Neck Relief

Colu41

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So working on my buddies guitar. I noticed it has some bad back bow. So I slowly started adjusting the truss. Didn't even get a 1/4 turn and the truss rod is loose. So I'm assuming its as loose as it goes.
What can I do? There's still a slight bow in it that no fret leveling will fix.
Any ideas? I really want to get this thing playing as it's my old guitar from high school and I gave it to him as a gift, now am just slowly restoring it and found this.
 

Colu41

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Does it have strings on it?
It doesn't yet. I didn't want to install the new Bridge and nut yet until I knew for sure I could get this out. How much relief will the strings give it?
 

Colu41

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Can't really tell too much from the pic but with a straight edge it looks close to about an 1/8"+ off still.
 

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Colu41

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I would put a set of 10-46 strings on it, tune it up and leave it a couple of days and then try adjusting the truss rod to get the relief correct.
Ok I'll try that out. Problem is, if the strings don't bring it up enough, the truss rod is already maxed out. It won't loosen anymore. Should I tighten up the truss rod a bit before stringing it up?
 

Cyberi4n

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If 10-46 won’t bring the neck back enough, then try a heavier gauge - 11s for example. A friend of mine managed to rescue a guitar with a really bad backbow by doing precisely this - heavier gauge strings to ‘slowly’ bring the neck back into line over time.
It’s a slow process. Don’t rush it.

DON’T tighten the truss rod. Put 10-46s on. Tune to pitch. Leave it a day or so and see where you are. You may find you’re in the relief ballpark without having to touch the truss rod. Or you may need to tighten the truss rod in order to get relief where it should be under string tension. If you’re STILL showing a back bow, THEN it’s time to up the string gauge. BUT leave it a few days Before you do, in order for the neck to get used to the 10-46 string tension and settle down.
 
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Colu41

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I live in Upper Michigan, and this guitar has been sitting in a basement for 15 years. So as I've been working on it the past week, I have kept it in my climate controlled house. I will get everything buttoned up and stringed up and let it sit for awhile and see how it goes.
 

LtDave32

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The advice given here is good.

But let it take hold, give it a chance. You'd be surprised how much of a job extra tension on the neck will do if you leave it be for a few days. It's not an instant thing.

Personally, I'd string it with 11 thru 48, let that nut completely loose, set it in a warm, dry area of the house, check it again in three days.
 

Colu41

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The advice given here is good.

But let it take hold, give it a chance. You'd be surprised how much of a job extra tension on the neck will do if you leave it be for a few days. It's not an instant thing.

Personally, I'd string it with 11 thru 48, let that nut completely loose, set it in a warm, dry area of the house, check it again in three days.
Thanks. At least I know there's hope for this thing. Being one of my first guitars and my buddy helps me out a lot so figured it would be a cool little gift.
 

Recklessrog

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Ok I'll try that out. Problem is, if the strings don't bring it up enough, the truss rod is already maxed out. It won't loosen anymore. Should I tighten up the truss rod a bit before stringing it up?
Well it may take a while to come forward, maybe even a week, Either try heavier strings or over tune up a semitone on each string which would put a couple of more pounds of pull for a few days. leave the truss rod completey slack. Only start to tighten it in small increments once you have a forward bow. Remember you are not just dealing with the neck back, but the fretboard and glue join as well so take it easy. sometimes you can get the odd fret that lifts a little after severe neck adjustments, but a careful blow from a plastic mallet with a pice of hard wood on the offending Fret (s) usually sorts it out. Patience is the key!
 

Colu41

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Well it may take a while to come forward, maybe even a week, Either try heavier strings or over tune up a semitone on each string which would put a couple of more pounds of pull for a few days. leave the truss rod completey slack. Only start to tighten it in small increments once you have a forward bow. Remember you are not just dealing with the neck back, but the fretboard and glue join as well so take it easy. sometimes you can get the odd fret that lifts a little after severe neck adjustments, but a careful blow from a plastic mallet with a pice of hard wood on the offending Fret (s) usually sorts it out. Patience is the key!
Great thanks. He's in no rush with it as neither am I so. I will get everything soldered up and put together. String it up and let it sit for as long as I need to. Id post pics of the new paintjob but apparently my pics are too big.
 

Uncle Vinnie

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I'm in Manistee and it has been quite muggy lately.

Am I understanding correctly that it only took 1/4 of a turn counter-clockwise to completely loosen the truss rod? Sumpin don't sound right.

What happens if you continue to turn the truss rod counter-clockwise?
 

LtDave32

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I'm in Manistee and it has been quite muggy lately.

Am I understanding correctly that it only took 1/4 of a turn counter-clockwise to completely loosen the truss rod? Sumpin don't sound right.

What happens if you continue to turn the truss rod counter-clockwise?
If he backed the nut off by 1/4 inch and the strung it up, in a few days that looseness of the nut would tighten itself up on its own. If he backs it up a few more turns, he will have plenty of room for it to re set.

Actually, that's a pretty good test; back it off 1/4 to loosen it, then after strung under pressure from a heavy set of strings, see if it tightened up towards the nut. That would show that the theory is working.
 

Uncle Vinnie

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If he backed the nut off by 1/4 inch and the strung it up, in a few days that looseness of the nut would tighten itself up on its own. If he backs it up a few more turns, he will have plenty of room for it to re set.

Actually, that's a pretty good test; back it off 1/4 to loosen it, then after strung under pressure from a heavy set of strings, see if it tightened up towards the nut. That would show that the theory is working.
If you have a neck with a back bow, will a 1/4 turn make much of a difference?
 

LtDave32

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If you have a neck with a back bow, will a 1/4 turn make much of a difference?
If you have a neck with a back-bow and it's a one-way rod, then backing it off a few turns and stringing it up with heavy gauge strings is just about your only recourse, save from heat-treatment.

How they work (one way rods) is that there will be a natural up-bow when strung and tuned to pitch. The nut acts against the washer in the neck (behind the fret board) to straighten the rod against the wood, and if all is proper, the wood will follow.

He's dealing with a neck that developed a back bow on it's own. He's backed the nut off a quarter-inch, and there so far has been no natural pull strong enough to straighten it. If I understand this correctly, he's had back pressure from the nut with no string pressure as it stayed in the basement for quite some time. this resulted in a back-bow condition without string pressure to balance it the other way. IF you just tighten a TR nut with no strings, you're going to get a back bow.

What's to do, regardless of the nut and the quarter-inch, is to back off the nut, apply string pressure to bring the neck forward, leave it alone for a week, and see what develops. If it blessedly goes in the other direction towards an up-bow, he can tighten the nut again in small increments to bring it back to proper.

The nut really doesn't enter the picture unless there's a natural up-bow from the strings.
 

Colu41

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Lt Dave is exactly right.

And to finish Vinnie's question if I continue turn the TR counter clockwise, the nut, of the truss rod, is loose. I'm not exactly sure how truss rods or at least this truss rod works but I'm assuming the nut would completely loosen from the rod. I know it's not broke because I can tighten it back up fine.
 


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