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neck shims (sound differences?)

 
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Fakir Mustache
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:25 am    Post subject: neck shims (sound differences?) Reply with quote

I was trying to figure out the sound differences between my Squier Mustang and vintage Mustang. The vintage is much brighter acoustically and projects much more. They sound very different. It could also be the differences between the poplar and basswood, I'm not sure about differences in the composition of the metal or thickness of the neck.

But I'm really thinking it's because the vintage one has the neck shimmed. I took off the neck to unshim it in order to compare the sounds. The problem is one of the shims is glued on, and it works well and gets a good setup with it on, so I won't mess with it. But there was a second shim and I took it off. I don't know if it's my imagination, but now the guitar seems a little bit less loud acoustically and maybe a tiny bit of a tone difference too. Maybe I should have recorded it, but the difference may be too subtle to tell when recorded, especially at such a low level of sound.

The question is, has anyone compared the sound shimmed and unshimmed on the same guitar?
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paul_
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As attractive a notion it may seem/no matter how big a font it occasionally gets capslock'd in, a Squier CV is not a shim away from being the husk of an American Fender with just some cheaper pickups in it.

The Squier is made on completely different machines utilizing completely different methods while using the cheapest wood possible, hardware and nuts made of different materials, and to slightly different dimensions.
MIJ Mustangs generally aren't dead ringers for most vintage ones either, although due to the QC of handmade pre-CBS/twatmade CBS Mustangs the Asian Stangs are admittedly more consistent.

I've also never noticed a sound difference from a shim, though I'm sure there are certain extreme shimming methods which would affect resonance.
For me the biggest sonic differences between any two Fenders of the same design regard the neck, and that's something that comes out slightly different on even identical, sequentially numbered guitars from the same run. You can change a lot more things about the body and hardware before you notice a sound difference, but different neck = new guitar. I would wager that if you put your vintage Mustang neck on your CV the major differences would instantly disappear.

Also what kind of shims does your vintage Mustang have? Unless they're metal and there's also metal in the neck pocket (like on a micro-tilt), I don't see how it could provide for increased projection or volume... if anything the opposite should be true, something you put between the neck and body could theoretically SAP those qualities by deadening the transfer of vibrations.
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George
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

as well as the woods, and probably better fit and finish of the vintage, the squier bridge is poorly designed and rattly, and the nut is some shitty cheap material and frets probably also need a polish. all of these probably contribute in some way. also, do you have the same strings et al?

a long shot might be the string pull from the pickups. the duncan designed might currently be set too high, i dunno.

i actually felt that on my bratomaster adding a shim took something away in terms of sustain and brightness, but at that point i was really obsessing over it as my first real project, willing it to be good and no doubt imagining these micro differences, so probably not a fair test
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Dave
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My tuppence worth:

Presumably a really well made wood shim that occupies the whole pocket and therefore creates maximum contact between neck and pocket surfaces would create a better acoustic resonancy HOWEVER I am skeptical as to how much of that actually translates through the pups.


An EXCELLENT trick that definitely maximises the transference and resonancy and I ALWAYS do now:

1.Tune you guitar up to concert pitch
2. Undo your neck screws by a quarter or half turn. You tuning will go flat.
3 Tune back to concert pitch. This will pull the neck heel tight into the pocket.
4. Your tuning is now sharp so retune back to concert pitch (remember to tune down below it and back up to concert pitch to ensure tuning stability.
5. You should notice some more acoustic SPANK to the guitar. Again, whether this improves plugged in tone, I dunno, but it makes the guitar 'feel' better to me, for what that's worth.
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Fakir Mustache
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

paul_ wrote:
Also what kind of shims does your vintage Mustang have? Unless they're metal and there's also metal in the neck pocket (like on a micro-tilt), I don't see how it could provide for increased projection or volume... if anything the opposite should be true, something you put between the neck and body could theoretically SAP those qualities by deadening the transfer of vibrations.

One of the shims was wood, balsa maybe, the other seems to be rubber. But I'm not talking about sound differences from the heel end, I also don't much care for "glued neck gives more sustain" arguments.

What I meant is the height of the bridge. The bridge on the vintage is still 3 mm higher, that could cause more resonance and a louder acoustic sound (I think), in particular with sound bouncing off the big metal plate.
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iCEByTes
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave wrote:
My tuppence worth:

Presumably a really well made wood shim that occupies the whole pocket and therefore creates maximum contact between neck and pocket surfaces would create a better acoustic resonancy HOWEVER I am skeptical as to how much of that actually translates through the pups.


An EXCELLENT trick that definitely maximises the transference and resonancy and I ALWAYS do now:

1.Tune you guitar up to concert pitch
2. Undo your neck screws by a quarter or half turn. You tuning will go flat.
3 Tune back to concert pitch. This will pull the neck heel tight into the pocket.
4. Your tuning is now sharp so retune back to concert pitch (remember to tune down below it and back up to concert pitch to ensure tuning stability.
5. You should notice some more acoustic SPANK to the guitar. Again, whether this improves plugged in tone, I dunno, but it makes the guitar 'feel' better to me, for what that's worth.


on acoustic guitar what does notable difference is you replace the nut and bridge nut from plastic to bone
at electric guitar you canīt notice the difference but on acoustic guitar itīs does notable difference
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paul_
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fakir Mustache wrote:
But I'm not talking about sound differences from the heel end, I also don't much care for "glued neck gives more sustain" arguments.

What I meant is the height of the bridge. The bridge on the vintage is still 3 mm higher, that could cause more resonance and a louder acoustic sound (I think), in particular with sound bouncing off the big metal plate.


You can't discern which area of a guitar is making the overall acoustic sound different like "it's not the neck heel that's causing this projection..."
As with any guitar, the sound of a string will be loudest over the harmonic nodes on the body (hence pickup/soundhole placement, pinch harmonics etc). This doesn't necessarily mean there's something going on in that specific area of the guitar responsible for it being louder than another guitar.

The "glued neck" comment I don't get because we're talking about shim vs. no shim on a bolt-on guitar design, but if you mean to say "increased transference of vibration doesn't matter to a musical instrument" that's highly incorrect. Sound IS vibration. Zero resonance would = zero sustain and volume. Massive resonance will = massive sustain and volume. It's physics, not Gibson snobbery. Some set-neck guitars have LESS wood to wood contact at the heel than Fenders, like SGs.

And the height of the bridge thing may well be worth thinking about, but we're still talking about two completely different types of Mustang sounding different... to me it's just not that surprising, especially given that when I tried a CV 50s Strat it sounded brighter and plinkier than my AV '57 unplugged (a brighter and plinkier Strat than many in the broad sense to begin with), and exact same story with an AVRI '62 Jag compared to my CIJ '62. In both cases by quite a bit, to be honest.

I guess the easy way to suss out what the big difference is would be to raise the height of the bridge on the CV, or swap the guitars' necks to compare them (the latter being a last resort if it's really keeping you up at night as it would require 4 new sets of strings to compare them and then swap them back).
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Aug wrote:
which one of you bastards sent me an ebay question asking if you can get teh kurdtz with that 64 mustang? Mad

robertOG wrote:
fran & paul are some of the original gangstas of the JS days when you'd have to say "phuck"


Last edited by paul_ on Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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theshadowofseattle
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tone is in the fingers, so place the shims under your fingernails.
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Yeah, thickness, nut
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theshadowofseattle
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

REMEMBER THAT JAGON KID SHIMMING HIS JAG-STANG WITH HUGE METAL WASHERS
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wizard thickness

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Yeah, thickness, nut
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speedfish
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave wrote:
My tuppence worth:

Presumably a really well made wood shim that occupies the whole pocket and therefore creates maximum contact between neck and pocket surfaces would create a better acoustic resonancy HOWEVER I am skeptical as to how much of that actually translates through the pups.



I've read this too, but never had the patience to suffer a poorly set up guitar long enough to distinguish any difference between shim or no shim. I cut my shims out of plastic or aluminum and of course they don't fill the pocket.
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George
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting counter-point:

has anyone noticed that les pauls are acoustically really quiet compared to fenders? what's up with that?
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cur
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I usually use business cards for shims and I can't tell a difference with or without. I usually cut them to fit rom the butt of the pocket to 1 inch out. So it only covers two screw holes. If I need a second shim, I cut that one about half that long.

doing the trick like dave said: string and tune your guitar and then loosen each of the neck bolts a turn. this will set the neck tight into the pocket. then make sure the neck is strait and tighten them again. you can usually hear a little noise when you loosen the last screw of the neck snugging up.
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serfx
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave wrote:

1.Tune you guitar up to concert pitch
2. Undo your neck screws by a quarter or half turn. You tuning will go flat.
3 Tune back to concert pitch. This will pull the neck heel tight into the pocket.
4. Your tuning is now sharp so retune back to concert pitch (remember to tune down below it and back up to concert pitch to ensure tuning stability.
5. You should notice some more acoustic SPANK to the guitar. Again, whether this improves plugged in tone, I dunno, but it makes the guitar 'feel' better to me, for what that's worth.


did this to help sort a twist in my cyclone project neck as well, helped to sort things..
neck is still adjusting to having tension after not being on a guitar for 4 years..
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Fakir Mustache
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I compared my Mustangs acoustically with my Squier Jag HH, and while it did have a basswood body like the Squier Mustang, it was louder then the Squier 'stang but not as loud as my vintage with the shimmed neck.

There isn't any chance of the Squier Mustang pickups being too high, I lowered them even more to make sure the magnet isn't holding the strings, and it still sounds the same.

While I don't think the neck is shimmed on the Jag (I haven't taken the neck off, but I bought it new), the bridge is indeed higher, even if it is a different kind and more like Squier's version of a Danelectro bridge. The neck is also thinner, almost as thin as my vintage Mustang's, which I'm not sure if it makes a difference or not in volume.

I never implied that the shim itself makes a difference in sound, but the higher bridge. Indeed jazz archtop guitars have a higher bridge than Les Pauls or ES335-type guitars, and archtops can be acoustic or electric.
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Fakir Mustache
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm still sticking with this theory.

I had a Japanese-style Mustang bridge on my Squier, then I had the Squier bridge, now I have the Japanese-style again.

With the Squier VM bridge, the bridge was higher because the saddles were smaller and you really can't get them too high without it buzzing. The sound was much brighter, kind of like on my vintage Mustang with the neck shim. The action was also higher than with the other bridge because I didn't really bother to try minute adjustments to lower the bridge and have it not buzz.

I don't really know the country of manufacture of the Japanese-style bridge, but it was bought around 2008 or 2009. It sits much lower in the guitar body, and the sound is much bassier and thicker, a lot less twangy and not surfy at all (unplugged). Perhaps more like a Les Paul I guess.
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