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Many guitar players (sometimes even seasoned players) are terrified of touching their guitar's truss rod.
This is very likely due to most players
misunderstanding the truss rods true purpose and of course all of the warnings and horror stories of how you can really screw up your
guitar by messing with that mysterious rod!
Okay sure, if you don't have an ounce of common sense and you abuse the truss rod by cranking down on it like you are King Kong or some form of over-muscled Caveman, then yes, you very probably will damage your instrument. And, if you are one of those types of people, you'd better let someone else adjust your guitar's truss rod.
If however, you think "soft hands and small increments" adjusting your guitar's truss rod can be a Magical Cure for most tone or playability issues. Now, to be perfectly clear, your truss rod isn't really meant to adjust the height of your strings or even set the guitar's intonation . . . its primary purpose is really quite simple.
The truss rod's sole purpose is to compensate (or counteract) the pull of the strings.
The guitar strings of course, exert a significant pull on the neck with a tendency to pull the neck into a slight up-ward arch. The truss rod is just a steel rod embedded inside the neck of your
guitar with a small metal plate or washer holding it tight at each
end of the guitar neck. Tightening the adjustment nut pulls the rod straighter, thus pulling against the strings and straightening the neck. Loosening the truss rod, allows the neck to pull up with the influence of the string tension, allowing the neck bow.
Generally the truss rod is a simple single rod system; there are however, some more advanced two-way rod systems, which can move a neck both toward and away from string pull for optimal adjustment control. Regardless of the type of truss rod system used however, it's basic purpose is still remains the same, to counteract the pull of the strings against the guitar's neck.
So here they are, the two very simple truss rod adjustment rules . . . and remember "soft hands and very small increments" when you turn the nut at the end of the truss rod.
A.) Tighten the nut of the truss rod by turning it clockwise (right is tight) to straighten the neck and reduce the front bow (ideally you will want just a small amount of bow to help in preventing fret buzz).
B.) Loosen the nut of the truss rod by turning it counter-clockwise (left is loose) to get more relief or back bend. What this looks like . . . is your guitar neck bows forward toward the strings and strings at fret 15 will be higher from the frets then they will be at fret 1.
So, Magical Cure? It can be!
Now, if you have adjusted the truss rod successfully, and playability feels improved and to your liking. . . you can stop and enjoy your work, or you can move on to adjusting the bridge for tweaking the intonation of your guitar.
Articles by: Von Zuko MMXV©
I have purchased a significant number of vintage and non-vintage guitars through online auctions, while most represented good win-win deals, a few were not so good.
Over time, I've learned a few very important and valuable lessons . . . some of these lessons may seem like common sense, but at times it easy to get caught up in the bidding fever and lose sight of logic.
How do you avoid being burned on your next vintage guitar purchase? Here are a few guitar buying insights.
1.) If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are fewer fools out there than you may think . . . most sellers know EXACTLY what it is they are selling!
It is almost certain that you 'are not' going to be able to buy a $12,000 vintage guitar for $400 from some naive' seller.
2.) If their description is vague . . . it is likely intended to cause you to believe they just don't know what a great guitar they are selling.
3.) If the sellers photos are fuzzy . . . it is also very likely intentional. What are they trying to hide? Finish flaws, damage, rust?
4.) No photographs of key guitar features . . like the headstock or neck joint. Again, this is usually intentional. As for detailed photos before placing your bid.
I once bought a "vintage 60's Gibson SG Jr." for what seemed like a fair price. The SG Jr. was presented with photos of the body (front and back), neck joint, and even the serial number on the back of the headstock. The seller however, did not mention nor did he include a photograph of the face of the headstock . . . which was missing the all important Gibson logo. My lesson, never assume anything!
5.) Never Assume Anything . . . if you can't see it, then you simply don't know what you'll be getting with the guitar.
I've also purchased a vintage guitar that had deep ruts in the fretboard and frets. The seller of course did refer to this . . . but as "light play wear." There were no close up photos of the fingerboard. Again, get the details.
6.) Ask questions . . .
Are they the guitar's original owner?
Are 'all parts' original, replica or after market parts?
Do all the electronics (pots & pickups) work?
Have any body or neck repairs been made?
Are there extra holes drilled in the guitar?
Is the serial number completely visible?
Ask any and all questions you may have!
7.) Ask for more photos . . . If you're going to plunk down several hundred or several thousand dollars, the seller should be more then happy to respond to serious buyers.
8.) If the seller is reluctant to; answer your questions directly . . . or reluctant provide more photos of key areas of the guitar . . . If so then . . . RUN, let someone else be that seller's sucker.
9.) Check out the sellers ratings as a seller!
What do others, who have purchased items from them, have to say about the experience? (If most of their feedback is as a buyer . . . don't assume they are also a good seller!
I try to do business with "sellers" who have at least several dozen higher dollar sales under their belt (preferably guitars). I also look for 99.5% to 100% satisfaction ratings.
10.) The most important tip of all . . . do run through a check list of all of the above tips and suggestions BEFORE you place a bid.
There are great vintage guitar buys out there, just be an informed and cautious buyer.
Good guitar hunting!
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