Change the angle of a neck with StewMac Neck Shims

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Solid maple shims are a quick fix for tilting a bolt-on neck to change the angle. Full contact and precisely tapered in a variety of angles. No more matchbooks or guitar picks distorting the neck pocket!

Video Transcription

[on screen text reads: StewMac Neck Shims]

Speaker 1: Take a look at the gap in that neck pocket. That's something you see a lot on bolt-on neck guitars. The strings were too high to play comfortably, even with the saddles adjusted all the way down. So, someone shimmed the neck backwards, given it a little bit of angle, and that lets you adjust the strings to be a more playable height. Here's the problem though, whoever did this shim just used whatever they had on hand laying around. A makeshift shim like this matchbox cover can fix your problem and get your guitar playing, but it's more of a temporary solution because it'll cause some problems of its own in the long term.

Problems caused by temporary shim fixes

If this is your neck, this is a shim, and this is the body, here's what it looks like down under the hood. You've got a little bit of wood-to-wood contact here on the end, and the rest is just a big air gap. The neck joint on a guitar is one of the most critical joints, and what you really want there is a good contact between the neck and body. If you've got a big air gap like this, you're losing out on some serious transfer of vibration from one to the other, and what that really relates to is your sustain and your tone.

That's one problem caused by a shim like this, but there's also some more long-term issues. Over time, the pressure that this is putting on a neck, it's like a crowbar cranking down on the end of it, and after years of that, it'll develop a kink, and that kink is going to be causing all kinds of string buzzing and issues with your neck. So, what you really want is a good solid wood-to-wood contact between the neck and body, but if you need a shim to get the playability, the best of both worlds comes when you use a solid wood shim that tapers down to nothing. That way, your neck pocket is all solid and you have the angle you need.

StewMac Neck Shims

That's where the StewMac Neck Shims come in. Of course, these are on a much smaller scale, but the idea is the same. It starts out a little thicker on this end and tapers down to almost nothing on the other end. They also drop right into the most common neck pockets. Now, that's a perfect fit.

A little bit of change in the angle of the neck here will make a big difference in the height of the strings, by the time you get down here to the bridge. This Tele is going to have a Tune-o-matic, which is a Gibson style bridge. That's a lot taller than a regular Tele or other Fender style bridge, so I'm going to use the 1-degree shim to make sure I have a playable action. As they come, these shims will fit right into the rounded neck heel pocket on a Strat or Jazzmaster or rounded neck heel pockets. They're also easy to shape to the square-heeled pocket on Telecasters. Just use the laser etched line as a reference and sand it to shape.

Before these were available ready-made, that meant making one from scratch and that's a lot of work. If you've ever made one, you know what I mean. When you're basically taking a chunk of wood and trying to turn it into a piece of paper at least on the one end, you don't want to sand through or get your taper off to one side or the other, these are a huge time saver and they just look a lot cleaner and more professional than you can make by hand.

Blank shims for odd screw spacings and smaller neck pockets

We've also got Blanks available for guitars that have an oddball neck pocket or screw hole layout like this. Just trim them to shape and drill your holes. Clamping the shim between a few pieces of scrap will help avoid cracking it, since it's so thin and fragile. I'm using acrylic here so you can see it, but wood would work too. In no time at all, I've got a perfectly fitted custom shim for this unusual neck pocket. If you're all about the low end, we've got shims for bass too. These will drop right into a P bass or Jazz bass pocket. And we've got blanks for everything else. These solid maple shims are a really quick and easy way to make your instrument more playable without compromising tone or the stability of your neck.



StewMac Tech Team

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