first time adjusting truss rod

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Sexy magik, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Sexy magik

    Sexy magik

    Mar 23, 2012
    as the title says this is the first time adjusting a truss rod. i want to ask some tips on adjusting my truss and anything i should be careful of.

    i've also got 2 questions
    1. how do i check if i have a back or a forward bow
    2. if its a back/forward bow how far do i turn to rod

    extra info
    my bass is a squire
    i've had it for 3 years (so the rod hasn't been adjusted for 3 years)

    thanks in advance :)
  2. Meddle


    Jul 27, 2009
    There is no set distance you should turn a trussrod. However only turn the thing 1/8th to 1/4 of a turn and leave it for a while. Don't spin it around!
  3. pudge

    pudge Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2008
    A quick google search should give you every thing you need.
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2010
    Manitoba, Canada
    Please read the stickies at the top of this forum.

    Forward bow is, from the playing position, the head is bowed forward of you.
  5. Sponsored by:

  6. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Remember that a whole turn is a lot when adjusting a truss rod.
    Do it in small increments.
    Usually my basses need about a 1/2 turn or so depending on curvature.
  7. Rocky McD

    Rocky McD

    Jun 28, 2005
    San Antonio, Texas
    Broken truss rods are a common problem when doing adjustments improperly. BE safe, loosen the strings and loosen the truss rod nut first, to make sure it is not rusted up. I always remove the nut and put a slight dab of lube on the inside of the nut at the thread end. With all pressure off, check the natural condition of the neck. It should be flat without any bow. The truss rod only compensates for the pressure put on the neck by the strings. Read all available tutorials on set ups and do it correctly. Neck adjustment (relief) is the first step in a proper setup. Then comes string height adjustments and then intonation.
  8. JLS

    JLS Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
  9. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Hold bass in playing position.

    Check relief with your E string by pressing first and last frets and observing the gap (usually the seventh fret or wherever the gap is greatest).

    Decrease relief (this fixes backbow) by tightening the truss rod, 1/8th turn increments clockwise.

    Check relief after every turn.

    Increase relief (this fixes forward bow) by going counterclockwise.

    Waiting a day for the neck to settle is not necessary, if you have to wait an entire day for the truss rod to work, it ain't workin'! Also detuning before making adjustments is totally unnecessary. Just pay close attention to how much resistance the truss rod is giving you and DO NOT go more than 1/8 turns when adjusting. You'll never damage the truss rod by doing it this way.
  10. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca

    Also, you need an 18" steel straight edge. Put one end on the first fret and lay it down the fingerboard. The deepest part of the relief (about in the middle of the steel edge) should be approximately the thickness of a business card. In other words, almost flat.
    Remember, the set is made with the strings tensioned and tuned to pitch (a=440).

    Like someone else said, you can find detailed directions on the internet.
  11. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2010
    Manitoba, Canada
    You don't need a straight edge. Your string is the straight edge. Capo it at first and last fret with finger. Measure relief. It just easier than introducing a tool into the mix.
  12. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I wouldn't even measure it, just eyeball it. You don't need a capo, your left index finger is the capo. :oops:

    I am the liquor.
  13. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Old wives tale.

    Turn the nut until the desired relief is dialed in.

    Caveat: If the truss rod nut is too tight to turn or squeaks, stop.
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2010
    Manitoba, Canada
    Capo leaves hand free to slip a business card in if your eyes see double like mine.

    Sometimes I slip a card at the ninth and hold it with right finger then put left finger on first fret. The I slide my right finger up the string, if the card just slips a little, I know I'm bang on .010 +- .005. ;)
  15. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Why are you adjusting the truss rod? What are you trying to accomplish?
  16. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    Fret the first fret with your left hand (or use a capo). While holding that down, fret the highest fret with your right pinkie. Tap the string with your right thumb. Watch the string movement. I like a flat neck. So I go with about the thickness of a business card+ at the 10th fret or so. But to me that's the ideal. Bad frets may not permit this, or will demand much higher action at the bridge. The 'perfect' truss adjustment to me is the flatest neck that supports the lowest bridge. Since we can't have perfect, there's a sweetspot somewhere in the compromise between flat neck and bridge height.
    You will learn this by playing with it. It's not very complicated.
    And as everyone else has said, just because it can't be said enough, adjust no more than a 1/4 turn at a time. Give it some hours between adjustment. 1/2 turn per day is pushing it for me.
  17. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i do a third turn usually and that fixes most things
    a third is more than you think.
  18. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2010
    Manitoba, Canada
    As needs to be said again:

  19. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    That's a bit like saying "this is the first time I'll be sleeping with this person. How do I tell if they're a girl or a boy?"
  20. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    Agreed. If someone doesn't know the difference between back and forward bow it's probably not a good idea to be turning anything without doing a bit of reading the sticky threads.
  21. Old Fart

    Old Fart

    Mar 11, 2011
    I use a straight-edge (Carpenter's Square, actually) that is as long as the neck. Straight edge against the frets. I like to be barely able to pass a .25mm feeler gauge between the straight edge and the lowest fret (probably about the 7th or 8th fret).

    I like a fairly straight neck. I do not beat on strings or yank them. I tickle them. Folks who use a baseball bat in place of a pick or fingers....might want more relief (more forward curve).

    If you think about it, one should be able to adjust the bridge barely high enough to prevent the strings from buzzing when notes are played near the heel of the neck, then adjust the truss rod just enough to stop fret buzzing against the frets at the other end of the neck. Bingo!