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Guitar Maintenance: Truss Rod Adjustment

Inside the neck of a guitar there is a metal truss rod, this helps to determine the curvature of the neck. The tension of the strings causes the neck to be pulled upwards. As a result use of different gauges of different string can mean that the truss rod will need adjustment.

When the truss rod is tightened it curves in the opposite direction to the neck. As a result the truss rod can counteract the upwards pull of the strings.

The action of a guitar is the distance between the strings and the frets. Adjustment of the truss rod can change the action of the guitar.

Why does a guitar need a truss rod?

Half way up the neck of any guitar, somewhat of a bow or ?relief? in the neck is required to prevent the strings from making contact with the frets when playing. If the strings did make such contact, a ?buzzing? would result.

Checking if adjustment is needed

  1. Truss rod too loose

The neck seems to bend upwards.

The relief of the neck is so much that the action of the guitar is very large. As a result it would be very difficult to play the guitar. The truss rod needs adjustment.

  1. Truss rod too tight

The neck seems to bend downwards.

There is no relief in this guitar's neck. As a result it is unlikely you will be able to strike any notes, or you will get a large amount of buzzing.

  1. Truss rod just right

Slight upward curvature.

There is a small bow in the centre of the neck, allowing for string vibration.

In order to check the relief of the neck of your guitar, press down on the first fret and the fret above where the neck joins the body of the guitar, this varies between models and types of guitar.

While holding these down, locate the 7th fret ? this should be where the bow is largest. Relief at this point should indicate whether or not your guitar neck needs adjustment.

Adjusting the truss rod

The primary thing to think about when adjusting the truss rod is to take care. The truss rod only needs a small adjustment to correct it. Too large an adjustment can damage the guitar.

A hexagonal, allen key will be necessary for truss rod adjustment.

Usually the top of the truss rod is located beneath a plastic cover in the headstock, although this may vary across guitar types.

Before adjusting the truss rod, loosen the strings. Make small adjustments, then retune the guitar and check the relief again, using the above method. Repeat this method until the bow is appropriate.

Insert the key into the top of the truss to turn it.

Clockwise: Tightens the truss rod and puts a downwards force on the neck.

Anti-clockwise: Loosens the truss rod and pulls the neck upwards using string tension.

Dislcaimer: These are instructional articles only and should be carried out only by someone with a superb knowledge of their instrument. Gear4music is not responsible for any damage inflicted by following these guidelines.

Posted on 20 Mar 2009 09:00 to category : Tips and advice

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