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Truss rod and relief tutorial

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by 202dy, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    If you are interested in repair and adjustment here is a good tutorial that will bring you up to speed on the mechanics and terminology of adjusting relief from Stewart-MacDonald:

    Stew-Mac tutorial

    Incidently, you can subscribe to a weekly e-newsletter at this link. Great tips for beginners and pros alike.
  2. jeffhigh


    May 16, 2005
    Probably one of the WORST guides to the topic I have come across. I was very disappointed that Stewmac sent out this garbage.
    It suggests sighting down the neck to check for straightness, using no relief (dead flat neck), using a straight edge to measure relief (hey we sell it) and even using a notched straight edge (if the frets are uneven ?).
    No guidance to appropriate relief measurements, trys to sell string height guage.
    Not up to their usual standard.
  3. keyboardguy

    keyboardguy Supporting Member

    May 11, 2005
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I still think the best one is on Fender's website. Gary's is colorful and fun, but it only tells you about doing his basses. The Fender site is a little more universal.
  5. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The biggest reasons for the recommendation of this tutorial are the graphics and the link. It is meant to be viewed as a primer. Most of the graphics on the Internet do not give a clear view of the conditions of the neck: Upbow, relief, straight, and backbow. These graphics are clear. The second reason is the Stew-Mac link. If someone is interested in Luthiery this is a decent weekly newsletter. Of course, since they are a business, they want to sell something and use the newsletters to highlight their products. Why is this considered by some to be wrong?
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I can tell you why. Because they often advertise products that you really don't need at the expense of giving you real information. I bought their fretting video years ago, and I talked about it with a few luthiers in town, and I'm naming off the products they say to get, and without fail they all said that you don't need half that stuff to do a professional fretjob. One of them said he saw it and called it a commercial for the Stew-Mac fret jig.

    Seems like they do the same thing here with this tutorial. Nobody uses a straightedge or a notched ruler to adjust their truss rod unless their last name is Stewart or MacDonald. At most you need a set of feeler gauges. Most of the time I set mine by feel. Plugging your products is fine but Stew-Mac needs to quit pimping their arcane specialty products so hard. Quite honestly, I think it borders on dishonesty to tell people they need all these special tools that nobody uses but them. All you really need to do a truss rod job is a device to turn the truss rod and a $5 set of feeler gauges.
  7. This is great info.. however a lot of this I'd already figured out by just 'winging it' on several differant guitars/basses.

    ..Our church just bought us a brand-new MIM fretless J-bass this week. Looks like I'll be the one who'll do the set-up and the truss rod adjustment as the relief is rather pronounced.
  8. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006

    Some techs prefer to work with a higher degree of accuracy than others. Using straight edges, rather than fretted strings, allows one to collect more information about the the condition of the neck and the frets. Notched straight edges read the fingerboard rather than the frets. This is important when making decisions prior to refrets, performing a partial refret, or when considering the amount of compression or flex needed to straighten a hump by sizing the fret tangs. These are just a few of the specialty tools that many luthiers use to work more quickly and avoid surprises.

    It is true that many specialty tools are not necessary to perform a task. Some pros do not feel they need these tools. Some prefer to work by feel rather than having quantitative information at their fingertips. If they are getting good results then the customer is happy.

    One might choose to trim a house without power tools. The results might be the same when those tools are in the hands of the knowledgeable and skilled craftsman. It is also true the home will not be completed in the same time frame with the same crew. For a busy shop, tools like straight edges and neck jigs save time and improve accuracy and ultimately give the customer a better finished product when they need it.
  9. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    100% agreement!!
  10. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 8, 2021

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