Trus-Rod Maxed, what do I do?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Nick man, Jun 23, 2004.

  1. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Hey everyone.

    Ive got a bit of a problem and I know you can give me some good advice.

    I was lowering the action on my Ibanez Black Eagle and I found that the trus rod was maxed out. The neck has more curve in it than Id like. Here is a picture of the neck at the 5,6,7 frets with the E string held down at the first and last frets:


    The action is nice and fairly low, but not as low as Id like. I have the saddles lowered as far as I can get them without buzz being a problem but even now there is some buzz once I get to the 10th fret which I dont play over often, but occasionally do.

    If I were to shim the neck It would only put those higher frets more in the way and make the buzzing worse so Im looking for advice on what to do about a trus rod that wont tighten anymore.

    To avoid the questions I know are comming Ill say somethings you are probably going to ask.

    1. I know the rod isnt "frozen" because it easily loosens.

    2. I havent cranked the hell out of the neck, but it is from 1975 so I have no idea what other owner did to it in these 29 years. It looks to be in good condidtion and the cation isn't bad though so I doubt anyone else has cranked it to death

    3. I dont want to try lower tension strings. I like what I have on there right now a lot. If anything I want to switch to some nice flats in the future.

    4. I have tried flexing the neck with a bit of pressure while adjusting it but that doesnt help. Ive also tried banging on the neck to make sure the rod isnt stuck just in case.

    What do you guys recommend? Would losenning the nut off and dropping some washers under it do the trick? I imagine it just needs something extra to push against.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Difficult to say without having the bass physically in front of you, but my initial impression is that your action is too low already!! ;)
  3. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    It's low, but not as low as I hope it should be able to go.

    Ive been doing setup on my basses and my friends guitars and basses for the past two years and I know that I personally like to adjust the neck so that its almost completely flat.

    When its held at the first and last frets, you can just *barely* see that its not touching at the middle of the neck (7/8 frets) and you can still feel that you are able to push the string down a bit further till it touches the frets.

    From there I like to adjust the action at the saddles to my liking. Usually I raise them a bit higher than the lowest they can go, but I like the neck flat. I actually have kept this bass with slightly higher action up untill now so I hadnt realized how close it was it its limits till now.

    I know it sounds like its too low since I mentioned the buzzing but thats only in the higher frets. Im pretty sure its because of excessive bow in the neck since the action is still fairly high.

    I understand that its difficult to tell without having the bass in front of you; maybe these (exagerated) diagrams will help explain my issue.

    Here is what I like:

    Here is what I have:

    Edit: The dark grey parts are the bridge and the neck, the light gray is the string. Notice how the top neck is straight and the distanc from the string is created by the angle between the neck an dthe bridge, but in the bottom the neck is curved with the extreme ends cuntacting the string but the middle bowed away.

    For what its worth, the neck has at least 4 hours to settle in that position and its still the same. Im pretty sure it was almost maxed out last time I touched it.
  4. Taking your assessment of the situation as gospel, you can get more adjustment from your trussrod by removing the nut and putting a couple of small washers over the end, then re-installing the rod. This moves the nut further back on the threads and allows a couple more turns to be achieved before bottoming again.

    Hope this helps
  5. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Your diagrams show a misconception on your side.
    A properly adjusted neck will look like the 2nd drawing, not the first one.
    A vibrating string is curved, with the widest part of the wave body over the 12th fret.
    If you want a low action, your neck needs to follow the same shape.
    On the first diagram you shown, action will be freaking high on last frets and you will get buzz on 1st to 5th and 9th to 12th frets.
  6. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Im assumming I should completely remove all tension from the strings before doing this.

    Should I be worried about anything else happening to the neck since its going to tensionless for the first time in over 29 years?

    Its not something I can just get a replacement for since its a 33 - 1/2" scale with a unique headstock and unique inlays which are huge parts of the bass' appeal.

    I really apreciate the help.
  7. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    It was an exagerated drawing.

    I understand that you want some bow. I have some bow in all of my basses necks, I just have too much for my liking in this one.

    Besides, with the drawing I posted the part farthest from the strings on the first drawing is between the 12-21st frets. On the second neck its between the 5-9. In reality the first drawing is just meant to show that I want the neck more or less straight so its mostly equidistant from all frets with the grestest gap in the higher registers where the string vibrates most.
  8. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Another vote for the washers...
  9. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I think I'll try it this weekend when Im home.

    I'll try to post some before and after pics.

    It sounds like it should be easy enough to undo if I find that my neck was as flat as it should be.
  10. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I wasnt able to bring the bass down with me so now I need to wait till I can get a ride with a friend in town to a hardware store.

    I dont even know where they are in this town.
  11. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I checked home depot for the right size washers, and I cant find any with the right size hole thats small enough to fit in the cavity the nut sits in. Im planning on filling them down so they fit in the cavity.

    Does anyone know of any spcific size washers that might work without modification?
  12. Nick, if you take the nut with you, you'll have an easy gauge to use at the hardware store. You probably thought of this already.

    You can also use a piece of thick walled metal tube as a spacer. That would tend to fit better. Where to get something like that? Automotive brake line from the parts store is where I would look first. Cut a short piece off and use that as the spacer. You might even find aluminum or brass tubing at your local hobby shop. You can cut that stuff by rolling it with an X-acto knife.
  13. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I wish I would have read your reply sooner.

    I found some washers with a wide enough hole for the rod to fit through but they are too large to fit into the channel so Ill just file them down to fit.
  14. You need 3/16" washers. Personally I could never find regular ones so I settled for split lock washers...just take some pliers and flatten them. :)