with certain retailers that have liberal return policies, I've been known to order two or three of the same bass, pick the cherry, and return the others. With a shim, it's easy to experiment and then remove completely without leaving a trace.