Alternatives for Fender T-Handle Wrench

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassbourne, Apr 21, 2021.


  1. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    I have two questions regarding truss rod adjustments on an American Professional (jazz) bass. I tried searching for the answers, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for (perhaps I was using the incorrect terminology).

    My bass came with the usual Fender T-Handle wrench and I was able to set the bass up without any problems, however I just don't feel comfortable using the ball-end design of the T-Handle wrench and the way it feels like you're slowly rounding out the nut each time, no matter how careful I am.

    Is there an alternative tool which would give me more grip?

    And my second question is whether it's possible to replace the nut with a vintage style slotted truss rod nut (cross-hair) or are these not compatible?

    Thanks!
     
    Matty Koff likes this.
  2. Cloven Hoof

    Cloven Hoof Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2021
    Texas
    I'm not a fan of the ball end tool that Fender supplies for the same reason. I have a jazz pro I and I've asked a luthier to route a more accessible recess to prevent the marring of the nut. It will be shaped like a pointed half-oval. Sorry I don't have any experience actually changing to a slotted nut. The routing job is around $40 and includes touch up paint. This is just another one of Fender's quirks love it or hate it.
     
    Matty Koff and bassbourne like this.
  3. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for the reply!

    Would you mind sending me a photo of yours once it's done? That way I can ask my usual luthier if he can do something similar. Do you plan to continue using the T-Wrench once that's done or are you having it done so that you can use a different tool?

    Also speaking of different tools, do you happen to know whether this one would do a better job?
    https://www.thomann.de/nl/fender_allen_key_for_americanneck.htm
     
  4. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Instead of changing the route, why not modify a hex wrench? The short end of a right angle hex key can be cut quite a bit shorter, and you can use that.
     
  5. Cloven Hoof

    Cloven Hoof Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2021
    Texas

    Sure I'll update you when it's done. When I've adjusted the truss rod in the past by removing the neck I used my own allen key which is very similar to the one you posted in the link, I feel more comfortable using one without a ball-end. I'm just the type of person who wants the tool to fit what I feel is proper.
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  6. Cloven Hoof

    Cloven Hoof Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2021
    Texas
    I've always believed the stock route to be a flaw in production design, like their modern 3-mount bridge. 3 mounts is fine, but top loading always binds heavier gauge strings against the saddle intonation screws. There are a few things about my Fender basses that bug me, but with a few mods and upgrades I get my personal satisfaction, which to me is my favorite tone. I would rather do an "irreversible" custom route that receives standard hex tools, than have to modify hex wrenches and always make sure I had that "special hex key"
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  7. bigtone23

    bigtone23

    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    I have cut down hex wrenches for this. Works great.
     
    Billyzoom, Lownote38 and bassbourne like this.
  8. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    Great thanks!

    Once you've had the routing done, do you plan to use a standard hex tool then?
     
  9. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    As Cloven Hoof said I'd also rather have a fixed route as opposed to modifying the tool, but I'll bear that in mind as a back-up plan.
     
  10. Cloven Hoof

    Cloven Hoof Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2021
    Texas
    yea, standard tool
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I use a ball end T handle. The purpose of the rounded head is to prevent stripping. Because you’re approaching the nut on an angle.
     
    FRoss6788 and Goatrope like this.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Also, as this is a huge pet peeve of mine...

    Telecasters and Stratocaster both have the logical headstock hex access. Proving that Fender knows better even if they don’t always do better. There had never been an operational reason for burying it in the neck heel.
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  13. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    That is what came with my bass and what I have been using so far. Just I can't help but feel like it's slowly rounding out the nut as it doesn't seem to give you as tight of a grip as you'd get with a snug fitting hex key for example.
     
  14. Except it makes the neck / headstock area stronger by not having material routed out there.
     
    FRoss6788 likes this.
  15. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    True. My 21 MiA P has the access on the heel. As do my other P and J. I am paranoid about ripping the nut so I will slowly turn into a lock and press hard before I turn the screws.
     
  16. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    As a mechanical engineer I am not discounting this point. Routing wood can reduce the strength.

    But But But...
    They route it regardless and cover it with a non-structural decorative plug.

    And Strats and Teles with Much Smaller headstocks don’t fail at this joint.

    Best part is they modified the Strat and Tele design After Leo left which proves my case that they know better.

    This is purely aesthetic and a legacy design. The wood is routed exactly the same no matter where they drop the nut.
    upload_2021-4-22_11-24-14.jpeg
     
  17. I don't have a problem with an adjuster at the heel, as long as there is some sort of access to it when the strings are tuned to tension. On my Hondo P bass copy, I can unscrew the pick guard, slide it towards the bridge and access the adjuster nut easily.
     
    Killing Floor likes this.
  18. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    can't say i have a problem with ball end allen wrenches as it's a pretty solid design and frankly, if one needs fastener damaging torque to adjust a truss rod, there are other issues in play here.

    you can cut down a regular L shaped wrench, or Bondhus and others make a "shorty" ball wrench with a much tighter bend that is helpful. they usually don't have a ball on the short end:

    https://www.amazon.com/Bondhus-1653...ocphy=9030942&hvtargid=pla-421247793002&psc=1
     
    FRoss6788 likes this.
  19. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    The problem with headstock access truss rods is that they often give rise to problems with fretboard cracking. As the truss rod nut is tightened is has a tendency to crush the wood, causing it to mushroom a bit. On may of the headstock-access rods the nut is right up against the fretboard, like this guitar:
    upload_2021-4-22_17-55-9.png

    Just a bit of mushrooming at the base of the nut will crack the board. I have repaired quite a few.
     
  20. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    have seen split, and separated from the neck fretboards due to this. one of the reasons why on my acoustics that i go with the adjustment through the sound hole. cleaner, removes less wood at the headstock,(you don't have to make a cover either) and you can place the anchor block of the trussrod between the nut and the first fret.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jun 20, 2021

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