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Old 07-02-2009, 06:49 AM
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Default Adjusting Truss Rod

Hi All,

I had a 1991 Washburn D12SCE with poor playability due to high action. After getting a new Taylor 214ce, I began experimenting with the old Washburn guitar. Put on Elixir Nanoweb Light instead of D'addario EJ15 extra light, finger crossed and start twisting the truss Rod to the limit (due to the heavy bow). I was surprised after the adjustment, the sound change in a good big way and good playability. It feels like brand new. Now the question is. Since I live in Jakarta with constant humidity of 70-80, is there any chance it will bow back some time soon ? If it happen, what can possibly be done to improve action in the future coz it's no longer possible to adjust the truss rod anymore. Thanks for any advise.
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Last edited by Hendra; 07-02-2009 at 07:37 AM. Reason: Sentence lead to misunderstanding
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:04 AM
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Tim McKnight Tim McKnight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hendra View Post
If it happen, what can possibly be done to improve action in the future coz it's no longer possible to adjust the truss rod anymore. Thanks for any advise.
Reset the neck [may] be next on your list BUT before that perhaps you might take it to an experienced tech or luthier and get a second opinion.
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:30 AM
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If the truss rod is maxed, then the next step to addressing high action is to look at the nut & saddle heights.

Search the forum for tips on lowering a saddle and nut slots to improve action. Taylor saddles (made from TUSQ on your 200 series) are usually pretty low coming from the factory.
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:53 AM
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If the current action and playability of the guitar is good at this time and you are concerned about future adjustments then: it depends on the type of truss rod and the nut used to adjust it. You say you are at the limit of tightening. It may be possible to remove the nut by loosening it all the way (loosen or remove strings first). Then insert a washer or two adding more "pull" to the nut. I would also lubricate the threads and nut at this time. Attach the nut again and tighten to achieve appropriate neck relief and tune up the strings. Then if or when you need to adjust the neck relief again you have some room to do so.
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Old 07-02-2009, 10:51 PM
Jesse Matthews Jesse Matthews is offline
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Hmm I thought after you tighten the truss rod a turn to the right when the neck is not straight then after a while the neck is slowly going back to where it was before the turn of the trust rod, therefore one just needs to tighten it slightly each time it goes back...am i wrong ?.
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Old 07-02-2009, 10:54 PM
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From frets.com, run by Frank Ford, owner of Gryphon Stringed instruments, luthier, repair expert, moderator at the Acoustic Guitar Magazine forums "Luthiers Corner" site
;
http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Musi...Adj/tradj.html

"The single most common misconception is that truss rods are for adjusting action or intonation. While adjusting the truss rod does affect the playing action, that's a side effect and not the purpose for the adjustment. As a general rule, once the nut and truss rod are set, all action adjustment is done at the bridge, by raising or lowering the saddle. Intonation is affected by action, too, so correcting the action may improve intonation, but again, that's a side effect."

Head back to the main index page at Frets.com.
FULL of information about guitars.

The section on how you properly adjust the action of a guitar;
http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Musi...raction01.html
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Matthews View Post
Hmm I thought after you tighten the truss rod a turn to the right when the neck is not straight then after a while the neck is slowly going back to where it was before the turn of the trust rod, therefore one just needs to tighten it slightly each time it goes back...am i wrong ?.
Yep....wrong.
The truss rod sets the relief of the neck...how much bow it has.
Different people like various amounts of relieve in their guitar necks...some more, some less. Some flat.

The neck won't "slowly go back" to where it was. The rod basically locks it's relief in place.

Head over to that link I gave above for the Frets.com discussion on truss rods...what they do...how they do it.
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Old 07-03-2009, 12:03 AM
Jesse Matthews Jesse Matthews is offline
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Hi Jeff and thx for the link i know the site its great !, so if the truss rod locks itself how does the neck bows again after lets say a change in weather...doesnt the truss rod loosens to the left again aka "natural releif" after you tightend it by turning it to the right ?.
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Old 07-03-2009, 01:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Matthews View Post
Hi Jeff and thx for the link i know the site its great !, so if the truss rod locks itself how does the neck bows again after lets say a change in weather...doesnt the truss rod loosens to the left again aka "natural releif" after you tightend it by turning it to the right ?.
The truss rod generally doesn't unscrew itself.

It is not something that needs to be "tweaked" every few weeks or months.
On most my guitars I've never touched the truss rod..and the relief remains where I like it.

I've seen more people screw up their set ups by continually fidgeting with the truss rod ...and not knowing what they were doing/WHY they were doing it...than I have people improving them.


BTW, if you are tightening the truss rod, be sure to turn it only in SMALL increments....1/8 to 1/4 a turn at most. Then let it settle in for a day before you look to adjust it again.
You do NOT want to over tighten your truss rod and break it/strip it/lock it so you can't turn the nut. THAT is an expensive repair.
You really should not have to be tightening it on a routine basis.
You are just subjecting your truss rods to more and more pressure. Maybe one day....................................SNAP!!!

Again, as is noted on that link I provided...the truss rod's function is NOT to adjust the guitars action. It is to set the neck relief.
Once you get the relief dialed in where you want it..you are done with the truss rod.
Action is adjusted at the saddle. (And the nut. Many folks forget about that end. )

Quoting Frets.com again;

"Before you start wrenching away, please remember that the diagnosis is the key to the job. Make sure you understand what you're doing and why."
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Last edited by Jeff M; 07-03-2009 at 01:48 AM.
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Old 07-03-2009, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff M View Post
The truss rod generally doesn't unscrew itself.

It is not something that needs to be "tweaked" every few weeks or months.
On most my guitars I've never touched the truss rod..and the relief remains where I like it.

I've seen more people screw up their set ups by continually fidgeting with the truss rod ...and not knowing what they were doing/WHY they were doing it...than I have people improving them.


BTW, if you are tightening the truss rod, be sure to turn it only in SMALL increments....1/8 to 1/4 a turn at most. Then let it settle in for a day before you look to adjust it again.
You do NOT want to over tighten your truss rod and break it/strip it/lock it so you can't turn the nut. THAT is an expensive repair.
You really should not have to be tightening it on a routine basis.
You are just subjecting your truss rods to more and more pressure. Maybe one day....................................SNAP!!!

Again, as is noted on that link I provided...the truss rod's function is NOT to adjust the guitars action. It is to set the neck relief.
Once you get the relief dialed in where you want it..you are done with the truss rod.
Action is adjusted at the saddle. (And the nut. Many folks forget about that end. )

Quoting Frets.com again;

"Before you start wrenching away, please remember that the diagnosis is the key to the job. Make sure you understand what you're doing and why."

Hi All,

Thanks so much for the feedback. I was very anxious doing this coz a couple of years ago I end up throwing away my Squire Strat just because of attempting to adjust the truss rod. Apparently over the course of time I have somehow snapped the strat truss rod by over tightening it. But thatís fine with me now coz I no longer play electric.

With my Washburn, it seems to to me that the nut and saddle are just fine coz base on some instruction on the forum I read prior to the adjustment, when I pressed the 1st fret and 14th fret, I saw quite a significant gap (fits a credit card) between the fret and the string especially on the 6th or 7th fret. So I assume this is due to the neck relief. Therefore tightening the truss rod did straightened the neck bow and fix the problem(gap of a piece of paper now). The only problem is that unlike what Jeff suggested to turn the truss rod only by a small increment and give it a day to settle, I did it one at a time and maxed out the screw. Will I be getting into trouble with the neck because of this??? Iitís been 5 days since I adjust the truss rod, so far everything seems to be fine. Oh God I PrayÖ..
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Old 07-03-2009, 06:27 AM
Jesse Matthews Jesse Matthews is offline
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and if the saddle and the nut are the lowest possible before buzz ? , then you 'have to' deal with the truss rod...
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Old 07-03-2009, 07:11 AM
brian a. brian a. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Matthews View Post
and if the saddle and the nut are the lowest possible before buzz ? , then you 'have to' deal with the truss rod...
If the neck relief is correct and the saddle is very low then you may (probably) need the neck to be reset. Adjusting the truss rod will not help the action if the nut and saddle are too low. The truss rod only lessens or increase the amount of bow in the neck. Usually from the nut to the 3rd or 7th fret.

Again, frets.com is a good resource to help one learn about how to assess proper neck relief, setup, neck angle, nut and saddle issues.
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Old 07-03-2009, 07:15 AM
Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
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That said...a guitar with a bad neck angle, high action, no saddle showing and a bunch of neck relief will be marginally more playable with bad neck angle, high action, no saddle showing and no neck relief. And if the action is like 1/8" or higher you don't need any neck relief anyways.

In other words, having a bunch of relief cranked into the neck with the truss rod will make an otherwise hard-to-play guitar play even worse. So what the heck, get the neck flat anyway although at some point you've got to fix the real problem(s).
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Old 07-03-2009, 07:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hendra View Post
... I was very anxious doing this coz a couple of years ago I end up throwing away my Squire Strat just because of attempting to adjust the truss rod. Apparently over the course of time I have somehow snapped the strat truss rod by over tightening it. But thatís fine with me now coz I no longer play electric.
With a bolt on neck like the Squire Strat you could have easily removed the neck and either had the truss rod replaced or bought a new neck. Keep that in mind for the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hendra View Post
I did it one at a time and maxed out the screw. Will I be getting into trouble with the neck because of this??? Iitís been 5 days since I adjust the truss rod, so far everything seems to be fine. Oh God I PrayÖ..
The bow in the neck is caused by string tension. The strings pulling "up" on the neck. You can lower the tension by either loosening the strings or using a lighter gauge string. The truss rod counter acts the tension caused by the string tension. If the truss rod is "healthy" and not cracked or fatigued or tearing into the wood or bending the washer, it should be okay. Keep an eye on the relief to see if it is increasing or decreasing, as well as, the bridge to see if it is lifting away from the top or if the top itself is lifting or bulging upward.

Go back to frets.com and read everything about neck relief, neck angle, saddle height etc to get a better understanding of how these elements interact to affect playability and a healthy guitar.

Good luck.......
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brian a. View Post
With a bolt on neck like the Squire Strat you could have easily removed the neck and either had the truss rod replaced or bought a new neck. Keep that in mind for the future.



The bow in the neck is caused by string tension. The strings pulling "up" on the neck. You can lower the tension by either loosening the strings or using a lighter gauge string. The truss rod counter acts the tension caused by the string tension. If the truss rod is "healthy" and not cracked or fatigued or tearing into the wood or bending the washer, it should be okay. Keep an eye on the relief to see if it is increasing or decreasing, as well as, the bridge to see if it is lifting away from the top or if the top itself is lifting or bulging upward.

Go back to frets.com and read everything about neck relief, neck angle, saddle height etc to get a better understanding of how these elements interact to affect playability and a healthy guitar.

Good luck.......


Thanks a lot Brian,

I figured out the neck are replaceable few weeks after I sold that Strat in a garage sale. Was much younger that time and didn't know that.

As for the Washburn, I used to put Extra Light string to to minimize the neck bow prior to adjusting the truss rod. But that really kill the sound. Luckily after adjusting the truss rod, so far it seems to me that the neck is handling the Elixir PB Light pretty well (at least for the past 5 days after the adjustment). I will keep an eye on the neck relief and check back often at frets.com. Thanks for the useful suggestion..
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