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Fender American Elite Truss Rod issue?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BassJuju, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. BassJuju

    BassJuju Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    2 years ago I purchased an American Elite Jazz V and it's been a good bass so far. One of the nice thing about that series is the wheel at the bass of the neck to adjust the truss rod. A month or so ago, I had new strings put on it and the GC tech said "that wheel doesn't work and I had to take the neck off several times to get the truss rod adjusted properly." I am not happy about this, but it was already done. When I mentioned that I thought the wheel should work on a 2 year old bass to the tech, he suggested I could call Pro Coverage or Fender to see if they would do anything. Life goes on and time passes.

    Recently I've decided to put flats on it which will facilitate the need for another set up. I wanted to get this issue resolved before putting flats or at least at the same time. So, I called GC to get the purchase information--exact dates of purchase and how long was the pro-coverage plan that I chose, which led to the GC manager suggesting we try warranty first, which led to the tech reaching out to Fender, which led to Fender basically saying that everyone else in the world can get the truss rod to turn using the wheel and that they hadn't had that much of a problem. Since then it has been suggested that it just might be a design flaw and kind of a "bummer" which didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy.

    I draw these conclusions. Sometime between the last setup-- same tech at GC-- and the one prior; that is to say the past year, the rod seems to have seized up. Once upon a time, one could insert a proper sized Allen wrench into the wheel and with appropriate pressure, it would move in either direction. Last night, when I tried a similar thing, the wheel does not budge in either direction. At all. I used a chrome Allen key and was afraid that I was either going to break the truss rod or bend the Allen wrench. Apparently, when he took the neck off, he was able to insert an Allen key into the hex nut at the base of the wheel and turn the truss rod, reassemble the bass, test, rinse and repeat. I was not there when he was taking the neck on and off so I have no reference for how much pressure or leverage was needed to make it turn.

    So, am I crazy for wanting this to work as advertised? Should I just live with it? Should I try to make Fender stand behind the bass? Something else? What say you?
  2. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If the truss rod is seized on a 2 year old bass Fender should cover it under warranty.
  3. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Are you loosening the strings and pulling back on headstock to “assist” the truss rod? If not then you are Not doing it right. There’s s ton of pressure on that wheel and it’s threads
  4. BassJuju

    BassJuju Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    I’m not sure that Fender is going to cover it, but GC has said they will if Febder doesn’t. So, hopefully this will be replaced very soon.

    This isn’t a methodology issue.
    G-Z likes this.
  5. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I had an American Elite Jazz for a year and while it was a great bass, they kinda missed the mark on the truss rod wheel.

    The holes in the wheel are pretty small, making it hard to get a decent-sized Allen key in there to make adjustments. I had to make adjustments only twice in the year that I had it, but it was a little worrisome using a small-diameter key to move the wheel. I wish I had compared the size of the truss rod wheel with those on my Stingrays. I've had 4 Stingrays, never, ever had an issue moving the wheel. And I think that a round key for the Elite wheel would be better than a 6-sided Allen key. Fender should have included a round, hardened-steel wheel key with some length to it.

    I guess this isn't a wide-spread issue as I don't see it written about very much in the usual places. But how many does it need to be to warrant some attention? Especially when it's YOUR bass? And Fender, in my opinion, has stuck their heads in the sands over this, as they have over their lousy shielding jobs on every bass they make. Again, my opinion.

    I do find it curious that the tech said he can't move the adjustment wheel while the neck is mounted to the bass, but it can be moved when the neck is detached. Either the wheel is stuck or it isn't. I realize that better leverage may be had with the neck off the bass. And it may be worth removing the neck to see if the wheel can be moved. But it should moved with moderate effort while the neck is mounted to the bass and the strings loosened (loosening strings while making neck adjustments is a matter of debate among users and techs, I don't have to loosen them on the Stingrays and my Mike Lull basses. Perhaps I should...)

    If you can get this replaced under warranty, I'd go that route.
  6. BassJuju

    BassJuju Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    I think you and I agree on all of that. I am still waiting on word, but I feel good about it. Basically, GC acknowledges that it is defective and should work. This is a giant step forward. My local manager has asked for a little time to try and get Fender to replace, or get pro-coverage to replace, or he will stand by it at the store level. Either way, I have the desired outcome.

    I've been thinking about a P Bass, but the elites have the wheels, are only 4 strings, and the other P's look to require neck removal in order to make an adjustment. I am not sure what I am going to do, but your comment about the shielding reminded me just how much I disliked that about this bass. Probably going to go to a different brand and that is disappointing to me in some ways.

    Thanks again...
  7. 3wavylines

    3wavylines Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2007
    Last year I picked up a new American Deluxe Dimension bass. The wheel truss rod adjustment was very tough to turn from day one. It never got completely stuck, but the allen key would bend a lot whenever I adjusted the truss rod.

    I ended up trading that bass. I liked it, but never got used to the ergonomics of the body shape.

    I recently acquired a EBMM Stingray. There’s a world of difference between the adjuster wheel on that bass and the one on my Dimension. The wheel turns very easily using a small phillips head. I feel comfortable adjusting it without loosening the strings.

    I don’t know if the Dimension truss rod adjuster wheel was defective, or if that is just the way they are. I definitely prefer the EBMM wheel or the truss rod nut on the American Standard/Pro.
  8. BassJuju

    BassJuju Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    That brings up a question I had planned to ask about the Pro series. Looking at the photos on line it is hard to tell, but can one adjust the truss rod on the American Professional series without removing the neck? I am probably not going that way, but just curious. I’ve looked at the MM stuff and like some of it, but it just doesn’t quite feel right. I may change my mind on that as I move through this process.
  9. 3wavylines

    3wavylines Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2007
    I owned a Fender Pro Jazz for a few months. I was able to adjust the truss rod using the T-wrench Fender includes with the bass. As with all similar base-of-the-neck truss rod nuts, you’re liable to nick the pickguard when you do it. You can avoid that by removing the pickguard, which is pretty easy to do on a jazz.

    The truss rod nut on my American Pro Jazz turned very smoothly and securely. I found it very easy to make fine adjustments of the neck relief on that bass.

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