fender style necks w/ heel-adjust truss rod, WTF

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by dirk_benedict, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. dirk_benedict

    dirk_benedict Supporting Member

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    Does anyone else find the "turn the nut a quarter turn, and wait some unspecified period of time" mantra of adjusting Fender style heel-adjust truss rods very frustrating?

    I've noticed that my own attempts to adjust these types of necks is almost always a failure. I'm very comfortable at taking off necks so it's not that part of the process that bothers me, it's the fact that relief NEVER seems to budge all that much.

    As a contrast, I've had a Gibson Les Paul Studio since 1994 that has needed a truss rod adjustment maybe 2-3 times in its lifetime. The latest was last week. I turn the nut a 1/4 turn, and I immediately see the change.

    But I've gone through this with basses, strats, teles, and jazzmasters ranging from $400 imports to AVRIs to custom partscasters. Always the same thing- I need to take the neck off a bunch of times...see marginal improvement eventually just give up. for the times it's really bugging me, I take it to a tech and it comes back fine. What I am talking about a relief adjustment from say .012 to .008 or so. Not terribly wide, and certainly within the realm of "common spec".

    What I am I doing wrong here?

    BTW - I **am** using feeler guages along the way, and I generally use the "capo the 1st fret/use the low E as a straightedge" method. I live in Boston, where the humidity changes from season to season is significant.
     
  2. sixstringslut

    sixstringslut Member

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    IMO, the loose flat grain necks are impossible. I like Q-sawn denser grains, especially in thinner breeds. Otherwise, heavy V's and club necks are the ticket. I have seen too many thin carves that will not hold 9's so I went with V's, they sound better and more stable in Ohio weather. You will get used to the feel in a few days and get natural to your hand.

    It is pretty hard to over-adjust a maple neck...provided you don't break something. IMO
     
  3. Rhomco

    Rhomco Silver Supporting Member

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    Is this a new type of truss rod? I have never heard of a WTF rod?
    fender style necks w/ heel-adjust truss rod, WTF :jo
     
  4. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    I adjust Reinstall the neck tune and Grab the headstock and Flex both ways. This tend to work perfectly for me.
     
  5. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    My experience has been mostly the opposite. Ive found that old Fenders and reissues with the coarser threaded rods tend to be pretty 'jumpy' and I have to keep myself from turning them as much as I would with most modern guitars.
     
  6. dirk_benedict

    dirk_benedict Supporting Member

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    Ah, see this is what I need. Tricks and tips. Can you talk a bit more about how much a turn you make (1/4, 1/2?) and what you mean about "grab the headstock and flex both ways"? This is with the guitar in playing position and tuned to pitch?
     
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    also, the whole "adjust a tiny bit, then wait, then adjust a tiny bit more" thing is a waste of time. turn the rod to where it needs to be, get on with your day.

    it is a pain with vintage-type fender necks, so i modded my AV62 tele to use the suhr system; a larger notch at the body, a 1/8" hex-hole truss rod nut (fender sells them for american standard guitars), and a 1/8" allen key with the short end sawed off just past the curve; i can tweak the rod without even de-tuning the strings.

    otherwise, if you have the neck in your hand and you adjust the rod to where the neck is dead-straight or even the tiniest bit backbowed, that usually works out to a decently slight relief when strung back up.
     
  8. dirk_benedict

    dirk_benedict Supporting Member

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    Walter- that's helpful thanks. what is the easiest way to measure the straightness with the neck off?
     
  9. brianr0131

    brianr0131 Member

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    Straightness with the neck off doesn't help you any. You need the straightness with the tension of the strings.

    I think there's a way to make the adjustments with an angled screwdriver where you don't have to remove the neck. I'm not positive though, because i don't have any Heel end truss rods.
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    i'm just eyeballing it.

    also, there's no good way to shove a screwdriver in there without wrecking the pickguard around the hole.
     
  11. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

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    Something else worth mentioning is the possibility of the nut actually running out of thread before affecting any real change in trussrod tension - though not common, it does happen, as it did again to me recently on a client's MIJ '62 reissue Tele. The only solution is to remove the nut, drop a small washer in there and start over - this will buy you some more usable thread, allowing you to get the neck where you want it. Also, I STRONGLY recommend removing the nut on the older guitars and applying a smidge of any decent lubricant first - if the nut does not turn smoothly, you can have more difficulty turning it, if not actually having it break on you.
     
  12. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

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    Eyeball relief. Take neck off and adjust. Reinstall neck and tune to pitch.

    Rinse an repeat as needed.
     
  13. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    big +1 on that!

    removing and lubing a stiff-turning truss rod nut can mean the difference between being able to straighten the neck like you want and not.
     
  14. dirk_benedict

    dirk_benedict Supporting Member

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    Thanks to all for chiming in on this thread.

    Just a whiny update. I checked my strat back after a day of "letting it settle" and nothing. So, I decided to take the neck off, back the nut out, throw some lube in there and re-tighten to where it was. This was just a few minutes ago.

    So far, its worse...way too much relief. And I seem to be fully out of "travel" on the nut (it's getting to the point where it's a hair countersunk of the butt end of the heel if that makes sense.

    Sounds a trip to the tech. FAAAAAAAAAAAAACK.
     
  15. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

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    Check post #11...
     
  16. dirk_benedict

    dirk_benedict Supporting Member

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    I guess I don't quite understand what "start over" means. I get the concept of a washer to lengthen the threads, but when I take the nut all the way out, doesn't the release all the tension in the rod, and thus the neck is going to want to bow?

    With a neck this stiff, should I expect it to noticeably straighten if I have the neck off, and the nut reinstalled but with washers now?
     
  17. Bob Pollock

    Bob Pollock Supporting Member

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    Listen to Chris and Walter.
     
  18. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

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    Though I understand your trepidation, there's no reason for it.

    Just yank the sucker off there, and pull that nut out.

    Find a suitable washer that both fits in the hole, and has a hole in it big enough to allow the rod to pass thru - if it does NOT drop in all the way to the bottom, find one that does, or file/sand it 'til it does - you don't want to force it into the hole, only to discover that the hole's to small for the rod - trust me.

    Put a dab of (insert your fave lubricant here) on the end of the rod and/or in the threaded part of the nut, and re-install.

    Carry on - you are NOT hurting anything or making it more difficult to adjust the trussrod in your instrument by removing the nut.

    Oh, and don't forget to enjoy it - it's a learning experience.
     
  19. dirk_benedict

    dirk_benedict Supporting Member

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    So once the washer is on there...and the nut is turning freely, should I expect to the see the neck straighten once I get some tension back in the nut?

    It's the guesswork that's killing me. Like I can't tell if anything is happening, besides me actually turning the nut. Cant see if any change is effected until I string everything back up.
     
  20. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

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    You should see some change in the neck's shape as you adjust the nut w/ the neck off the body - snug up the nut, then sight down an edge and see where you're at. Repeat until you can at least get it dead-straight, if not a slight backbow. Now, put it back together and check your relief, and do your fine tuning from this point.

    All this assumes that you can read the neck reasonably well - can you?
     

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