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Shimming a bridge???

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by PBassTX, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. PBassTX


    Jul 27, 2009
    Ft. Worth, TX
    So I am converting a MIM Fretless Jazz to a fretted Jazz... but I really wanted to use an Aerodyne Jazz neck and a high mass bridge (either the Babicz or Hipshot Type A). The problem is neither of those bridges are high enough. I have never had that problem before. I have had bridges that don't go down low enough so I shimmed the neck, but I have never had to shim a bridge....is it even possible? If so what should I use?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    I am about two seconds away from putting the fretless back together and selling it...and buying a Jazz. But I am looking for something very specific.
  2. mech


    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    I'd use a brass or aluminum plate. Trace the base plate pattern on the stock and it'd be easy to fabricate with hand tools. Depending on the thickness of the shim needed, you may need some slightly longer screws.

  3. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I'd take a look at the pickup height and gauge from there. On some of my basses, the pickups don't go high enough, in which case the solution is actually to sand down the neck/deepen the neck pocket.

    If it is a bridge shim, I too would recommend having one made from the same metal as the bridge.
  4. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    Just to make you aware - the Babicz is not a high mass bridge. Actually it weighs in about the same as a standard Fender bent plate. I have a couple of both and the Babicz is very deceptive. It looks like it should weigh a lot. It's great bridge, but if you want high mass go with the Hipshot A in brass.

    When I mounted a Babicz on one of my parts Jazz basses it required a shim. Rather than use metal my tech made one from a piece of thin rosewood stock (about 1/8" thick) he had and it works great.

    Attached Files:

  5. PBassTX


    Jul 27, 2009
    Ft. Worth, TX
    Thanks for the suggestion. I guess I assumed that "full contact" meant high mass... not sure why I did now that I think about it... Anyway. I already have the hipshot A in brass. I will try the Rosewood stock before I try something metal.
  6. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I agree with funkmetalbass. You need to sand the neck heel, or route the pocket a bit.

    All the best,

  7. PBassTX


    Jul 27, 2009
    Ft. Worth, TX
    The thing I am concerned about is we are not talking about a small amount here... The Hipshot A bridge I put on it has 3/8" screws to adjust the action height... I took them as high as I could and it's still not even close. Still A LOT of fret buzz on open strings. I would sand the neck heel if it just needed 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch, but 1/2" is a bunch. I can't figure this one out. The Aerodyne neck does appear to be a little thicker than the fretless neck, then you add the height of the fret, but it's still does not add up to 1/2".

    Of course raising the string at the bridge 1/2" doesn't raise the string at the 1st fret 1/2"....
  8. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    If you are off by 1/2" or even 1/4" then I recommend you go with your previous instinct of putting the fretless back together and selling it. Clearly the Aerodyne neck is not meant for an MIM body.
  9. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Neck shims can work both ways. If your bridge won't go low enough, you put a shim at the bridge end of the pocket. To deal with a bridge that won't go high enough, put the shim at the other end of the pocket.
  10. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    Yep. I can't think of a need to mess with the bridge when you can change the neck angle in either direction.
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  12. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    The neck shim is the way to go. I prefer to create a 'ramp' out of 1" making tape. 3 layers, 2 layers, 1 layer, no layer. I suspect this formula would solve your problem. If you still need a bit more, add a layer to each step.
  13. PBassTX


    Jul 27, 2009
    Ft. Worth, TX
    thanks for all the great info....
  14. jeffcarano


    Feb 23, 2012
    Poughkeepsie NY
    Co-founder, Babicz Guitars and Full Contact Hardware
    Babicz now offers "High Profile Saddles" for their bridges so that shimming may not be necessary. The saddles have a higher profile with more contact where the string meets the saddle....this in turn allows for a higher string height adjustment range. Babicz offers these saddles at no charge to Babicz Full Contact Bridge owners....just contact them through their website and they will send a set out to you.
  15. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I would rather shim the bridge than put a shim at the outer end of the neck pocket, for the simple fact that on that end you can see the shim (or at least a gap in the pocket)

    I would sand down the heal of the neck. Get some 60 or 80 grit sticky back sand paper and stick it to a flat surface, and run the heal of the neck over it holding it dead flat. It should only take about 10 minutes to remove enough material to make it work. You wont have to remove nearly as much material as you think, less than 1/16 will probably do it.

    I have heard complaints about the Gotoh 201 bridge not having low enough action and people having to shim their neck to compensate. In your case it could possibly be exactly what to need to make your project work with no modification at all.
  16. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    Usually the amount shimmed is not more than the thickness of a business card, and the geometry allows for a much smaller shim at the neck joint than at the bridge. You'd notice a thick piece under the bridge before you'd notice a gap in the back of the instrument IMHO.

    Hopkins' suggestion would be much prettier, but I throw necks around to different instruments too often to have the courage to do that.
  17. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    My custom bass has a recessed bridge due to not being able to get the action like I wanted. A lot of basses have recessed bridges though. But you're talking about 'raising' the bridge?? Can't get high enough? I think I would route a deeper neck pocket before raising the bridge.
  18. unclebass


    Dec 17, 2012
    Working on a bass that was purchased at a pawn shop. After adjusting truss rod, had to set the saddles so high, the set screws were falling out the bottom of the saddles. Decided to shim neck. When I removed the neck, I discovered that someone had already shimmed it with a doubled over business card at the heel of the neck. Removed it and readjusted, now top of set screws are at the top of the saddles. Made over 1/4 inch difference in bridge height. Can't figure why that was done to begin with, but it plays great and the action and pickups are at a sensible level.
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