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  #1  
Old 10-20-2015, 04:08 PM
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Haasome Haasome is offline
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Default Adjustable Truss Rod -- good or bad?

So many times we hear, just adjust the truss rod. Just turn it a quarter turn counterclockwise or clockwise and you'll be good. Seems like a very nice feature. I'm sure there is more worth knowing about this issue: to have - OR - not to have an adjustable truss rod. Can any of our experts weigh in on the relative importance of this component?

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Old 10-20-2015, 04:10 PM
paulzoom paulzoom is offline
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If your guitar doesn't have a truss rod it's either a piece of junk or a very old vintage guitar.
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulzoom View Post
If your guitar doesn't have a truss rod it's either a piece of junk or a very old vintage guitar.

...or you don't really know what you're talking about...?

Tell that to C.F. Martin & Co., in regards to their "Authentic" line...or small-builders such as T.J. Thompson...

EDIT: I wouldn't own a steel-string guitar *without* an adjustable truss-rod, but let's try to expand our scope and understanding of things that are out-there in the world...
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:20 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Sure. Think Religion. It's like that.

On the one hand, some believe that a rigid, non-adjustable reinforcement lends a certain sound quality that an adjustable rod does not. Some believe that if you build the neck "right" (i.e. stiff enough and sufficiently impervious to geometric changes caused by humidity changes) the neck will never need to be adjusted and, hence, doesn't need an adjustable rod. Some just like the appeal of it being done "the authentic way, reminiscent of old-world craftsmanship".

One the other hand, there is the semi-steady stream of guitars that come in to repair persons for neck relief adjustments where there is no adjustment mechanism built in. In those cases, fret tangs of varying sizes can be installed that will use various amounts of compression to change the neck shape. Another approach, not often very successful long-term, is to heat and clamp the neck into the desired shape. As a last resort, the frets can be removed and the fingerboard planed to the desired geometry, then re-fretted. Proponents of adjustable rods use this as an argument for why one should have an adjustable rod, allowing one to adjust for seasonal changes, playing style changes or string gauge changes.

It seems that many don't really understand the purpose of an adjustable rod, or how to properly adjust it. To some extent, that seems a good argument against having an adjustable rod.

It is a matter of choosing one's preference, what one believes in. No "right" or "wrong" answer, only often passionately-held opinions.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 10-20-2015 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:22 PM
paulzoom paulzoom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Pattis View Post
...or you don't really know what you're talking about...?

Tell that to C.F. Martin & Co., in regards to their "Authentic" line...or small-builders such as T.J. Thompson...
I was speaking in generalities. And the authentic line is trying to mimic the vintage, correct?
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:22 PM
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Adjustable truss rods are essential for any guitar of mine - except those made before 1935 (i.e. one).
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:29 PM
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I don't think I would ever own a guitar without an adjustable truss rod. Not a reflection of sound or quality but an investment in longevity.
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:29 PM
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Hi Paul,
I think Martin resisted the adjustable rod for good reasons. As Charles Tauber pointed out, many folk who don't know what they are doing think they can just turn that thing and see what'll happen.

But eventually, Martin's stance changed. Perhaps players, too, wished for less bulky necks?

My 64 000 18 plays great, year round. I like the neck profile, too. My 2004 000 18 is in the shop right now for neck work. It has gone to the Martin repairman more times in its life than the 64. Go figure.
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haasome View Post
So many times we hear, just adjust the truss rod. Just turn it a quarter turn counterclockwise or clockwise and you'll be good. Seems like a very nice feature. I'm sure there is more worth knowing about this issue: to have - OR - not to have an adjustable truss rod. Can any of our experts weigh in on the relative importance of this component?
Paul
Back when I got into Martins in the '60s, this old hillbilly bluegrass/old time musician with Martin guitars and Gibson banjos and mandolins to die for told me, when I ask why Martin didn't have that little plastic thingie on the headstock like Gibsons & Guilds did:
"Dave, underneath that thingie is an adjustment nut to get at the rod that straightens the neck. Martin doesn't use or need that. They build them right to begin with and build them to stay that way."

That's stuck with me ever since. The rigid Martin neck, IMO, transmits sounds in a slightly different way than the non-rigid Martin neck. I think it's a better way.

A rigid neck is stiff enough so that the relief stays virtually the same regardless of the string gauge you use. This type of "stiff" is different (better in my book) than a "stiff" that really is variable and dependent on the adjustment of the truss rod. The physics of the sound transmittal are different.

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Old 10-20-2015, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kydave View Post
A rigid neck is stiff enough so that the relief stays virtually the same regardless of the string gauge you use.
So, in other words, the relief you've got is the relief you're stuck with, whether you want that relief or not?
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Old 10-20-2015, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by zmf View Post
So, in other words, the relief you've got is the relief you're stuck with, whether you want that relief or not?
Relief is pretty much right or not. If it is made to be right originally, no need to screw with it.

Most people who monkey with the relief on their guitars have little idea what they're doing and they are usually doing it for the wrong reason(s).
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Old 10-20-2015, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kydave View Post
Relief is pretty much right or not. If it is made to be right originally, no need to screw with it.
And if it's not right, or not what you want, or you love tweeking for that extra thousandths after you've adjusted all the rest...?

As an old luthier once told me..
"Well heck, son, the action ain't too high, just your fingers are too weak."

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Old 10-20-2015, 05:04 PM
kydave kydave is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zmf View Post
And if it's not right, or not what you want, or you love tweeking for that extra thousandths after you've adjusted all the rest...?

As an old luthier once told me..
"Well heck, son, the action ain't too high, just your fingers are too weak."

Well, sure enough... Some people don't like the Martin T-bar non-adjustable neck. That's OK.

Plenty of people make the non-rigid adjustable relief necks, including Martin.
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Old 10-20-2015, 05:04 PM
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Had a wonderful 1930s 018T that darn sure could have benefited from a T-rod. The bow in the neck was the only thing negative about that wonderful guitar.
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Old 10-20-2015, 06:16 PM
GrandDadgad GrandDadgad is offline
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And then there are carbon fiber guitars too...
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