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Truss rod adjustment - general advice please!

GAS Panic!

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Ok, so it's not an Epi, but hey Gibson invented the flying V so it’s close enough. My Dad has had a mid 80's Washburn flying V lying around for ages, so when I got back into guitars we finally got around to giving it a once over. The wiring was half missing, one of the tuning pegs was broken and in the process we sanded it back from Black to a natural finish.


However on re-assembly the action was a bit high, even with the bridge adjusted as low as possible, and I finally realised that the neck has a bit of a bow in it. So, can someone please give me some advice about adjusting the truss rod so I don't completely stuff it up?! Also, since I’m going to replace the strings with a lighter gauge, should the truss rod be adjusted with or without the strings on?


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Here you go: First, if possible, leave the strings at full tension. Second, remember it's "Lefty-Loosy Righty-Tighty". You're trying to take out a bow, so it's 'righty-tighty'.


DO NOT turn the rod more than 1/8 of a turn per try. Wait about 5 mintues for it to 'settle' and give it a try. Repeat until the neck is adjusted to your satisfaction. Good luck.

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I always start off by loosening the strings before making a truss rod adustment. Next, I always go left at first to loosen it a bit to see how easy or hard it turns. If the bolt moves smoothly, I then twist it back to the right in the position I started at......now its time to tighten the bolt between 1/4 and 1/2 a turn only. A half turn on an already snug truss rod is actually a very large adjustment and I usually go with 1/4 to start and see how that does under normal string tension for a few days.


However, if the bolt is hard to loosen initially....chances are that your rod has corrosion on the threads and the adjustment bolt should be completely removed. Once you have the bolt in your hands, put a small dab of waterproof grease neatly inside on the threads only (less is more, use sparingly). Now you are ready to reinstall the nut until it starts to snug. At the point it becomes initially snug.....this is ground zero to start your adjustment amount.


Over tightening the rod or turning a stubborn turning bolt without lubrication may break the truss rod itself and make your instrument unplayable. Be careful.

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OK first you need the proper materials:


STEP 1, Gather the following items:



-(2) Band-Aid brand knuckle bandages

-5" section of garden hose

-Small jar or mayonaise

-Hubcap from a 57 Chevy

-Box of Pop-Tarts (Toaster Strudels will be ok if you don't have Pop-Tarts)

-Telephone wall jack

-Deck of cards


When you have all of this together, let me know and I will move on with STEP 2: Appropriate Clothing For Truss Rod Adjustment

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Haha, interesting collection of implements axe! Damn I wish they still sold Pop-Tarts here in Australia...

Nice choice in automobiles too!

Thanks for the help guys.

Let me see, I'll get some some pictures up for everyone's viewing pleasure...

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A trussrod adjustment will fix the bowing but will not fix the action problem you describe, which sounds like a neck-angle problem. If the guitar has a bolt-on neck, a shim(s) can be inserted to correct the angle. If fixed-neck, bridge replacement or modification can address the action.

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Alright, here's the guitar in question;




Yes it is a bolt on neck. You're right Ron, having another look at it, the neck is on a bit of an angle so I guess I'll adjust the truss rod slightly as there is a little bit of a bow, and then try shimming it with card or something.

Thanks again.

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If you have a straight edge, measure how much of a bow there is in the neck.

You should be able to get the neck almost dead straight, within 2-4 thousandths.


If there is quite a bit of bow, you may need to help the truss rod along.

You can do this using a carpenters' level, 3 small wooden blocks, and a c-clamp.


1. Place the blocks on either end of the neck, on the fretboard.

2. Lay the level across the blocks.

3. Place your c-clamp on top of the level, and on the bottom of the neck.

Use a small block to keep the clamp from marking the back of the neck.

4. Tighten the clamp slowly until your neck is straight.

5. First loosen, and then tighten the truss rod until it is snug.


This is how to not break your truss rod when the amount of adjustment is large.


This is all explained really clearly in "How To Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great", by Dan Erliwine.

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