Shimming and Shoving
Updated: Dec 12, 2017
So now I had the workshop set up it was time to build the first Guitar in the Shed, funnily enough known as Shed 1. I has acquired this bound Alder body and those two chinese necks and I decided it was maybe time to do something a little radical. - Hey a Nashville - I had the bits, they just needed arranging in the right order, do a bit of wiring magic add the Gilmore mod to a conventional 5 way Strat switching setup to give you bridge and neck together add a treble bleed kit, what more do you want. Um.......
With the Classic Vibe, I had noticed that whatever I did on the setup, there was always this slight rattle and clank on the higher strings that I could never quite get rid of. It just didn't stack up as fret buzz or action stuff, it was deeper than that. Then it occurred to me that the principle difference on stringing a LH neck right handed on a six in line was the string tension - the high strings were much slacker than the low strings in comparison to a normal Tele set up - hence the rattle and clank just maybe.
So then I dig around a little. It seems that there are players that use this to their advantage bends etc but that's not the way I play (I use .10s anyway and hit the hell out of it) but there has been this fashion of reverse head stocks so RH players can achieve the de-tensioned Hendrix bends - there was an article I came across in Popular Mechanics (of all things) that looked at this in depth and my hat is off to the un-named author for clocking it in such a scientific way - hey art and science meet whoever would have thought that (Michalangelo?) http://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/music/a17922/jimi-hendrix-backwards-stratocaster/ These guys were trying to create the problem, unknown to themselves, that I was trying to fix, this was getting cooler and cooler.
What I omitted to say that the day that my Man had shown up with those two tele necks was that they were both right handed. So off I go on my own deeply logical path of putting RH necks on LH bodies.
The bit I hadn't quite figured on was that in China tele necks (with a very very very small t) seem to have the same heel profile as a Stat neck. There was this great Father Ted moment of "these necks are round and these necks are flat" (google Father Ted and Cows) - any Tele owners looked at the earth yet, it looks just perfect to me. So went out and bought a router bit for the pillar drill (that was really smart running a router at 900 rpm - don't do it) went wild trying to make these two bits of wood fit.
So I achieved plenty of "clearance" and then went about learning the refined art of shimming, but more by luck than judgement had set up this perfect testbed whereby I could play around with the whole orientation of the neck joint in any dimension that I chose (including wanting to go back in time to start again).
Now one of the things I had been doing on my other guitars which i seemed to have quite a few of by this time, was that every time that I bought a lefty I would take it down to Wild Guitars in Highgate www.wildguitars.com (great guys, go there buy their stuff and give them all of your money, its a genuine old school guitar store, it has dust and everything) and get them to put a decent RH bone nut on it. I was always trying to get them to put a 1mm offset towards the low E to overcome the problem that all guitarists have but don't realise, of pushing the string towards the top off the fretboard - you don't notice with a .40 or .42 with conventional tensions but try that from my perspective with at .10 or a .09 top E, and low tensions and it clanks right off the board.
So went about offsetting the whole the neck, the fact that it was right handed had cured the tension problem, it was all a bit extreme ending up with a 3mm overall neck shift in favour of the High E, but this was an R&D guitar, the parts were peanuts and all of the hardware came off the original blonde Squire so there was an accuracy in the hardware that then allowed me the flexibility to start to play around with the overall concepts and hone down the problem and you know what it actually worked. When you are shimming figure out which way your fingers are actually pushing when you play