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truss rod issue with strat

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by buddastrat, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    This strat needs just a little more relief and the rod is completely loosened. It's just about perfectly straight right now. Plays and sounds amazing everywhere except the first few frets where's there's too much string rattle because of the lack of relief. I have .010-.046 strings on it, and with some tedonitis in my hand I don't want to go up to a heavier gauge. I can't think of anything else to do.

    If I were to refret the guitar, could the fingerboard be planed for more relief? Hopefully there's a less drastic remedy out there.
     
  2. blueguitar

    blueguitar Member

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    Options:

    1. Go up in string gauge until you get the relief you need.
    2. Get another neck (trade yours to someone who likes heavier gauge strings?).
    3. A few luthiers have neck heater rigs which might work the backbow out.
    4. Plane fingerboard and refret.
     
  3. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    Is this a conventional one way rod? Just making sure, if so, what blueguitar said.
     
  4. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    What model and year is it? You might not need anything drastic at all, just a further adjustment of the trussrod. If you have a biflex trussrod then it works both ways and can correct back bow. You just keep loosening the trussrod nut until it backs up against a little steel plate that's hidden under the nut and the walnut plug, then the rod starts to push instead of pull and voila, you've fixed the backbow. Fender recommends that you keep the rod at least a quarter turn one way or the other on either side of where it's neutral because without any tension on the rod it might rattle.

    You can tell it's a biflex if it's an American made Strat with a headstock adjustment. I believe they started in early eighties when they were still CBS. The bullet trussrod nut was replaced with a biflex trussrod with the nut hidden inside the neck and a new walnut plug with a hole in it for the adjusting wrench.
     
  5. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    it's a single rod. I was hoping for some new ideas or something maybe someone had luck with putting some .012's on and stick it by a humidifier or something for awhile.

    Maybe I'll try some .011's for a bit, but I'm thinking of a refret. The guitar sounds so good that a new neck is out of the question.
     
  6. mr tom

    mr tom Supporting Member

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    What about having the nut recut? You mentioned it's just the first few frets. Any additional relief you get is likely to come more toward the middle of the fretboard, no?
     
  7. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I'm not a fan of heat treating a neck but if you have a luthier close by see if he has some experience with heat treating. If it's a rosewood fingerboard you'll have a better chance of succeeding by heating and slipping the fretboard to neck glue joint. If it's all maple it's gonna be tougher to do.
     
  8. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Like Rosewood, I'm not a huge fan of heat treating in most cases - wood has something of a memory, and often wants to return. A case like yours however, where the neck is just slightly too straight and needs to pull in to a bit of relief is one of the few cases where I have faith in a minor heat treating. Major neck bending often does not hold, but if it's just a bit and is doesn't have string tension working against it, a heat treat can hold rather well. And of course a rosewood or ebony board is much more agreeable to this than a maple one.

    If we're only talking a very slight change here, dressing a tiny bit of relief in to the frets can be an option as well. It all depends on how much change it needs of course, as once you start removing more than .004"-.006" you may end up with shorter frets than you would ideally want.

    Over-humidifying the neck would give you opposite results - the more the wood swells in the board and above the truss rod, the more it wants to straighten or move to backbow. Dry necks tend to settle in to more relief.

    And though I'm not a big fan, I know some respected colleagues who have success with cool bending in some minor cases. Simply clamping the neck with the rod loose in to heavy relief for a period of days can be enough to affect minor changes. Something probably best left to a professional, but in that case I feel a bit more comfortable in terms of longevity with heat treating anyway.

    I would take it in to your tech to give them a first hand look, and get some opinions from them. There's lots of different options and approaches, each suited to slightly different circumstances.
     
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I agree about not heat treating it. David is right - the best solution is to dress a little relief into the frets. You don't need much, even if the neck is absolutely straight - around .010" at the middle of the neck is perfect, just as it would be if the neck had the relief instead. If there's even a small amount of real relief, less will be needed.

    How to do it: deliberately do the fret dress with the truss rod slightly tightened. Use a long straight-edge to judge the amount of back-bow - with the straight-edge on the frets at one end, it should be double the intended amount above them at the other. Then 'dress out' the back bow. When you release the rod and string it, it will now have the right relief.
     
  10. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Thanks for all the input. When I fret at the 1st/16th fret on the G string, it's touching all the frets in between. When I fret the low E on those frets, I have just a sliver of a gap around the 7th fret or so.

    Yesterday I raised the action a bit at the bridge to compensate. It's still very playable, but not like I ultimately like it.

    Dressing some relief into the frets is a very good idea. Thanks.
     
  11. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    Sorry to be a pest on the issue, but a Fender "biflex" truss rod is not a double rod like some other designs. It's just one rod but it can work in both directions, push and pull. My question is: does it adjust from the headstock, and if so is there a walnut plug with a hole in it for the wrench? If so you have a biflex trussrod and you can simply keep turning the not counterclockwise until it fixes the problem.
     
  12. Rhomco

    Rhomco Silver Supporting Member

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    try a set of heavy-light strings. Sometimes referred to as "light top.heavy bottom", I use 10/50's and there are 10/52's as well. You will have the same string tension on the treble side but a bit more on the bass side. Might just do the trick for ya. FWIW, I like the GHS Eric Johnson lights (10/50)
    Good luck,
    Rob
     
  13. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I'm thinking about some Daddarios .0105"s.
     

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