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Truss rod adjustments: How?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by lildrgn, Mar 3, 2001.

  1. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but on my MM Sterling, turning the truss rod "knob" to the right will tighten the rod and turning it left will loosen it, right? I've never messed with it and if it is as easy as I think it is, then it'll save me a trip to BNW or Lull for now. But since I'm not sure, I don't want to screw anything up.

    If left=loose and right=tight, then how far do I turn it? Quarter turn? Half turn? I tried putting my E string on the other night and found that the string literally rests on the frets. That's how bowed my neck is. (see thread below on how I dried out my neck so much)

    Anyway, any advice is appreciated.
  2. BassDude24


    Sep 12, 2000
    I tend to find that turning the little thingy helps
  3. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    C'mon, give us a proper answer! I'm going insane on my P-bass, 'cause I don't seem to get any change from tweeking that truss rod :mad: :mad: !
    It's probably broken :( ¤sigh¤ Or just a Fender copy.....
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Usually it's recommended that you don't turn the truss rod more than a quarter turn at a time and then let it "settle" - say overnight. The wood takes time to register the change. Turning "clockwise" usually tightens the truss rod and the danger is that if you try to tighten too much in one go, it can break it. Turning anti-clockwise will slacken the truss rod.

    I've done truss rod adjustments many times and never had any problems by following this rule - just don't be tempted to turn too much in one go and I don't think it's that hard to do your own adjustments. So - adjust by a quarter turn, leave overnight and then check to see what effect that has had on the overall action and feel - if it's going the right way - then another quarter turn and so on. If you get a lot of resistance trying to tighten further then don't!

    It's always a case of - easy does it - it took me about a month of gradual adjustments, to get the relief and action exactly the way I wanted it on my Fender RB5.
  5. I´m wondering.... My action is HIGH... but still I can´t have it lower without getting buzz... If I would turn the truss rod a bit CCW would that fix it somewhat? (I´ve never made any adjustments to it)
  6. BassDude24


    Sep 12, 2000
    I was going to give you a proper response, but Lindfield already said all that I know, if what he said doesn't work then you might want to take it into a shop and have it looked at.
  7. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Fair enough, Dude! I was pretty annoyed by my truss at that time.

    Thumb is down, though. That truss is not adjustable... Probably broken. Which limits playability. Which makes me :mad:
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well there are different theories about this, but I have followed the "Anthony Jackson" set up "masterclass" on BP's website and managed to get a lower action. AJ's idea is for a zero relief - flat fingerboard and he reckons this allows for a lower action. I have tried this on basses in the past and gradually tightened the truss rod over about a month, and managed to get a very low action without fret buzz.

    But I have also talked to qualified techs who have said that all this does is alter which part of the fretboard is easier to play and that for most people, they would be better of with a "medium" set up.

    I think the thing to do is to try your own set up, but only make very small changes over a long period and see what suits you. I think that in the end it is a personal thing and that most techs will give you what they think is a good set up and this may not suit you personally. It's not rocket science and I think it definitely helps your playing, to be able to set up your bass for your own style.
  9. Bruce,
    can you tell what neck curvature makes what neck areas more playable? E.g. to make the lower frets more playable, should the truss rod be tightened or loosened?
  10. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Generally speaking, if everything else is in proper adjustment and you have a buzz problem at the first two or three frets, then some relief is needed. If the buzz occurs at the bridge end of the neck, bridge hgt. adjustment is in order.

    If you start out with a good setup and all of a sudden you start to get buzzes, chances are good that only ONE adjustment is needed to correct the problem. Unless the bass has been dropped or banged around a lot, chances are pretty slim that two or more things have gone wrong at the same time. Therefore two or more adjustments wont be needed to correct the problem.

    Bottom line is that there is no "right" specification for relief. Two basses of the same make and model will likely have different amounts of relief when properly adjusted.


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