How to Adjust a Truss Rod

What You'll Need
Truss-rod wrench
Truss-rod-equipped acoustic or electric guitar

A truss rod is the most sensitive part of a guitar. It is understood that slight adjustments are occasionally needed to maintain its good performance. However, unwise changes or extreme adjustments to the truss rod can trigger excessive string buzz or neck bow. Sometimes, damage to the body and neck of the guitar is caused by too much truss rod adjustment.

If there is an adjustment needed for your guitar, such as removing fret buzz or lowering string action, the only secret is to be familiar with the parts of your musical instrument. On the other hand, if you are unsure of what to do or simply a novice guitar player, it is advisable to have the truss rod adjusted by a technician. Take note that older or classic guitars do not have any truss rod. To make adjustments on those types, a luthier’s service is necessary.

Always check your guitar’s manual to be familiar with its parts and to confirm the accurate procedure for any adjustments that you want for the instrument.   

    Step 1 – Locate the Truss Rod

    You need to locate first the adjustment truss rod’s screw and then fit the wrench on its slot. For most acoustic guitars, its truss rod is situated inside the body, just in front of the guitar’s sound hole. For electric guitars, the truss rod is nearby the headstock, which is regularly underneath a protective plate. Otherwise, you can locate the truss rod entry at the neck’s bottom where it meets the guitar’s body. Unscrew the plate if necessary to get the screw of the truss rod.

    Step 2 – Adjust the Truss Rod

    Prior making any adjustments, inspect first the guitar’s neck bow. Note down if the neck curves bow back further than the strings or if the neck curves are extremely toward the bridge. Keep in mind that a minor inward bow along the bridge is necessary, but in excess is already detrimental.

    Adjust your guitar’s truss rod. Depending on the kind of guitar, you need to make use of either an Allen wrench or a screw driver to adjust the truss rod. With the use of an appropriate tool, rotate the truss rod counter-clockwise in order to loosen it. Then turning it clockwise will tighten your guitar’s truss rod. Remember to rotate the truss rod only a quarter turn each time.

    You need to test your guitar’s neck after making any truss rod adjustment. Once the guitar’s neck relief is not accurate, you can simply adjust the truss rod with another quarter turn. However, if the guitar’s neck is still inaccurate let it patch up for at least one day before making any additional adjustments.

    Step 3 – Test

    Remove the wrench then test play your guitar as you normally do it. In this manner, the guitar’s neck is provided ample time to adjust to its new position. Following 24 hours, you need to recheck the guitar’s neck bow then make further truss rod adjustments if necessary.