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Modding tele and strat for better truss-rod access?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by itsGiusto, Aug 4, 2018.

  1. itsGiusto

    itsGiusto TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    89
    Dec 31, 2017
    02141
    I have a MIJ tele and strat, both of which have the sort of vintage-style truss-rods that you can't adjust without removing the neck from the guitar. Such a pain. I've been adjusting the truss rods in this way for years, and would like to make it easier on myself.

    I've seen guitars that keep the pocket-access truss rod, but just route out part of the guitar and pickguard around the area. For example, most D'Pergo strats I've seen do this:

    [​IMG]

    Would it be possible/advisable for me to mod my tele and strat for this? Would I just take a small file and start removing wood from that section until it looked like the above picture? Or is this a bad idea?
     

  2. Artslap

    Artslap Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Age:
    50
    675
    Mar 17, 2014
    Sydney, Australia
    Possible, but really, how many times do you adjust your truss rod?

    Me? Once in Blue Moon.

    If you want to do so, then a template and a router.

    CP.
     

  3. itsGiusto

    itsGiusto TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    Dec 31, 2017
    02141
    I actually adjust my truss rod quite a bit, but moreover, the fact that it's so difficult to access, and I need to keep iterating (take off neck adjust, put on neck, retune, repeat) makes me more likely to tolerate "close enough" as opposed to trying to get the action perfect.

    I don't have a router, but I also don't see exactly how it'd work here. Isn't this kind of small detail work right for a file? In theory, I just need to carve out an entryway from around the neck pickup down to the truss rod screw, unless I'm mis-thinking this through in my head.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018

  4. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Meister

    357
    Jun 4, 2010
    Melbourne
    On your Tele, if you can live with having to take the simple pickguard off (but not the strings) to adjust the neck, then you just need the body route. A big round file will do it, as should a Dremel sanding drum. On a Strat you need the pickguard routing too (again with a file) because the pickguard is too hard to get off each time.

    Stewmac sells a short wrench that simplifies access from above and means your routes can be small. Otherwise an offset screwdriver with a short neck.
     

  5. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 30, 2011
    U.S.A.
    I've always thought that a two-screw panel in the pickguard between the neck pickup and the neck heel would be a good idea on a Strat. That, and about five seconds with a round-nosed groove cutting router bit, and you're set.

    That said, I don't use big screwdrivers to adjust my truss rods. I use #1 screwdrivers, and I don't cross the center line of the adjustment nut. All you need is access to half the nut to do this.
     

  6. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    I still use the old painters "church key" to adjust the truss rod on ones that adjust at the heel.

    I've never removed a neck to adjust the truss rod.
     

  7. itsGiusto

    itsGiusto TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    Dec 31, 2017
    02141
    What's a "church key"?

    I've been looking for an offset screwdriver that I can fit between the neck pickup and the neck heel so I can make adjustments, but all the offset screwdrivers I find seem to be too big. Does anyone have a recommendation for one that's small enough to make that right squeeze between the neck pickup and neck heel?
     

  8. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Meister

    357
    Jun 4, 2010
    Melbourne
    Andy B and itsGiusto like this.

  9. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    I've always used the painters tool without a problem. Lucky I guess.
     

  10. itsGiusto

    itsGiusto TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    02141
    Heh, I was thinking of trying to give a Philips head screwdriver a right angle, but it'd probably break too.

    The stewmac tool looks cool, but I always try to not buy from them and buy elsewhere instead because their shipping costs are too high for single items.
     

  11. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    43
    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    I’m with the camp that says you shouldn’t need to be adjusting your truss rod so much.

    There are a bunch of ways to do this. It all depends on what tools you own, your skill level with said tools, and the way your guitar is routed. I’d use a gouge and a carving mallet and it would take maybe ninety seconds, but not everyone is like me.

    A router, a drill, a file... they’d all work. Just evaluate your skills and pick your method.
     
    Ricky D. likes this.

  12. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    67
    Oct 22, 2006
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Chisel and mallet, bambambam. Done before you can get the bit in the router and plug it in. A file would be perfect to put a little notch in the pickguard.
     

  13. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    43
    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    Nah. I’d just gouge straight through the PG. And if I was feeling extra-frisky? I might not even remove the neck.....;)
     

  14. itsGiusto

    itsGiusto TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    Dec 31, 2017
    02141
    Yeah, it looks like it'd be good, but I have weird feelings about shipping costs. If I bought from them, I'd have to go filling up my cart with everything I think I'd need for the next 6 months, to justify the extra ten bucks on shipping.

    It does look like there are some free-shipping paint can openers on eBay. I'm trying to find the cheapest one with the widest "tooth", so it'd be similar to the Stewmac tool.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018 at 2:50 PM

  15. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Meister

    357
    Jun 4, 2010
    Melbourne
    It's also worth considering that as Fender demonstrates you can adjust a heel rod with regular tools without totally taking the strings and neck off ... see from 3:50 in ...



    I would loosen the strings though.
     

  16. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Just thought i'd mention that a "church key" is an old-timer's euphemism for a can opener - back when beer cans did not have pop-tops. So carry that one more step and use it to apply to the special paint-can openers that are commonly used as offset flat head screwdrivers for trussrod nuts.

    Anyway i'm glad the OP has not been impatient enough to dive in with any mods. Sorry to say it, but if you're not comfortable with woodworking tools you're not going to get a clean job out of it. Files need some room for overtravel in order to be controlled, and you're trying to cut a stopped channel or mortise with a bottom on it. If you don't have a router you would have to use a forstner bit on a drill press and finish up with a chisel.
     

  17. itsGiusto

    itsGiusto TDPRI Member

    Age:
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    Dec 31, 2017
    02141
    I intend to do it with a file at some point soon. The way I see it, any errors I make in the body will be covered by the pickguard. If I want to file a cutaway in the pickguard, worst comes to worse, I get another one.
     

  18. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Meister

    357
    Jun 4, 2010
    Melbourne
    I do the body channel (from top pickup cavity to heel cavity) with a big round file like this, that is not tapered to a point, so most of the cutting (coming in from the heel cavity) is done close to end of the file where the diameter is still large (so it does not require a lot of clearance ahead of the end) ...

    https://www.empireabrasives.com/12-round-file-bastard-cut/
     
    itsGiusto likes this.

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