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A question about neck tension and tone

NoahL

Member
Messages
1,423
i just got a bass neck to have the right amount of relief by adding a pretty-darn-thick set of washers under the truss rod nut. I was able to turn the nut enough, and I noticed how hard it became to turn at the end. So much tension! Then I remembered the G&L owner's manual saying that the neck needs at least 1/8 turn worth of tension -- far far less than mine required. THEN I remembered that now and then a poster in here remarks that his guitar is crazy-bright and he can't tame it. And I've also read guys say "some necks are just dead." Could these be related to the tension required to get the right relief? Don't you think a neck that's tight as a slingshot will affect tone differently than one that's at just 1/8-turn tension? And is there a way to "tune" your neck in this light, by modifying the business end of the truss rod with washers or creating more or less bow before you engage the nut, to achieve a different tension for the same relief? Or does it not work that way? I.e, if the strings exert x pressure, the neck must exert x tension - equal and opposite? Or even if that's true, can the amount that the truss rod contributes vary and thereby create a less or more "live" neck?
 
Last edited:

MrGibson

Member
Messages
1,032
I think you've answered your own questions, but I like to add:

Each truss rod design has its own characteristics, pros and cons. Applicable tricks depend on design.
Some truss rod designs are prone to make the rod bind in the channel or at the anchor points. This affect the guitar in a number of bad ways. By learning some neck massage techniques, this sets the neck free and both playability and tone will be improved.

Apply lubricant to threads and washers, make sure the surfaces are clean and smooth.

The neck is the part of the guitar frame that has the greatest vibrating movement and it resonates. Put your ear to the neck when playing unplugged and you'll note the difference in acoustic sound between different truss rod designs. Necks with larger truss rod channels are more hollow and in general resonate louder. They are also susceptible to rattling from a loose truss rod or resonance from the truss rod itself.

Each neck has a sweet spot, where its tension and bow resulting from the string tension provide the right response, both in terms of tone and playability. Ideally the neck should be dead straight and level when there is no string tension or TR-tension, but sometimes it's not, which may or may not be a problem.
 




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