shimming the neck

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Apr 18, 2004.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Is there any downside to shimming a bolt-on neck?
  2. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    I don't know. I was thinking in terms of the possible effects on the resonances, given that the neck joint would seem to be one of the important areas in that regard. Would shimming the neck have any effect on my sound/tone?
  3. I've shimmed a couple of necks, and never noticed anything negative about the sound or sustain. In both cases the bass sounded better because the string height along the entire length of the neck was more uniform.

    The last time I shimmed, I could only go with a seriously thin shim. Tried a super thin piece of plastic, but man that was much more than I needed. Couldn't raise the bridge saddles high enough to keep from fretting out. Didn't have any actual shim stock, so I cut a piece out of a thin aluminum can which seemed to work perfectly. It cuts easily with scissors, and won't compress after time.

    Sometimes shimming is the only way to get a neck action the way you want it. Please.. use extreme caution when removing the neck from the neck joint pocket. Some of those are super-tight, and some of the edges of the neck pocket are very thin as well.. You could chip or crack that if not careful..

  4. gruuv247

    gruuv247 Guest

    Sep 18, 2002
    Burlington, NC
    There will be a change in resonance when seperating neck from body,, but its not likely to be detected by normal hearing,,can tell by occilliscope though
  5. Good advice so far. Don't worry about a change in tone. Think back to the 3 bolt "tilt-a-whirl"® necks from Fender in the 70's. Stability was their issue but the tone was fine and they had a permanently adjustable "shim" built into the design.

    BUT...if you really want to do the shim thing using absolutely the best method and with great attention to should install a tapered shim that is as long and wide as the pocket will allow it. That, or rerout the bottom of the neck pocket to give the proper angle.
  6. How about UN-shimming a neck? I've got a bass that I lent out for an extended period of time. It came back with useless super-low action and a neck shim. I'm pretty much a beginner and can't play a bass where the strings rattle when touched. Advice?
  7. Don't immediately assume that the shim needs to be removed. From the sound of things, the other bassist played with a super-low action, but the shim wasn't installed to make the entire neck action super-low, instead it changed the neck angle to lower the action at the higher frets to a more playable setting.
    First, start adjusting the action by raising the saddles to where you don't get fret buzz.. Then check the action up and down the neck. You might find that the action is great with the shim. If for some reason the saddles are already as high as they can go, then YES, the shim needs to be removed because it's probably too thick to begin with.

  8. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    DR Strings
    I too have a bass that needs shimmed- I think. I can tell something is not right when I play it, and I tried shimming it with a piece of 3mm PVC plastic, but for some reason, the neck would shift very easily side to side. I took the shim out and now the neck is solid, but it still feels funny. How much area ahould there be from the top of the body to the top of the edge of the fingerboard? Is there a standard?
  9. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I know a guy who thinks that the frets on guitars and basses should be taller instead of shimming the neck joint. Have you heard about this? Is this a good thing? I have talked to him about a fret job, and he recommends new taller frets, before he has seen my bass. I have not read anything about that before. In my mind, shimming the neck joint and taller frets acomplish the same thing.
  10. gapupten


    Dec 29, 2004
    I just got through shimming a neck after really good advice from guys on this thread. You can trust their advice. The question is do you have the patience to drift into the world of luthier, setup guy.
    I found the process frustrating, and ultimately did not solve my problem completely. I think that the shimmed neck after a lot of trial and error, is much better than it was, and I am closer to getting a more playable instrument.. Im just not satisfied with the result.
    So I guess I would say that it is not likely that you could hurt anything on the bass, but you could bruise you own ego.

    Good luck.
  11. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Only upsides in my experience. I've shimmed every bolt-on bass I've owned including low-end and high-end. I consider it part of my personal set-up procedures when I first get a new (or new to me) bolt-on. I've never received a bass (new or used) that had the neck relief (zero), neck angle or action to my liking so I've just made it a habit to of course check, but also to know what I'm going to have to do to get the bass playable to my standards. Try it and see. A little bit of shim goes a LONG way btw. (I always use business cards.)