Can't get relief
I'm working an a bass that has some fret buzz up and down the neck. When I turn the truss rod clockwise, the bow in the neck straightens and the buzz gets worse. When I turn it counter clockwise, the bow increases but only to a point. After a while the relief doesn't increase, the tension against be turning the truss nut get's lighter, and the tuning doesn't go flat from the neck bowing. The strings are a 130,105,85,65,45 set of DR Nickle Lo-Riders tuned to a regular tuning. If I tune the bass up a whole step, the relief increases and the fret buzz is reduced.
What's going on here? Shouldn't the string tension at a regular tuning be enough to bow the neck? Could there be something wrong with the truss rod or the neck?
With a single-action truss rod, tightening the truss rod works against the string tension to reduce the relief. Once you've loosened the truss rod to the point where it's no longer putting pressure on the neck, all the relief is coming from the string tension, and loosening the truss rod more has no effect. At that point, the amount of relief depends on how stiff the neck is on its own, and how much tension the strings are adding (depending on gauge, tuning, etc.)
There are dual-action truss rods that work against the string tension to lessen relief when turned one way, and work with string tension to add relief when turned the other way. It sounds like you do not have one of those.
The neck (including the truss rod inside) will only bow so much under a set of strings at normal tension with the truss rod slack.
Sounds more like you need to raise the bridge. Where is the buzz coming from? the lower frets or the higher frets?
The point at which it has stopped bowing is only with a very modest amount of relief. I've played around with the truss on my other 4 basses and never seen adjusting the truss 'give up' so easily with a regular set of strings. I understand the basic physics at work here, so if it was a 120,100,80,60,40 set or lighter I could see this happening.
This is a German Warwick 5 string with the ovangkol neck and wenge finger board if that matters. Its a 2007, which still had the slighter fatter neck than what they have now. I try to use Feed and Wax on the unfinished neck every few months.
If the neck simply won't respond to the tension of a standard gauge of a pretty stiff set of strings, is my only option to go to a higher gauge? If I was to leave it at a higher tuning for a few days could it possibly gain back some natural bow?
If it's a German Warwick Corvette from 2007, it should have a two-way truss rod, and turning it counter-clockwise (past a certain point) should be adding relief, but I suspect there's still a limit to how much you can add.
If the particular neck will only bow so far your only option maybe be to have someone take the neck to slight past flat with the truss rod(back bowed, putting middle of neck closer to the strings) and then skinning the frets. Essentially creating a slight dip in the middle of the neck - artificial bow. Depending on how recently you loosened it it may take a few days to a few weeks to "move'. You could tune it a little high and let it sit for a week and see if it is any better. Stiff necks can be tricky to get just right. Good luck
I would just leave the truss rod loose for a few days and give the neck time to flex. If you get no response you might try tuning up by a half step and put a little more tension on the strings.
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