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Truss rod adjusting: with or without string tension?

12/24/2005 12:14 PM
Jim Cooper
Truss rod adjusting: with or without string tension?
I just got my new G&L ASAT semi hollow the first of this month. I custom ordered it and it is one of the most beautiful things to look at I ever saw. Trouble is, it looks a lot better than it plays! I've seen more stable lasagna that the neck on this thing. Every time I pick it up it is out of tune, and not just a little...a lot! I took a good look at everything and found that some of the adjustment posts on the individual bridges were not even contacting the base of the bridge plate. There is a screw that squeezes them all together after all the intonation and height is done, and it was tightened up before any of that was done. Got that fixed but still it went out of tune quick. I thought the neck might still be setteling, so I gave the neck adjust rod a tiny tweek just to see if it had any tension in it. I only gave it about an eighth of a turn just to see if it was loose, and it seemed OK. then I restrung it and picked it up the next day to check it. Way out of wack again! The dealer told me that the correct way to adjust the truss rod is with string tension ON the neck not OFF like I'd heard somewhere before. It made sense to me to not strain the adjusting threads by not pulling against the string tension too. The dealer said NO, you have to balance the tension act so you know where you are coming from and how far you need to go. I always thought it took a couple of days for the wood to react and settle in from any adjustment like that. What do you guys think that have had a lot of adjustment or building experience think about this? This isn't my best playing guitar (yet) but it is my most expensive investment so far and I really want to love this thing before i get a sour taste for it being a lemon.
12/25/2005 12:01 AM

If you don't want to break the truss rod or strip the allen drive, when it's real hard to turn [shouldn't be that tight but...]'s what you 'can' do...loosen the strings AND pull the neck back so as to reduce the tension, and make the nut very Easy to turn. Otherwise turning the nut is Ok...  
Wood settles, I read in a read I consider authoritative on guitar repair [Dan Erlewine Guitar Repair Method Book], player/repairers should closely monitor neck movement but sighting and playing the neck over a period of up to two weeks after rod adjust. Super tight is very rarely necessary, over long periods, 'soon' after new, naturally, it should loosen slightly...a couple times probably.  
Try to keep it close to 'target' zone, but adjust/see what that does, try 'the other way a bit'/see what that does is the way they should be used...but only by an experienced  
Take it to the music store and dude'll give you a free, sudden, unanounced, 'torqueing'...oh...thanks...  
I'd think you would be able to get that guitar to play like a dream, sometimes you just have to work with them a little bit.  
'I've seen more stable lasagna that the neck on this thing'. G&L...I'd do the bend the neck check for flex, ones I've seen looked PDStraight and solid, I can't imagine the neck is moving around like that.  
If you let a note ring while bending the guitar and neck [open string, you grab and pull on the neck] do you notice the note bending much...I do this to see how 'flexible' or stable a neck/neck joint/guitar is.  
It could be string movement or sticking through or on the bridge or nut causeing tuning probs.  
Sometimes the string will 'twank' when it goes out of tune, slipping quickly from one friction point to another, you may be able to feel this with amp off, putting your finger over the the string at bridge crossing and tightening/loosening that string, then try the finger on the string at the nut, graphite can be used for a sticky nut.  
Also the whammy springs can be adjusted, I'm not a Strat Bridge specialist.
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12/25/2005 3:43 AM
old guy
I didn't read that you tightened the neck attachment bolts on the back of the guitar - a loose neck can make big problems, obviously - take a big Phillips and crank 'em down hard!
12/26/2005 3:15 PM
Jim Cooper

It never occurred to me that those neck screws might be loose or backing out from new wood curing ! I'll check those. I did find a bit of bind in the nut though. When tuning I heard a "Ping" on the D string. I ran a piece of the old string through the slot like a file and got that one to loosen up. The action is a little high at the nut for my taste, but I think I'll check for loose neck screws and carefully play with the neck before I do anything to much to it while it is still so new. It did take a while for my old Washburn to become my favorite, after a car wreck broke my Hagstrom. I've got plenty of time. Thanks for the tips.
12/30/2005 8:52 AM
Jim Cooper

DOH !!! The neck screws were loose, and after a good tightning it made all the difference in the world. Simple stuff right in front of me that was too close to see. Sometimes you just need somebody elses eyes to see the obvious. Thanks guys.
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