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Old 08-16-2013, 06:15 AM
dwstout dwstout is offline
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Default Truss rod adjustment

I want to do a truss rod adjustment on an Ibanez. I know many will say go to a repair shop but this guitar cost $120. I helped someone find an acoustic guitar about 18 months ago. She only had $150 to spend and found this on Craig's List. So there's no money for a pro.
My question is: when looking at the hex-nut do I turn it clockwise or counter-clockwise to straighten the neck. Everything else on the guitar seems fine. Top is still flat and the heel isn't coming loose.
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:26 AM
Garthman Garthman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwstout View Post
I want to do a truss rod adjustment on an Ibanez. I know many will say go to a repair shop but this guitar cost $120. I helped someone find an acoustic guitar about 18 months ago. She only had $150 to spend and found this on Craig's List. So there's no money for a pro.
My question is: when looking at the hex-nut do I turn it clockwise or counter-clockwise to straighten the neck. Everything else on the guitar seems fine. Top is still flat and the heel isn't coming loose.
Clockwise will tighten the trussrod and therefore reduce relief.
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:26 AM
guitararmy guitararmy is offline
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If the truss rod access is at the base of the neck inside the soundhole, facing it and turning it clockwise (toward the high E string) will tighten it and bend the headstock and upper neck back towards the back of the guitar.

If the truss rod access is at the headstock, facing it and turning it clockwise (towards the low E string) will tighten it.
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:36 AM
dwstout dwstout is offline
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Thanks - that answers my question. Wish me luck.
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:52 AM
duluthdan duluthdan is online now
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BTW, it doesn't usually take much - give it a quarter turn, check, then another tweak or two if you think you need to, keep checking and keep the turn increments small. Good luck !
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:01 AM
dwstout dwstout is offline
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Originally Posted by duluthdan View Post
BTW, it doesn't usually take much - give it a quarter turn, check, then another tweak or two if you think you need to, keep checking and keep the turn increments small. Good luck !
Thanks - I was just about to ask that very question.
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Old 08-16-2013, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwstout View Post
I want to do a truss rod adjustment on an Ibanez. I know many will say go to a repair shop but this guitar cost $120. I helped someone find an acoustic guitar about 18 months ago. She only had $150 to spend and found this on Craig's List. So there's no money for a pro.
My question is: when looking at the hex-nut do I turn it clockwise or counter-clockwise to straighten the neck. Everything else on the guitar seems fine. Top is still flat and the heel isn't coming loose.
Tighten down (flattens relief at the headstock), Loosen up (raises relief at the headstock)...and unless you strip the nut or break one off, there's little to go wrong.

You can always put it back to where it started. Just limit it in ¼ to ⅓ turns and then check before adjusting again (about all you can accomplish with a normal alan wrench). It is not injurious to the neck unless you do really extreme things to it. It won't cause the guitar to explode nor damage the neck.

The worst case I ever saw was a student with a 30 yr old really cheap off brand, and the relief was so extreme it actually took a full revolution and a half to relax the neck (and a couple days of rest). That was unusual, most take only a third to half revolution (or sometimes less).

An issue you may find is if the first owner (owners?) sanded the bottom of the saddle. If so lowering the relief may cause buzzing and then the saddle may need to be shimmed a touch to compensate. Just go slow and methodically and don't panic. It's all do-able.

Once a guitar is reasonably well setup, adjusting relief is a perfectly good way to adjust action. Seasonal changes are often accompanied by a change in relief. Indeed neck relief is the only part of the action which changes quickly.

How much can a saddle or nut change once set properly?

I have sighted down the edge of many a neck and tweaked the relief to solve buzzes or too-high fretting.


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Old 08-16-2013, 10:44 AM
Rodger Knox Rodger Knox is offline
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Don't try to tighten it under string tension!
Are you sure it needs a rod adjustment? What is the relief under string tension?

OK, here the process:

First, check the relief by fretting a string at the 1st and 14th fret, and measure the height of the string at the 7th fret. It should be between .003" and .008", that's a little less than the thickness on the high e. If it is way high, like .05", it's adviseable to use clamps to flex the neck the direction it needs to go before you adjust the rod. It's a real PITA to keep tuning up, checking, tuning down and adjusting, tuning up, checking, but you won't break anything that way. Truss rods are designed to hold the neck straight, some are not up to the task of straightening a bowed neck.

Second, set the action height by adjusting the height of the saddle. If it needs to be lowered, you can file material off the bottom of the saddle. If it needs to be raised, the correct fix is to make a new saddle, but you could put a shim under the saddle to raise it.

Third, set the intonation. I'll post how to do that if you need it.
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Old 08-16-2013, 10:52 AM
TwoMartinMan TwoMartinMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodger Knox View Post
Don't try to tighten it under string tension!
Are you sure it needs a rod adjustment? What is the relief under string tension?
Sorry, but the strings should be at their proper, tuned-up tension when you make truss rod adjustments.
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Old 08-16-2013, 11:11 AM
Rodger Knox Rodger Knox is offline
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You are entitled to your opinion.
You can usually get away with minor adjustments under tension, but the downside of a stripped/broken rod makes it a bad bet in my book.
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Old 08-16-2013, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoMartinMan View Post
Sorry, but the strings should be at their proper, tuned-up tension when you make truss rod adjustments.
Hi TMM...

Agreed. Never have I encountered a tech or luthier who doesn't adjust it under tension (not saying one doesn't exist). But it is a waste of time since string tension is involved in the outcome, and adjusting under tension doesn't do damage.


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Old 08-16-2013, 11:58 AM
ouimetnick ouimetnick is offline
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On some really old guitars the strings are loosened so the truss rod is under less stress while being adjusted. On most guitars though, you adjust the truss rod under standard tension.
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:05 PM
Rodger Knox Rodger Knox is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post
Hi TMM...

Agreed. Never have I encountered a tech or luthier who doesn't adjust it under tension (not saying one doesn't exist). But it is a waste of time since string tension is involved in the outcome, and adjusting under tension doesn't do damage.


First, the assertation that adjusting under tension doesn't do damage is incorrect. Virtually all rod failures are from adjusting under tension. In the context of the OP, adjusting under tension is bad advice.

I'd almost be willing to bet that a rod adjustment isn't the correct fix, but without seeing it in person, I couldn't say.
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:35 PM
TwoMartinMan TwoMartinMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodger Knox View Post
You are entitled to your opinion.
You can usually get away with minor adjustments under tension, but the downside of a stripped/broken rod makes it a bad bet in my book.
My "opinion" happens to be the actual practice of Dan Erlewine, Frank Ford, and dozens of other published, and long-respected luthiers from around the globe. To say nothing of my own experience doing set ups and other guitar work on hundreds of guitars over many years. I'll stick with my "opinion".
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:43 PM
Rodger Knox Rodger Knox is offline
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Obviously, you have the experience to adjust a rod under string tension without breaking it, as do the luthiers you reference.

I have less confidence that is the case with the OP.
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