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Acoustic guitar truss rod adjustment

Discussion in 'Other Guitar Discussion' started by apm1991, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. apm1991

    apm1991 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    27
    Feb 14, 2017
    Arizona
    I'm pretty sure I know the answer but want to be 100% sure... My acoustic guitar has a really high action toward the bridge and very low action near the nut. Am I supposed to turn the truss rod clockwise?
     

  2. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    there's way more to it than that.. but turning it clockwise tightens it.. which means your action will get even lower near the nut end. It bends the neck backwards. Turning it counter clockwise loosens it, which means it bends the neck upward. Righty tighty, lefty loosey.

    A lot goes into your action. If it's too high at the bridge end, you need to get your saddle adjusted. I'd take it to a pro.
     
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  3. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

    Dec 4, 2013
    largo,fl
    You check the relief basically the same way you do an electric -

    Hold or capo a string down at the first fret and the fret where it touches the body of the guitar.

    if you have a lot of relief in the middle of that length of string turn it clockwise to make the space smaller and the other way if you want more relief.
     
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  4. Chont

    Chont Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 25, 2012
    Pennsylvania
    whatever you do... DON'T I repeat DON'T take this guys advice.

     
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  5. apm1991

    apm1991 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    27
    Feb 14, 2017
    Arizona
    ugh.. was hoping for an easy fix... so definitely don't turn it clockwise though?
     

  6. Chont

    Chont Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 25, 2012
    Pennsylvania
    I was successful at fixing the action on my Ovation by:

    1. Removing a shim under the saddle (Ovations come with removable shims under the saddle)

    2. Switching to a lower gauge silk and steel string (D'Addario 13s to Earthwood S&S 11s)

    3. Then adjusted truss rod slightly

    Plays like a dream now. And VERY comfortable.

    But that was MY experience. Not sure that's what a pro tech would do. I proceeded very carefully.
     
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  7. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    definitely not. Your action is uneven already, turning it clockwise will have the opposite effect. If the problem is the action being too high at the bridge end, the bridge end has to be addressed, in general. It will make a world of difference.

    Unless your issue is the action being too low at the nut end.. which you can turn counter clockwise and maybe fix that a bit.

    Put your finger on the third fret, then down again at a fret towards the higher end of the board. you want a very small gap at the 5th/6th fret, about a business card thickness size. If it's much bigger of a gap than that, you might need to tighten the rod, if there is no gap there, you need to loosen it. Be careful with tightening though, easiest way to mess up a guitar if you do some extreme overtightening. I've never encountered that, though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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  8. apm1991

    apm1991 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    27
    Feb 14, 2017
    Arizona
    thanks
     

  9. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    those are all safe and easily corrected changes, if something ended up not working right.

    13s are pretty thick for standard tuning to me. I played 13s in open E for a gig a couple times. A mistake I will never repeat.
     
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  10. Chont

    Chont Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 25, 2012
    Pennsylvania
    I have a Seagull Entourage that I inherited that has atrocious action. That has 13s on it too but it’s in really bad shape. I don’t think the previous owner took care of it. I’m going to put the Earthwood S&S strings on that (may even try the 10s) and see where it gets me.
     
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  11. apm1991

    apm1991 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    27
    Feb 14, 2017
    Arizona
    keep us updated
     
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  12. jaybones

    jaybones Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Yes, "looks like this guitar has had neck work done before, so I'll want to be careful with it"- while I continue cranking on the truss rod "nut looking thing."

    I would never turn any TR that much. Small increments, 1/8 - 1/4 turn each time. And there's no reason to loosen the strings, unless you're going to use that Allen set and want to get your hand in the body to turn the TR 2 - 3 full turns.

    My first acoustic had this problem, action too high up the neck. I'd only been playing/taking lessons there maybe 2 months and was already playing barre chords (trying to play the second guitar part to Eyes of the World- sliding some of those crazy jazz barres just wasn't going to happen).

    Using the lightest gauge strings I was comfortable with (Martin PB mediums), I asked one of the two guys who owned to lower the action up the neck. Should have emphasized UP THE NECK, since he cut down the nut. Had to dial in more relief which raised the action up the neck.

    Saddle was adjustable, and I fully expected him to shave the bottom of it.

    When I picked it up and complained that it was even higher, he said "Well low action costs money." Showed me a Yari, which had great action.

    I'd owned the guitar for 2 months and it was good as new with the exception of the nut being cut, he said "Now, these thousand dollar Yari don't come with a case. We can give you $20 trade for it. A quality fitted hard case is going to be $200, so the total would be $1200 before taxes."

    Needless to say I didn't have the cash to buy anything that expensive. The car I was driving cost $500.
     
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  13. heltershelton

    heltershelton ASKED TO LEAVE THE STAGE Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida
    i actually had to have a shim put under the nut on my takamine because i prefer higher action.
    if the strings are too low at the nut you may need to do the same, and also you may need to sand down the bottom of the bridge saddle thingy to lower the action on that side.
     

  14. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England

  15. dirocyn

    dirocyn Strat-Talker

    Age:
    43
    200
    Jan 20, 2018
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Step one is to figure out what the problem actually is. Find somebody's business card and measure your neck relief, as others have mentioned. If you have too much neck relief, you need to tighten the truss rod a little and that will lower your action. If the problem is the bridge is too high, first check and see if it's adjustable, and if so just fix it. If not, you need to check for and see if your (guitar's) belly is bulging. That tends to happen when the strings are on the heavy side, or if ribs have separated from the top, or if your guitar has been exposed to a lot of humidity. Sometimes the belly will go back down if you put on lighter strings or put it in a less humid environment for a while.
     

  16. GunMonkeyINTL

    GunMonkeyINTL Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 5, 2015
    NC
    Wow....



    Crank on the truss rod until you can SEE the neck back-bowing.

    Wow.



    I wonder how many guitars’ necks have been irreversibly screwed up because of that video.

    I kinda feel bad for adding 1 to its view-count.