Thoughts on Neck Shims

Many bolt-on neck guitars with floating tremelo units do not have enough of a neck angle to allow big pull ups on the trem bar. The solution has been to put a little piece of something in the neck pocket before attaching the neck to the guitar. Ibanez even branded the factory shims they put in guitars. The image below is a neck pocket where the rectangular residue of an Ibanez shim is still visible on the right.

I've never really liked the feel of a guitar with the neck shimmed like this but that was the price to pay if you wanted to play. For me, I could never set the neck relief and action comfortably. There was always a compromise.

Then I switched how I did the shims. The image below shows what I found out for myself about shimming. The drawing is not to scale and shows exaggerated shim results, I know. It's just here to illustrate what I'm thinking.

So I moved my shims so that they lay across the rear set of neck screw holes. Sometimes I used a narrow strip of credit card with two holes drilled in it. Other times a large piece of something like in the image below.

Regarding neck shimming, YMMV.

I can only speak for myself and from my experience with my bolt-on necks. With the shim across the rear screws I've found the comfortable setups that I couldn't find before.

Luckily, moving a shim to lay across the rear screw holes costs $0.00 and can't hurt your guitar. It's worth a try.


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