Tight truss rod

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Tight truss rod

Postby backdoorman » Thu Apr 20, 2006 10:52 am

I'm new to the forum, a U.S. citizen and longtime resident of Japan. I used to play guitar a little in my younger days and took it up again about a year ago after an interval of more than 30 years. Really enjoying learning to play again and tinkering around with the gear. I'm looking forward to participating in the forum and learning, and have a question to start off with.

Recently I picked up a Morris W-30 acoustic cheap at a second-hand shop. It looked like it had been hanging on the wall forever, but on inspection was in good shape. It seemed like it was crying out to me to rescue it, so I took it home. Noticable problems were drying out(corduroy effect on the top, protruding frets)and way too much relief in the neck. When I got it home I found the truss rod was locked tight.

I've been hydrating the guitar for about 10 days (damp sponges and garbage bags) and the problem with the top and neck have improved. The rehydration has freed up the truss rod. However, I have been able to tighten it only a little before meeting considerable resistance, and there's still too much bow in the neck. I'm afraid I'll blow the rod if I use too much force. Any suggestions?
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby 1four5 » Thu Apr 20, 2006 11:05 pm

I've had luck on some beaters by going a little at a time every couple days, and letting each increment stabilize before going further.
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby crowduck » Thu Apr 20, 2006 11:20 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-20-06 AT 07:24 PM (EST)]BackDoor,

Get Dan Erlewine's video on Maintenance for acoustic guitars. He shows how to deal with those relief and truss rod issues. Basically, he uses a couple of clamps & blocks to remove the bow, and adjust the neck level, then tightens the rod to 'meet and hold that adjustment'. 1st you should remove the adjustment nut & washer completely, then clean the threads on the rod & nut, and lubricate both with some vaseline. You can rent that video online for $10 at technicalvideorentals.
Ooops, I just realized you are in Japan, the rental thing might not work.

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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby wwpete52 » Fri Apr 21, 2006 12:25 am

Crowduck's suggestion is a good one. What ever you do: BE CAREFUL! It don't take much to screw up a truss rod.
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby backdoorman » Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:54 am

Thanks very much for the advice. This is really a great forum.

What I had in mind was 1four5's approach. Problem is, although the truss rod works (it loosens OK), once it reaches a certain point it stops and feels as though it would break if more force were applied.

I like crowduck's idea, but apart from the problem of getting the video, I don't have the tools for a DYI neck job.

I took the guitar to my regular music shop. The sale rep/technician. suggested a cheap solution: sand about 2mm off the height of the saddle to lower the action.

Think I'll hydrate it for another week to see if the rod loosens any further as the wood swells. If not, I'll try lowering the saddle. If I don't like the results, I might just raise the saddle again, string it with mediums, and use it for slide.
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby ricochet » Fri Apr 21, 2006 4:28 pm

Hmmm, sounds like what you need isn't the neck bent back, but a neck reset. Sanding down the saddle can work once as a quick and dirty fix, but eventually the only thing that'll work is a reset.

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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby 1four5 » Fri Apr 21, 2006 4:46 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-21-06 AT 12:49 PM (EST)]I had a Yamaha FG335 beater, and the truss rod felt like it hit a brick wall. When I sighted down the neck like a rifle...it was clearly a "need truss rod adjustment" type bow. A couple days later, I'll be darned if I didn't get another 1/8 turn...then brick wall. a couple days later a little more...etc. Eventually the neck came straight, the only problem was a little raised wave at the neck to body area of the fret board...from being bowed so long. All it took was a little fret filing there, and she played perfectly. The guitar was given to a church youth (about a year ago), and is playing great to this day, and sees action every Sunday in the youth praise band.

It took paitence not to try to go too far too quick and blow the rod, or strip out the rod end...both of which I'v done on old beater guitars, but this Yamaha was so nice otherwise, it was worth the wait.
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby backdoorman » Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:39 pm

>Hmmm, sounds like what you need isn't the neck bent back,
>but a neck reset. Sanding down the saddle can work once as a
>quick and dirty fix, but eventually the only thing that'll
>work is a reset.

Thing is, I paid the equivalent of US$80 for this beater and am not interested in putting a lot of money in it. What makes you think a reset is in order? I would ordinarily expect to correct bow with a truss rod adjustment?
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby backdoorman » Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:47 pm

>I had a Yamaha FG335 beater, and the truss rod felt like it
>hit a brick wall. When I sighted down the neck like a
>rifle...it was clearly a "need truss rod adjustment" type
>bow. A couple days later, I'll be darned if I didn't get
>another 1/8 turn...then brick wall. a couple days later a
>little more...etc. Eventually the neck came straight, the
>only problem was a little raised wave at the neck to body
>area of the fret board...from being bowed so long. All it
>took was a little fret filing there, and she played
>perfectly. The guitar was given to a church youth (about a
>year ago), and is playing great to this day, and sees action
>every Sunday in the youth praise band.
>
>It took paitence not to try to go too far too quick and blow
>the rod, or strip out the rod end...both of which I'v done
>on old beater guitars, but this Yamaha was so nice
>otherwise, it was worth the wait.

The neck bow and truss rod situation you describe sounds exactly like what I'm experiencing. I'm in no hurry on this project so I think I'll take a few weeks and work with it as you did with the Yamaha. Although it didn't cost much it's a rosewood/spruce dread (copy of a Martin D-28 made circa 1980) with a big, full sound. I'd hate to screw it up.
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby ricochet » Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:24 pm

>Thing is, I paid the equivalent of US$80 for this beater and
>am not interested in putting a lot of money in it. What
>makes you think a reset is in order? I would ordinarily
>expect to correct bow with a truss rod adjustment?

Because you said it had been suggested to sand down the saddle. That can't help with a bowed neck, but will when the problem is the neck flexing forward at the heel. If you lower the saddle with a bowed neck, you'll run into problems with buzzing and strings that fret out on the wrong frets, that kind of mess.



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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby crowduck » Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:14 pm

BackDoor,

Well, if you don't have any tools, you might try this. Loosen the strings to 'dead slack', or remove them altogether. Put the guitar body on a padded tabletop, back down, and have someone else (a helper) hold it down securely, whilst you apply weight and pressure at the other end around the nut/headstock. In other words, bend the neck back until it's flat/unbowed, and then tighten the t-rod 'to meet that adjustment'. Helps to lay something flat on the fingerboard for reference. If your t-rod adjusts from inside the soundhole, it's harder, and you'll have to swap positions with your helper. The idea is to 'help the t-rod'. Whatever you do, always slacken or remove the strings when adjusting the t-rod, and don't forget to clean & lube the nut and threads.

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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby backdoorman » Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:23 pm

>Because you said it had been suggested to sand down the
>saddle. That can't help with a bowed neck, but will when the
>problem is the neck flexing forward at the heel. If you
>lower the saddle with a bowed neck, you'll run into problems
>with buzzing and strings that fret out on the wrong frets,
>that kind of mess.

Hmm. I must be missing something. The neck is bowed forward up toward the nut and the action is too high. I don't detect any flexing forward at the heel. I understand that excessively lowering the saddle would result in the buzzing at the upper and lower frets and fretting out at the wrong frets you describe, but I would think that judiciously lowering it might be alleviate the high action as a quick fix. I can't see how lowering the saddle would help if the problem is flexing at the heel, however.
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby backdoorman » Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:30 pm

>BackDoor,
>
>Well, if you don't have any tools, you might try this.
>Loosen the strings to 'dead slack', or remove them
>altogether. Put the guitar body on a padded tabletop, back
>down, and have someone else (a helper) hold it down
>securely, whilst you apply weight and pressure at the other
>end around the nut/headstock. In other words, bend the neck
>back until it's flat/unbowed, and then tighten the t-rod 'to
>meet that adjustment'. Helps to lay something flat on the
>fingerboard for reference. If your t-rod adjusts from inside
>the soundhole, it's harder, and you'll have to swap
>positions with your helper. The idea is to 'help the t-rod'.
>Whatever you do, always slacken or remove the strings when
>adjusting the t-rod, and don't forget to clean & lube the
>nut and threads.

Thanks, CrowDuck. The t-rod adjustment is through the soundhole. Does the heel area of the neck require support during the bending back procedure? Also, how does one access the nut and threads to clean and lube them?
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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby ricochet » Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:36 pm

>I can't see how lowering the saddle would help if the problem is flexing at the heel, however.

It does, because the problem there is straightening out the string path between the end of the neck and the saddle. If the neck's tilted forward and you can't tilt it back, the saddle's the only other thing that can be moved.

That won't work with a bowed neck. Lower the action over a bow, and the strings will make unintended contact with frets in front of the one you're fretting on. Use the test for neck relief Frank Ford demonstrates on this page:
http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Musicia ... tradj.html




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RE: Tight truss rod

Postby backdoorman » Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:38 am

>>I can't see how lowering the saddle would help if the problem is flexing at the heel, however.
>
>It does, because the problem there is straightening out the
>string path between the end of the neck and the saddle. If
>the neck's tilted forward and you can't tilt it back, the
>saddle's the only other thing that can be moved.
>
>That won't work with a bowed neck. Lower the action over a
>bow, and the strings will make unintended contact with frets
>in front of the one you're fretting on. Use the test for
>neck relief Frank Ford demonstrates on this page:

Ah, now I see your point about correcting flexing at the heel.Thanks for the clarification. Anyway, as far as I can tell the neck isn't tilted. It is bowed.

The test on the link you provided indicates a gap a tad more than the diameter of a 0.24-inch light-gauge G string, too much for me to comfortably fret an F chord.

It looks like a bit more work from the t-rod is what is needed. My daughter's boyfriend is coming over next week. I think I'll try a cautious implementation of CrowDuck's suggestion for a toolless, two-man adjustment. If something goes wrong, at least I'll know who to blame.
;-)

Thanks very much.
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