Neck Shim and Dead Frets

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by guitaardvark, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. guitaardvark

    guitaardvark SS.org Regular

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    Hey everyone, got something baffling me here. Maybe someone can tell me what I'm doing wrong.

    I have an Ibanez S5521Q that I put some BKP Blackhawks in. Turns out these pickups are ridiculously thick - too thick for the body. I had to route out some extra room in the pickup cavities just so they wouldn't touch the strings. This relieved the problem slightly, but I still can't get my action reasonably low without the strings touching or nearly touching the pickups. To solve this, I picked up some basswood from a craft store to shim the neck with. I made a flat shim in the neck pocket and raised the saddles on the bridge. After doing so, I reassembled the neck and found that all of the frets over the neck pocket are dead. Everything below those frets is fine.

    I'm baffled, but I know an improper shim can ruin a neck so I immediately removed the neck just as a precaution. Any ideas? I'm feeling dumb over here. Thanks!
     
  2. Andrew Lloyd Webber

    Andrew Lloyd Webber Super Duper Moduraturr

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    Being as the guitar isn’t in front of me, here’s some speculation: If your shim is causing the neck additional back-angle, “dead” notes could be caused by the last few frets now being too high. If raising the string height an absurd amount helps those notes ring out better, then that may be the problem.

    If not, how thick is this shim? If it’s more than the thickness of, say, a pick, you may wish to experiment with business cards and other thinner (but level) materials, to see what you can get away with before the symptoms of this problem present themselves.

    I recently experienced this with my Charvel Govan; and had to shave the nylon shim I was using to compensate for the back-angle problem I described.

    Would you be willing to post photos of all the problems, including the pickup height?
     
  3. guitaardvark

    guitaardvark SS.org Regular

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    Thank you for the quick response and here is a (poorly taken) album of the height: https://imgur.com/a/lLa71

    I don't have a measuring tool but the shim is 2.3 mm, which is probably the root of the problem. Raising the saddles an absurd amount does fix the problem. The shim is flat though, so I don't see how it could affect the angle, and I don't understand why the issue would only manifest itself on the highest frets. Then again, I'm not the brightest when it comes to this stuff.

    As you might be able to see from the pictures, without the shim the strings would get a little bit too close, especially to the bridge pickup. I'm not sure a business card would be enough. How else could I remedy this issue?
     
  4. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    Ibanez pickup routs are shallow, at least on my 7s. One trick I've done to my pickups is to disassemble the base, remove the lead wire passing by the base and reassemble the base. The wire then goes along the poles and within the protective surrounding tape. This way I gain +- 2 mm more of height range for maneuvering the pickup. As my guitars have direct mount pickups, I use small thermic isolation rubber / foam (those used in doors and windows).

    This trick gives you more room for the pickup to move and may kill the need for a neck shim.

    This and I also decided that some pickups are not fit for my guitars. Shame but necessary...
     
  5. Andrew Lloyd Webber

    Andrew Lloyd Webber Super Duper Moduraturr

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    It could be the photo angle, but the neck appears to be angling up severely; causing the strings to choke out at the highest frets because they are literally the highest frets - Like fretting the string against a flight of stairs going up.

    If that’s indeed the problem, then sanding the shim at the front of the neck pocket to be slightly thinner may reduce the back-angle enough to keep the notes from choking. It requires a bit of trial and error.

    That said, I’m afraid the way to nip this problem in the bud is to modify the pickups and/or the routings.
     
  6. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Seems like a lot of work just for some pickups. Perhaps grab a different set. :2c:
     
    The906 likes this.
  7. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

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    If 2.3mm are enough to fix the issue, just route the PU cavities a little deeper. Or do it quick and dirty with a Forstner...
     

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