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Thread: Neck Relief. Wha...?

  1. #1
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Neck Relief. Wha...?

    In the "What Have You Bought Guitar-related Recently" thread, I posted that I'd purchased a truss rod wrench because my Taylor acoustic has developed significant gapping at the 12th fret.

    Now, I've always been reluctant to tinker with my guitars. Changing strings is about the depth of my technical wizardry with guitars. But since I don't have any compunction against working on cars, computers, and other gear, I felt that adjusting the truss rod would be a minor task making major improvement.

    Well, I guess I was wrong. I removed the plate covering the truss rod, and gave it a small (about 1/8) turn to the left. Loosening it. No evident change. Another turn. Still no improvement. Another turn. Same. By the time I gave up, the truss rod felt so loose that I feared it would just disconnect.

    Maybe I should have tightened it? My thinking was that if the neck was bowing upward, there was too much tension being exerted by the strings, so the right thing to do would be to loosen the truss rod. No?

    Anyway. This just reinforces my nervous approach to self-maintaining my guitars. Before I take it to the shop for a real tech to work on it, I thought I'd post to the assembled experts here for advice and suggestions. Anyone?

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    Forum Member Sérgio's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    You have to loosen or tighten the truss rod slowly, about a quarter of a turn at a time, and let it sit for hours for the neck to adjust.

    Each quarter turn and rest, you adjust string height and intonation and see how the guitar reacts.

    When tightening, loosen the strings a tad.
    Last edited by Sérgio; 09-24-2019 at 07:41 AM.

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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    Tightening, turning clockwise, straightens and up-bow and removes relief. (lossen strings first)

    Loosening, counter-clockwise, allow some back-bowed necks that warp away from the strings to pull straight, or into relief

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    Thanks, guys. I tightened it this morning. Probably back to the point where it was before I started loosening it. It feels and plays better! I'm going to let it sit that way today while I'm at work and this evening see if it needs a bit more.

    I might get out of this with my guitar unscathed after all!

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    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    "Uh oh, what's that mushroom cloud over yonder?"
    "Live and learn and flip the burns"

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    I came home from work today and tightened the truss rod. I took it back to (approximately) where it was before, and then added about 1/8th turn. Re-tuned it, and darned if it didn't play better!


    It's still a bit high off the 12th fret, so I'm going to wait until tomorrow to see if the neck doesn't set a bit, and if it still seems high, I'll turn it another 1/8-1/4 turn.

    So far, no scratches, no "sproings" and no cracking sounds. This may work...

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    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    It sounds like you've got it right now- the truss rod opposes the tension of the strings so it needs to be tightened when the action is high.

    Is the guitar humidified properly?

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don View Post
    It sounds like you've got it right now- the truss rod opposes the tension of the strings so it needs to be tightened when the action is high.

    Is the guitar humidified properly?
    Sigh. No, it isn't. I have a humidifier for it, but it's been standing on a rack most of the year.

  9. #9
    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    I humidify my Martin in its case year round, but I've found that a better solution is to control the humidity in my whole house year round. AC upstairs and a dehumidifier in the basement in the summer and humidifiers in the winter. All of my guitars need less seasonal adjustment and my sinuses feel better, too!

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don View Post
    I humidify my Martin in its case year round, but I've found that a better solution is to control the humidity in my whole house year round. AC upstairs and a dehumidifier in the basement in the summer and humidifiers in the winter. All of my guitars need less seasonal adjustment and my sinuses feel better, too!
    This is essentially the reason I've not placed my Taylor in its case with humidifier. My home is "seasoned" year-round (just had the HVAC checked this morning). Thinking the temperature and humidity was controlled all the time made me lazy about casing my acoustic.

    It's the only one I've kept out. My other acoustics lie (upright) in their cases all the time.

  11. #11
    Forum Member DanTheBluesMan's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    I keep my acoustic in its case with a humidor system. We air condition the house during the summer and maybe 2 months a year it is sufficiently humid enough to leave a guitar out. Been watching it get lower and lower the last couple of weeks. That reminds me, I need to replace the packs. I've been using the D'Addario system. I have a new one waiting to go in.

    My house gets so damn dry, I have to use two 'whole' house consoles and struggle mightily to achieve 33-35%, it's usually hovering around 30%. The filters in the humidifiers get caked from our water so quickly they basically need to be replaced every month, pretty much from Oct or Nov to April. Miss a fill up and it will drop to under 20% like it was nothing and take 12-18 hours to recuperate most of the way. If the filters get dried out you might as well replace them because you'll never get back over 30% again.
    "Live and learn and flip the burns"

  12. #12
    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanTheBluesMan View Post
    I keep my acoustic in its case with a humidor system. We air condition the house during the summer and maybe 2 months a year it is sufficiently humid enough to leave a guitar out. Been watching it get lower and lower the last couple of weeks. That reminds me, I need to replace the packs. I've been using the D'Addario system. I have a new one waiting to go in.

    My house gets so damn dry, I have to use two 'whole' house consoles and struggle mightily to achieve 33-35%, it's usually hovering around 30%. The filters in the humidifiers get caked from our water so quickly they basically need to be replaced every month, pretty much from Oct or Nov to April. Miss a fill up and it will drop to under 20% like it was nothing and take 12-18 hours to recuperate most of the way. If the filters get dried out you might as well replace them because you'll never get back over 30% again.
    That's dry! Our large humidifier does a good job of keeping the humidity where it needs to be, but I need to keep on it. I've been using Humidipaks for a few years with my Martin with great results, though I occasionally see someone have a problem with leakage. All in case humidification systems scare me a little.

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    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Neck Relief. Wha...?

    I have a whole house humidifier attached to the furnace and a large room humidifier in the music room. It really pumps water during the winter. I try to maintain 45% year round
    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

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