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Neck Shim for Danelectro Guitar

You may recall the pink Danelectro DC-2 Cancer Killer I customized for a friend. I had so much fun working on it and playing it I had to procure a Danelectro for myself.

It might be hard to tell in the picture, but it's what Danelectro called "Daddy-O Yellow." A cool pale yellow color, and I admit it's the first yellow guitar I've owned.

Someone stuck a decal of a half-nekkid woman on it. I covered it up in Photoshop because I cannot stand it. It's just too crass and lame imho. It will be removed soon.

If it was like "Peace" or "Rock Out" or the flag of some cool country, I might have left it.

A previous owner had also stuck a guitar synthesizer pickup on it, and then removed it. So I have 2 holes I'll be filling.

I'm going to put inserts into the neck as I do with all my bolt-on guitars (and I did with the Cancer Killer too). So I took the neck off.

Bzzzt whirrrr! goes the drill.
Put some Goo-Gone on the decal, let it soak for a while, and peeled it off.

One good think about poly finishes is that they're pretty much indestructible, so the decal didn't leave any marks.

Somebody put a shim of cardboard and electrical tape on the neck to change the angle of the neck a bit. You sometimes see this (or you might do this...) on bolt-on neck guitars since the neck angle is so shallow that angling the neck back might improve playability.

I didn't shim my friend's guitar, but it could be improved a tad with a shim. When I see the guitar again I may shim it.

At any rate, I had already decided I would shim this one. Clearly someone beat me to it - but WAIT! I'm going to cook up a slightly more elegant shim.

Now, this is not my idea exactly. I recently saw where Stew-Mac is offering nice wood neck shims. I thought about getting some, but I realized they're really shaped for Fender neck pockets and the Danelectro is a different shape.

Plus, they're $14 for 2 of them, I said to myself, "Self, surely you could make your own exactly to suit your guitar!"

Fourteen bucks? Really? I love Stew-Mac and own tons of their tools but that's crazy money. You gotta stop somewhere.

So I grabbed a hunk of scrap maple and headed off to the dark corner of The Dungeon where the bandsaw lives.

Set a 1 degree angle on our Incra miter gauge.
Put the hunk of maple into resaw position on the saw. I did a test run with a 1/4 inch wide blade as you can see here. The cut edge of the maple was (predictably) a bit too rough so I changed to a more resaw-appropriate 1/2 inch blade (about 12mm in new money measure).

You can see in the foreground I have a wood fence bolted to the miter gauge to keep the maple block on target as it gets cut. So the block is actually 1 degree off square in relation to the blade.

Here's the proper 1/2 inch blade ready to chow down on some maple.

You can see the mark I made indicating where to start the cut. The cut will go from that 'wide' end on a 1 degree angle down to virtually no width at the wood fence end.

I did the maths to calculate all of this. Don't want to bore you - just find a triangle equation calculator online. One angle is 90 degrees, one is 1 degree, and one side for me was 5 inches long. From that you'll get how much the width to start the cut will be (ok, it was like 0.1 inch).

Then I just cut out the shape I needed to fit the Danelectro neck pocket. The maple is a thin triangle in cross-section at this point. Here it's on a wood caul to cut with a razor saw - it looks thick but that's the caul under the shim.

The maple is that nice flamed piece I found at Home Despot (!) to make the frame for Amp 42 from. (I built that amp 6 years ago! Wow.)

Here's the shim, sized to go into the neck pocket. The pocket has rounded corners on the body side, so I radiused the shim to fit them.

You can see the triangle shape cross-section better (I think) in this shot. Easier to show than describe.

Looks like a very thin slice of maple cheese.

Here's the test fit in the pocket. The wide end goes toward the body. This way the neck will have a slight back tilt to it - we'll wind up with a better downward angle over the back of the bridge and maybe get better tone and sustain.

It's a bit more elegant than putting a piece of electrical tape, a guitar pick, or cardboard in there.

I could probably market these things for Danelectros and undercut Stew-Mac by a couple bucks!

And here's the shim drilled for the two mounting bolts that will pass through it. I have some other work to do on the guitar before I can give the final verdict but I'd guess it will work well.

The only bad part is the maple has a nice flame and won't be seen again. I contemplated putting some Tru-Oil on it to bring out the grain...but why bother?

You could make one of these without a bandsaw - a belt sander would work or even a hand plane, but it was fast and easy (and accurate) with the bandsaw.

And just think - I saved $14 by making my own!

 
 
 
 

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