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Truss Rod: Can't Get No Relief!

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Wolffgang, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. Hi all,

    Someone linked an excellent little video series on Elixir's youtube channel a little while ago that I really enjoyed; maybe not as indept as Jerzy Drozd's guide, but I found it really useful. I made the described adjustments to my Fender P, Fender J and Spector, but trying to adjust a parts build I put together, I've had little success. I mention that I've had some success to say that I think I understand how to do what is described in the videos, and am just having trouble with this one bass.

    As the title indicates, the problem I'm having is getting enough truss-rod relief. Even loosened all the way I'm getting nowhere near enough of a gap when checking it with a capo.

    Body: It's a P-Bass with a nitro-finished pine body (which I was initially concerned about the softness of, but seems to have held up really well, unless of course it's part of the problem)

    Neck: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Jazz-bass-m...?pt=UK_Guitar_Accessories&hash=item1c3b914e74

    Bridge: Some fender bridge that I got off stratosphere; looks like a standard fender bridge, has flat screws instead of hex screws. (As an aside, I wish more more bridges did this, I find them much easier to adjust)

    Strings: 95-35 B52 GHS. I know these are quite light, but I'm using the same strings on the Fender precision and jazz.

    Not sure what part of this equation is the problem, but I'd love to find out. Basically, it's still reasonably playable how it is, but it could definitely be better. Maybe it's just a dud neck, but it seems like good quality and the truss rod adjusts well, the neck just doesn't seem to be bending enough even with it loosened.

    Now, some gratuitous pics!


    Screwed up the bridge placement initially, as you can see, but it kind of adds to the relic'd look, anyway. I didn't do anything more technical than put the bridge slightly over 34" away from the nut, if that's relevant. Although it intonates properly and as far as I can tell everything works fine except the truss rod.



  2. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I've had this problem a couple of times. What I did was loosen the truss rod all the way up until it's like rattling in there and then tune the bass about a step high on each string to put added tension on the neck and then then let is sit that way for a couple weeks. That "almost" worked for me as I recall in one case it worked and in the other case it put enough relief in the neck when you retuned, but the truss rod had to be totally loose. So in that case I only tightened it enough to try to stop any rattles but not to put any real pull on the neck.

    Good luck!
  3. Ok, that sounds like a nice easy thing to try. Would you say tune it up as high as it'll take without snapping, or just up a step as you did? Thanks for the input :)
  4. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Exactly how are you measuring relief (...capo is a great tool!) and how much are you seeing?

  5. Capo at the 1st fret, right hand fretting where the neck meets the body, measure with a feeler gauge at the fret between these two points (usually around the 7-8th fret). I think it's a .015" gauge, but I could be misremembering that; whatever it is, I use the right one when I do it :p

    But there's no gap at all when I do this. The normal fix would be more relief, but I can't seem to get it to do that. I've just been compensating saddle adjustment

    Here's the video, by the way:
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yeah, you would think a loosened truss rod would show at least that amount of relief with strings to pitch. I like the idea of up-tuning a whole step but I'd take it one step further and remove the truss rod nut entirely (if possible).

  7. rogerb


    Aug 31, 2010
    If you loosen the strings and the truss rod, check the neck relief with a long metal straight edge, it should be straight, you can't tell by eye. If there is back bow loosen counter clockwise some more. It's a peice of wood it should have been straight when they made it.

    In the photo, which can be deceiving, it looks like really high action, and even that the neck is maybe not at the right angle. How high is the gap at the 1st 8th 12th 20th fret without the capo?
  8. Yeah entirely possible, having put it together myself. I'll make some measurements when I'm near my bass again, thanks

    Edit; I've experimented with shimming the neck, at the wront, back and just straight up, all without success. In each case it was better without one. Although I was just kind of stabbing in the dark, so this is by no means conclusive
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    The only problem here is a very stiff neck and low tension strings. Not surprising because it is a glued on fretboard instead of skunk striped: stiffer construction. That and you likely have a very hard piece of maple there.

    My Squier cv 50s P has a neck that is very stiff and the rod was barely tightened, just enough to keep the rod from rattling. That just the way it is.

    The only thing that's going to make a difference for you is more tension = fatter strings. Shimming and all that other stuff has zero impact to the neck relief. Only tension does.
  10. Sweet, I'll pick myself up some meatier strings while I'm at it. I suspected that might be part of the issue, but considering it was ok on other basses I wasn't sure. All good points you've made, thanks :)

    Something in a 110 hibeam get me there?
  11. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    With the neck the way that it is and without changing the strings and lowering the action, are you getting any fret buzz? If not, then I would leave it alone. A neck doesn't have to have relief for the bass to be playable.
  12. If I lower the action I get buzz. It's playable where it is, but much higher than my other basses, and I'd prefer it lower
  13. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    I pretty much agree with bassbenj. I had the same issue with a nice Jackson C20. Truss nut flapping loose, but no relief. Strings were flat on the neck. I tuned the strings up substantially with the TR nut loose. Left it that way for a day or so, then just barely snuged the nut. Went back to normal tune - perfect. Relief was back in the neck. Still one of my favorite basses. In some cases, you may have to put on larger diameter strings for additional relief power. :cool:
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    There is no guarantee that they will, it depends on the wood. Technically they should but you get the idea. Plus you need to consider if they will fit the nut slots without binding. Did the bass cone with that gauge?

    Generally I think most builders just put .100 - .105s on them stock.

    And the boys are right, leaving the rod loose for a while can help. The wood will 'learn' a bow if there is nothing holding it back: such as the truss rod. Fatter strings will speed the process.
  15. Like I said, it's a parts build that I put together myself, so it didn't come with anything. Makes sense that neck will need to be 'broken in' some by putting it under tension for a while. I'll stick on some beefy strings and let them work their magic.

    I know the result will determine when it's 'done', but any idea how long I should be expecting to leave it like this for?
  16. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    Meatier strings will do it for you. I've used the 110 Hi-Beams and they should get the neck to pull forward. I've used 95, 100 and 105 hi-beams the 110 were the first set of string that made me adjust the TR on my SR500 which has a rock hard neck. Try the 110 and get back to us.

    I don't see any kind of makers mark on the neck so idk who made it. It could be they are unable to compensate for the expansion of the neck when putting in frets. my guess is that the neck has a small amount of back bow. Your prolly gonna need heavy strings on this bass for the rest of its life or until you it corrected with weight and heat which isn't always a permanent fix. If there is just next to no relieve I'd say heavy strings and call it a day.
  17. Nice Heisenberg bass!

    Good luck with your lack of relief issue.
  18. Lol thanks, I was starting to wonder if anyone was going to say anything :p I got it before I saw the show, but afterwards, the blue just seemed to be calling out for it
  19. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Loosen the truss rod and then clamp the neck a bit into a front bow (not much) and leave it that way for a few days. The wood will learn the new shape.