Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

The short-scale model that changed history

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maxwell
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Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

Post by maxwell »

I've had my 325v59 for a while. It's been Lennon-modified. I haven't really been happy with the quality of workmanship previously done: Why two sets of pickguard screw holes? I wasn't happy with the wiring harness, either; I don't think it was wired correctly, esp. the .0047 treble cap -- I deemed it FUBAR and replaced it with a '58-style harness from our own aceonbass. I decided that the guitar's action was too high, making clean fretting difficult, so I thought I'd lower the action. The neck relief seems a little too great, and so I thought I'd tweak the truss rod(s) rather than adjust the bridge height (reserving that adjustment for fine-tuning after the truss rod adjustment).

I removed the truss rod cover (TRC), and thought it was odd that one screw was loose. Starring back at me was a single (visible) truss rod & nut; I had not seen one before. So, I started psyching up for a manual-assist truss rod adjustment. I looked over the nut, made a sidewise glance, and saw that the upper circumference of the nut protruded slightly past the face of the headstock. Ahh, so this is why there's a worn spot on the painted surface of the TRC, and the TRC will not completely seat; it rocks over the nut. Someone adjusted the nut so that one of its flat surfaces is parallel with the fretboard to minimize the protrusion of the rod's nut. Having seen that some knucklehead(s) had screwed around with the guitar before, I was more disappointed than surprised by what I found. The rod is bent in the typical RIC way when manhandled.

I looked around the internet and found a blog where one guy, in the same situation, ground down/reduced that upper nut circumference. I don't really know what a single truss rod looks like. I found this diagram:

https://hazeguitars.com/blog/rickenback ... adjustment

I don't understand just what my entire truss rod really looks like. Comparing my rod-nut assembly to the diagram, I expected to see a larger metal nut plate that my nut adjusts against, one wide enough to provide a stop point that would counter the other (hairpin) end of the truss rod AND allow truss rod removal through the opening after the nut and plate were removed. Unless the truss rod is designed differently, there's no way a double rod will go through that opening. It would seem that this is really/truly a single rod of the same design as newer two-rod guitars.....

Before I go tearing things apart, I'd like to know what I'm getting into. Who can tell me what sort of truss rod I have and how to remove it? What do I have?

PS - OK, I just looked at the other end of the fretboard and I see a single hole/opening, so it is like a two-rod rod design (two individual rods). Oh, ****. Well, the only good thing is that I've worked on these before (my RM model 1996 with two rods). I guess I'll lower the bridge a little and see if I can get the action lower, but I'm doubtful. I'm a little ****** with luthiers who think they know how to work on Ricks. Well, hopefully I can bend the rod back, but that's always tricky and probably an unwise compromise. I don't know if these are available for sale....


TRC underside with worn spot from protruding nut
TRC underside with worn spot from protruding nut
325v59 truss rod (bent) and nut
325v59 truss rod (bent) and nut
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jps
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Re: Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

Post by jps »

Interesting that the thrust plate is fully sunk into the neck. Is that how it should be on a single rod instrument?

And I would think that a 325V59 would have a modern compression rod, not the old hairpin type, so it shouldn't bend like the old ones can if mishandled. Is there an acorn nut at the heel end of the rod?
maxwell
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Re: Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

Post by maxwell »

Well, as you can tell, I’ve had a gross misconception about single truss rods, believing that a single truss rod was the hairpin style—a single rod folded over. This truss rod in my 325v59 seems to be just like the ones in my dual-rod RM 1996, and like the later 325s, and like all the bass guitars you read and see about on the internet with their bent rods/repairs/replacements. The 325v59, so far, seems to have only a single rod of this type. I could clearly see the single round hole at the heel of the neck. I’m assuming there’s an acorn nut at that end—I’ll have to remove the neck pickup and tap the rod out a little ways to remove that nut and pull the rod out completely from the headstock end.

So, I looked around the internet and could not find a truss rod this short (15.93”). The regular (24”?) rod pairs are in short supply, too (to shorten and cut new threads), and pretty expensive nowadays; not available in the Boutique (and may be the reason for the high prices elsewhere). I found a neat YouTube video that goes through the making of a truss rod; I haven’t watched it yet, but may be the way to go. Or maybe just straighten the rod out and try that first; as long as I work slowly and carefully, and avoid boogering up the threads, it might work.

Well, I’ve got stuff to address in the near future and will have to postpone this project for a while. I’ll return the guitar to its case and pull out the RM 1996. But I’ll be seeing what sort of rod material the home improvement stores sell. I guess I’ll have to do a little bit of deconstruction after all in order to measure the diameter of the rod… might as remove the entire rod….
maxwell
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Re: Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

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jps - You are, indeed, correct about the rod type: single action compression. I decided today to pull the truss rod and straighten it out. I took a bunch of photos. Does anyone know the maximum number of photos permitted within a single posting? I had done this before on my dual-rod RM1996, so I pretty much knew what tools to use and how to do it. I'm pretty sure that those two rods in my RM1996 were bent near the adjusting nut, but I could be wrong. I'd have to go back and find my "Rats! Twisted Neck" thread on the RIC forum, around 2010(?). Anyway, I want to post my procedure and photos so that someone else thinking of doing this can have a head start, knowing what to expect. I'm measuring and gathering as much information as I can think of; I have to get down to Lowes (maybe tomorrow) and, with the help of their sample nut and bolt sample boards, figure out the thread designation of the rod/nuts (both ends of the truss rod are the same, other than length of the threaded portion). I'll be dropping some superglue around the rod openings at both ends of the neck, just to harden the wood there and preclude any distortion when adjusting the rod in the future.
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jps
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Re: Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

Post by jps »

maxwell wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 6:29 pm Does anyone know the maximum number of photos permitted within a single posting?
I believe it is six/post.
maxwell
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Re: Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

Post by maxwell »

As you read, I removed the truss rod (and there was only a single rod) from my 325v59. When I removed the two rods from my Rose Morris model 1996 years ago, I struggled to get them out. I looked around for how-to information but found little. So, I figured I would take incremental photos of my progress as I removed the rod on my '59. I'll post a photo, then make comments below the respective photo.
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Adjustment nut removed
Adjustment nut removed
Not much to say here -- I use a screwdriver style bit holder; these are all 1/4 inch.
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Remove neck pickup
Remove neck pickup
You have to remover/set aside the neck pickup in order to work on the guitar body end of the neck. Just remove the two "center" screws (left & right); the ones in the corners simply hold the pickup cover in place.
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Using a hex (Allen) wrench to tap the rod
Using a hex (Allen) wrench to tap the rod
I use different diameter hex wrenches to tap the truss rod at both ends. At the top I use the largest one to begin with (less likely to slip off) and tap it in as far as the wrench will allow. The switch to a smaller diameter wrench that will fit inside the hole.
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Bottom of truss rod tapped out
Bottom of truss rod tapped out
Tap the top end of the rod until the bottom of the rod starts to come out. You need just enough length to grip the rod with pliers or vice grips (I used these) to keep the rod from rotating as you use a 5/16 in. open end wrench to remove the acorn nut and the accompanying washers. (9 mm wrench also works)
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Acorn nut and washers, displayed in assembly order
Acorn nut and washers, displayed in assembly order
(self evident)
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--------------- CONTINUED ON THE NEXT POST ----------------------
Last edited by maxwell on Fri Jan 27, 2023 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
maxwell
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Posts: 335
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:14 pm

Re: Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

Post by maxwell »

CONTINUED:

Bottom of rod exposed and acorn nut, etc., removed
Bottom of rod exposed and acorn nut, etc., removed
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Small plate at top of rod removed
Small plate at top of rod removed
I guess I could have removed this before tapping the rod down, but I didn't. I think it helped guide the hex wrench in making contact with the top of the rod in order to tap.
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Taping off vulnerable areas near the bottom of neck/rod
Taping off vulnerable areas near the bottom of neck/rod
You can't be too careful. I used Scotch white electrical tape (Vinyl Electrical Tape 35). At this point I tapped the bottom of the rod back in, in the same manner I used at the top (two different diameters of hex wrenches). While the top of the neck has as single, rather large hole, the bottom has the hole you see, and then (about a half inch in) there is a second hole the is only large enough to accommodate the truss rod. You can use the short leg of the L-shaped wrench; the middle pickup will get in the way if you use the longer leg (this is a large set I'm using). Don't be tempted to get a small/narrow wrench and try to tap the rod in further; it's difficult and not necessary.
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Bottom of rod tapped in
Bottom of rod tapped in
So, this is what you see in there. You can see that despite my precautions and working carefully, I dinged up an edge there; see the torn tape. I was surprised and could not figure out how I did that.
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Top end of rod tapped back out
Top end of rod tapped back out
The top of the rod is once again exposed. I put the adjustment nut back on. You'll see in the next photo the I moved it to the very end of the rod to allow a little more access for my vice grips to securely grasp the nut.
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CONTINUED...
maxwell
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Re: Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

Post by maxwell »

CONTINUED...
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Vice grips on adj. nut and small hammer
Vice grips on adj. nut and small hammer
I was just able to grasp the adjustment nut with a small pair of vice grips that I had. I already had some electrical tape over the jaws of the grips; I think it helped in preventing slipping. I used pliers on my other guitar long ago, but these cheap, small vice grips worked well. Holding the grips, I used the hammer to tap the side of the vice grips, gradually tapping the rod out of the neck. At first there isn't much progress, but the further the rod comes out, the faster the rod comes out. You just have to take your time and know that there will be a lot of tapping; the rod is in pretty tight. The guitar will move also as you tap; just reposition as needed.
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Truss rod tapped out about half way
Truss rod tapped out about half way
I just wanted a photo before it came all the way out. You can see how much the paper tape covering the rod is torn.
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Truss rod removed
Truss rod removed
I measured the rod length, and got 15.5 inches (a little shorter than official nomenclature). You can see how much it is bent (pre-bent) and likely the reason for the friction/tightness of the rod when tapping out. More thoughts on that later...
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Rod diameter is 5/32 in.
Rod diameter is 5/32 in.
The rod diameter is 5/32 inches (0.1585 inches, 4.01 mm). I went to Home Depot today, took the adjustment nut, and tried it on the array of sample bolts they have. The nut fit the "#8-32 Coarse" bolt. I bought a small package of regular nuts of the same size to try on the truss rod when I returned home. That nut (#8-32 Coarse) fit well. This is the correct size. If I cannot, for some reason, get the adjustment nut to lie entirely within the truss rod cavity so that it does not touch the truss rod cover, then a couple of these regular nuts would work, and being much shorter, not touch the TRC.
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Bent truss rod end with adjustment nut
Bent truss rod end with adjustment nut
See the subtle bend in the truss rod, below the nut? Well, I can't either. Faked out! Take another look at the removed truss rod and see how (severely) bent/pre-bent it is overall. Its radius is much smaller than the radius of the underside of the fretboard. Being so curved, I believe that this was what caused the adjustment nut to "lean" forward and interfere with the truss rod cover. This would imply that the truss rod was not adjusted at all (which would have made it straighter/less curved). I never tried to adjust the truss rod, thinking the rod was bent (had a kink) based on what I saw. Had I suspected this, I think I could have adjusted the rod and the neck as I wanted, and as the rod became straighter, the adjustment nut (on a straighter truss rod) would have receded back into its proper position within the truss rod cavity of the headstock. I plan to adjust the curve of the truss rod to something flatter (greater overall curve). This will allow easier replacement of the truss rod back into the neck. I think it will also allow easier adjustment; less force of the great curve to overcome as the adjustment nut is tightened; the truss rod is pretty stiff. I was thinking of removing all of the tape off the rod and replacing it with heat shrink tubing (Harbor Freight has a nice variety), but I think I'll just remove the torn, hanging pieces of paper tape and use the rod like that. The truss rod is so short and stiff that I doubt there would be any rattling noise from the rod even if there were nothing at all covering it (unless there was no adjustment of the rod at all; loose).
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jps
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Re: Truss Rod Blues (Single and looking for love)

Post by jps »

Great documentation.
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