Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

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Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (aborman) » Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:51 pm

Hello,

I am new owner of this 310 1984 Jetglo. https://www.creamcitymusic.com/vintage-rickenbacker-310-jetglo-1981/ Purchased for $1750 instead of $2k.

I have always wanted a short scale RIC since I was a kid and finally decided now was the time.

I am possibly having truss rods issues with it. The listing says the truss rods work and has been setup in store with new strings. Arrived in the mail with round .10s on and a pretty straight neck. I have changed to IT flat .13s. I let it sit for a few days. The neck gained some relief due to the new strings, buzz throughout the B string as well.

I have educated myself on the pre-1984 truss rod manual adjustment and was prepared to set it up myself.

I discovered that nuts were pretty unaccessible with a 1/4" driver and had to carefully remove some of the wood below the nuts to gain access. This leads me to believe the truss rods were not check in store. The spacer between the rods and nuts was not flush to the base of the cavity nor the curved sides. It sat "adjusted" skewed to one side and lifted off the base of cavity on one side. I believe this might have to do with the spacer itself in part. The holes don't seem to be created level to each other. Also the curves of the truss rod cavity seem not to be flush either. Please see images attached.

Once gaining access to make the adjustments, I must have tired 10 times without any luck of taking the relief out of the neck regardless of the amount of pressure I placed on the head to manually move the neck in place. Towards the end, I was placing so much pressure I was nervous some damage might be caused to the neck-body joint. The relief seemed to also be worse than it was at the start and there was some new buzz on the bass strings at the end. This has led me to believe the truss rods do not work. Or at least something is not right. Is that a likely scenario based on what I have outlined here? I have tired my best to crawl all forum postings I can, but haven't had much luck finding specific answers.

Is this a failed truss rod issue? What are my options in this case? Should the spacer also be replaced? How does one obtain one? Maybe I should try JS112s instead and maybe the truss rods can handle those better?

The guitar is still within return window, but I hope it doesn't need to come to that. But, I also don't want to put really much into replacing any parts if I don't have to.

Any guidance and help would be greatly appreciated. : )

Adam
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IMG_3336.jpg
Uneven holes on spacer.
IMG_3337.jpeg
Left side near screw hole is higher than right.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (admin) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:48 am

Adam I would reduce the gauge to 12s or even 11-50. If you do not need to play around with the truss rods I would leave well enough alone. In any case, it is a cheap experiment to put some lower gauge strings with a wound G on it for a test.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (maxwell) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:03 pm

I, too, have spent a lot of hours trouble-shooting my Rick's neck and truss rods. I suspect you have not researched the forums over at the RIC web site (you would have seen the nut adjuster for sale; has thin socket wall to allow access to the nuts). There is a lot of discussion there, with Mr. John Hall having contributed much experienced advice. You should do an in-depth look if you can.

http://www.rickenbacker.com/forum/

The photos are interesting, and the spacer and the lack of a true cut out space/area for that spacer to sit in caught my eye. If you go to the RIC Boutique, the Miscellaneous parts page, you'll see a typical spacer. Mine is made from aluminum. Anyway, when I saw your photos I was thinking that the spacer was a home made user add-on for an older model that perhaps did not come with a spacer, which would allow the nuts to contact wood directly. But, there doesn't seem to be any space for a nut to slide by either and become fully seated as they are tightened. There seems to be available thread left on the rods, and so I don't think you're bottoming out the nuts. I don't know what's going on. The good news seems to be that the rods are not bent, and they are of equal length.

Try the above advice. You know, most Rick necks are OK, but a few are simply FUBAR, at least at a reasonable cost. When a minor problem that should be corrected with a fairly simple, routine adjustment defies that correction, it then becomes a major problem. You are fortunate that you can return the guitar, and really, this is what I suggest. Go ahead and experiment with strings, try adjusting again, etc., but don't miss that return window. I have a screwed up Rick, having a neck that is so messed up that a total replacement (not a reset) of the neck would be the only correct option; I wish I had something different. Save up for something else, again with a return guarantee. There is a "for sale" area here on this website; check it out.

Everyone has different experiences and opinions based on those unique experiences..... My two cents.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (aborman) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:05 pm

Hi Maxwell thank you for your reply.

I have had a look at the official Ric forums. The nut driver I have is quite thin walled. The bass side rod was nearly pinned to the bottom of the cavity - with millimetres. I had to remove a small amount of wood (someone was already in there and had to do the same thing) to gain access to the nut. A bit of very gentle prying on the rod too to lift it a little. Maybe from prying the rod was bent into a back-bow placement?

As for the spacer, I do believe it is original based on the other photos I have seen online. I have attached a better photo on this post as you can see it make to fit the end of the cavity for the truss rod.

I contacted the store I bought the guitar from and they mentioned from 10 to 13 is too big of a jump for this neck to handle. Honestly, I do not if I can return it. The eBay listing said 14 days in the discerption, but located near the "add to cart" button it had 30 days. I am nearly past 14 this coming Monday.

Heart broken to hear that I should return it... Think I am going to take it to a trusted tech tomorrow.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (aborman) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:28 pm

maxwell wrote: I have a screwed up Rick, having a neck that is so messed up that a total replacement (not a reset) of the neck would be the only correct option; I wish I had something different.


May I ask what happened?
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (maxwell) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:04 pm

Adam -

Follow your heart.

I wish I could have returned mine. This is based on the fact that my neck will never be correct, never allow me to adjust the action so that it is suitable for my playing. This is my source of regret, and it isn't going away -- a constant source of disappointment. Reminding yourself that you got it for a good price or a good deal, etc., is a psychological approach that works for a couple of weeks, sort of like a placebo effect, until you learn the truth, that it's still in the same shape, same high action, etc., when you wake up every new morning. And that you can't bend necks with your mind. :wink:

I didn't mind the challenge of assessment and repair/adjustment. It was actually fun, and part of what made it fun was sharing my journey on the RIC website; it was a really hopping place a few years ago, when John Hall stopped in daily. Anyway, if I could have succeeded in fixing it, it would have been worth the time and effort. But I couldn't fix it, and in retrospect, I feel like I sort of wasted my time (but you don't know that until the end, when you finally have to cry out "Uncle!" and pack the damn thing away).

But, my truth isn't necessarily your truth. The tech eval is a good idea. Let us know what you learn, what his recommendation is, what you decide to do. I've been looking around the web today for 325s. Saw a couple of deals for $2200-2300 thereabouts (325v63, 325c64, both used).

Your photo with the spacer in place yields a new perspective on your spacer, etc. Now it looks pretty "normal."

My tale of woe is well-documented over on the RIC web site from a few years ago (my, how time flies). I'll post a link later. I took a lot of photos and posted those via PhotoBucket when the site was free/no cost to use, but unfortunately the photos are long gone now, since they started charging a fee for their hosting service.

PS - If you decide to return the guitar and if you miss your window of opportunity to return it for a refund, then ask the store if you can return it as partial payment on another guitar from them. I saw a high-ticket Rick offering from that store somewhere today; they must deal in a lot of Ricks. (I didn't visit the store/website.)
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (jps) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:44 pm

Most techs don't really know much (or, anything) on how to work with the old style truss rods, so keep that in mind when you see your "trusted tech".

When I bought my July '73 4001 in February 2003, and when I got my '67 4005WB back from a friend, who had it for a few years, in October 2003, both had messed up/down-turned truss rod nuts. With a bit of time and simple hand toos I was able to get both working like new and the basses were great from that point on.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (aborman) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:48 pm

jps wrote:Most techs don't really know much (or, anything) on how to work with the old style truss rods, so keep that in mind when you see your "trusted tech".


I have reached out to some friends and have been given names. Have made contact with one who says he has experience with the older style. This was a big concern of mine after reading posts here.

The threads of my rods seem to be straight luckily. It's them holding neck adjustment in place seems to be the issue that I am not able to resolve myself...
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (maxwell) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:22 pm

jps wrote:...both had messed up/down-turned truss rod nuts. With a bit of time and simple hand toos I was able to get both working like new and the basses were great from that point on.


I'd love to read a detailed account of your observations/diagnosis and corrective procedures. Did you post this in a thread somewhere?
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (jps) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:02 pm

maxwell wrote:
jps wrote:...both had messed up/down-turned truss rod nuts. With a bit of time and simple hand toos I was able to get both working like new and the basses were great from that point on.


I'd love to read a detailed account of your observations/diagnosis and corrective procedures. Did you post this in a thread somewhere?

I've probably done so, perhaps back in the mid '00s. Others have too, so you should be able to find lots of info on what to do.

Here is a photo from a workshop where we removed an old style truss rod from a patient, er, bass.

Workshop-Session-1200_2306.jpg

The patient didn't want to be revealed. :mrgreen:

Here was the final outcome (literally). :mrgreen:
Jason-TR_800_2332.jpg
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (maxwell) » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:28 pm

Thanks, I'll look around sometime.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (maxwell) » Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:55 am

aborman - As I read and reread, and think about your problem, and recounting my past difficulties (more severe than yours), I now think that your truss rods are somewhat bent. IIRC, they bend acutely at points near the adjustment nuts. If your truss rods were truly straight (well, there typically is a slight curve of the entire length of the rods) you would have ha no difficulty engaging the adjustment nuts with your wrench. So, if you keep the guitar, you or your tech can pull the old ones out (just like JPS did) and replace them — they don’t cost too much and I think I saw them in stock at the RIC Boutique (although I’d be inclined to order them from Pick of the Ricks if they have them). I ended up straightening my rods and reusing them, as I could not find any for sale/out of stock back then. (If you have machine shop skills, you can make your own.) I feared that they might have suffered some sort of metal fatigue and I suppose the points of any acute bend (and straightened out) would be even more susceptible to re-bending at those points; I really wanted to install new ones.

Anyway, (again) IIRC, bent rods (a result of over-tightening) become ineffective when tightening / straightening the neck. The specific cause & effect of bent Rick truss rods escape me, but they apparently are a source of problems. So, you and your tech can discuss the possibility.

Well, just some early morning thoughts before you take your guitar to your tech. It’s been a few years and my recollections are rather hazy; I’ll have to go back and read my old posts. (Old thread title is something like, “Twisted Neck.”). Mr. John Hall was a lively contributor; always interesting and helpful.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (jps) » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:48 am

maxwell wrote:...truss rods ..... I think I saw them in stock at the RIC Boutique (although I’d be inclined to order them from Pick of the Ricks if they have them). I ended up straightening my rods and reusing them, as I could not find any for sale/out of stock back then. (If you have machine shop skills, you can make your own.) I feared that they might have suffered some sort of metal fatigue and I suppose the points of any acute bend (and straightened out) would be even more susceptible to re-bending at those points; I really wanted to install new ones.

The rods on the RIC site and found elsewhere (such as POTR) are the current, compression style ones, not the old style hairpin ones. Once I got the threaded ends straightened out (carefully) and chased the threads, they worked fine. A new spacer/thrust black may need to be fabricated as the holes tend to get chewed up. I recommend making it out of brass 0stronger than the aluminum of the original), and make the black a bit longer (the threaded portion of the rods go through more block), even twice as much to prevent it from rotating, one of the potential contributors to the problem at hand. Also make sure to put stainless steel washers between the truss rod nuts and the spacer block.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (aborman) » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:52 am

Maxwell!

Thank you so much for you reply!

I was beginning to think that the rods too were bent. I did contemplate removing them, but there was a step too far for my comfort. I have looked into replacing them, but unfortunately, Ric only sells rods for post-1984 replacements! As this is an 1981, I will have to look into having them made custom which I am not even sure how to do at this point.

I am going to take it to my tech today. Thanks again for all your input.
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Re: Pre-1984 Truss Rod help - RIC 310 1981

Postby (aborman) » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:56 am

jps wrote: A new spacer/thrust black may need to be fabricated as the holes tend to get chewed up. I recommend making it out of brass 0stronger than the aluminum of the original), and make the black a bit longer (the threaded portion of the rods go through more block), even twice as much to prevent it from rotating, one of the potential contributors to the problem at hand. Also make sure to put stainless steel washers between the truss rod nuts and the spacer block.


The spacer is quite chewed up so I was thinking it might need to be replaced. Is this a routine job for a tech? Or is it something a bit more difficult?

Should washers have been there already? There are none in mine...
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