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How commonly do new fenders need a neck shim?

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  • How commonly do new fenders need a neck shim?

    got a  killer deal on a blacktop jaguar 90, after being fascinated with them for a few days. in a serendipitous turn of events, I found a really nice deal on one. I may NGD this later.

    anyway, everything about it is *killer*, (the p90s sound absolutely legit -- WORLDS better than the stock humbuckers in my blacktop telecaster, which were dark and dead sounding) but when I wanted to lower the action, I noticed the bridge screws were already bottomed out.

    I'd encountered this before, and fixed it before, but it was on a xaviere and that I forgave. In the case of this jaguar, the action was actually fairly high while the bridge setting was bottomed out. what causes this? does it have deeper implications?

    in any case, I noticed one of the little cardboard (about business card thickness) fender things in the goody bag looked about right, so I took the neck off, traced the shape of the neck out around the cardboard, and cut it out with scissors. then I put it into the neck pocket and got it to be a nice fit. in this case I left it about 2 inches long, just guessing really.

    I put the neck back on and now the action feels about right -- good playing level.

    so I'm in this weird spot where the guitar plays really nice, but I have this really vague feeling that the guitar is "flawed" in some way.

    what do you guys think about this sort of thing?

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  • #2
    Out of my multiple Fenders and Fender-style guitars the only one that has a neck shim is the one that I added a Floyd Rose to.
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    • #3

      Personally...yeah...I think that's a manufacturing flaw.  A sign of cut corners (no pun intended) to speed up production.  "close enough" attitude.  Cheaper for them just to include a shim card or whatever you call that thing, than to actually build the guitar properly in the first place.  Doing that takes time.

      Having said all that though....you seem to really like the guitar and the way it plays now.   While I wouldn't buy a guitar that needed a shim in the first place, I wouldn't get rid of a guitar that I really liked because it had a shim. 

      It's really on you though.  Can YOU get over the fact that it has a shim?  I could totally understand if you couldn't. 


      • jtr654
        jtr654 commented
        Editing a comment

        Most Fender necks need to be shimmed that just the way they're made.

    • #4
      The Jaguars have idiosyncrasies that are accepted. A lot of Strats have shims in them, or the American models have a set screw in the middle of the neck plate to adjust the neck angle. Personally, I want a neck joint with no paint on either part that fits tight & needs no neck shim. If you do have to shim, try using some drywall sanding screen. It really locks the neck into the pocket.


      • twotimingpete
        twotimingpete commented
        Editing a comment
        why does a paper thin shim raise the neck height by a substantial amount? I never understood that.

      • DaleH
        DaleH commented
        Editing a comment

        I have no problem with a shim. Bee playing cards make good shim stock. I cut mine tto fit the neck heel and cut them off just before the first screws. They are about 3/8" wide.

    • #5

      Out of the dozen or so strats I've owned only a couple needed a shim.  With today's CNC manufacturing it seems that shouldn't be an issue.  With older guitars or those with modifications, particulaly different necks, it is more common.  As others have noted, a shim doesn't seem to hurt tone or sustain.

      Two types of people you don't want to argue with.... geniuses and fools. .....it helps if you can tell the difference.


      • naomiimoan
        naomiimoan commented
        Editing a comment

        i've owned 5 fenders & one needed to be shimmed... the answer is 20% of the time