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I have I have a theory

NoahL

Member
Messages
1,423
Correction: hypothesis:). The more you crank the truss rod, the more tension that wood is under, right? SO: the more you have to crank the truss rod to achieve the right relief, the more "alive" the neck is. Let's explore. Sometimes people feel a guitar has a "dead" neck, right? Are these often necks in which the truss rod tension is very slight? Correspondingly, Could guitars that are hopelessly bright benefit from a looser truss rod?

Now, I know that we don't have much wiggle room on relief to begin with. But could we, say, add/subtract washers or somehow adjust the fixed nut (or the wood it's seated against) by shaving or adding so that more or less "internal/innate" neck tension achieves the desired overall curvature? Call it "tuning" a neck.

Now maybe this doesn't matter. The strings exert a fixed force, and when you set your relief, there's an equal and opposite force, right? So maybe HOW you get that force doesn't matter.

BUT MAYBE, if the wood itself offers proportionally less of this force and the truss rod has to supply more force, the neck is more alive because it's more tightly "sprung"?

It might also be more stable for tuning, no? Is this why Leo always specified necks have at least 1/8 turn of tension on them? If it makes the neck more stable, maybe it makes it more (or even excessively" alive?
 
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swiveltung

Senior Member
Messages
14,486
I had a strat with a loose truss rod. It was very alive actually! In fact it rattled and buzzed. I returned the strat as it was new.
 

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,933
While I think "aliveness" varies from piece to piece of wood, I have the theory that the tighter the trussrod is to get the needed fretboard relief, the stiffer the action feels to the player. String tension can feel very different with the same model guitars with the same specs...go figure ;).
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,583
the more you have to crank the truss rod to achieve the right relief, the more "alive" the neck is.
don't like it.

it could also mean that the wood is weak and noodly, needing more rod tension to resist the string pull. a great, hard, stable neck might be so rigid that it needs barely any truss rod tension to get the perfect amount of relief.

assuming that a rigid, less-flexible neck is better for tone and sustain; i tend to think so myself but i'm not sure even that has been really proven.
I have the theory that the tighter the trussrod is to get the needed fretboard relief, the stiffer the action feels to the player.
totally don't buy that one.
String tension can feel very different with the same model guitars with the same specs...
then the specs are actually not the same. some aspect of the geometry is different.
 

great-case.com

a.k.a. "Mitch"
Messages
5,748
:munchThirsty for theory yet you pose hypothesis. :facepalm In theory, a hypothesis is worth a lot less without a test.

I won't test your patience as I patiently await your test :phones
______________________________________________________________________________________________

Luthiers: Not to stir, but who is to say that a pair of necks set at identical geometric specs wouldn't feel different? If the truss rod on one was very loose and the other very tight, is it not feasible to suggest that one neck would feel more flexible?

More specifically: The wood asks for different torque levels to achieve the same shape between two seemingly identical necks. Is that outrageous to suggest? Can I predict any of this? ƒ(no) and hence I defer* in reverence to those who build... you are our overlords. All hail the builders.
* I am simply a humble ex Rocket Scientist, ex Mensa President, ex Male Supermodel Cabinet Maker:thud
 

202dy

Member
Messages
440
A truss rod places a neck under compression, not tension.

Placing washers under the nut only affects the number of threads available to the nut. The force on the neck at a given compression remains the same.

The stiffness of the wood determines, to a great degree, how much compression will be needed to bring the fingerboard into desired relief.

The thickness of the fingerboard and the stiffness it adds to the assembly is also a part of the equation.

The truss rod has little to do with the "flexibility" of the neck. The lumber, on the other hand, has everything to do with it.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,583
If the truss rod on one was very loose and the other very tight, is it not feasible to suggest that one neck would feel more flexible?
you're begging the question of whether some small bit of flex in a neck even matters to how it "feels" when you play it.

even if we grant that assumption (i don't) we also don't know that a looser rod doesn't imply a stiffer piece of wood to begin with, needing less pull from the rod.

we don't know if the total result of "flexy neck + tight rod" is any less or more rigid than "stiff neck + looser rod".

the whole premise sounds pretty weak to me, up there with the "quartersawn necks play stiffer" mumbo jumbo.
 

great-case.com

a.k.a. "Mitch"
Messages
5,748
Don't make fun of mumbo jumbo, but you make it quite clear that stiffness of the final system is independent of the truss rod's torque. Wood variations swamp the calculations. Copy that... thanks. Well stated, by the way.

Regarding the sensation of flex, I feel small deflections... the net is a softer ride on a more flexible neck, but the obvious dangers of buzzing are to be noted. I must admit that it may have been the bolt on vs set neck difference that I was sensing.

So much for theory, eh?
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,583
you make it quite clear that stiffness of the final system is independent of the truss rod's torque. Wood variations swamp the calculations. Copy that... thanks. Well stated, by the way.
oh no, i wasn't presuming to claim that, just saying it could be equally possible and we shouldn't go assuming otherwise.

i was just warning against going off and imagining we "feel the difference" from things that might not even be real...
Regarding the sensation of flex, I feel small deflections... the net is a softer ride on a more flexible neck, but the obvious dangers of buzzing are to be noted. I must admit that it may have been the bolt on vs set neck difference that I was sensing.
...for example ;)

"bolt-on vs set neck"? what were the two otherwise identical guitars with just that one difference you were comparing?

and which one is supposed to deflect more? and how is that supposed to translate into one feeling "softer" than the other?

again, we want to avoid piling assumptions on top of assumptions based on wholly imagined "evidence".
 

great-case.com

a.k.a. "Mitch"
Messages
5,748
... we want to avoid piling assumptions on top of assumptions based on wholly imagined "evidence".
The difference between evidence and perception is not lost on me, but I applaud you reminder. As I initially stated, hypothesis are worthless without tests. My anecdotal observations are not offered to sway this discussion, merely solicit more experienced input - like yours.

I do not have the means to execute any tests. The topic of proof has been beaten to death and the verdict is well known. These types of assertions are mostly unprovable. Relative to the electronic properties of a pickUp, the dynamics of the string's suspension are chaotic. They can not be modeled accurately enough especially when materials such as wood are in the design.

My comment about bolt ons was intended to remind you what I assume you have felt yourself. Some necks yield easier than others. I can pull my bolt on neck to fret-out with far less force than my set neck guitars. Correspondingly, and more relevantly - I can wiggle the whole setUp with far less energy and enjoy a fingertip vibrato of higher amplitude. Noting the many other differences between the guitars in question here, I won't be grabbing any conclusions from my observations. I won't go farther into my perceptions of flexibility, you seem to believe them to be more imagined than real. I do respect that. I return to listening and learning... thanks for sharing your knowledge so far.

Play On!
 

202dy

Member
Messages
440
Truss rod is a truss rod. It's function and the affect that it has on a neck remains the same.

The rod in a box style truss rod still brings the neck into compression.

The box itself is another variable in the equation as it may add or detract from the stiffness of the neck. As far as function goes, a truss rod is a truss rod.
 

202dy

Member
Messages
440
Bolt on vs. set neck:

Method of securing the neck to the body only affects the flexibility or lack thereof at the attachment point. Flexibility is a function of material.

Another thing to think about is scale length. A longer neck, like a Strat, will bend more easily than a shorter one, like a Les Paul. Yet maple is stiffer than mahogany. A comparison like this has many variables. Make sure that it's apples of the same species, from the same orchard, and the same tree branch before making any assumptions. Oranges need not apply.
 

MrGibson

Member
Messages
1,032
The purpose of the truss rod is to counter balance the string pulling force. An over tightened truss rod is tightened beyond the equilibrium of the string pulling force and may or may not show up as a visible neck deformation e.g twist, back bow or S-shape. This won't make the guitar alive, rather the contrary.

A neck that is "dead straight" under tension may be over tightened. When you back it off about a quarter turn from zero relief, it often feels more compliant for one reason or another (regardless of any corresponding bridge height adjustment to maintain action).

I think every neck has a sweet spot where the bow is optimal for the individual guitar. I've never had consistent results by measuring the relief. I dial in relief by feel and by ear. The end result is never "dead straight" as in zero relief.
 

Mark Robinson

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,669
If it's true its still not actionable. Are you going to survey instruments with a torque wrench? Then some guy will cheat you with a dot of blue
Loctite.

Play many guitars, listen and assess the sound and feel. Pick a few you love! This method has worked for possibly a century. But we have way too many choices now. We're ass deep in guitars. The limited variations are endlessly redundant. Back in the old days great players had probably many fewer instruments than typical modern players.
 
Messages
2,198
I think there's a tone difference between a loose, "unengaged" rod and a snug rod. I've never noticed the degree of snugness to do much to the tone. But, is it possible that you're adjusting two things at once? If you tighten the rod, moving the nut/headstock back, would you then raise the bridge a bit to get the action even? I could see that getting brighter.
 

MrGibson

Member
Messages
1,032
Dan's comments 7:00 to 7:15.

He says "Most of those old Gibsons have really straight necks. When you loosen the rod for relief the tone is gone".

"Really straight" does not equal "dead straight, zero relief". A small amount of relief is still some relief. Imo, If you over tighten those necks the tone is gone. It's a fine balance act, adjusting the rod in small increments.
 




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