Almost final assembly – guitar #2

Last time I wrote in this journal, I was trying to decide whether I liked the neck I had chosen for the guitar. I ran an experiment, comparing two different necks, one of them being the original neck and one being a maple neck. I asked two different sets of folks what they thought of both necks. I posed the question on a Telecaster forum and I asked friends and work colleagues who are not particularly into guitars what they thought. Interestingly, the answers ran 2:1 from tdpri that the dark neck didn’t look good because of the maple headstock and a couple suggested a maple neck while non-guitar folks overwhelmingly (like 100% of them) thought the dark neck looked good. So I went with the dark neck. Also, the maple neck is for another guitar project 😉

First thing to do is to set up neck relief such that the neck is flat. Then the guitar is strung to pitch and the fret-to-string distance at the eight fret is measured with a capo on the first fret and an assistant pressing the last fret. Based on this measurement, the fine neck relief is adjusted using the side adjuster.



Once the neck relief is correct, I tuned the guitar.


Don’t worry, I didn’t really tune the guitar with a capo on it. I just thought the picture above was a cool picture. Having tuned it, it is time to set the action. My intention was to set the high and low E strings to 3/64 of an inch off the 17th fret (no capo) but I could not do it! I am using a Gotoh modern Tele bridge and for reasons I am still trying to determine, I find that with the saddles set as low as they can be set, my action is still too high. I have adjusted the neck relief to typical Fender specs (0.01″ at the eighth fret). I am trying to get the high and low E strings to 3/64 ” and there is just no way. They are currently sitting between 4/64 and 5/64″.

The Gotoh bridge plate seems very thick and the saddles also seem thicker than another set I have lying around. Could it really be that the combination is just too thick for a decent action height? I find that hard to believe but what other explanations are there? Or is it because I need to shim the neck? That seems more likely. Anyway, I set the action as best I could, set the intonation, and though the action is too high, the guitar is playable.
I am going to need to do a little research on what to do next. Stay tuned. I have never shimmed a neck. But if you are wondering what it means to “shim a neck”, there are two basic approaches and they are well described by this diagram.
I will try this out later this weekend.