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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by 985plowboy, May 22, 2020.
I’m gonna ask a really, really stupid question. How you know when an adjustment is needed?
“You put some Levi’s on the rack and put some to the rod, but never they’d make me adjust my TRUSS ROD!!”
When you start getting buzzing in one or two parts of the neck, that's not caused by a high fret.
The 2001 American Series Tele I bought new I had set up a couple times at the shop the first two years I had it. After the second time I have never needed to turn the rod and it’s action has never changed.
The 2008 American Standard Strat I bought new at the same shop got the same treatment, and I had to adjust it maybe twice a year thereafter. Until a few years ago when I found the rod nut frozen, it had gone way cross eyed, and I had to have a new guy fix it. It lost the walnut plug and it’s still not quite right, but it now playable at a bit higher action.
My new Epi Les Paul I got set up by Sweetwater. I’ve only had it a couple of months and it’s holding so far. But I expect to give it another setup for 10s because it’s a little flim-flammy to me with 9s. We’ll see if the rod needs any attention at that point.
On most guitars, including an AV62 Tele, old Gibson acoustic guitars almost never. Once they’re set it’s pretty much done. Same for my 2003 Gibson acoustic, ‘83 Strat AV62. Like not in 5 years?
My ~15 year old Epi acoustic needs attention maybe once a year but it’s my cottage guitar, seeing house humidity from probably 25% RH to 90%? I bought a CVC in 2017 in the summer, and the next year at the cottage in summer it’s strings rode the frets = unplayable. Once I straightened that out it’s been OK the past two years. I think some unseasoned maple in there.
Provided I'm not changing the setup, twice a year.
During winter and after winter.
It depends a lot on the climate you are in, lunar phase, playing preferences etc. But also the individual instrument has a lot to do with it.
I have 2 SG's.... same year, same model, both bought new. One has been adjusted once ... the day I brought it home..... the other I leave the truss rod cover off of, and touch it up every two weeks or so it seems. They are identical except for the pickups ... one stock, one with a JB/59 set. Both never leave my studio, as I play beaters outside the house.
I keep a rotating parts bin so loosen truss rods when a neck retires for a while.
But necks that need truss rod adjustments regularly are firewood.
Many or maybe even most do seem to need spring and fall adjustment due to seasonal humidity changes, but I prefer to run a humidifier since a neck that gets that dry is a neck that's getting abused. Even worse for acoustics.
Seems to me that newer cheaper imports are made with wood that's poorly selected and rushed through the build, resulting in necks that move more. I find modern cheap necks are often pretty flexible too, so I don't bring those guitars or necks home.
I only adjust when it’s needed,not very often. If I go to a different string gauge maybe. I however have an Epiphone Mastrebilt that had a wimpy neck. When the strings are removed it gets a back bus but restrung and tuned to pitch it will settle back in. I use Elixir Nonowebs which last a pretty long time and always 12’s This one needs adjusted with a change in the seasons but I have a few others I’ve never touched at all
I do it...
... When needed
Adjustment is useful if the neck relief is wrong (too little or too much).
Hold the headstock to your eye and look down the neck, and you'll see that the neck is being bent like a bow by the pull of the strings.
I like mine fairly straight, it seems to me that the truss rod is screwed tight all the way on most of my guitars.
To measure the relief, hold down the thick E string at the first and twelfth fret, and see how much space there is between the string and the fifth fret. You want a little bit, but not too much (sorry, I don't have precise measurements).
This is a great question and one I didn't really know the answer to until I attended a guitar set-up course in January 2019.
Before this I'd tweak the truss rod in a vain hope that it would reduce issues such as buzzing and setting the action would previously involve increasing the string height until the buzzing stopped.
One the course the instructor showed the traditional way of measuring the action (with feeler gauges), relief (also with feeler gauges) and string height (simple steel rule) but he also used a couple of [to be honest, rather expensive] Stewmac tools which reduced the task to seconds, was very accurate and very repeatable.
He claimed he could set up all guitars with identical action, relief and string height. And he did. Despite this, my Tele versus a PRS felt different to play as the PRS much flatter fingerboard radius.
So in answer to your original question, you'll know as the guitar either buzzes is difficult to play as a result of a combination of action, relief and string height.
How do you know if it's the bow or relief of the neck? As others have said you can sight it down the neck but this gives you limited information, especially if you don't know what you're looking for.
I invested in the aforementioned Stewmac tools (which have already paid for themselves) and I can very quickly measure action, relief and string height and adjust the neck based on the manufacturers recommendations or by measuring another one of the owners guitars which he/she defines as their 'perfect' set-up and replicating it.
My Broadcaster has had one truss rod tweak in 16-years and others, once set up, haven't needed adjusting in the last 18-months.
Our climate is stable and they are always stored in cases or gig bags when not being used.
Maybe my strings are a little lower gauge than most, maybe my action is a bit higher than most, the answer is "never" on most of my guitars. On the rest, probably only once. Only on a few guitars have I had to adjust more than once, and those are usually older guitars. Also had to do it a lot when fixing someone's cheap bass.
To accurately measure relief I use a feeler gauge. You can find them in hardware stores.
I've added several guitars over the last six months and do not know the history of a couple of them. That said, I have not personally adjusted the truss rod in any of my guitars, including the 12 string I've had over 40 years (and that guitar has been around the world and in every weather condition...with no adjustment, ever). My +40yo Hondo has had the truss rod "touched" about 8 years ago when I had it in to my LGS for a noisy switch and had him set it up for lighter strings at the same time. Note that I do not typically play above the 7th fret, so slight variations do not catch my attention.
Some guitars once when I first got them, others never. Unless I was levelling or replacing the frets.
Wow that's amazing about the LP. I don't adjust truss rods very often, but I'd say on average a time or two a year generally on most any guitar.