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Truss Rod: head vs. heel adjust

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by r379, Sep 14, 2004.


  1. r379

    r379

    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Tried a search and had no luck. Are there disadvantages to either head or heel adjustment on truss rods?
     
  2. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    From a structural standpoint, many prefer the heel adjust as it means that the truss rod channel ends before the nut and the access slot isn't cut into the headstock therefore making for a stronger headstock (ie: no wood removed from the area). This also then eliminates the need for a volute, which is mainly put on to add more wood to the area where the headstock truss rod access channel is cut, reinforcing the area. Personally, I like a big volute regarless....

    For me, the heel access has two limitations. One, of course, is access to the truss rod nut to make adjustments. Sometimes, depending on the builder and how it was installed, it can be very hard to get to without removing the strings, etc. On my old `71 p-bass, I have to remove the neck to make truss rod adjusments! Secondly, it can limit how close to the neck you can place a pickup, as you have to leave room for the truss rod access area. I think the best solution to this is how JP does his, using the spoke wheel style truss rod. This allows easy access to making adjustments, and leaves plenty of room at the end of the neck as well.

    Lastly, when making adjustments to the truss rod, the main force is going to be applied at the very ends and the center of the truss rod. A heel access truss rod means that the end of the truss rod is in the neck below the nut, which places the center of the truss rod a bit further down the neck vs. a headstock access installation.

    I'm sure that others will add more to this thread, but those are the main points as I see them.

    :^)~
     
  3. I likes me a head adjust for immediate convenience, but a heel adjust for stability.

    Just rout an access channel so you can keep tha bass strung to pitch for adjustments.
     
  4. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    Chicago
    Better to hit an ancient thread than start a new one and get flamed. ;)

    Here's the deal: I have a replacement vintage style neck (truss rod at heel) and the fretboard seems a bit higher than the former neck (which had the truss rod at the headstock). I have reseated it three times. Is this just something I have to deal with by raising the pups and adjusting the bridge?
     
  5. Jonny5bass

    Jonny5bass Supporting Member

    May 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Funny, just last night I was thinking about posing this question. I'm not sure about your neck but have you checked the measurements of the two? If they are both the same height then there is an issue somewhere else.

    About the question posed in the title, I am curious about more experienced luthiers thoughts on this subject. My personal feeling is that having adjustment at the heel allows you to adjust the TR from a normal playing position and allows for easier access. On the other hand, the necks I've seen that needed serious adjustment always had warps or bends between the nut and 2nd or 3rd fret. I may be mistaken but I think that is where the majority of tension is held in a neck.
     
    Bodeanly likes this.
  6. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I very much dislike heel adjust truss rods. In many cases, it's a deal breaker for me. I have 10 basses, 4 of them I built. Not one of them has a heel adjust truss rod. I never had a problem with any weakness in the headstock.
     
  7. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    Chicago
    I don't know how I didn't think of this. Yes, the WD replacement is slightly thicker than the stock. Glad I didn't start a new thread for this. Thanks!
     
  8. Jonny5bass

    Jonny5bass Supporting Member

    May 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Can I ask why you hate the heel adjustment so much? I don't have a preference either way, just curious.

    No problem, glad I could help. Sometimes you just need to bounce something off of someone that hasn't been fighting the issue.
     
  9. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I find them to be a real pain to adjust. And it seems that finding a tool that fits well is also difficult, messing up the pickguard in the process.