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truss rod - clockwise or counterclockwise

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Matthew Bryson, Dec 11, 2002.

  1. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I have used the search function and found all the answers I needed except one - it's probably skipped over in most threads I read because it's obvious and evryone (but me) knows it but...

    clockwise = tightening truss rod = flatter neck = lower strings

    is that right??? so then

    counter clockwise = looser rod = more bow in neck = higher strings

    do I have it right or am I all wet?
  2. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    generally speaking you've got it right but in some rare cases the truss rod acts in the completly opposite way.

    What is the bass you're trying to adjust?

  3. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I recently ordered an Essex short scale bass for my daughter and I'm assuming it'll need some set up work when it gets here. I figure that it's a good one to learn on because it's very inexpensive, and the owner doesn't know what a good set up is like anyway. (;) J/K - it'll get set up right for her) A pro set up could be nearly half the purcahse price. I've made every possable adjustment to my own bass except the truss rod - I had a good pro set up done when I got it and with the stiff graphite neck I haven't had a need to adjust it. But I figure now that I'm bringing another bass into the house and I plan to pick up a J-bass copy for myself soon , both of which will be low end basses with wooden necks, I had better get familiar with completely setting up my own basses. I welcome any and all advice. I plan to proceed with caution making only small adjustments on any given day - now when they say to let the neck 'settle' for a day does that mean no playing it or just no adjustments?
  4. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    It's ok to play it while the adjustment settles in. In fact it might even make it settle in faster.

    The truth of the matter is, some basses don't settle in or change very much at all after a truss rod adjustment, especially if it's a small adjustment.

    I know that some people may not agree but I think it's pretty important to loosen the strings before making a TR adjustment. Especially when tightening the TR.

    You may have already discovered that Fender has a very good site about set up. If not it'll be worth your time to look it up.

  5. Stephen S

    Stephen S Member

    Apr 10, 2002
    San Bernardino, CA
    If you have to ask you shouldn't be tinkering, yes I said tinkering.
  6. Secksay

    Secksay Guest

    Sep 6, 2002
    New York, NY
  7. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Some of you responded in a way the reminded me of my brother as a child. When he didn't want to tell me something he would say "if you don't know, you don't need to know" This has always gotten under my skin because it implies (or flat out says) that one should not learn! It is the epitome of assinine statements. I re-read the linked thread and no, I do not see why I should not adjust my own truss rod if I so desire. I have been reading up on bass guitar set up and I fully understand what a truss rod does and does not do. I have basic mechanical type skills, I know how to use tools and not break things and I know what I went in a bass guitar. If you read the thread you realize I was asking to make sure that I knew which way to turn the nut to achieve the desired effect - and I did have it right. You'd also know that I wanted to make sure a $99.99 bass was properly set up - not a huge monitary risk.
    It's certainly not as if I just came on here and said "I just found a little allen nut under this cover on the headstock of my very expensive bass - I'd like to start twisting away like mad on the little sucker to see what happens, where can I get one of them little allen wrench thingies so I can start twisting?"
    I can see where you all are coming from though, how dare I come to a public forum on set up and ask a question about performing a set up. I should realise, if I don't know - I don't need to know. I learned that when I was five. Good day.
  8. Stephen S

    Stephen S Member

    Apr 10, 2002
    San Bernardino, CA
    Do you need a hug?:(
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Hey, brother, slow down.
    This is, with some exceptions, a very friendly forum. The guys who knows, like Merls, Ham and Pkr2, and several more, shares their knowledge to anybody, at any level.
    Then, exceptions are those who cannot keep their fingers off their computers, and just chime in some insults to - just chime in!

    You all know what cathegory you may fall in.
    - If you're in the latter: get off! (To put it in simple words)
    - If you're in with our great moderators, keep answering.
    - And for all the rest: if you have a question and can't find enough answer through the search function - ASK and though shall have at least a few intelligent answers.
  10. I got your back Creepy. I was in the same boat as you. I knew all of the functions of the truss rod, i just didnt know which direction to turn the hex key. So thanks for asking, i am now smarter than i was five minutes ago.

    As for lil bass kid, im sure you had to ask somebody the same question at one point in your life, unless you were somehow born with all knowledge of bass guitar already inplanted into your brain.
  11. andreas_flf

    andreas_flf Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2013
    The issue is not quite as simple as "clockwise = tightening truss rod = flatter neck = lower strings", since the height of the strings from the fretboard, the so-called action, depends also on the height of the bridge saddles, which can be adjusted for most bridges for each string individually. Otherwise the rule is fine.

    The truss rod on a good bass should be used to adjust the right curvature of the fretboard for any given set of strings currently on the bass. The first frets (i.e. frets I to V) should have some slight convex curvature to allow the strings to swing freely without touching any fret and causing rattle (fretted and unfretted). From about fret VII the fretboard should be completely flat.

    I say a good bass, since cheaper bases may not always allow to get the curvature of the neck perfect and as a consequence you might have to tolerate an effect on the action, e.g. a high action, in order to have no fret buzzing on any string.

    To wrap up:

    1) Adjust truss rod by "clockwise = tightening truss rod = flatter neck" or vice versa till you have slight curvature for frets I to V and a flat neck as of frets VII onward. Use a straightedge to check the curvature. All strings always in tune of course.

    2) Adjust bridge saddles for each string to the wanted action (height of strings from fretboard). There is no ideal action and it typically depends a lot on the playing style. If you dig in deeply go for high action, otherwise go for a low one for smoother playing while of course always avoiding any rattle. On a cheaper bass you may have to go back to the first step and returning to this step till you get a good compromise between wanted action and what the neck is capable of providing.

    3) Optionally adjust lengths of strings again at the bridge to get perfect intonation, since previous step may have affected the intonation. Compare fretted XII (octave) fret against unfretted string with a tuner. Both must be in perfect tune. Rule: fretted pitch too flat => shorten string and vice versa.

    3) Optionally adjust pickup heights. This may be necessary if you have changed the action. If you have a neck and a bridge PU adjust them so that they have about the same volume, meaning the bridge PU comes much closer to the strings than the neck PU. Rattle risk is here low, since the string's swinging amplitude is much smaller close to the neck than towards the neck (the reason why the volumes differ). The closer the higher the volume of course.

    Andreas (from the lower frequencies)
  12. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Fourteen year old thread. Must be a zombie record.

    But #3 in your list shouldn't be optional. Checking Intonation is a must and part of any setup.

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