Shim the neck, or just stop F-ing with it?!

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Vinnie Boombatz, Dec 6, 2017.


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  1. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Inactive

    May 26, 2010
    Picked up a really nice 2008 American Standard Precision earlier today. Earlier tonight dropped in a Fender Pure Vintage '63 pickup which turned it into a growly beast compared to the tamer stock pickup that was in it. It's really clean and in great shape. Has some minor fret wear on it, but overall I'd call it an 8.5/10, keeping in mind it's a 7+ year old bass. Plays really nice. Neck has just a small amount of relief, and the action is pretty darn low (5/64" on the low E and 4/64" on the A, D & G strings), but still doesn't buzz except for the last few frets, but I never play up that high anyway. (I think the second to last fret is a touch high and could be easily fixed by someone more competent than me at doing fret work, but from the 14th fret and below it's perfect).

    My concern is the bridge and neck angle. It's the stock Fender High-Mass bridge, and the E and G saddles are almost down as low as they can go, with a bit more room to spare on the A & D saddles. While I have similar action on my Classic 50's P, the saddles are raised up quite a bit higher. I'm wondering should I shim in the neck to bring the saddles up a little, or not really worry about it at all given that the bass sounds great and plays great and I have the action lower than Fender factory spec and a bit less relief than Fender spec as well?

    I'm guessing that the reason we have things like adjustable saddles are to compensate for things like this exact "issue" I'm having, right? But then there's another part of me that just thinks if something is on the the far side of it's limits it means there's something wrong somewhere with the instrument.

    Ok, I've been up for too long and need to go to bed, and I'm probably over-thinking this right?

    IVQDghY.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  2. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK?

    Leave it alone.
     
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Nice bass. Enjoy!
     
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  4. tom-g

    tom-g

    Oct 2, 2007
    +1 leave it alone.
     
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  5. Geri O

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

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Unless the saddles are sitting flat on the bridge plate and you need to go lower, I'd leave it alone.

    There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to basses with this condition. I wonder if folks started using high-mass bridges with thick base-plates and the neck pocket was never adjusted to accommodate the bridge saddles sitting slightly higher.

    I've had several Fenders with high-mass bridges over the last 4 years and not all of them needed a shim. A Precision Five was fine, bridge saddles were close, but not sitting flat on the plate. There was a 4-string Jazz that was fine, then a sunburst American Standard Jazz and a blue AM STD Jazz, with bridge saddles sitting flat on the plate with a little more to go before they were low enough (and I prefer a slightly higher-than-usual action at that), needing a shim. I had an American Elite that was fine. Also, I have a 2000 MIM Jazz Five I converted to fretless that is fine, no shim needed.

    I had 4 Stingray SR5s, only one of them needed a shim. (yeah, I've spent a fortune trying to find "that" bass, finally finding a Mike Lull Jazz Five and a 1999 Stingray SR5 that really do it for me. Neither needed a shim in their neck pockets).

    I've been told, rather vehemently at times, it's never necessary to add a shim to the neck pocket. But other than changing to a low-mass bridge with a thinner plate, I've never been given an alternate solution to bridge saddles sitting flat on the plate, other than routing out the body under the bridge plate. That would be fine, if I were equipped with a router and I was sure that this was a rather permanent solution. And oh yeah, I was good at that sort of thing, which I'm not. A shim can be removed if deemed unnecessary.

    StewMac sells wooden shims that fit the entire neck pocket and I haven't looked, but I understand they are hideously expensive. I've used business card stock cut to fit the entire pocket when I needed to add a shim.
     
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  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    You shim when you need to. You don't need to.
     
  7. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    The idea that factory spec has anything to do with how a bass should be set up for a given individual is a myth.

    You made it sound and feel right. Stop letting what you're seeing make you second guess what your ears and hands are telling you.

    It's because the floor of the neck pocket and/or neck heel are not perfect.
    This can be because of uneven finish thickness, imprecise sanding, milling and routing tolerances, etc.
     
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  8. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    If you have buzzing on the higher frets, you need to raise the bridge saddles to alleviate the buzzing and adjust your relief as needed to maintain your set-up.

    A shim is typically needed when your bridge saddles are bottomed-out and you still need to lower the action.
     
  9. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Inactive

    May 26, 2010
    Instead of compromising what I like in my set-up, I just ended up just doing it right and took it to a shop to get PLEK'd. I like low action and minimal relief. Might have it back by the end of the week or early next week!
     
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  10. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83

    Jun 27, 2017
    +1
     
  11. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Inactive

    May 26, 2010
    UPDATE: Well, after getting the bass back from having it PLEK'd and what not it was set up well, but I just wanted the action a touch lower, but with the G saddle as low as it went and the E saddle nearly all the way down I did end up popping in a shim. Had some REALLY thin wood shims that I got from a local tech, who I think made them from some veneer strips or something; like REALLY thin, and popped one in. Was EXACTLY what I needed. The action is pretty darn low now, but the bass sounds a little more resonant than before, and the saddles are up off the bottom of the bridge. It's kind of a tough picture to take, but here are a few shots of after. I'm blown away at how well this bass plays with such low action and such little relief in the neck, yet no fret buzz unless I REALLY dig in, which I usually don't and have what I'd say a normal to lighter touch with my right hand.

    kN3UuXi.jpg

    CZhjrmA.jpg

    nGKMDfx.jpg
     
  12. stuntbass77

    stuntbass77

    Nov 6, 2007
     
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  13. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Inactive

    May 26, 2010
    I've never had an issue with shimming a Fender neck. Had done it in the past for a couple Telecasters with excellent results, but I've only ever had to use the thinnest shims. I think if you need a pretty think shim it means there are other things going on with the neck or neck pocket. I know the frets are perfect since it was just PLEK'd last week. I think I read somewhere that whatever thickness the shim equates to the action going up 3 or 4 times the thickness of the shim.
     
  14. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Looks really good to me as it is. I wouldn't mess with it.
     
  15. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Inactive

    May 26, 2010
    Thats how it looks after messing with it.
     
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  16. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Then mess no further.
     
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  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    First do no wrong...
     
  18. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Primum non nocere. First do no harm. Some things that are wrong are harmless. You can do them with impunity. Or with avocados - take your pick.
     
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  19. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Yup, been a long day...

    When a man trashes you in Latin, you know you are in trouble.
     
  20. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    He had me, at avocados...
     
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    Primary TB Assistant

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