#1
i have a strat that i think needs a truss rod adjustment, since there is kind of a bow in the neck.
1) would i want to turn the rod clockwise or counterclockwise ( truss rod nut is at the headstock if that matters)

2) more importantly, should i loosen the strings first?
#2
If you've never done this before and you're asking on here, I highly recommend bringing it into a luthier for the first time, and direct your questions to them while they're doing it so you can see what's going on and why they're doing it. Truss rod adjustments can kill a guitar if done improperly.
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#3
Indeed, you are clearly too new to this. Yes, someone could in theory guide you through the process online, but it'd still be risky as they couldn't actually be there making sure you actually carry out the instructions correctly.

Adjusting the truss rod is something that can complete write off a guitar if done incorrectly and often isn't even needed as much as many people think anyway, so by far the best idea is to take it to a qualified luthier and have them do a set up and watch what they do. In fact even just getting whatever staff at your local guitar store to do it would be fine, just anyone who knows what they're doing. The truss rod is one of those things that is easy to use once you've been shown how to once, but until you have been shown you should stay well away from it.
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#4
well it cant be that hard, as long as i dont turn it very much i dont think anything can go wrong....
#5
Actually the truss rod can exert enough tension to split the neck clean in half. On a bolt-on style guitar it can lightly damage the body and it will completely destroy the neck. On a set neck guitar it will completely destroy the neck and heavily damage the body. On a neck-through guitar it will write off the whole guitar completely.

It is that risky when you don't know exactly what you're doing and when you've not been shown in person what to do. No respectable guitarist would ever advise you to start adjusting the truss rod by yourself when you're clearly a complete newcomer to it.
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#6
To answer your question (it ain't rocket science)....if you have an upward bow in the neck, you want to turn the adjuster counter-clockwise on a Strat. Keep your strings in tune, their tension is part of the equation...what you are doing is relieving tension on the rod which allows the strings to pull the neck flat or into slight relief (downward bow). Turn at most only a quarter turn at a time and retune to pitch then check the neck using either a straightedge or the low E fretted at the first fret and last fret (a capo is handy here). You want to look for either a flat neck or .008"-.010" relief at the "deepest" spot which should fall around the 8th or 9th fret. It's preferable to let the guitar sit a few hours after each 1/4 turn adjustment then recheck it. When done, you will need to recheck intonation as well. Take your time, and don't force anything. For the naysayers...if it was that big of a deal, Fender wouldn't supply the wrench and instructions on how to do it.

If you like doing things yourself, pick up a good book like Dan Erlewine's "How To Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great".
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#7
Quote by guns_rosesldb
i have a strat that i think needs a truss rod adjustment, since there is kind of a bow in the neck.
1) would i want to turn the rod clockwise or counterclockwise ( truss rod nut is at the headstock if that matters)

2) more importantly, should i loosen the strings first?


there is suppose to be a slight bow in the neck.
#8
measure the neck relief first before anything. have a look at the guitar setup thread in this forum to see how to do this.
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#9
Quote by ibanezgod1973
there is suppose to be a slight bow in the neck.


yea, but it is more than i'd like, compared to my other guitars
#10
If you are going to adjust the truss rod make sure you read up about how to do it on your guitar as some are different to others. Before you do it loosen the strings off a bit and then make a small adjustment 1/8 of a turn can be enough if you guitar is not too far off being right. Then retune and see how it is set. Unless you are going for a really low action that is buzz free it won't take much time to get the guitar how you want.

If it seems stiff to turn or you are not sure what is happening stop and let a guitar shop do it for you.