Gretsch Anniversary – Shimming the dovetail

With the correct angle establish I set about shimming the dovetail joint.  There was one factory installed shim already in the joint.  While I would normally remove all the old shims I decided to leave this one as it established the alignment of the neck with the cutaway.  My goal is to slowly trim both sides of the new shimmed dovetail so the neck will slowly descend to the correct depth.

I began by gluing a new shim to either side of the dovetail.  I reshaped the original dovetail because there was a narrowing at the top which prevented a tight fit.  After trimming both faces it was necessary to use larger shims than normal.  I glued them in place with hide glue.

With the shims in place the neck will not descend to the bottom of the joint.  To figure out where to remove wood I place a strips of carbon paper (marking side in) over the dovetail and put it in the joint.  Firmly pushing the neck into the joint transfers a black mark to the areas that are rubbing.  At first there were dark marks on uneven parts of the dovetail.  I pared away these areas with a sharp chisel.  As the joint begins to fit better the marks will become larger and less intense. After repeating this process many times the neck finally descended to the correct depth without any movement.  I glued it in place and left it to dry.

*When gluing the neck back in the joint a small amount of glue should be applied to the outer faces of the dovetail only.  The neck may need to be reset in the future and using excess amounts of glue will just make it difficult for the future repair person.