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frozen truss rod

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by permagrin, May 7, 2003.


  1. permagrin

    permagrin

    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    I've got an '85 Kramer Focus, not a particularly fine instrument but it was my first bass ever and I still like the way the neck feels. Anyway, it sat around for 6 months while I was out of town, and when I came back the neck had a backbow to it. It seems most noticeable from about the 5th fret down to the nut, and it buzzes on notes played at the first and second frets.

    So I go to loosen the truss rod to let the string tension induce more relief, and the truss rod won't turn, not a bit. Now, I've made adjustments on this neck many times, and I recall it's been more difficult to turn than any of my other basses, so I figured once it got started it'd be alright. And so after tapping it and knocking a bit to, I dunno, loosen it up a little, I used plenty of muscle to try to get the thing moving (I know, I know, shouldn't force it, but...). And I thought I got it to trun a little, but I had actually bent/twisted the blade of the (flathead) screwdriver. So it's really not budging.

    It's not worth a lot of money, just has a lot of sentimental value for me, so taking it to a tech for anything major would be hard to justify. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. WD40???
     
  2. Before I adjust the truss rods on any of my basses, I always squirt in a shot of WD-40. They always move easily and I've never had a problem; I've been doing it for years. I'm careful not to get it on the finish but I don't know whether it would harm the finish or not.
     
  3. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    The tip of a hot soldering gun held against the adjustment nut may expand the nut enough for it to loosen. Be careful not to touch the wood with the iron and put an ugly burn spot on it.

    Don't even bother trying to use a pencil type iron. It wont get nearly hot enough. Make SURE that the screwdriver fits the slot perfectly. If you mess up the slot you've had a bad day.

    Pkr2
     
  4. permagrin

    permagrin

    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Thanks to you both. I need a quick bit of education, if someone could indulge me. In the reply from pkr2 and also as I searched on truss rods, I often see folks referring to the 'nut.' When I see 'nut' the first thing I think about is carved chunk of bone my strings sit on where a zeroth fret would be, but that obviously not what is being referred to. In this case the nut must be embedded in the neck wood somehow and the truss rod is like a threaded bolt through it, right? If I take this further I suppose a double expanding truss rod would have another nut threaded backwards at the other end (so you'd get twice the expansion with the same amount of twist)? I guess I'm just a little curious on the actual mechanics.

    At any rate, I don't think I can see the 'nut' on this neck, only the end of the truss rod itself, and I'm not terribly handy with my pencil-type soldering iron. It's adjusted at the heel (not the peghead) of the neck, and I'm gonna try shooting some WD40 in there and hope for the best (I've also got a can of Liquid Wrench as Plan B). I'd rather not unbolt the neck, I suppose I'll hold the bass with the head pointed down so that gravity will take the WD40 toward the neck and not to the body and let it soak for about 5 min, flip it back over and have a rag handy for any extra WD40 that might leak back out, and see if the truss rod will turn. Sounds easy enough, eh?

    And thanks again.
     
  5. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    This is a good website on truss rod theory. http://www.geocities.com/Paris/5701/mandolin/mando5.htm[/url]

    Sorry about the mix up. I "assumed" that you had the fender style TR. :)

    The method that I described would be difficult with your particular neck without removing the neck.

    The "nut" that I am referring to is the adjustment nut on thr TR.

    If you havent already tried loosening the strings while making the adjustment you may find that it helps free up the nut.

    Be VERY careful with the WD40! If you spray too much it could soak into the wood since the truss rod channel is probably raw wood. Not good for the fretboard glue joint.

    Hope this helps.

    Pkr2
     
  6. permagrin

    permagrin

    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Well, okay then, thanks again pkr2. Glad I was too busy last night to work on the bass.

    Good website on truss rods, I don't think I've ever seen them explained, but that's pretty much how I've always thought they worked (the only thing I didn't realize was that the truss rods are bent, but I'm not sure that's universal, maybe more prevalent on mandolins - from what I recall from the internet, bass truss rods are straight). No matter, I think my question shouldn't have been WHAT a truss rod does but HOW it is implemented, and I have a feeling there are many answers to that question. Checking out the different basses I have a little more carefully would be a good start, eh? Especially the Fenders.

    So my revised plan will be to loosen the strings first and see if it's still frozen. (BTW, is this a 'proper' or more accepted way to adjust? Don't think I've seen that mentioned before, I've always kept my strings at tension.) If that doesn't work, I'll take off the neck, spray a wee bit of WD40 around the rod, and let any excess drain AWAY from the inside of the neck, thanks for pointing out the danger of letting it leak inside the channel!
     
  7. I've always gotten into the habbit of turnign the truss rod the oposite way just a TAD. I read it in bassplayer magazine and it really helped me from killing the neck on my jazz bass when my truss rod wouldn't turn! So move the truss rod the opposite way first if its stuck, and THEN try going the right way. It worked for me when mine was stuck, try that. ;)

    A word of advice:
    It seems to me your pretty new to bass setups. From what I took in you were adjusting your truss rod with a screw driver? There are tools called allen wrenches and truss rods are designed to be adjusted with an allen wrench only:eek:... That may be your problem right there if you cant turn it, allen wrenches make it easier to turn than a screwdriver. Also your screwdriver may have stripped the nut on the truss rod which isnt a good thing! Be careful
     
  8. Not all truss rods adjust with an allen wrench, 31588.

    A lot of basses with the adjustment at the heel of the neck use a screwdriver - and that includes a whole buncha Fenders and my Lakland 55-94.
     
  9. permagrin

    permagrin

    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Thanks again to all who have replied. An update: I pulled the bass out of the case this weekend, had my bench all set up for the procedure, can of WD40 with the cap off and red tube attached, but decided to pluck out a few notes first, and lo and behold the relief is back in the neck. No buzzing, sounds perfectly healthy. I sighted the neck and could see that the backbow was gone. I can only suspect a change in weather/humidity (I live in Los Angeles near the water in Watt's hometown of San Pedro - pretty steady conditions for the most part, and especially so inside the house).

    I measured the relief (pushing down at first and 15th frets) at a tad under 0.010" to confirm that I'm not crazy, it's actually come back. (The wife came over to see why I was yoohooing so loudly, shrugged a "big deal" when I told her...).

    Of course, the original problem still exists, the truss rod is still stuck. At this point I'm wondering if this is something to ignore until I need to make an adjustment or if I should address it now, in case waiting will make it harder or impossible to remedy in the future. Any opinions?

    To bassist31588: thanks for the tip, this is not something I'd ever done, but will adopt it. When I originally noticed the frozen truss rod on this bass, I did try turning it in the opposite direction to no avail, it ain't moving. As for the wrong tool, screwdriver vs. allen wrench, on this bass ('85 Kramer) the truss rod is adjusted with a screwdriver; the end of the rod has a 'cross' that could be adjusted with either a Phillip's or flathead screwdriver, I used the flathead simply because it had a longer, thinner shaft than any of my Phillip's.
     
  10. just speaking from my experience;)