From larr–(at)– Wed Jun 28 00:18:49 CDT 1995
Article: 50552 of alt.guitar
From: larr–(at)– (Dr. Nuketopia)
Newsgroups: alt.guitar
Subject: The Myth of the Truss Rod.
Date: 27 Jun 1995 23:04:52 GMT
Organization: Merak Projects, Inc. (USA)
Lines: 67
Message-ID: <3sq2qk$b8--(at)>
Mime-Version: 1.0
X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.99.3

I have never understood the mythology surrounding the truss rod. Lot’s of
myth and folklore surround the fine points of the truss rod, it’s purpose
and adjustment.

The myth of the magic truss rod seems to be founded in the fact that not
many people know what it does. The truss rod adjustment is very simple.
All it does is change the relief in between the 4th and 9th frets on the
neck. This adjustment only needs to be done occasionally in a guitars
lifetime, or sometimes when making a substantial jump in string guages.
The truss adjustment is a *very fine* adjustment, measured in
thousandth’s of an inch. It’s the last part of a professional setup,
after the frets are leveled and the bridge height is properly adjusted.

To observe what the truss rod does, put capos on the 1st and the 12th
fret. Then notice the gap between the string and the top of 6th and 7th
frets. That distance is called the relief. There *should* be some gentle
bowing through that area. One uses a feeler guage to measure this
distance, which can vary between .003 to .015 inches or sometimes more.
Tightening the truss rod decreases this distance, loosening increases the
distance. Usually, no more than a 1/4 turn is needed to bring a neck into
a comfortable adjustment. Try it yourself if you like, and observe what
it does.

When the relief is very small, the neck is often described as being
“straight”. A relief measuring .009 is very common, and is the factory
setup on many guitars like stratocasters. Loosening the rod can eliminate
string buzzes in the middle frets, adjusting too loose can make the
action feel mushy through the middle frets. Tightening makes the action
lower, faster and slightly easier to play but can cause fret buzzing. You
have to strike a balance. Not all necks will adjust extremely straight,
many buzzes can’t be corrected by loosening. It is a very fine

Rules for truss adjustments:

1. It takes a couple of days for the adjustment to settle in sometimes.
Make small changes, then measure the instrument in a few days to see how
they stabilize.

2. Measure the relief in the instrument’s playing position, strings in
tune, using the desired string gauge.

3. Never start by tightening a truss rod, always loosen it first to see
how tight it is.

4. Older instruments, collectables, adjusters that won’t easily turn, or
those that need more than small adjustment should always be taken to a
pro. You could have neck problems that need other forms of correction.

5. Use a feeler gauge to actually measure the adjustment, don’t just try
to sight it in.

6. Half a turn, max. If you need more, go see someone who knows. If
turning the adjuster doesn’t make a measurable change, take it to a pro.

7. Read Dan Erlewine’s book. Buy a straight edge and some feeler gauges.

8. Realize that careless adjustment or overtightening can ruin the
instrument or even break the truss rod. Be careful. When in doubt, see a

Dr. Nuketopia
Technology Director of the World-Wide Monetary Conspiracy
Opinions strictly reflect the party line


Buy the Book!

I cleaned up my tab for Sonny Boy's Help Me and made it into a short book. There's a Kindle version for 99 cents, and if you buy the paperback you get the Kindle free.

Playing "Help-Me" In the Style of Sonny Boy Williamson II: A step by step, note for note analysis of some of Sonny Boy's Signature Riffs

I also write Science Fiction, so you can sample some of my best stories. Also available in Kindle format.

Error Message Eyes: A Programmer's Guide to the Digital Soul


End Date: Wednesday May-22-2019 8:26:46 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $69.95
Buy It Now |
Vintage OPERA HARMONICA with ORIGINAL CASE made in West Germany-US ZONE

$22.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday May-22-2019 8:36:41 PDT
Bid now |
Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonica w/case - Key of C, New!

End Date: Wednesday May-22-2019 8:53:41 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $11.99
Buy It Now |
Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonicas - 7-Key Set with Carry Case, New!

End Date: Wednesday May-22-2019 8:54:45 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $69.99
Buy It Now |
Light Duty Economy ATA Case for Hohner Hoodoo Box 5W Harmonica Tube Amp

End Date: Wednesday May-22-2019 9:00:27 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $144.99
Buy It Now |


The JT30 Page Popular links

I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

Street Theory

A Harp Player’s Guide to Music Theory

Learning Harp

Picking Up Blues Harp

A guide to learning to play Blues Harp

Microphone Information

Usenet Articles

Harp Amps

I've been collecting Harp Amps for a while. This is the old website. There is lots of information here. Here a coupld of links.

Harp Tab

A collection of songs and riffs that I’ve worked out over the years, plus some libraries of stuff I’ve converted to tablature. I’ve included most of the notes and instructions that helped me when I was learning to play blues harmonica.

Basic Riffs Simple harp tabs for songs Blues riffs and phrases.

Harp-L Archives 1992 to 2002


Harp Frequently Asked Questions