Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

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Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (Nacho) » Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:03 am

Hi, I am new to this great forum. Here's my sad tale...

About two months ago, I started to read this forum and the official rickenbacker forum due to the fact that since I bought my ric, I've been always sure that the action was too high. I bought it from a well known german supplier and since I live in Spain I had no chance to see it nor test it. Anyway, the guitar arrived in mint condition (finish speaking, it's brand new) but as explained above, I felt the action a bit high for my taste. I first tried to decrease the bridge height causing some strings to buzz, mostly in the frets at the body end of the neck. I then realised that a significant bow existed. I did measured it at the 7th fret which confirmed my suspects. I got myself a proper nut wrench, and did some slight adjustments to the rods as it's very well explained in the forums. I must admit I had no patience at all and this led me to break one of the nuts. I ordered a new set of rods, left the guitar with no rods neither strings for about two weeks and after this period of time, there still was some relief around the 9th fret. I must admit that even with this slight relief, the neck looked the best since I adquired the guitar.

I installed the new rods, adjusted to snug and continued following the suggested basis (1/4 turn per day).
I needed my guitar so I put the strings before the neck came to dead straight (not too far thought). Then the bow appeared again (as it could be expected). This time the bow was really pronounced. I pressed both the first and last frets, measured the bow in the center frets and it was very pronounced. Again, 1/4 turn per day and about 1 week later, the situation is as follows:

1. Rods installed, strings on, and the nuts feel very strong now, not easy to turn. I don't even dare to turn them more based on my previous experience....
2. Using the first-last fret pressing method explained above, I can see a total space in the 9th fret of about 2 mm.
3. Raised the string height to avoid buzzing in the last frets. Now the strings are too high in the saddle.
4. With this situation (points 2 and 3) the guitar is totally unplayable, at least for me.
5. Nuts: Bass and Treble rods would take at least 1 turn to just meet the top edge of the nut. I can see around 1 and a half free threads in the inner part of each nut.

Is this normal? Am i doing something wrong?. I am doing this procedure as carefully as I can. My lovely instrument is now the worst in terms of playability out of all my guitars. Should I wait for a long period of time to see results?. The neck truly looks like an arch if you watch it closely. It looks straight at the body end, and starts to raise as it gets close to the nut. The strings however buzz at the body frets with the strings reasonably high.

Now, a month later since the adjustment started, I am close to giving up. If I lived in the U.S, I'd with no doubt send my lovely guitar to Paul or someone with the proper experience in Rics, but being in Spain, the shipping costs would be unnafordable for me. In adittion to this, there are several luthiers in Spain but no one has experience on Rickenbackers.

I am not really sure whether the guitar came defective two years ago. I didn't know too much about Rics adjustment then, and I thought that the hight action was related to the urban legend on how hard to play some rics are.

Please help.......thanks in advance.
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (beatlefreak) » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:46 am

Welcome to the forum, Ignacio. Sorry to hear you're having a hard time with your 620. There is another forum member who lives in Spain - Sergio (forum name Rickcrazy). You should probably talk with him. Perhaps the two of you live close enough to each other that you might be able to get together.

If I understand you correctly, your truss rods only have about a turn and a half until you run out of threads to tighten them any more? It is possible to use washers under the nuts that will give you more tightening room. You didn't mention the string brand or gauge you're using. You're not trying to use heavy gauge strings, or some high tension brand, are you?

If everything else looks good, you can try manually adjusting the bow out of the neck, then snugging the truss rods nuts to hold it there. Keep us informed as to how it's going.
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (Nacho) » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:37 pm

beatlefreak wrote:Welcome to the forum, Ignacio. Sorry to hear you're having a hard time with your 620. There is another forum member who lives in Spain - Sergio (forum name Rickcrazy). You should probably talk with him. Perhaps the two of you live close enough to each other that you might be able to get together.


Thanks for the tip. I will definately do.

beatlefreak wrote:If I understand you correctly, your truss rods only have about a turn and a half until you run out of threads to tighten them any more? It is possible to use washers under the nuts that will give you more tightening room. You didn't mention the string brand or gauge you're using. You're not trying to use heavy gauge strings, or some high tension brand, are you?


Not exactly. If I do 1 o 2 full turns, the rod will completly fill the nut hole. So I assume I still have two treads until the edge of the rod reaches the end of the nut, and some more beyond that point.

What's normal to find in well set up guitars? I mean, Is it normal that the rod goes through the nut in some threads ?

I am using original 10-42 ric strings, not easy to get here, BTW....

I also installed some washers.

beatlefreak wrote:If everything else looks good, you can try manually adjusting the bow out of the neck, then snugging the truss rods nuts to hold it there. Keep us informed as to how it's going.


In fact, that's what I do. As I broke off one of the nuts, I leartn the lesson. Now I clamp the guitar to a table, prebend until the strings touch the middle of the neck and then adjust the rods on a quarter of turn basis. Then I leave the guitar for a day or two to let it settle down. At this moment, even with the prebending operation, the rods are quite strog to turn which scares me a bit. Perhaps I should bend a bit more, shouldn't I?

Thanks again.
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:36 pm

When you say "proper nut tool", what do you mean?

It's virtually impossible to break a nut with a Rick truss rod nut adjusting tool, or VACO equivalent. So, were you using a socket wrench?
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (Nacho) » Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:29 pm

I am using this:

http://www.witte-werkzeuge.de/index.php ... con_temp=7

I promise I am not Popeye.. :)

It was hard to turn, I applied a bit more of torque and....clack! the nut broke off. What a sad experience!
Then, I removed both rods from the guitar and the one not broken was bended at the threaded part of it, i.e. it was also close to break...

I've found two main differences between what I did last time and what I am doing now:

1. The nut at the body end of the broken rod, couldn't travel along the channel. It was stuck in front of the neck pickup, whilst the other one moved up.
Now, both nuts are around 5 mm inside the channel.

2. As my instrument is later than 1984, I didn't prebend the neck before turning the nuts. Now, I clamp the body, use the left hand to push the headstock and then apply the torque with my right hand.

Any advice Paul?

Thanks
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:37 pm

Both acorn nuts should have their tips roughly flush with the end of the neck.

The tool looks OK; the handle's shape and rubber grip, however, would enable you to put more torque on the nut that the "official" tool, which is a bit more slippery.

If you are doing this according to Rick procedure (as outlined here), things should work out. Anything beyond this, I must open to suggestion and speculation from other RRF members, who can be very helpful, as I can't actually have the 620 in hand.

Suggestions, folks?
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (jps) » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:11 pm

Welcome, Ignacio! :D

Sèrgio is actually in Portugal, but we do have some members in Spain, Julio Leal and Miguel Valpuest are a couple of them.
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (ken_j) » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:19 pm

Verify that the trussrod spacer and the acorn nuts are not compressing into the wood. I would continue to try and get the neck straight without the strings on it and possibly obtain a bit of a back bow. Has the guitar been kept reasonably humid? I know that Dale has a fixture he uses with heat for straightening stubborn necks. The later would probably be the worse case scenario.
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (johnallg) » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:56 am

Sounds like the nuts are moving into the neck. John Hall has posted to use a type of super glue to harden the wood there so it will not compress anymore. Then you will need washers enough to make the acorn nut heads to be just at the end of the neck as Paul stated. What I think is happening is you are adjusting the nuts enough to have the neck where you need it, but the wood is giving and thus the bow returns or worsens. Get the wood hardened, then reinsert the rods and put enough washers on the body end to keep the acorn nuts at the end of the neck showing. Then use your clamping technique to again adjust the rods with string tension on. I believe the rod broke because you ran out of threads on the rod, ie you asked how much threads should show out of the truss nuts. Actually, not much should show at all.

Paul, what do you think?
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (jingle_jangle) » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:45 pm

I did neglect to mention in this particular thread, that since wood is an unpredictable-by-nature, organic material, occasionally a soft bit or an otherwise hard piece with a soft section, turns up like this. It's the nature of the beast in handmade instruments.

JH's method of hardening the end-grain by using a water-thin super-glue (NOT the stuff on blister-cards in the 7-11), is also my choice for dealing with the nuts drawing into the end grain, which does happen in a tiny minority of cases, and this method can be used at either end of the truss rod channels.

My choice of super glue is either Satellite City "Hot Stuff" (neon orange label only!), or Zap CA+ (neon pink label only!). Both of these companies also manufacture gap-filling CA glues (which doesn't work as well) and also gels (which don't work at all).
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (Nacho) » Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:10 pm

Thanks for your responses. I've just attached a couple of pics that will surely add some light to my explanations (not easy for me to do it in english).

It's quite noticeable that the anchor nuts have moved, but the question is whether this movement is relevant enough to cause the rods not to behave as expected. Just turned both nuts a a bit tonight (a day later, they actually move better) and the rods are quite close to reach the nut edge as shown in the second picture. Pleas also note the washers I previously installed at the spacer.
The relief seems to be lower but not drastically, 1/4 milimeter I'd say. At this point, my choices are:

1. Continue with this procedure (1/4 turn per day) and wait for results. My concerns are about going too far and wreck something.
2. Remove rods, apply the super glue, and start again.

What would you guys do?

Thanks again for your help and for sharing your knowledge with me.
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (johnallg) » Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:17 pm

It sure looks like the rod nuts at the body are moving into the neck. I would stabilize the wood with the glue Paul recommended, use your washers at that end (enough to bring the cap nuts back to the end of the neck, then go from there to do a setup. Until the wood stops giving at the body end, I don't think you will be able to get a stable setup on the neck.

Paul?
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (Nacho) » Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:20 am

Ok, just got me the superglue and a bunch of star washers similar to the ones that are next to the anchor nuts. I would like to keep the strings that are currently installed in the guitar. I wonder if it's possible to do this operation with the strings on the guitar. Should I loosen them or remove them completely?

Should I apply the glue on the side part of the end grain of the rod channels or in the front part? How is the wood compressing? Is the diameter of the channel getting wider or is the lenght of the channel becoming shorter?
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (ken_j) » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:39 pm

Let the super glue wick into the end grain of the wood. The length of the wood is geting shorter and possibly mushrooming into the cavity. I would remove the strings and rods to do this.
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Re: Unable to get my 620's neck straight...please help

Postby (Nacho) » Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:00 pm

Just one more question..Will it cause harm to the guitar if I wait a month or so to accomplish this set up? The guitar is at least playable and I don't want to waste a new fresh set of strings...

thanks again.
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