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Glue in truss rod after or before shaping the neck?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by roberthabraken, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. The title gave it away a bit, but I'm wondering which order is best.

    a) If I glue in the truss rod (aluminum u-channel) before I shape the neck and headstock, I have a greater change that the neck will stay straight.

    b) But if I don't, the neck will more likely warp and I'm able to correct that with a plane or so (it will be a not-so-fun-to-do thing, because I have to route the truss rod channel again afterwards).

    Using the latter approach, I think the wood of the neck would be more stabilized in the end. But in a way, I'd like to go with the first option, because that saves me a lot of work..
  2. JC Basses

    JC Basses

    Mar 12, 2009
    Rocklin, CA
    I think it has a lot to do with personal taste. I prefer to glue the truss rod in as well as the fretboard before I shape the neck. Makes it easier to get a flat clamping surface on the back when you glue the fretboard on.

    I doubt in the few hours you are shaping your neck, that it will warp, before you glue the fretboard on. So either way I think you are fine as many builders here do both ways you described.
  3. Okay, thanks. Although it will be more than a few hours, because my building pace is very slow.. and I'm waiting for the glue, which will be here by the end of this week. So if I start shaping now, it will not be before saterday until the truss rod goes in. Would that be a problem?
  4. JC Basses

    JC Basses

    Mar 12, 2009
    Rocklin, CA
    I really don't see it being a problem unless the wood was not dry to begin with. Depending on where you bought it, it should be plenty dry. I know places that I buy wood from won't sell it unless it is dry enough to work with and not warp.

    You could always shape it and then clamp it to something flat while you wait for glue. That way it can't warp if you are that worried.
  5. Thanks for the advice Jared! I will do it that way :D.
  6. As another way of doing it - I made myself some hardwood cauls to hold the radiused fretboard when I clamp it to the neck.

    So I will leave the truss rod channel ever so slightly deep - then rough out the back contour of the neck, then plane down the fretboard surface of the neck blank just before glue-up - but it is just barely a shave, hardly any thickness comes off so the channel depth for the truss rod is fine. Then you have a stress-free neck to install the rod and glue the fretboard to.
  7. I see, that's a good approach too.

    From the stories I read here and out on the internet, the neck won't bend alot after shaping, so I guess I am also fine with glueing the rod in before. That way, it stabilizes the neck too, but I reckon it doesn't result in maximum stabilization.
  8. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
  9. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    well, i always leave mine out, and then i can use calipers to makesure im not getting too thin to the bottom of the channel

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