truss rod adjustment

JohninSC

Senior member
Messages
124
Ok, so what do you guys do when you adjust your truss rod. Just to prevent any sarcastic comments, i know you adjust the nut at the top. My question is, how much, and what do you guys look for when you do it? My wife (in 2 months) is afraid that when im setting up my guitar, that ill crack the neck and throw $300 down the toilet. I didnt think it would be that hard, but i want to make her feel better about the whole thing.
 

-CB-

Senior member
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5,427
1.  If you discuss things like this with your wife, and she is already telling you garbage like that, consider telling her to take a long walk off a short pier.  You're doomed, and so is your marriage. 

2.  If you dont know how to set up a guitar, learn.  There's more to it than truss rod.

3.  The truss rod limits the amount of relief the strings will create on the neck via the tension they exert.  Nobody can say "do this" except to say, someplace between about .005 and .010 relief is about right, depending on your playing.
 

JohninSC

Senior member
Messages
124
1. If you talk badly about my wife, i will hunt you down, rip off your leg, and then beat you with it.

2. I know how to set up a guitar, all except the truss rod, which is why i asked.

3. I know what the truss rod does, i was simply asking for what people do when they adjust it, if there was anything yall (yes, im a southern boy) looked for when adjusting it.
 

simple

Senior member
Staff member
Messages
2,101
JohninSC said:
Ok, so what do you guys do when you adjust your truss rod. Just to prevent any sarcastic comments, i know you adjust the nut at the top. My question is, how much, and what do you guys look for when you do it? My wife (in 2 months) is afraid that when im setting up my guitar, that ill crack the neck and throw $300 down the toilet. I didnt think it would be that hard, but i want to make her feel better about the whole thing.
Gosh, you even stated you wanted to avoid sarcastic comments and got them anyhow!

 

JohninSC

Senior member
Messages
124
exactly why i was so harsh........that and you dont talk about a man's wife like that. Especially one who doesnt have protectile dysfunction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8goUMmIQ5G4
 

dbw

Senior member
Messages
4,531
-CB- said:
1.  If you discuss things like this with your wife, and she is already telling you garbage like that, consider telling her to take a long walk off a short pier.  You're doomed, and so is your marriage.

Harsh, CB.

JohninSC said:
1. If you talk badly about my wife, i will hunt you down, rip off your leg, and then beat you with it.

Also harsh.

John, if you are worried (or your wife is, whatever), just take it to a pro and have them do it... you can probably watch and learn.  It won't cost you much.  I'm not an expert myself, but even if I were, I don't think there's a good way to explain it over the internet.  Personally, I just turn the damn thing until the neck is straight, and then string it up which gives it a little relief.  This is an amateur method I'm sure, and anyway I always have to think for like half an hour to remember which way I need to turn it.  :doh:  I don't do this to my Warmoth, only my beaters
 

Shmoopie

Senior member
Messages
1,582
Every guitar i have set up i had my dad adjust the truss rod.
hes been doing it longer, and if he breaks it, its on his hands.
 

DiMitriR33

Senior member
Messages
604
dbw said:
-CB- said:
1.  If you discuss things like this with your wife, and she is already telling you garbage like that, consider telling her to take a long walk off a short pier.  You're doomed, and so is your marriage.

Harsh, CB.

JohninSC said:
1. If you talk badly about my wife, i will hunt you down, rip off your leg, and then beat you with it.

Also harsh.

John, if you are worried (or your wife is, whatever), just take it to a pro and have them do it... you can probably watch and learn.  It won't cost you much.  I'm not an expert myself, but even if I were, I don't think there's a good way to explain it over the internet.  Personally, I just turn the damn thing until the neck is straight, and then string it up which gives it a little relief.  This is an amateur method I'm sure, and anyway I always have to think for like half an hour to remember which way I need to turn it.  :doh:  I don't do this to my Warmoth, only my beaters

i do this to start and it usually works well enough. the adjustment is most critical for low strings. i like them alittle high and stiff sometimes to avoid buzzing under heavy picking that can mess with sustain.

to be perfectly clear, and this is not meant to be offensive in any way, i just don't like to leave room for questions and have no idea of your level of mechanical knowledge, clockwise will tighten the rod and pull against the strings, too tight and you back bow the neck possibly causing permanent damage.

too much relief will cause the strings to be higher around the 12th fret than at the 21st, attempting to get low action will give you a decent playing guitar to maybe the 14th fret the you'll have buzzing or dead notes from there on up, especially when bending.

a perfectly strait neck can play pretty decent but usually has some buzzing. since the strings vibration  gives it an eliptical shape some relief helps give clearance where needed, so by having some relief you can get the strings lower as long as the height at the 12th fret is not higher than at the 21st/22nd.

if you have a "strait radius" (now that's an oxymoron if i've ever heard one) that is the radius is the same at all frets, slightly more relief is needed. this is because the strings taper down twords the nut. they are at a slight angle. if you were to pull a string across a cylinder diagnally you will find that it is not strait, there will be a hump in the middle, some relief is necessary to compensate.

if you have a warmoth  compound radius the fretboard is a conical shape and the strings follow the surface to a common theoretical point. so you can get away with slightly less relief and lower strings.

as for what CB said .005-.010" is a good range if you don't want to spend days experimenting to get the "perfect setup". and it will take days or longer as the neck can take time to set in so the setup will change as the guitar sits. the measurement should be taken with a feeler gauge set at the 8th-9th fret with a strait edge down the center of the neck.

the string can also be used as a strait edge, tune to pitch and depress the string at the first fret and after the last one. this works ok if you don't have a strait edge. with a strait radius the E strings will have slightly less that the D and G so you may want to set them on the low side. this method takes a little practice as the string isn't very rigid and it can be difficult to get a good feel for the measurement. also pressing too hard on the string at the first and last fret will cause it to bow up slightly giving an erroneous measurement.

hope this is clear enough.

 

-CB-

Senior member
Messages
5,427
JohninSC said:
1. If you talk badly about my wife, i will hunt you down, rip off your leg, and then beat you with it.

Have her adjust it then!~  :redflag:

If you don't know how a truss rod works, and about relief, then you don't know how to set up a guitar.

You can go to www.frets.com and learn the right way. :hello2:

#1 Always keep the instrument tuned to pitch :icon_thumright: :icon_thumright: :icon_thumright:

Do the truss rod FIRST.  If the relief is too little, loosen the nut.  If too much, then tighten the nut.  Rule of thumb until you learn what you want: keep about as much relief at fret 8 as the thickness of the high E string.  About .009 .010 .008 whatever.. is close. 

You've got a new neck?  Personally, I prefer to run the nut on the rod "just snug" when first stringing up.  The neck will need a bit to settle in.  Could take a few days, and you might see you're relief increase during this time.  Adjust the rod just a little to keep the relief where you want it.  Soon the neck will have settled.

Then do the string elevation.  The truss rod will effect the elevation about 2x the relief change.  That is, take out .016 relief and you can expect .032 change in string elevation.  Your fingers will feel the .032 change big time~~

Then do the intonation.  An electronic tuner helps.  One method I like is critically tuning so that fret 8 on the next string is one zero beat octave up from the open adjacent string.  Then compare the 12th fret harmonic of the open string and fret 20 on the string being adjusted.  It should still be zero beat.  Thats not "perfect" but it is so close as to be practically perfect.

And then you're all set up.... unless you have a trem.  In that case, you have to do this all, while keeping pitch AND adjusting the trem clearance at the same time. 

Many happy returns, deservedly so, on your pending union of holy deadlock. :guitaristgif:
 

T.L.

Senior member
Messages
332
It would be so easy to show you, but explaining it here by typing, would be very difficult for me. I wonder if there are any videos on YouTube that demonstrate truss rod adjustment. If not, there should be...
 

T.L.

Senior member
Messages
332
Maybe this will help (not sure):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GD7zXzkrdM
 

-CB-

Senior member
Messages
5,427
Keep in mind - the person in that video above is not really... doing things as they need to be done.

#1.  Checking the relief at fret 12.  Usually, its done at a fret midway (in distance) between the first and last fret.  About fret 8 on a Fender neck.  You don't use the "last fret" on all necks either.  On many (most?) acoustics, its fret #1 and the fret where the neck joins the body.  This is because acoustics have a fretboard overhang that has no adjustment at all (and is a source of @#$@# pain in older guitars).

#2.  Having (and I quote the video) "a millimeter or two" at fret 12 is absolutely too much relief.  That would be from .039 (1mm) to .078 (2mm), which would be .040 to about .080 at fret 8.  TOTALLY too much.  You want (depending on your playing aggressiveness) about .010, or the thickness of your high E.  HINT:  take a snippet of high E string and use it as a gauge (doh!).  Capo fret 1, not too tight, then depress fret 20, 21, 22 whatever, and pass the "gauge" under the low E at fret 8.  Adjust accordingly.
 

JohninSC

Senior member
Messages
124
-CB- said:
If you don't know how a truss rod works, and about relief, then you don't know how to set up a guitar.



Many happy returns, deservedly so, on your pending union of holy deadlock. :guitaristgif:

Like i said, I know how to set it up EXCEPT for the truss rod.

Sorry that you dont have the ability to attract a beautiful woman thats worth spending the rest of your life with.
 

jimh

Senior member
Messages
1,344
JohninSC said:
-CB- said:
If you don't know how a truss rod works, and about relief, then you don't know how to set up a guitar.



Many happy returns, deservedly so, on your pending union of holy deadlock. :guitaristgif:

Like i said, I know how to set it up EXCEPT for the truss rod.

Sorry that you dont have the ability to attract a beautiful woman thats worth spending the rest of your life with.

C'mon guys lets keep the sniping to a minimum, nobody minds a cheeky dig here and there but lets not get personal.

 

dbw

Senior member
Messages
4,531
JohninSC said:
Sorry that you dont have the ability to attract a beautiful woman thats worth spending the rest of your life with.

I think CB has been married for like 30 years or something  :icon_scratch:
 

-CB-

Senior member
Messages
5,427
JohninSC said:
Sorry that you dont have the ability to attract a beautiful woman thats worth spending the rest of your life with.

Actually, been married for damn near 30 years!~  Seen it all my friend.  Maybe too much, in fact.....

The truss rod is the most important part of a setup - if its wrong, nothing else works right.  Its a simple mechanical device, much less complex than females.  :redflag:

If you're neck relief isn't right, you'll never get the elevation right.... and the buzzing will throw your intonation all to hell - sort of like a woman does with your finances if you don't tighten down on them occasionally..... :toothy12:

Again, the best thing is to allow too much relief... then take it out.  If you have a side adjust - there are special instructions for those.

What I've learned in life -
When the guys get together, its always .... :guitarplayer2: and  :eek:ccasion14:
When the gals get together its a bunch of :-\ and  :dontknow: and  :sad1:

Go figure..... :icon_tongue:





 

DiMitriR33

Senior member
Messages
604
-CB- said:
Keep in mind - the person in that video above is not really... doing things as they need to be done.

#1.  Checking the relief at fret 12.  Usually, its done at a fret midway (in distance) between the first and last fret.  About fret 8 on a Fender neck.  You don't use the "last fret" on all necks either.  On many (most?) acoustics, its fret #1 and the fret where the neck joins the body.  This is because acoustics have a fretboard overhang that has no adjustment at all (and is a source of @#$@# pain in older guitars).

#2.  Having (and I quote the video) "a millimeter or two" at fret 12 is absolutely too much relief.  That would be from .039 (1mm) to .078 (2mm), which would be .040 to about .080 at fret 8.  TOTALLY too much.  You want (depending on your playing aggressiveness) about .010, or the thickness of your high E.  HINT:  take a snippet of high E string and use it as a gauge (doh!).  Capo fret 1, not too tight, then depress fret 20, 21, 22 whatever, and pass the "gauge" under the low E at fret 8.  Adjust accordingly.

#1 are you refering to my post or the video in the first one? i am asking because i couldn't get through the video, the guy needs a public speech class.
yes (as usual) you're exactly right about the acoustic thing, a rising tung would definately mess with you setup and be hard to diagnose if you used the 1st/last fret method.
about the 12th fret i was talking about the string height not relief, you obviously wouldn't want the strings so low and so much relief that the second half of the neck rises back toward the strings, i mentioned this because it's about the biggest problem i see when a friend tries to do his own setup and wonders why it buzzes and the strings aren't that low and decides he needs a "pro" to rework the fretboard. i rarely measure relief myself, unless i'm trying to make one guitar play precisely the same as another.  i find my calibrated eye can get it quite good. ahh the benefits of 20/15 vision and years of machining experience.


 

-CB-

Senior member
Messages
5,427
DiMitriR33 said:
#1 are you refering to my post or the video in the first one? i am asking because i couldn't get through the video, the guy needs a public speech class.
yes (as usual) you're exactly right about the acoustic thing, a rising tung would definately mess with you setup and be hard to diagnose if you used the 1st/last fret method.
about the 12th fret i was talking about the string height not relief, you obviously wouldn't want the strings so low and so much relief that the second half of the neck rises back toward the strings, i mentioned this because it's about the biggest problem i see when a friend tries to do his own setup and wonders why it buzzes and the strings aren't that low and decides he needs a "pro" to rework the fretboard. i rarely measure relief myself, unless i'm trying to make one guitar play precisely the same as another.  i find my calibrated eye can get it quite good. ahh the benefits of 20/15 vision and years of machining experience.

The guy in the video, who cant quit saying "ok?".  The rising tongue... is usually time for a reset... with maybe a quick fix for the first bout of it, and definate reset on 2nd.  Taylor and the new Ovation LX seem like they've addressed this to a better degree. 

I dont measure it any more.  But the beginner should have a reference by which to judge later on.  The strat in the video had horrendous releif.  Too little and you get buzzing under about fret 5 or 6.  Too much and you try and lower the action and get buzzing up just above the octave.

My setup on electrics seems to be, .010 relief, and 4/64 on the low E and 3.5/64 on the high.  That seems to work ok on everything, except the vintage radius Fender necks, which need just a tad more on the high E side... still under 4/64... call it 3.75/64.  I do that with a machinist rule and eyeloup, same on the relief and same on the nut... actually we didn't discuss nut fitment... also quite important, but once done, is done for a long time.  I dont consider nut fitment part of the daily setup chore.
 
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