Have you ever picked up your favorite guitar and it just wasn’t playing like it should? Are you getting some fret buzz, or maybe the action seems like it’s been raised? You may be due for a truss-rod adjustment!


There is no need to worry, this is a very common issue that happens to most guitars, and it’s very easy to fix! It’s usually caused by a change in the weather or humidity which causes your guitar’s neck to expand or contract.


One thing to keep in mind is that there is no correct amount of relief for the neck of your guitar. Some guitarists prefer to have a perfectly straight neck, and other prefers a little relief. So you will just have to experiment a little and figure out what’s best for you.


All you need are some simple tools, and a few minutes of your time, and you can have your guitar playing great again.


So let’s get started!


Materials Needed:


  1. Your Guitar
  2. Your adjustment tool – this could be an allen key or a screwdriver.
  3. A ruler or yardstick (to check the bow of the neck)


Making Your Adjustments:


First, let me say to always make very small adjustments with your truss-rod, you do not want to damage or break it. This is a very costly repair! If you don’t feel comfortable doing these types of adjustments, it is always better to get a professional to do them for you. We recommend working in 1/8th turns and checking as you go.


If you’re having issues with your neck, this means that you guitar probably has too much of an up-bow or too much of a back-bow. If your guitar has an up-bow, the higher frets will be closest to the strings. If your guitar has a back-bow, the higher frets will be the furthest from the strings, while lower frets will have lower action.


To determine whether your guitar has an up-bow or a back-bow, take your ruler or yardstick, and lay it across the length of the fretboard. If the ruler or yardstick isn’t touching the middle of the fretboard, you have back bow. If it won’t touch on the first and last fret, you have up-bow.


When making any truss-rod adjustments, always make sure you are using the right tool for your guitar, and NEVER force the truss-rod to move. This will most definitely cause damage.


If your string action is too low and causing fret buzz, this usually means that your neck has too much of an up-bow. This can be remedied by turning the truss rod nut counter-clockwise. This will force the neck to straighten, creating better playability and action across the fretboard.


If your neck has too much of a back-bow, your string action will probably be too high, especially higher up the neck. This is adjusted by turning the truss rod nut clockwise. This also forces the neck straight, bring the strings back closer to the fretboard.


As mentioned earlier, you will probably have to experiment to figure out what amount of neck relief will be best for your style of playing. There is no right amount, it’s all in what you prefer!


Hopefully, this simple guide will have you making your own neck adjustments in no time!


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This article was written by Wade Lawson, our editor located in West Virginia.

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