Adjusting Your Truss Rod

Adjusting Your Truss Rod

There are roughly two types of guitar owner. Firstly, there are those who are fascinated by tweaking, experimenting and tinkering with their guitar to find out the best pick-up combinations, action, and bridge position etc. And then there are those who are too scared to tamper with their beloved guitar in case they break it. I definitely fall into the second category and if I ever want changes made to my guitar, I always let the professional do this. But even if you’re perfectly happy with the way your guitar works at the moment, there are some things that are still worth knowing.

And a good thing to know about is your guitar’s truss rod. It is an adjustable metal bar that runs down the middle of your guitar’s neck that dictates its tension. It is definitely worth considering if you want to change the gauge of your strings, as most guitars are set up with a specific weight in mind. Unfortunately I learnt this the hard way.

I am a big fan of Nirvana and The Cribs and, as both Ryan Jarman and Kurt Cobain play/ed with heavy-gauge strings, one of the first things I did when I bought my first electric guitar (a beautiful Classic Player Fender Jaguar, equipped with inter-changeable humbuckers) was to buy some nice .13 strings to accompany it. I had changed strings before so thought I’d go right ahead and do this myself.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that by putting heavier strings on my guitar, I would upset the neck tension, as the truss rod had been set to accommodate the tension of .11 strings. The result was that my neck began to bend outwards after a couple of weeks, which understandably came as a massive and terrifying shock! Fortunately, my guitar teacher realised what was going on and directed me towards my local guitar shop, which put everything right with no lasting harm. However, I could have caused irrevocable damage.

The moral of the story is to learn how to adjust the truss rod or find out what strings your guitar is set up to accommodate. Being the charitable souls we are, we thought that we’d direct you towards a great video by Hard Knocks Guitar Shop who simply shows you how to adjust the truss rod.

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