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Guitar became unplayable overnight

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Rayf_Brogan, May 16, 2018.

  1. Rayf_Brogan

    Rayf_Brogan Tele-Meister

    Age:
    37
    133
    Dec 14, 2017
    Washington
    I had my Am Special set up with the action nice and low, but there was no buzzing to be heard anywhere. Yesterday I picked the guitar up and the strings in the first three frets buzz like crazy and in some cases, the notes are practically dead. I know changes in the weather can make strange things happen, but I've never had a guitar go from perfect set up to unplayable overnight. This happen to anyone else?

    Based on the action near the nut being terrible, what are my options? Just raise the saddles, or should I be adjusting the truss rod a bit?
     

  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    60
    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    Weather change.
    Happens all the time.
    You probably need a truss rod adjustment.
    It’s easy.
    You can DIY.
    YouTube tutorials are great!
    Your local shop shouldn’t charge much.
    No biggie.
     

  3. Rayf_Brogan

    Rayf_Brogan Tele-Meister

    Age:
    37
    133
    Dec 14, 2017
    Washington
    Thanks. I've never trusted myself to make truss rod adjustments. I always pictured the neck just snapping in half. I figure it's time to learn. I've been spoiled with a 70's strat that no matter what the conditions, the neck & action have never been effected. My LP on the other hand has to be re-tuned every time I pick it up.
     
    brookdalebill likes this.

  4. Mike SS

    Mike SS Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    62
    Aug 9, 2012
    Nebraska
    Changes in temperature, humidity, string gauge/tension, can all cause shifts in the neck. It can happen quite quickly, even overnight.

    Truss rod adjusting is not that hard. If you have the Fender owners manual that comes with your guitar the instructions are in it. The secret is to make SMALL adjustments and inspect the neck after each one. If a small adjustment takes care of the issue, STOP. If the problem still exists, make another small adjustment.
    You will not snap your neck in half.;)
     
    srvbluezz and arnie5150 like this.

  5. gitold

    gitold Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    64
    Mar 25, 2009
    Greeley Co.
    Loosen 1/4 turn or even less. Bet you’ll be fine.
     

  6. beninma

    beninma Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    Age:
    40
    771
    Mar 17, 2017
    Massachusetts
    Yep.. truss rods are no big deal at all. Don't ever listen to guys at GC or something who tell you a truss rod adjustment is something to pay a tech to do.

    It takes very small adjustments to make a big difference. You're not going to damage anything making gentle 1/4 turn adjustments. You've gotta be a bozo and crank it many turns till you're at the edge of the range of adjustment and then force it. A fender maple neck is practically a baseball bat, it's not fragile.

    I was watching some documentary about Fender recently and there was a thing in the factory where they were testing necks by pressing down on the middle of the necks with a hydraulic press bending the neck an unbelievable amount. We're talking bending the middle of the neck down 6-9". If the neck couldn't take that and spring back to straight without damage it was considered defective. There was also something where they were talking about when movies demand that a musician needs to smash a Tele/Strat during a scene in the movie they typically supply a neck that has been weakened with saw cuts... cause they usually won't break if you swing the guitar like a baseball bat. They are really tough!

    There was a sad news video of the Russian band ***** Riot being beaten by pro-Putin gangsters a few years ago. One of the band members was beaten with a strat, they were repeatedly hit with the guitar like a baseball bat and the guitar was smashed into the pavement numerous times. It did not break, and the gangster got frustrated and threw it in the trash, the band went and retrieved it after the gangsters left!

    It might help to keep it in a case!
     
    Rayf_Brogan likes this.

  7. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    A setup cannot be properly done without adjusting the truss rod to get the neck in the proper line. By your description, I would say you need to loosen the truss rod as Brookedale suggested.
    I have to ask...since you don’t do truss rod adjustments, did you regulate the nut slots to the first fret? If not, then a set up was not done....you merely made some adjustments at the bridge. The bridge adjustments are the last steps in a proper setup.
    I instruct players whose guitars I set up on how to maintain the proper line of neck through truss rod adjustment...because, yes, the line of the neck can change overnight. The truss rod is there to account for those changes.
     

  8. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Tele-Meister

    427
    May 7, 2015
    atlanta
    if you loosen the truss rod the strings wil get lower and the buzz will increase, (if that is what is causing the buzz) I'd be inclined to raise the strings at bridge just a scooch. Use a ruler or hold the string at the first fret and the 18th or so and see how much bow(relief) is in the neck, best place to look is the bass E string, should have around the thickness of a dime between the string and the fret (at the 12th fret). That will tell you if the truss rod is set correctly, a flat fretboard with no relief is much harder to play than one with more relief.

    Temperature and humidity affect wood and steel. Buzz is caused by a high fret or a low string - lots of things affect both of these. If you have a fret rocker you can verify that the adjoining frets are flat in relation to each other.

    if the buzz is a the bottom of the neck, the bridge adjustment will help, if its in the middle of the neck, truss rod adjustment will help, in most cases. A fret rocker is only a couple of bucks, but its worth it for chasing down high frets, course then you'll want a saphire nail file, some coffee stirrers and some sand paper in various grits, and a crowning file or tool, and you're on your own merry way to acquire drawers full of tools before you know it.

    probably best to just sell it and take up piano, while you can still walk away from it....
     

  9. strat a various

    strat a various Tele-Afflicted

    May 9, 2008
    Texas
    [QUOTE="magicfingers99, post: 8369118, member: 119758"]if you loosen the truss rod the strings wil get lower and the buzz will increase, (if that is what is causing the buzz) I'd be inclined to raise the strings at bridge just a scooch. Use a ruler or hold the string at the first fret and the 18th or so and see how much bow(relief) is in the neck, best place to look is the bass E string, should have around the thickness of a dime between the string and the fret (at the 12th fret). That will tell you if the truss rod is set correctly, a flat fretboard with no relief is much harder to play than one with more relief.

    Temperature and humidity affect wood and steel. Buzz is caused by a high fret or a low string - lots of things affect both of these. If you have a fret rocker you can verify that the adjoining frets are flat in relation to each other.

    if the buzz is a the bottom of the neck, the bridge adjustment will help, if its in the middle of the neck, truss rod adjustment will help, in most cases. A fret rocker is only a couple of bucks, but its worth it for chasing down high frets, course then you'll want a saphire nail file, some coffee stirrers and some sand paper in various grits, and a crowning file or tool, and you're on your own merry way to acquire drawers full of tools before you know it.

    probably best to just sell it and take up piano, while you can still walk away from it....[/QUOTE]

    I think if you loosen a truss rod, the neck will bow a bit and give added relief ... so the strings will get just a little higher.
     

  10. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    Athens-GREECE
    A bit of relief in the neck will do the trick.It ain't exactly rocket science.
     
    boredguy6060 likes this.

  11. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    Loosening the truss will allow some relief in the neck which will NOT make the strings closer to the frets. The middle of the neck will move away from the strings. This will eliminate the ‘hill’ that exists in the neck at this point. That backbow is what is causing the strings to fret out in the lower fret region.
    Setting up a guitar has to be based on having the neck in the correct line. One does not set action with a truss rod adjustment but rather it puts the neck in the correct line. After a proper setup is done, then the truss rod adjustment maintains the set up.
    If one adjusts saddles to deal with...improperly...a problem such as this without having the neck in the proper line, one will ruin a proper setup...IF the guitar actually had ever had a correct and proper setup.
     
    boredguy6060 likes this.

  12. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    58
    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    Yeah happened on my quartersawn cabro build the other night.
    Always amazes me when a guitar bows against string tention.
    And it was fine the day before the gig.
     

  13. gitold

    gitold Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    64
    Mar 25, 2009
    Greeley Co.
    Di
     

  14. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Tele-Meister

    427
    May 7, 2015
    atlanta
    The neck should have been flat when the truss rod is installed. When the nut on the rod is tightened the bolt (the rod) shortens, pulling the head toward the pickups, creating a valley, the neck should bow creating a valley as the rod is tightened, slacking the nut causes the neck to go back to its flatter profile. If you're neck has a hill in the middle, you've got more problems than a truss rod can fix.

    (unless its a double action truss rod - then you've got a horse of a different colore altogether)
     

  15. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 28, 2012
    Sou Cal
    If the set up was good before the change, as has already been stated, 1/4 turn counter clockwise to the truss rod and you’re done.
    You shouldn’t have to touch anything else.
     

  16. Ebidis

    Ebidis Tele-Holic

    Age:
    51
    600
    Jun 27, 2016
    Alabama
    Sorry, but this is not correct.

    Loosening the truss rod will put relief in the neck, and raise the action from the nut to the middle of the neck.

    Raising the saddles is not the answer, because I can guarantee you that if it changed over night, it was the neck that moved, not the saddles. Saddles do not move by themselves.
     
    tap4154, Wally and boredguy6060 like this.

  17. tjmicsak

    tjmicsak TDPRI Member

    84
    Jul 3, 2010
    Webster, NY
    A truss provides a restriction to the neck length and in doing so bows the neck back against string pull- which would forward bow the neck over time.

    When you have a piece of wood between two end stops that's what works.

    But wood absorbs humidity and moisture from the air. When that happens the wood swells and pushes out on the truss rod restrictions. If that material in the center of two restrictions pushes out, it is doing the same thing as if you manually snugged the end restrictions tighter on the wood. Moisture and humidity effectively tighten the truss rod indirectly.

    dryness shrinks the wood and does the opposite, causing the need to tighten the rod and restrictions to keep the same tension on the piece of wood as it shrinks.
    That tension needs to remain constant since the string tension it opposes stays constant.
    So that means loosening the rod for humidity and tightening it for dryness.
    Leaving an open window and having higher jumps in humidity this time of year can change the necks very quickly.
     
    boredguy6060 and Ebidis like this.

  18. Bellacaster

    Bellacaster Tele-Holic

    732
    Sep 5, 2010
    Ypsilanti, MI
    The way I see it, living in the Midwest, the weather changes here significantly twice a year from no humidity in the winter to a bunch in the summer. I know I'm going to need to adjust the truss rod sometime in the spring and fall.

    It helps to be able to test to see if there is too much relief or too little by depressing the low E string at the first fret and the fret where the neck meets the body and observing the gap between the string and fret at around the 5th to 7th fret. If there's too much or too little, adjust the truss rod accordingly, usually an eighth of a turn or so.

    If you have a guitar setup just how you like it and all of a sudden something has changed overnight, the truss rod is the issue. You shouldn't adjust anything else.

    There's no magic to adjusting the truss rod. Take it slow and have the right size tool. Only make small adjustments. I slack the strings if I'm straightening the neck, but not if I'm adding relief. Stop and seek help if it seems like the truss rod wont budge or has to be forced.
     

  19. Ebidis

    Ebidis Tele-Holic

    Age:
    51
    600
    Jun 27, 2016
    Alabama
    I don't know where you're getting your info, but it is exactly the opposite of true.

    When you tighten the truss rod, it counteracts the string tension (which is pulling the headstock toward the pickups) and straightens the neck. When you loosen the truss rod, it lets the string tension pull the neck more, and creates the "valley" in the middle of the neck.

    I promise you this is the truth.
     
    boredguy6060 and heltershelton like this.

  20. clayfeat

    clayfeat Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 19, 2005
    bloomington, in
    Also make sure you are tuned to pitch.
     

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