I have several Fender Strats, both American and Mexican, and a couple Squiers. I've noticed that there is quite a bit of variance on the neck to pocket fit on the high "E" string side of the neck to the side of the body in the neck pocket area. Some are flush. On some the neck is slightly recessed and on one the neck sticks out slightly beyond the body. Is their any rhyme or reason to this? Are all acceptable? Is this one of those "fit and finish" issues that more attention is given to on higher end models? I could understand this if building a partscaster (mismatched parts) but why would there be variances on factory Fenders? Yes, the fact that it's sticking out on a recent purchase is bugging me. Obviously, it doesn't affect playing. But I know it's there. Thanks.
Post by funkykikuchiyo on Jun 16, 2020 8:40:53 GMT -5
THEY'RE USING CHEAP UNSEASONED WOODS! USE FANCY WOODS FROM LUTHIER GROVE AND COLONEL SANDER'S 11 HERBS AND SPICES TO MAKE A GOOD GUITAR!!!!11!!
... No, not really.
Lots of small, uninteresting reasons. The sides are actually not that important. Having the back of the neck and bottom of the pocket flat and the screws properly located is far more important. The sides are more just cosmetic. The cranking back and forth and looseness associated with some very back neck pockets had more to do with other fit factors, that silly micro-tilt "feature" being one of them. A tight pocket looks classy, but can also be a bit of a nuisance in taking the neck off for adjustments or when the wood changes seasonally, which can lead to customer complaints. Our shop has gotten Custom Shop instruments with necks so tight they literally can't be taken off without scoring the finish and repairing afterward.
The way Fenders were designed to be made was with the necks on one side of the factory and the bodies on the other, and the two only to meet each other at the end. The CNCs are more than capable of getting the parts to the perfect fit, but after they get off many things happen to change them dimensionally, like final standing, fretting (in a factory environment, this can change dimensions), finishing, how the pocket is taped off and how much overspray there is, breaking edges, and so on. The custom shop supposedly matches necks and bodies more closely, but who knows. Other companies making boutique Fender style guitars have taken to not finishing the neck heel much at all to maintain original dimensions, and some companies oversize the heels in the assumption that they'll eventually come down to the correct size. If you've ordered parts to do a DIY and found it too tight, this is why.
I'm generally not bothered by the size of the gaps on the sides of the neck, unless it is big enough for me to keep my spare change in there. Then that's just annoying.
The bottom of pocket to back of neck fit is why I like the StewMac shims. They provide a complete surface between neck and pocket.
full contact shims are better than partial shims, especially if you're talking about more than .020" or so, but they are DEFINTITELY better than the microtilt. Why Fender has used that stupid thing for so long, I have no idea. Bringing up the neck angle on the tip of an allen screw? What could possibly go wrong!
"Why Fender has used that stupid thing for so long, I have no idea. Bringing up the neck angle on the tip of an allen screw?"
I believe the Micro Tilt is a thing because it's faster (truth: cheaper) to set the neck angle with one than it is to assemble the neck and body, perform the basic setup, and then have to loosen the neck, insert a shim, reassemble, measure again, etc. The marketing department also jumped aboard the idea because it makes it easier for non-luthier types to assume it's a simple adjustment they can do on their kitchen table. While this may actually be true, I've had more than a few MT-equipped Fenders appear on my bench with boogered-up MT hardware because the player took the wrench to it without first using a screwdriver.
But back to the original question...I agree with all the above. The fit around the sides and the end of the neck is cosmetic in nature. You'll see the term 'acoustical coupling' tossed around by some people that claim snug neck pocket fitment improves a guitar's tone. That is all noise (har!) because there is no science to back up the argument.
A while back on another guitar site ("Friday nights at nine o'clock on another network...") the following question was asked:
Fender always has the top of the neck pocket going in around the 17th fret on top and 21st fret on the bottom. Does this give more strength to the guitar?
I answered it as follows.
Yes it does, but not as the pocket bears against the side of the neck. With a screwed-on neck, another way to think about this is the critical component being stiffness of the wood through the 'floor' of the neck pocket (the black outline in the pic below). If it's flexible, that's bad because that is what holds the neck in the same plane as the guitar body against the tension of the strings. The upper portion of wood that wraps around the bass side of the neck (red outline) adds stiffness to the lower area (black outline) of the wood.
The sides of the neck pocket do not help keep the neck straight. If that were the case, you'd need only two screws to keep the neck on a Fender. If you're relying on the sides of the pocket to keep a neck straight, it means the four screws are too loose, or there's wax or other slippery goo between the neck and the body.
Unlike Fender, Gibson's approach does use that upper red outlined wood as direct support to prevent neck movement because the neck is glued to the sides of the pocket. And most players are unaware there's usually a bit of an air gap between the neck and the floor of the pocket on a Gibson. This is created by setting the neck's tilt angle when the neck is glued into the body; it assures a tight wood-to-wood fit on the exterior of the guitar where the neck meets the heel on the body. PRS builds them the same way, but goes an extra step and fits the neck into the body with no air gap.
Pretty much all stringed instruments--including pianos--spend their entire lives trying to turn themselves into a taco. How well we build them is what prevents them from doing so.
Last Edit: Jun 16, 2020 11:22:52 GMT -5 by Peegoo 🏁
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