A truss rod is crucial to a guitar’s structural integrity and tuning stability. The rod, made of tempered steel or carbon fiber, runs the length of the guitar neck from headstock to the body and back, acting as a tension member that counteracts any bending moment applied to the neck by strings. the process is basically the same on both acoustic and electric guitars.
What Is A Guitar Truss Rod?
A truss rod is an adjustable metal rod that runs through the neck of a guitar, binding the neck to the body. The purpose of a truss rod is to counteract any twisting or bending forces that are applied to the neck and body by strings or other objects on the guitar.
How Does A Truss Rod Work On A Guitar?
The truss rod can be tightened or loosened with an adjustment key or allen wrench. Tightening it will increase the neck relief. The truss rod’s function is to ensure the neck does not bow or have an issues called a twisted guitar neck and that the guitar stays in tune. It is very important for a guitar to have a properly functioning truss rod in order for it to stay in tune at all times and prevent fret buzz. Many people think that the truss rod only directly affects the tuning of a guitar, but actually this is not so. In fact, it can also be used as an alternate way of adjusting intonation as part of a professional guitar setup.
How To Adjust A Truss Rod
Adjusting the truss rod will be easiest if you can remove the strings. I recommend using a string winder so that you can quickly remove and replace them. It will make things a lot easier for you. Be sure to keep track of where each string goes, as putting them back in is easier if you mark them with tape or a marker where they go through the bridge.
1) Place your guitar on a table with the headstock facing upward.
2) Loosen the strings.
3) Adjust the truss rod. Turn it in to tighten and turn out to loosen. You may need to do this several times so that you get a perfect adjustment, but even a fraction of a turn can cause problems later on. I would recommend only turning it 1/4 turn at a time.
4) Check to see if the neck is straight by placing a level on it and making sure it is horizontal. If not, repeat step 3 until you get a straight neck.
5) Loosen the strings again and lightly stretch them over the bridge of the guitar. The action of stretching will lower their pitch so that you can tune them to standard pitch again (or play with different tunings if you want).
6) Tighten all of the strings at once to tune the guitar. This will allow you to quickly and easily tune the entire instrument without any problems.
After you’ve made your adjustment, it’s important to make sure the neck is straight again by placing a level on it and making sure it is horizontal. If not, repeat step 3 until you get a straight neck.
Related – how much tension can a guitar neck take? – how to check guitar neck bow
Which Way To Turn Truss Rod?
- Loosen – turn counter-clockwise
- Tighten – turn clockwise
There are two schools of thought about the direction in which you should turn the truss rod. People who adjust their neck relief before adding new strings tend to tighten the truss rod counterclockwise (as viewed from behind the headstock), while those who move to a new string gauge (usually from a heavier to lighter one) tend to leave their neck relief alone and loosen the truss rod clockwise (also as viewed from behind the headstock).