Tips From the Tech: Adjusting Your Truss Rod

“The first step toward establishing a relationship with your truss rod–don’t be scared.”

By: Josh Lucas

It’s important for all of us to become comfortable adjusting our truss rods, and doing minor setup work for our guitars. Unfortunately, I am terrified of damaging one of my most dear instruments. But I decided it’s time to at least get some guidance so that I can make sure my guitars feel how I want them to, and so that I can adjust them without totally messing them up. I figured, who better to help me out than the fella who sets up all of the Andrew White Guitars before they get sent to all of you? So I approached our tech, Brandon Arnold, with some questions 

“The first step toward establishing a relationship with your truss rod–don’t be scared,” Brandon said to me. “Remember, as long as you make adjustments in small deliberate increments, what you’re doing is reversible.”

“To check how your neck relief is affecting your action, put a capo across the first fret, and with your right hand press on fret located where the body and neck meet. You should see space between the bottom of the 6th string and top of the frets. The lower you want your action, the smaller the space between the string and fret will be.

If you don’t want to be super specific about it, Typically it should be no thicker than the thickness of a credit card–if you want it low.

We use 64th ruler, measuring from the top of fret to the bottom of strings–6/64” on the bass side, 4/64” on the treble).

If you’re adjusting the rod, with the headstock pointing away from you–you will turn right to tighten, left to loosen. Tightening your truss rod will move the neck into a more convex position, bowing the headstock back. Loosening it will add relief and headstock ever so slightly toward you. I recommend turning 1/8th of a turn at a time, and giving yourself a half-day’s time to adjust to the feel of your new setup before going any further.”

Sounds easy enough. I might actually try it this time! I hope this was helpful to you. As always, if you have any suggestions for what you might like to see on an upcoming Tips From The Tech, just reply to our newsletter or send me an e-mail.