How to align neck holes w/ undrilled body?


Junior Member
Hey folks,

just ordered a warmoth neck, and I will soon have a non-warmoth strat body to attach it to.  The neck is drilled, but the body isn't, so does anyone have any trick for figuring out the exact location to drill the holes the body?

thanks kindly!
Recent post here with a very good idea:

Use the rivets like the pins from a dowel joiner kit.

You could also trace the heel of your neck on tracing paper, glue that paper to some cardstock and cut out a template. But I really like the simplicity of the technique in the link.
The way I did it once:

Clamp the neck to the drill press so it will not shift.  Align the table on the press so the drill is centered over one hole.  Place the body over the neck, make sure its seated as it ought to be, and make sure things have not shifted.  Drill that hole.  Unclamp the whole affair and try the fit, attaching the neck with a neck plate and single screw.  Assuming nothing shifted, the screw will be perfect, holes properly aligned.  Mark the rest of the holes from the neckplate.

The other way to do it - just fill all the holes on the neck with maple dowel, drill the body using a neckplate as a template and drill the neck from that.
Thanks very much! 

One thing that I am concerned about is proper alignment with the bridge (which isn't installed yet, either).  I'm planning on putting stainless steel threaded inserts into the neck, and installing w/ 8/32 machine screws (described in the post below).  So, I was you think it would be ok to make the body holes just a little larger than the 8/32 screw diameter, so I'd have some ability to adjust from side-to-side to properly align w/ bridge?  I think that the neck would still be set flush to the heel, and w/ the machine screws, I'd be able to get enough torque for good neck/body contact.
dm251z said:
do you think it would be ok to make the body holes just a little larger than the 8/32 screw diameter, so I'd have some ability to adjust from side-to-side to properly align w/ bridge?

Over time, that's probably going to happen anyway. As long as your using a back plate or those big washer thingies for contour heel, you should be able to get enough torque to keep that neck from budging. But keep in mind, it's easier to make a small hole bigger than the other way around. There's no kegel exercises for guitar.
I personally would take the neck to a good hardware store (not Ace-y) and find four nails that slid into the neck holes firmly. Saw off the heads, sharpen them to center in an electric drill, cut/file them to a length where just the tips poke out, and use this to press your centers into the body. But, I'd first think hard about whether it makes sense to do this before the bridge is mounted, or at least until you know the play in the whammy pocket - I mean, running a straightedge or string from where the two E strings should start to where they should finish suggests/defines everything else in the process most effectively IMO.
To Stubhead's point, I would do a dry fit of all the big components (neck, bridge, pickguard with pickups mounted.) Install your tuners and string the two E strings. Check out where they are running in relation to the neck edges and pickups. Check that the center of your bridge saddles is at 25.5" and that the block is clear of any of the walls of the rout.

In fact, if I made a mistake and had to redo anything, I would much rather redrill the neck or neck pocket rather than reposition the bridge or pickguard. You can drill out and fill the errant holes with dowels and start from scratch. When it's all assembled, no one will be the wiser. Patching bridge or pickguard screwholes would be trickier.
Thanks to everyone for very insightful comments!!! I'll install the bridge first, then line up neck w/ hi and lo E strings attached. :rock-on: