Shimmmming the neck

Last we spoke, I was having trouble setting the action on guitar #2 because my saddles were set as low as they could be set and the strings were still too high off the fretboard. I measured the neck again, and it is almost flat, with a slight relief, per Fender specs. This means it is the neck angle with respect to the guitar which is problematic. So I decided to try shimming the neck. After reading a ton on the internet, I came to believe this is a very straightforward thing to do so I jumped right in.

First, I took the neck off. Note the capo clamping the strings. I learned the hard way that loose strings get tangled and kinked.


Then I cut a shim about 1/2″ long and as wide as the neck pocket from a business card.


I took the shim and placed it in the neck pocket toward the guitar side, not the headstock side.


Then I reassembled the guitar, bolting the neck back on. I tuned it, checked the relief, then tried again to set the action. Adding this shim should have altered the angle of the neck with respect to the guitar, which would have the side effect of raising the neck with respect to the strings.

It is amazing how much difference a shim the thickness of a business card can make! With only this change, I was now able to set the string height to Fender specs: 3/64″ on the treble E and 4/64″ on the bass E. I retuned the guitar, set the intonation, and then set the pickup height. Presto!

The guitar plays well and sounds good! It is harder to play than my other guitars because I put 11-52 D’Addario NYXL strings on it and they are big! I used those strings just because.

However, I still have two remaining problems to fix on the guitar. See if you can spot the first problem in this photo below.


The second problem is that when I am playing into a dirty amp, there is some hum and this hum goes away when I touch the strings. So I need to track that down and fix that issue. Playing clean, the hum is faint except at full volume.

Update: I checked all exposed metal surfaces of the guitar (strings, bridge, pots, etc) for continuity to the ground on the guitar cable end which plugs into the amp, and they all show around 3 ohms, which is good. This means I don’t have a grounding problem on the guitar. Then I turned off the flourescent lights over my kitchen table and the hum vanished 😉 So this is 60Hz hum, definitely. Then I tested continuity from metal guitar parts to the ground on the amp’s AC plug ground pin, and that looks more like 100 ohms. So my guess is that my amp could actually be grounded better internally and that this is not a problem with my guitar.

And the first problem? I didn’t forget. Look at the saddles in the photo – the height adjust screws are sticking way high out of the saddles. I am not sure if I should add another shim to the neck or if I should somehow grind away the excess material on the screws. I’ll need to research this a little. What do you think? But I can’t leave them like that.



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