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Why do some manufacturers put the truss rod adjustment nut in the heel?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Matthew_84, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    It is so much harder to access a nut that's in the heel as opposed to the headstock. A special angled allen wrench is needed, which usually gets rounded off, or the owner will have to remove the neck to get at it.

    I've never understood this.

    My first bass had it in the headstock, but then I bought a MIA Fender P which had it in the heel and thought nothing of it when I bought it, but I quickly came to despise it. I recently bought a Squier, and I just decided that I will never buy another bass with the adjustment nut in the heel. I was even GASing for a fretless Tony Franklin signature model Fender... Until I saw the cut-out in the body for the adjustment nut at the heel.

    Any thoughts? Am I alone on this? Why is this even done in the first place?
  2. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    It's NOT universally harder to access a truss rod not at the heel. Lakland and EB Music Man basses are two that are very easy to access at the heel, even my old Classic 4-94 with a pickguard.

    Having played Fender Precisions since '76, I find the "problem" of the old-style Fender nut to be highly over-stated. I managed a guitar store from '77 through '88 and had trouble with very few that required more than slipping the pickguard over.

    It's there because:
    1. Leo Fender put it there in 1951
    2. It allows the rod to work over a slightly longer range, according to some.
    3. It doesn't remove as much wood from a high-stress area of the neck, again according to some (and dependent on the design).

  3. I don't pay attention, but I thought everyone argued heel adjust truss rods to be superior in some way, and thus, the spokewheel-adjust truss rod has become commonplace on many high end instruments?
  4. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009

    you don't have to remove the neck. simply remove the pg and access the rod nut with a screw drive. gl:)
  5. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    Thanks everyone for responding so far.

    LOL, I never thought about removing the pickguard. But even so, I wouldn't want to remove those screws all that often. Screwing into wood is fine, but I personally don't like removing and re-tightening a screw into the same hole a bunch of times. I may be a little OCD when it comes to this stuff though. I probably adjust my rod every month or two.

    And John, if you're second and third points are true, which they do seem to be, then it makes sense for higher priced instruments. But still, I've never had a problem because the nut was in the headstock.
  6. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    well when life gives you lemons... make lemonade

    Sure it is a pain in the butt.

    But one day I just took the challenge and learned how to remove and adjust the neck.

    no big deal...its easy.......annoying yes... but easy

    just like a drunk girl at the bar...
  7. in the case of my Warmoth neck removing the PG is not sufficient as the fingerboard extends past the end of the neck. No choice but to remove the neck.

    The biggest downside when removing the neck is, if you don't get the adjustment right, the only way to know is to put the neck back on, restring and tune the bass, only to find out you have to do it all over again. Much prefer my Music Man with the wheel.
  8. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Yeah the truth is not every heel-adjust bass/guitar has an access slot in the body, so in many cases you really do have to remove the neck. And personally I find the whole "remove the neck, fiddle with the adjustment, reinstall the neck, string up, intonate, etc. then do it all over again if further adjustment is needed" to be FAR more than "just annoying".

    You guys that only have to remove the pickguard, count yourselves lucky.
  9. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    Having the truss adjustment at the heel is the simplest place to put it. You can get an allen wrench anywhere.

    But having to remove the neck to get to it? Most moronic thing ever.
  10. Johnny DeVille

    Johnny DeVille

    Feb 18, 2012
    1) Leo did it, be careful what you say, He is sitting in the 4th chair
    2) It is a pain to iterate that way.
    3) I live in Ga so don't have neck movement issues due to humidity or lack thereof
    4) Once I get a neck set - on strats, teles and Pbasses, I never had to adjust a neck again
    except for changing string gage ( I can;t spell guage right.)
    5) Why do you change your truss rod so often ?
    6) Leo did it
  11. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Owner of seven basses - eligible for 44 TB Clubs Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    It's a pain to take the neck off. But it's manageable. Takes about five minutes start to finish. The only upside I can think of is that it prevents you from constantly fooling around with the truss.
  12. Warhawk


    Jan 31, 2003
    Canton, Ohio
    Leo's last basses all have the adjustment point at the neck. He may have started at the heel with Fender but ended up at the neck with G&L.

  13. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    Believe it or not, not everything Leo designed was a home run. There were some failures as well.
  14. f64


    Oct 31, 2009
    If I had to adjust my neck every month or so I'd find a new place to store my gear. Aside from set-ups with different gage strings necks are pretty stable and really only need adjusting once or twice a year. High humidity and major temperature changes are what throw things off. Try and avoid subjecting your gear to either.
    I’ve got two basses I use for outdoor gigs and everything else is an indoor instrument. Someone told me this years ago and it’s saved me a lot of grief.
  15. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    It's done because Leo did it. Bear in mind that this was so long ago, before bassists started really playing enough and well enough to even think about action. My guess is that neck adjustment accessibility wasn't foremost on his mind at the time.

    It also rewards buyers of MIA Fenders with another something visual to set their basses apart from MIM, MIJ, and Squier models.

    There are exceptions, of course- American Fenders from about 1974 to the Boner shape IIRC have headstock adjusting rods. Related RI and Classic models (no matter what the country of origin) have them, like the MIM 70s Classic and the MIJ Geddy Lee.

    Note that a lot of the better Fender-style builders and aftermarket manufacturers have followed the Fender USA tradition. IIRC Lull, Sadowsky, Lakland, Grosh, and AC all adjust at the heel. Warmoth and Allparts adjust at the heel. Mighty Mite, OTOH, adjusts at the headstock.

    I like the idea of the heel adjustment because even in the case of parts basses you don't get the "Mighty Mite" question, but I don't get why Fender doesn't just do what the great luthiers have done- rout a channel for the allen wrench or use a spokewheel.

    I haven't heard any arguments made about heel adjustment location being superior, but the Fender basses that used the headstock adjustment were/are considered inferior.
  16. Nobody

    Nobody Banned

    Jul 14, 2004
    "Why do some manufacturers put the truss rod adjustment nut in the heel?"

    Because they would rather copy the way it was originally done than improve on the way it was originally done. I really don't know why some manufacturers don't want to make improvements in the designs they are copying. It's a mystery.
    OOD likes this.
  17. SirRolfe


    Jun 18, 2011
    Ann Arbor MI
    I found that using Fender's truss rod adjustment tool (you can buy cheaper non-Fender ones also) works the best on the American Standard basses. With smaller hex keys on the nut, I usually have to loosen the A and D strings to get my wrench to turn.
  18. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    I have been pondering this subject lately. Leo's approach was to use what's available, do things efficiently, and keep costs reasonable. Maybe he was using current truss rod technology and the only ones available adjusted at the heel? I honestly do not know, but would like to understand the rationale for having the adjustment at the heel. Maybe JohnK has a clue...?
  19. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Why? Because the heel is the best place to put it, unless it's half-buried under a pickguard of course. Have you ever seen what an over torqued truss rod can do to a fingerboard?

    The spoke wheel should be the industry standard by now. :mad:
  20. curbowkid

    curbowkid Guest

    Jun 27, 2011
    Brooklyn, New York
    My friend has a dillion jazz and you have to remove the neck to make any kind of truss rod adjustment. Even if you remove the pick guard, not possible. It is infect very tedious too adjust. I prefer standard truss rods