Should I buy a shimmed guitar?

Ronkirn

Most Honored Senior Member
May 26, 2006
7,087
Jacksonville, FL
if I were to buy it I'd take the shim out and set it up properly...you know, like a normal person

What makes you think it wasn't setup properly? "Properly" is relative to what the guitarists requires in the way of a setup.. thus if a shim. . . or an old rusty nail for that matter, is required.. its implementation makes the setup proper...

A "normal" person would know that...

r
 

retrobob

Strat-Talker
Aug 6, 2021
442
california
JMHO, shims are sometimes required and a shimmed neck pocket if done correctly would not bother me at all.

Wood by its nature is not perfect. Slight movement and displacements are to be expected. If the body moves slightly up between the neck pocket and bridge a shim (or micro tilt) adjustment would be required to compensate (tapered wood shims can be purchased just for this), if the body moved the opposite then the bridge would need to be raised slightly to compensate.

IMHO, these are all considered NORMAL set up adjustments.
 

ThreeChordWonder

Senior Stratmaster
Dec 2, 2020
3,766
Cypress TX
If you want the guitar for a specific reason, e.g. year, finish, fitted pickups, provenance, or whatever, go ahead and buy it.

If not, walk away and find another one.

It's a Strat, the guitar equivalent of a Chevy (sorry, but it is), not an ultra-rare Ferrari.

If you DO buy it, try setting it up without the shim. If it works for you that way, great. If not, you can replace the shim it came with, or fit a different shim of your own.

Shims can be bought ready made (expensive IMHO). If you're a bit handy, you can make your own for a lot less using birch plywood from a hobby store. It's sold in 8 inch x 4 inch sheets going down to 1/32 inch, typically around $5 a sheet. If you're a cheapskate like me, even old credit cards or plastic gift cards can also be used.
 

CB91710

No GAS shortage here
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Feb 24, 2019
10,877
SoCal
What happens if you remove it? My 89 plus deluxe was at the wilk nut. The luthier I took it too said it didn't need them and removed it. Does that matter?
That was for the nut height, not the neck angle.
As with the neck angle, a shim may or may not be required to get the proper setup.
 

Sarnodude

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 26, 2015
6,555
Mukilteo
PSA: The last airliner you flew on had thousands of shims, some of them were at major structural joints. If shims freak you out, I would recommend avoiding air travel.
 

Intune

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 14, 2021
4,920
Edmonton, Alberta
I guess my 5 Strats are abnormal as none have or require a shim or use of the micro tilt.

That’s awesome. Your 5 Strat inventory compared to the amount of Fender guitars sold since the glory days doesn’t make your guitars abnormal. It’s normal, it’s not rare or abnormal to not require a shim based on setup requirements per player.
 

Colnago1

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 2, 2014
1,448
Where am I?
I've set up guitars that already had folded business cards, cut strips from credit cards, pieces of pickup bobbin material, popsicle stick, etc, etc, etc.

For shimming I use an Allen screw against a coin, myself, but then again my action is always around 1/8" at the 12th fret with .013-.054 string sets.

Your mileage will be different.

Best,
Howard Emerson
How do you use an Allen screw and a coin to shim a guitar neck? You’ve peaked my curiously. Please explain. Thanks.
 

ThreeChordWonder

Senior Stratmaster
Dec 2, 2020
3,766
Cypress TX
You set the coin in the underside of the neck, in the area where it sits on /in the body, usually towards the bridge end.

You drill through the body at the bridge end of the neck pocket.

You then fit a threaded insert (called a "threaded tee nut") like this:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-6-32-Zinc-Plated-Tee-Nut-4-Pack-802261/204274190

On the inside face of the neck pocket.

The Allen screw (a grub screw) goes through the hole in the body and the threaded insert. Tighten the screw and it pushes on the coin, raising that end of the neck.

It will raise the bridge end of the neck, but it won't lower it, of course.



You can buy retrofit kits, but the Home Depot way is a heck of a lot cheaper.
 
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Boyd L

Strat-Talker
Jul 17, 2020
396
Appalachian Foothills
You set the coin in the underside of the neck, in the area where it sits on /in the body, usually towards the bridge end.

You drill through the body at the bridge end of the neck pocket.

You then fit a threaded insert (called a "threaded tee nut") like this:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-6-32-Zinc-Plated-Tee-Nut-4-Pack-802261/204274190

On the inside face of the neck pocket.

The Allen screw (a grub screw) goes through the hole in the body and the threaded insert. Tighten the screw and it pushes on the coin, raising that end of the neck.

It will raise the bridge end of the neck, but it won't lower it, of course.



You can buy retrofit kits, but the Home Depot way is a heck of a lot cheaper.

I use this same concept to gain elevation on a one-piece rifle scope base. Clean and effective means to change component relationships.
 

s5tuart

Perfecting time travel since 2525
Aug 8, 2011
16,279
All over the place!
shimming the neck on a guitar is as normal as adjusting the saddle heights to accommodate your preferences.. Shimming was a function of assembly and setup in Leo Fender's operation... he used metal shim plates...

once CBS took over.. the practice continued.. to the extent that Leo's creation, the 3 bolt neck plate with adjusting screw was implemented... That allowed for discontinuing the shim plates..

the fact that there IS a shim presant should be viewed as a positive. It indicates someone gave a hoot and actually worked on the setup to achieve optimum playability.

r
Surely a shim is a sign that the guitar has been made wrong?
 


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