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We've had a few old LP Jr's come through in the last couple of years and have been noticing a pattern of the strings sitting too close to the pickup poles when we set the action nice and comfortable. You can't play on the highest frets without the strings hitting the pole pieces. A 1960 model in particular is frustrating a customer.

You can't reset the neck without altering the flat surface of the top. If you were to remove and shim the neck, the tenon would be poking out above the top and the pick-guard wouldn't sit flush. Or if you tried to change the angle inside the pocket by sanding a different angle on to neck or pocket, the tenon would dip below the surface - either approach changes the very nature of that guitar.

You could sand/grind/file away at the bottom of the pickup or deepen the pickup rout, but again you'd be altering a vintage guitar dramatically.

This problem doesn't seem to happen on modern Jr's, suggesting to me that over the years, Gibson identified this as a problem and tweaked the neck angle a little. The owner of the 1960 model checked and says the pickups on his vintage and modern guitars are exactly the same height, so the pickup profile doesn't seem to have changed.

Anyone else encounter this scenario or have any thoughts on the matter?

Much obliged fellas.

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No experience with vintage Jnrs but I built a 59 rep.
If you can get the neck out you would just need to shim and then shave the top of the tenon back to flush with the top.
this area is covered by the pickguard.
It is a problem with the dogear pickups being non adjustable, you basically just have one shot to get the neck angle right for action and clearance over the pickup
If the owner wants it comfortable, I would do like Jeff : reset, shim and shave. He would have to choose between "original vintage guitar" and "comfortable guitar". Vintage doesn't mean good. It means old. Sometimes, some are old AND good. I'm surprised how much customers forget that....
Resetting the neck would be my last choice, you're going to destroy the finish with this approach even if you were able to make it invisible. I would deepen the pickup pocket if I were to do anything at all. Otherwise pull the original pickup out, set it aside, and wind a custom pickup with a shorter bobbin height (if this is possible) if you want to avoid routing? Maybe the same bobbin height but magnetized poles instead of a base magnet like a Fender? That is a dilemma....
Not a lot of great options, I would agree. Some key part of the guitar would have to change. Changing the pickup would be the least invasive, but man the old P90's sound - different.

I'm really curious if others have taken note of this condition before. Am I right in identifying it as a characteristic of old Juniors? Has Gibson noticeably changed their neck angle since then?
Actually, changing the pickup height Is not as easy as it might seem.
You can't just deepen the pocket because the dog ear cover is mounted on the surface, not recessed, so it will remain at the original height even if you lower the pickup within.
Dog ear P90's were intended for use on the original ES series archtops, where the surface mounting tabs were an advantage.
Stupid design decision by Gibson to use it for the Juniors, when a body mounted adjustable soapbar could have been used.as in the goldtop LP's
If you can get the neck out cleanly the only refinishing will be to the top surface of the tenon which is covered by the pickguard
I see your point, didn't realize it was a dog ear. Jason Lollar custom shallow dogear design, within the existing pickup pocket depth? Might be worth a shot. Also I think he winds them "loose" and without a lot of potting which tends to make them sound older (i.e. just a hair microphonic)...
Steve, is it a double cutaway with dog ear or regular P-90's? You mentioned "altering the flat surface of the top", what did you mean by this?
Mac, It's a double cut Junior with dogears. I'm saying that if we truly reset the neck angle by either putting a shim in the neck pocket - tilting it upward, or by removing material inside the neck pocket - lowering the back part of the neck, it would alter the way the tenon relates to the rest of the top. Maybe this picture will help illustrate.


Basically, Pierre hit it on the head - you either alter the guitar and choose action over originality, or you live with the weird action because it's a vintage guitar. We carry Lollars so I wrote to Jason to ask about the shallow profile P90 you mentioned. He wrote back that these old Juniors had inconsistent neck angles and were all a little different. He also said that the low profile pickup is intended for a neck string spacing but that he could custom make one - maybe fitting it to the original cover. I'm passing that on to our customer (who is in another part of the country.)

I'm still just kind of curious if others have encountered this neck angle business with old Gibsons.

Thanks everybody.
The original pickup may have clearance under it already, You may be able to drop it by modifying it's mounting tabs at the ends and then modifying a plastic cover(not the original) to be slightly shorter by cutting off the ends and gluing them back on.
Well, we do see this sometimes on those old LPs. Neck angle too shallow to allow low action because the strings hit the pickups. ONe of the guys in the shop recalls reading a solution to the problem written by Dan Erlewine in an old issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine, or some similar publication.
Dan's a member here - you could send him a personal message.
Thinking out loud here ... Once you have the neck off. You could cut a veneer slice off the top of the tenon keeping the finish in tact. Shim the neck. Reshape the tenon top and cap with your veneer. The only touch up would be a line at the base of the fretboard.
Thank you everyone for your input. Nice to be able to draw on the knowledge and experience of others in a forum like this. We'll see what direction this project goes.

And again, thanks Frank for putting this site together.

Steve & Dan - Chicago Fret Works

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