#1
There is some bowing on the neck of my cheap Encore. I've never adjusted a truss rod before so I figure I should give it a go. Should I loosen the strings or leave them tuned up while adjusting it?
#2
Bowing as in which way, back bow or forward? You can't just blindly adjust the thing in the hopes it'll cure the neck. If there's too much forward bow, you would need to tighten the truss rod, and only about 1/4 turn MAX. Then let the guitar sit for a day or two(you can of course play it in between, just no more truss adjustments) so that the neck can adapt to the new tension.
If there's too much back bow, and the strings are all hitting the frets, you need to make sure it's a truss/neck bow issue and not action.
You can adjust the truss either way, with the strings tuned to pitch or downtuned. Just be sure to retune it to the correct pitch once you make the adjustment.
Also, put a drop or two of some light machine oil onto the threads where you'll be turning the truss. If it's an older guitar, I wouldn't even attempt to turn it until I've let some oil soak into the threads for a good week or so.
Neck geometry can also be attributed to humidity/temperature issues. Is the guitar drying out? Is it overly humid in your house? These things will effect the entire guitar, not only the neck. Rule out the basics before you crank on the truss rod.
#3
you want to always adjust with the strings tuned up so that you know what your bow will be like with your strings tuned up. if you adjust when tuned down you'll have no way of knowing how much your changing the bow of the neck and then if you try to re-tune you may snap the neck. This idea is corroborated by the column (or is it a lesson?) on truss rod adjustments here on UG

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#4
[quote="'[DookieShoes"]']you want to always adjust with the strings tuned up so that you know what your bow will be like with your strings tuned up. if you adjust when tuned down you'll have no way of knowing how much your changing the bow of the neck and then if you try to re-tune you may snap the neck. This idea is corroborated by the column (or is it a lesson?) on truss rod adjustments here on UG

That only applies to guitars that have an access cover at the headstock for the truss rod. There's no way you can get at some of the ones buried inside the body of the guitar unless you loosen the strings. Some you can't even see unless you stick a mirror inside. And it's b.s. that the neck will snap from making a truss rod adjustment then retuning the guitar. After all, the guitar will need to be retuned after you make the truss adjustment. How on earth do you suppose you are going to get around this unless you retune? About the only scenario I can see this happening is if you were to over-adjust the truss rod with all of the strings loose. Say better than a full turn clockwise, which is excessive for any guitar. Then once the strings are tuned back up, there'll be a lot more tension on the neck then previously. But no one told the TS to turn the truss that much. I certainly would never suggest to.
You'll know how much of a change was made by carefully measuring the fretboard relief. This part is done tuned to concert pitch, and after the neck has had sufficient time to settle in to it's new position, usually a day or two.
Last edited by LeftyDave at Dec 22, 2008,
#5
Quote by LeftyDave
Bowing as in which way, back bow or forward? You can't just blindly adjust the thing in the hopes it'll cure the neck. If there's too much forward bow, you would need to tighten the truss rod, and only about 1/4 turn MAX. Then let the guitar sit for a day or two(you can of course play it in between, just no more truss adjustments) so that the neck can adapt to the new tension.
If there's too much back bow, and the strings are all hitting the frets, you need to make sure it's a truss/neck bow issue and not action.
You can adjust the truss either way, with the strings tuned to pitch or downtuned. Just be sure to retune it to the correct pitch once you make the adjustment.
Also, put a drop or two of some light machine oil onto the threads where you'll be turning the truss. If it's an older guitar, I wouldn't even attempt to turn it until I've let some oil soak into the threads for a good week or so.
Neck geometry can also be attributed to humidity/temperature issues. Is the guitar drying out? Is it overly humid in your house? These things will effect the entire guitar, not only the neck. Rule out the basics before you crank on the truss rod.


no, not blindly adjusting it. I changed to a heavier set of strings a few months ago and the neck is obvioulsy bowing forward a bit now, and the strings sit way higher than they used to. The access point is just inside the soundhole, so I'd have to loosen the middle two in order to get to it, I just wondered if I should loosen them all or not. I'd prefer not to break any of the strings, you know?
#6
I'd loosen all of them about 1/2 step down, the middle two more if you need more room to get your adjusting tool into the soundhole. When you turn the truss rod, make SMALL adjustments, 1/8-1/4 turn total. Then wait overnight for the neck to adapt. You can bring all of the strings back up to normal tuning the next day. If you were to leave it in standard, once the neck changed, everything would be sharp, and you could break strings.
And about the heavier gauge of strings, do they fit correctly in the nut slots? They don't ride up high in the slots do they? This could also account for higher action.
#7
Quote by LeftyDave
I'd loosen all of them about 1/2 step down, the middle two more if you need more room to get your adjusting tool into the soundhole. When you turn the truss rod, make SMALL adjustments, 1/8-1/4 turn total. Then wait overnight for the neck to adapt. You can bring all of the strings back up to normal tuning the next day. If you were to leave it in standard, once the neck changed, everything would be sharp, and you could break strings.
And about the heavier gauge of strings, do they fit correctly in the nut slots? They don't ride up high in the slots do they? This could also account for higher action.


I followed your advice to the letter and it's back to normal after a couple days and a total of about a 1/4 turn. The strings fit down nice and snug in the nut, it was just needing an adjustment. thanks!
#9
ya I appreciate it Dave, I'm trying to sort of experiment with this guitar since it only cost me £10.50 and is kinda beat up anyway. I want to try removing the saddle and sanding it a bit to bring the action down. Do you think it's Ok to re-use the same strings after removing the pegs and working on the saddle?
#10
Yep. That after all is how it's done. You loosen all of the strings enough so that you can get the saddle piece out. Do your thing to it, then reinstall it. I've done it without removing the bridge pins on my Alvarez, but your saddle might be taller. If you can't finagle the saddle out, then just pop out the bridge pins for the E, A and D strings, then you'll have room to slide the saddle out.
When sanding it down, tape a piece of 150 grit sandpaper down to a nice flat surface. Then rub the bottom of the saddle on that. This maintains the nice flat bottom of the saddle that it needs. Also helpful is to mark a pencil line around the bottom of the saddle, about 1/32-1/16 of an inch up from the base so that you have a reference line to follow and gauge how much material you are removing.
Here's the rule of thumb when lowering action at the saddle. If you think you need to lower the strings by 1/16th of an inch at the 12th fret, you would then remove 2/16th's, or 1/8th, from the bottom of the saddle. It's exactly double, because the 12th fret is exactly half the length of the string. It works the same way for metrics too btw.
That should get you going.
#12
my string action too high with neck..i already tighten the truss rod..and also turn down saddle..but still same problem..and i already tighten the truss rod maximum...what should i do?please help..

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#13
Quote by khairulamri
my string action too high with neck..i already tighten the truss rod..and also turn down saddle..but still same problem..and i already tighten the truss rod maximum...what should i do?please help..

musicman silhouette special..
Well, the first thing you should do is stop bumping 7+ year old threads.

The second thing you should do is start your own thread in either "Electric Guitar", or, "Gear Building and Customization".

OK, AFAIK, that guitar has a bolt on neck. So, if the action is too high, it's not a big deal to fix. You have to get different "shims", which go between the body and neck.

Start a thread in "Gear Building". Those guys will explain it to you.

You can also search YouTube for videos. I suggest search terms like "setup Stratocaster", or, "shimming Stratocaster neck".

The process is the same on your guitar as a Strat. I just think you'll get more hits if you search using the much more common Fender guitar.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 10, 2016,
#14
Here is how I do it.

Put a capo on the 1st fret and push the string down on the 14th fret of the low E string. Now look at the side of the fretboard and focus on the gap that is left between the 7th fret and the low E string. It should be around 1-2mm give or take. If the gap is too small then loosen the truss rod. If it's too big then tighten the truss rod. If your truss rod is too loose then your action feels too high even when it isn't high, and it makes your guitar feel slow and clunky. If the truss rod is too tight then you will get buzzing on your lower frets. You need to find a balance so make small adjustment and then play the guitar for a day and check again. It is more about feel than the numbers so only use the 1-2mm as a starting point. Every guitar is slightly different.
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#15
Quote by CorduroyEW
Here is how I do it.

Put a capo on the 1st fret and push the string down on the 14th fret of the low E string. Now look at the side of the fretboard and focus on the gap that is left between the 7th fret and the low E string. It should be around 1-2mm give or take. If the gap is too small then loosen the truss rod. If it's too big then tighten the truss rod. If your truss rod is too loose then your action feels too high even when it isn't high, and it makes your guitar feel slow and clunky. If the truss rod is too tight then you will get buzzing on your lower frets. You need to find a balance so make small adjustment and then play the guitar for a day and check again. It is more about feel than the numbers so only use the 1-2mm as a starting point. Every guitar is slightly different.

1-2mm sounds way more than I've ever seen recommended...
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#16
Quote by CorduroyEW
Here is how I do it.

Put a capo on the 1st fret and push the string down on the 14th fret of the low E string. Now look at the side of the fretboard and focus on the gap that is left between the 7th fret and the low E string. It should be around 1-2mm give or take. If the gap is too small then loosen the truss rod. If it's too big then tighten the truss rod. If your truss rod is too loose then your action feels too high even when it isn't high, and it makes your guitar feel slow and clunky. If the truss rod is too tight then you will get buzzing on your lower frets. You need to find a balance so make small adjustment and then play the guitar for a day and check again. It is more about feel than the numbers so only use the 1-2mm as a starting point. Every guitar is slightly different.

Actually, NO this is not the way to do it, at least not for this particular TS.

1st: His original post states he has ALREADY dropped the saddle AND adjusted the truss rod. If this is the case, the neck has to be taken off and shimmed.

2nd,
this is a question about an ELECTRIC guitar, posted in a 7 year old ACOUSTIC guitar DEAD thread.

3rd, (and most importantly), "1 to 2 millimeters" isn't anywhere near the correct "relief clearance" for ANYBODY'S guitar.

Action HEIGHT on an electric guitar, or even many acoustic player's preferences, isn't much more than 2mm at the 12th fret. Now, why would you want to have someone put that much relief into their guitar's neck?

The most common "tool" I've seem recommended to check relief is the common business card. All I can speculate is, if the business cards you've been given are 2mm thick, you're going to need a bigger Rolodex in a big, big hurry... Not to mention the bulk of your wallet. (@2mm thick, 13 business cards would be slightly more than an inch thick).
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 10, 2016,
#17
^1st, Assuming you are correct and the most common tool used now days is a business card then that would mean the most common reference used is completely inconsistent and useless. Business cards very greatly in thickness from one card to the next. Most players I know use a guitar pick which are sold in measurements accurate to a fraction of a millimeter. 1mm to 2mm is high for an electric but not for an acoustic. Most gigging musicians that I do acoustic setups for use medium to heavy strings which require significantly more relief than someone using lights or extra lights and these would be the people that need around 2mm give or take. The bedroom players using extra lights would want to start at 1mm and probably work their way down but going much lower than 1mm on an acoustic guitar will mean you have to set the action high or you get buzzing on the low strings between frets 3-9. These numbers 1mm-2mm were recommended starting points not final destinations and I said as much in my original post.

2nd I didn't notice that the thread was old nor did i realize that this is in regard to an electric. My response was assuming it was an acoustic guitar. I just responded to the very top thread in the acoustic guitar forum and explained how I go about adjusting truss rods on acoustic guitars.

3rd I didn't focus on neck angle adjustment because that is not usually something the average person can do on an acoustic guitar and, like I said, I answered this thinking it was about an acoustic.

You are correct that if he has dropped the saddle all the way and properly adjusted the truss rod and the guitar is still unplayable then their are bigger problems afoot but this guy hasn't adjusted to truss rod properly, he has simply tightened it all the way which, in truth, has probably already broken the truss rod and damaged the neck. If he hasn't broken the truss rod yet he needs to adjust it properly as soon as possible to minimize the damage caused over time and after the truss rod is roughly in the right spot then they should look at neck angle, nut, and saddle adjustments. I really should have mentioned this last point in my original post but I had to wrap up my post because a customer had just arrived at my workshop so that I could adjust the nut, saddle, and truss rod on their acoustic guitar.
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#18
besides the fact that this is a necro thread but yeah, i don't like the "business card" as a unit of measurement either. it's role as the default guitar neck relief measurement tool seems like an indication of a grand societal laziness and an increasing ignorance of the physical sciences. if this sad condition persists, i'm afraid we'll devolve back to using the cubit as the default unit of measure.

corduroy fw, i think you need help in understanding neck relief, string action and string gauge. regarding paragraph #1, and your summary statement in paragraph #4, the physics just don't support your claims.
Last edited by ad_works at Jan 11, 2016,
#19
Quote by ad_works
besides the fact that this is a necro thread but yeah, i don't like the "business card" as a unit of measurement either. it's role as the default guitar neck relief measurement tool seems like an indication of a grand societal laziness and an increasing ignorance of the physical sciences. if this sad condition persists, i'm afraid we'll devolve back to using the cubit as the default unit of measure....[ ].....

Whether or not you like a business card or not, they are usually in the neighborhood of .010 or ten thousandths of an inch, in plain English.

1 (one) millimeter equals round about .040" (actually 0.0393701"). That would make 2 mm, very close to .080". Which happens to be about 6 to 8 times the standard relief recommendation.

Now, if a business card is too haphazard for you in particular, the next time you adjust a neck on any guitar, why not cut a check for $103.00 to Stew-Mac, so you'll have the satisfaction of, "doing it right". Here's the link: http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Tools_for_Necks_and_Fingerboards/Neck_Relief_Gauge.html

Now, here's Sweetwater's take on standard relief tolerance:
At the deepest point of the curve, which is usually at about the 7th or 8th fret on an electric guitar, this should measure between 0.005 to 0.020 inch (or 0.015 to 0.05 centimeter). If you measure no relief, the neck may be convex. At that point, you’ll need to adjust the truss rod. We prefer to have a qualified guitar tech do this kind of job, but for you brave souls out there
And here's that link: http://www.sweetwater.com/insync/measuring-electric-guitar-neck-relief/

By my somewhat limited grasp on mathematics, and accepting Sweetwater's estimate as credible, 2mm would be somewhere between 4 and 16 and times the amount necessary or recommended. With perfect fretwork, some guitars can get by with practically no neck relief. But yes, that does depend on a players touch, the quality of the fret work, & the string gauge in use.

Quote by CorduroyEW
...[ ]...You are correct that if he has dropped the saddle all the way and properly adjusted the truss rod and the guitar is still unplayable then their are bigger problems afoot but this guy hasn't adjusted to truss rod properly, he has simply tightened it all the way which, in truth, has probably already broken the truss rod and damaged the neck. If he hasn't broken the truss rod yet he needs to adjust it properly as soon as possible to minimize the damage caused over time and after the truss rod is roughly in the right spot then they should look at neck angle, nut, and saddle adjustments. I really should have mentioned this last point in my original post but I had to wrap up my post because a customer had just arrived at my workshop so that I could adjust the nut, saddle, and truss rod on their acoustic guitar.
If I go along with your big leap of assumption that the TS has tightened the truss rod down as far as it would go, in most cases the neck would be bent backwards. With the bridge screwed all the way down, and even a tiny reverse curve in the neck, if the action is still too high, then it absolutely needs to be reset, (or re-shimmed), period.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 11, 2016,
#20
uh, why make it harder? just get a set of automotive feeler gages. accurate and cheap. your grandpappy might have used them to set the points and adjusted the spark plug gap on the family whip.

fwiw though, i do use a dial indicator gage but it's something i machined and i built myself. with it i can see "in real time" how much the neck is moving as i adjust the truss rod. stew mac is great for ideas but not necessarily the place where i throw money.

but in general, just get some feeler gages. inch or metric -your call.
Last edited by ad_works at Jan 11, 2016,
#21
I adjust at normal tuning, even when the truss rod nut is the body. It is a bit awkward, but it can be done. Also I give the neck a push after adjusting, in the direction I want it to go.

I don't bother measuring it, I can tell by the amount of travel when I tap the string. It is about the same as the thickness of a business card, or a little less.
#22
Quote by ad_works
uh, why make it harder? just get a set of automotive feeler gages. accurate and cheap. your grandpappy might have used them to set the points and adjusted the spark plug gap on the family whip.
And this generation doesn't know how to to do those things? Why? Because, "there's an app for that"? Stands to reason. I mean, I've been shouted down in threads due to having suggested that to successfully accomplish a barre chord, you have to push down all the strings firmly, and that requires practice.

Quote by ad_works
fwiw though, i do use a dial indicator gage but it's something i machined and i built myself. with it i can see "in real time" how much the neck is moving as i adjust the truss rod. stew mac is great for ideas but not necessarily the place where i throw money.

but in general, just get some feeler gages. inch or metric -your call.
Well "FWIW", I was just yanking your chain about buying that gauge (*) thingy from StewMac. Otherwise, I wouldn't have put the directly behind it.

As far as the "grand pappy" issue goes, at the age of 67, consider me one of them. That being the case, I already have a roller cabinet full of automotive tools, including feeler gauges, right in the living room. (I know, I have a strange sense of style when it comes to furniture).

That being the case, I would humbly implore you to stop talking down to me, and that Mr. Corduroy wold stop publishing such bizarre specs for neck relief. The facts notwithstanding they were for the wrong type of guitar, in a 7 year old thread...

(*) BTW, that's how gauge is spelled, at least in US English.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 11, 2016,
#23
Quote by Tony Done
I adjust at normal tuning, even when the truss rod nut is the body. It is a bit awkward, but it can be done. Also I give the neck a push after adjusting, in the direction I want it to go.

I don't bother measuring it, I can tell by the amount of travel when I tap the string. It is about the same as the thickness of a business card, or a little less.
This may seem like I'm picking a fight with you too, trust me, I'm not.

In spite of today's "double action truss rods". it depends on which way I'm trying to go with the relief, as to whether or not I remove some tension from the strings.

If I'm trying to put relief in, I leave the guitar tuned to full pitch.

If I'm trying to take relief out, I tune down a couple of semis. This because I'm superstitious about stripping threads, breaking glue joints, or snapping the truss rod.

You also have to take into account, I'm as often as not, setting relief on 12 strings.

I like you business card idea though....
#24
Oh, I know that opinions differ, so no umbrage taken. I can see it wouldn't be anywhere as easy on a 12-string.

Besides which I haven't got the energy to argue with you. I've just spent about three hours gardening, and the temperature is in the mid-80s.
Last edited by Tony Done at Jan 11, 2016,