How to rout a Fender neck pocket

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Getting a clean, good-fitting neck pocket for a bolt-on neck: Erick Coleman uses StewMac's Neck Pocket Routing Template for a bass he's building. A trick for getting a custom fit: Erick uses tape inside the template pocket. The StewMac template is also available for guitar necks.

Video Transcription

[on-screen text reads: Neck Pocket Routing Templates]

Erick Coleman: I'm making a custom bass body for this vintage Musicmaster neck. And I'm getting ready to route the neck pocket. Our templates come with one side for P and Jazz basses, and then the other side is sized for short scale bass, which I'm using for this project.

Attach the template to the body

So my first step is to attach the template to the body, and I'm going to do that using Double-stick Tape.

I have a center line drawn on my work piece and there's a center line etched into the bottom of the template. I also have the length of my pocket marked on the body. So I'm going to line this up with the center line and my length. Pressing down really hard just to make sure we get really good contact of the tape, because we do not want this template moving at all when we're doing our routing.

Router setup

I'm using a flush cut bit. Half inch diameter cutter with a half inch diameter bearing that rides along the edge of the template for your route.

The 3/8" thickness is handy because you can get both your passes without having to shim the template or change your bearing location on the shank of the bit. The overall depth of the pocket is going to be 5/8" of an inch deep, but my first pass is going to be 3/8", so I'm setting my router bit for that cut. And you'll see the ball bearing here. The ball bearing rides around the edge of the template to give you a clean and accurate cut.

So the neck is a little bit loose in that pocket. We make it a little bit oversized to accommodate variations in finish thickness on bodies and necks. Some have heavier finishes than others and need a little wider pocket. Some have thin finishes and need a little tighter pocket. I'm going to run a piece of tape around the inside. Sometimes it just takes one, sometimes it might take a couple more than that. Okay, now I'm just going to test fit in my neck again. And that's nice. That's where I want to see it. Nice and snug all the way around.

Routing the neck pocket

[Erick gently sets the router into the template pocket and starts routing]

It's best to route the pocket in two passes, so I first set my router for 3/8" of an inch deep cut. I clear the pocket and then I readjust it for a final depth of 5/8", and then I'm done. [Erick removes the routing template from the wood] Now that's a nice clean pocket. This will be a perfect-fitting neck.



Erick Coleman

StewMac Senior Technical Advisor

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