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Wood to Wood Contact in Strat Neck Pocket

 
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Toleolu



Joined: 06 Apr 2011
Posts: 524
Location: Hawaii USA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:21 pm    Post subject: Wood to Wood Contact in Strat Neck Pocket Reply with quote

Just curious if there's any benefit from removing any paint/finish from the neck pocket and the neck heel/butt on a strat?
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BrightKJ



Joined: 13 Sep 2008
Posts: 342
Location: Midlothian, VA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My take on it is this... while there's no question that a snug fit between the neck and the neck pocket is beneficial, I feel like 99% of the tone and sustain of the neck is achieved by the mechanical bond between the two. Since there is absolutely no mechanical bond on the sides of the neck pocket, the amount of vibration transfer is significantly less. All that being said, if the amount of paint in the neck pocket or on the heel of the neck leads to a snug fit that isn't too tight, then I would just leave it. Any effect on tone would be imperceptible.
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Toleolu



Joined: 06 Apr 2011
Posts: 524
Location: Hawaii USA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks.
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Jib



Joined: 20 Dec 2016
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always remove paint/finish from neck pockets when doing a setup.

I also "clear the holes." When the neck screws thread into the body itself, it prevents them from pulling the neck as tight as possible into the pocket.

I measure the neck screws with calipers, then find the nearest oversized bit I can. I try to keep it only a little bit bigger, maybe .005" or .010". I drill out the neck screw holes in the body, then check for clearance by pushing the screws through.

Sometimes I give the screws a good tap with a hammer to clear out the holes after drilling them very slightly oversized. Remove and repeat until the screw passes through cleanly. The goal is to have them push through with only minimal resistance, without threading into the body *at all.*

In my time as a guitar tech I've also seen finish and paint buildup in the pocket throw off neck angle. Stripping out paint/finish and clearing the holes in the body gives the neck the best possible chance it has to have maximum contact as well as an even angle.

If you handed me two assembled guitars, one with the neck pocket bare and the other with heavy finish buildup, I doubt I or anyone else could tell the difference tonally or otherwise.

However, clearing the holes in the body and having the pocket stripped does make for a better setup, and IMO is the most professional way to go.

One more tip: there is a little right angle tool called a Woodpecker Mini Square. One of my tricks is using that square with Stikit sandpaper attached to it to sand the sides of the neck pocket.

It guarantees a perfect right angle and is also a great fit. It's the best thing I've found for taking finish (or in some cases, wood) off of the sides of the neck pocket. Sometimes you have to do that if the pocket is too tight and doesn't allow for proper alignment of the neck.

I had to use that trick recently on the bass I've been refinishing, as enough finish built up in the pocket to affect the neck fit and alignment for the worse.

Conversely, while I generally always strip the bottom of the neck pocket as a principle, if the finish on the sides of the pocket aren't causing any issues with alignment, I always leave them alone.

Leaving the sides alone can look better aesthetically, being a tighter fit, and I also get paranoid that by stripping the sides on the inside of the pocket, you're potentially inviting the possibility of the paint chipping off on that "knife edge" of the neck pocket when aligning or removing and reinstalling the neck.

I only strip/sand the sides of the pocket if I have to for proper neck alignment or if the fit is so tight I'm afraid it'll chip the finish.

**EDIT**

I *was* taught that maximizing wood-to-wood contact will in fact make a difference in sustain. And I certainly don't write that off.

Placebo effect? Maybe. But I don't feel like a bolt-on neck is at its full potential if the holes in the body aren't cleared and the finish is stripped out of the pocket. Just how I was taught and how I've done things ever since.
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'Vid



Joined: 27 Aug 2013
Posts: 22
Location: Reno, NV

PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This topic has always interested me. Probably more voodoo or smoke and mirrors than "real world" improvement, but my own little tweak is actually brushing on a medium coat of clear lacquer in the neck pocket right before assembly to give it a tighter fit and fill all of those microscopic air gaps. Of course then I clamp it pretty tight and drive in the neck screws. People have told me it's completely unnecessary and I'm nuts for doing it, LOL.
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markusv



Joined: 24 Sep 2009
Posts: 157
Location: Toronto, Ontario

PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Vid wrote:
This topic has always interested me. Probably more voodoo or smoke and mirrors than "real world" improvement, but my own little tweak is actually brushing on a medium coat of clear lacquer in the neck pocket right before assembly to give it a tighter fit and fill all of those microscopic air gaps. Of course then I clamp it pretty tight and drive in the neck screws. People have told me it's completely unnecessary and I'm nuts for doing it, LOL.


Well- that approach is the closest to a mechanical bond I can think of- other than a glue joint. So maybe it makes sense.
For sustain, I string the guitar up, tune it fully and then ease the neck screws out by half a turn each. Strings pull the neck in real tight.
Then re-tighten the screws
Markus
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Toleolu



Joined: 06 Apr 2011
Posts: 524
Location: Hawaii USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw a video where a guy did what you said about backing off the neck screws with the strings strung to pitch. I tried that on my new MIM strat, canít say for sure how much of an improvement it made, but I think itís a good idea.

Jibís comment about clearing the neck screw holes in the body is a good idea as well. I always put a little wood glue on some toothpicks and put those in the neck screw holes before re-attaching the neck. Bees wax on the threads of course.

Iíve been holding off on taking the neck off this new strat, going to put the Callaham bridge on, install the Stew Mac electronics upgrade, replace the nut, then swap out the pickups. Iíve got some hot noiseless pickups I bought for my other strat, but I put the Tonerider Classic Blues pickups back in that guitar.

Thanks
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