stuck between two players and their truss rod,please advise

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by dcamp, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. dcamp

    dcamp Member

    Sep 26, 2007
    I just helped a guy drive cross country in a uhaul.We dropped off a solid body that another friend wanted to check out to probably buy.When I inquired later as to whether he liked the guitar he said he did but he said he had looked down the neck,noticed it wasn't straight and started adjusting the truss rod to bring it to where it looked right..I asked if he had adjusted it 1/4 turn or so,he replied that a well known tech had said that turning the truss rod gradually and waiting for the neck to take a set was a myth.In my opinion,the neck had,to me,a proper,even amount of relief or bow when we left on our journey of between 1/32-3/64 in the middle of the neck.I checked by fretting individual strings at the first and past the last fret, and compared the relief of the neck to the strings under tension.The neck is,in my opinion, in great shape no fret wear,I think it's an outstanding neck.
    After he had adjusted the truss rod he said that " now one side towards the body has back bow, and towards head stock has a hump ".he said, that "he thinks I know that I can tell you that the neck has bit of problem. With your permission, I can try to tweek it bit more or get a second hand opinion".that statement made me feel abit sick so----
    My question is what do I do? I have built and refinished guitars for years and would not have adjusted a neck on a guitar that had just traveled cross country,I would have let it aclimate.I also do not trust the, look down the neck and turn the rod theory, especially if I was going to give it back--
    Should I a. as a tech buddy I spoke to said,tell the prospective buyer "you messed with the truss rod and thus cannot return it in original condition so you've bought it". or, b. return it to my other buddy and tell him that the guy didn't like it or c. return it to him and admit that the prospective buyer had been adjusting the truss rod as soon as he took it out of the case.
    What would you do????:huh
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
  2. FaceMeltingJam

    FaceMeltingJam Member

    Dec 4, 2009
    If he can't return in its original condition then he has bought it. He should have never messed with it. He did so once, and now a second time he bothers to ask you? He knows he should not have done anything to it. Anyone that knows anything about gear, knows dont f**k with whats not yours. Thats like wlakin in GC with an allen and picking guitars up off the wall, no matter if its a $200 or $2000 guitar, and start having at it. Imagine the looks on the salesperson's face when you say "I thought it was a little off." LMAO
  3. dcamp

    dcamp Member

    Sep 26, 2007
    Please give me some feedback on this issue.I've only had one member log in.I think that his reply is very valid,anyone else?
  4. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Middle Massachusetts
    I'm inclined to go with "he bought it", but I fear you'll have an argument on your hands. Still, there are some things you should only do to a guitar you own, and adjusting the truss rod based on someone else's advice is definitely one of them, IMO.

    And I agree that trying to make the neck "straight" by looking down it is a red flag. Someone with enough experience to do that wouldn't have any trouble getting the neck back where it was, and probably wouldn't have gone so far as to introduce backbow in the first place.

    When a guitar comes into our shop with something wrong with it, we call the company and ask them what to do. Often, they ask us to fix it (we have a really good tech) and we deal on the price, but we DON'T make that decision for them.

    ( Just to be clear, sighting the neck is good for spotting high frets or a twist, but your method of using a string as a straightedge is decidedly preferred for checking relief. )
  5. DaveG

    DaveG Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    High Desert, SoCal
    If it was me, I'd...

    get the guitar back,
    adjust the neck back to where you had it before,
    return it to your buddy & tell him to sell it himself,
    and not get in the middle of any more deals. :)
  6. David Collins

    David Collins Member

    Feb 10, 2007
    Ann Arbor, MI
    If all he did was adjust the truss rod, there's nothing changed that can't be change back. Turning the truss rod and waiting for the neck to settle is a common myth, for the vast majority of guitars at least. There are occasional examples where changes do not occur in real time, but these are quite rare. Once a truss rod has initially settled in after construction though, if it takes you 3 seconds to adjust it, it takes 3 seconds to settle in to it's final form. If you turn it a 1/4 then wait, and turn it 1/4 turn a day later, you end up exactly where you would had you adjusted it 1/2 turn instantly.

    A neck may need to settle in to a new climate or humidity changes, which will indeed affect the neck's shape, but then you just adjust the truss rod accordingly. Sometimes they can shift unevenly in different humidities, which may be the case here, but it wouldn't be caused by any truss rod adjustments made.

    I honestly don't see much of a dilemma here. If he thinks something is wrong, tell him to adjust the rod back to where it was (assuming he's competent to do so), and send it back. If all he did is adjust the truss rod, regardless of any settling period, and assuming he hasn't stripped or broken the nut or rod, then he's caused no permanent change that should amount to "you messed it up so you bought it". If he wants to get a second opinion, I see no problem there. It's all part of the normal buying, selling, inspecting and approval process. Then if he doesn't want it, tell him to return the rod to it's original position, and it will be exactly as it was when he first got it (less any shifting by cause of humidity change). If it still isn't acceptably straight, this was not due to any truss rod adjustments made by the buyer, and the problem was in the neck to begin with.

    In other words, do what DaveG said. Don't get in the middle of any more deals, and if you do, be prepared for the stuff like this to come up sometimes. This may lend an understanding as to why people who regularly broker deals will charge a fee for doing so - it can be a pain in the arse sometimes, and is worth being compensated for the occasional headaches.
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2006

    tweaking a truss rod is no big deal, and neither is adjusting it back to where it was before.

    it's like you're showing a car and freaking out because a buyer moved the seat back :rolleyes:

    if he straightened the neck and saw backbow on one side and upbow on the other, then it's good that he did because that's a legit problem that would need some leveling to correct. i would have done the same thing, and do the same thing, to any guitar i want to buy.

    it's the first thing i check on any used guitar that might get traded in at the store. it has to be, otherwise we run the risk of getting stuck with a guitar where the rod doesn't work.

Share This Page