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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Need the best minds in the house. Trussrod problem.


New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
Jan 23rd, 2018 03:59 PM   Edit   Profile  

This is a Warmoth made headstock adjust conventional trussrod rosewood neck construction with an ebony fingerboard on a telecaster.

The entire guitar was assembled from Warmoth parts by me for a valued client and friend about ten years ago. I checked with Warmoth and there is no longer any warranty.

The guitar arrived with about .045" of relief with the action a mile high. While tuned to pitch, I attempted to reduce the relief. I got about 1 1/2 rotations of the trussrod at which time it began to get quite tight and I measured the relief to be about .018. I loosened the strings, put the body face down on the bench and pulled back on the headstock while putting pressure downward at the middle of the neck and added another 3/4 turn CW to the trussrod. I returned the strings to pitch and measured about .005" of relief. The guitar's action and playability was awesome. An hour later, the relief had increased to about .016 and it was no longer awesome. I loosened the strings again and added another 1/2 turn CW. The trussrod nut is not yet bottomed out but it is approaching scary tight. I returned the strings to pitch and the relief was about .005 again. I put the guitar in the case overnight.

The next day, the relief had returned to .016.

I have called Warmoth for advice and they do not have any that they will recommend to someone they don't know and I don't blame them at all. There are a lot of people who might misinterpret what they'd say and then blame Warmoth so I fully understand.

I'm heading to work now and I'm going to check out a few things.
1. What is the relief right now after sitting for three days under string tension.
2. What is straightness status of the neck when the strings are removed and the adjustment is not changed. -- back bow and how much backbow --- put the straight edge grounded against the last frets on the neck and measure the distance between the straight edge and the first fret.
3. The status of straightness of the neck with the trussrod adjusted to zero tension.
4. The depth of the trussrod nut -- at zero tension and the depth of the trussrod nut at one rotation of thread engagement -- back off the nut CCW and continue until I hear the tread click and then rotate CW one turn.

My initial thought is that the neck might have a forward bow and the combination of this and string tension is too great for the structural integrity of either the wood under the adjustment nut or the wood securing the trussrod anchor. I'm not seeing any distortion of the fretboard.


Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Jan 23rd, 2018 04:19 PM   Edit   Profile  

"Need the best minds in the house."

I'm out...

That's a tricky one for sure. I'll be interested to see the advice and outcome of this. Sorry I've been no help.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Jan 23rd, 2018 04:32 PM   Edit   Profile  

It's a bit hard to believe with a hard dense wood like rosewood, but it sounds like there's a compression failure of the neck wood at one end or the other of the rod.

I think we've all seen truss rods where the nut runs out of travel due to compression failure. The usual fix is to drop in one or more washers -- with the O.D. ground down if necessary -- or spacers to restore some travel. This type of failure can be exacerbated if an owner has greased the truss rod nut and the grease has invaded the neck wood and softened it.

There are also cases where the fingerboard starts lifting up due to upward pressure of the rod and failure of the block or strip that holds the rod down in a bent position, but you say the fingerboard looks OK.

The failure could also be at the other end of the rod. I'm not sure what method Warmoth uses to anchor their truss rods at the heel end, but it would be worth trying to find out if something could be giving way down there.

Keep us posted.


LA , Calif

I try my best
Jan 23rd, 2018 07:01 PM   Edit   Profile  

When you say traditional truss rod is it set in a curved slot like an old strat? Or a straight slot?

I read someplace to tell if the rod is failing at the anchor point is to back off the nut measure from the end of the rod and give it a tap to see if it moves in then you know the anchor point is digging in.

That's all I have.

Contributing Member

Tried vegetarian:

miss steak.
Jan 23rd, 2018 07:43 PM   Edit   Profile  

Is this a Gotoh rod with the side adjuster on the treble side of the heel?

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Jan 23rd, 2018 08:43 PM   Edit   Profile  

Peeg, the original post says "headstock adjust conventional truss rod."

There are two pictures on the Warmoth website of "Guitar Vintage Truss Rods," one for a one-piece neck, one for a two-piece (link). The one for a one-piece neck, if I am understanding it correctly, shows a really strange anchor, just a cylindrical slug with teeth one one end to keep it from rotating. But since wrnch describes the neck in question as having an ebony board, I assume it is a two-piece neck. Warmoth's two-piece-neck truss rod appears to have a more conventional anchor, provided the welded plate at the heel end is intact.

warmoth truss rod pix

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 11:20 AM, Jan 24th, 2018)


New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
Jan 24th, 2018 11:50 AM   Edit   Profile  

Yup conventional trussrod. I took yesterday off. I still need to make some observations. But I did go to the Jescar website and found some wire with slightly wider tang widths. I have no experience with compression fretting with the exception of being a victim of accidental problems caused by it when I used bloodwood as fretboard material.


New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
Jan 24th, 2018 11:51 AM   Edit   Profile  

I'll get back when I know more.


LA , Calif

I try my best
Jan 24th, 2018 01:57 PM   Edit   Profile  

It seems odd to me that an ebony board would change enough to allow the frets tangs to now still fit tight. Unless they were cut to wide to start with.
I only built one guitar with an ebony board and found I needed a bit wider slot to get the frets in compared to rose wood.

After 10 years I can't imagine the board has rotted by the fret tangs. Unless sweat got in or the board was oiled to much yet I can't say anyone oils ebony boards. Or perhaps the rose wood neck is strong enough to over power the ebony board forcing the up bow.

I've often wondered once a neck develops to much relief over time and pressure of string pull and one adjusts the rod how much it affects the fit of the fret tangs. Once one straightens out a neck it would seem some frets would fit a bit looser in the slot because basically the neck becomes a tiny bit longer which may not alter anything.

I did a re fret on a 84 american standard strat since they were worn down to much and used fret wire that had a slightly wider tang. By the time I had them all in it had a back bow. I was lucky because once tuned to pitch the neck was straight.with a slight amount of relief.

Contributing Member

Tried vegetarian:

miss steak.
Jan 24th, 2018 08:23 PM   Edit   Profile  

Sounds like the rosewood at one end of the rod is compressing under tension of either the anchor or the plate behind the nut (if it's a single-acting rod). It is weird that the fingerboard is still a-okay and/or there are no splits in the back of the neck.

If the rod were pulling out of the anchor, it wouldn't tighten up.

I don't know if compression fretting will correct for a rod that can't pull relief out of a neck and hold it in place.

How does the neck respond to rod adjustments with the strings off? Can you force the neck into back bow and does it hold?


LA , Calif

I try my best
Jan 24th, 2018 10:47 PM   Edit   Profile  

I'm sure you will have it solved after you have time to look it over again.

The only way I know of to check if the rod is compressing the neck from either end is bring it into an up bow as far that's safe then measure the relief let it set until it gains relief then clamp it to the measurement using blocks and a clamp and then see if you can move the rod in by tapping if not see if it can be pulled back with no resistance using the rod adjustment nut.

I know on necks if this happens compression fretting or heating the board is what even glue they used will soften then bond well again like was done on old martins and even necks with an adjustable rod.

Sort of this all left is to remove the board as a last resort.

Contributing Member

So. Cal. USA

Jan 25th, 2018 04:07 PM   Edit   Profile  

I'd humidify that neck before I played with compression fretting. See if you can grow that board a bit first to help you out.

I have a purchased new MIM Fender Tele neck on a very resent build, maple over maple. This thing is the most sensitive to humidity changes of any neck I have ever owned or set up. It's also heal adjust so it has to come off the guitar for adjustments. I've had to put the solid body guitar in a hard case with a humidifier to keep it playable.

FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Need the best minds in the house. Trussrod problem.

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