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Today I adjusted the truss rod on my guitar, because the action was quite high and I found it difficult to play. I progressed slowly, and did 1/8 turns, but after each turn I had not noticed anything different, so I did it 6 times, until the last one was very difficult to turn it further. But to my surprise the neck wasn't bended very much, and my guitar is still quite difficult to play.

I already inserted quite a low bridge in the saddle, and I use light strings. So what else could I do to lower the action? And has anybody an idea why the truss rod adjustment did not helped?

It is an expensive carbon fiber guitar, it is definitely not a cheap product. So I am quite puzzled that it had not worked out. I did it with another guitar some time back and with this a little adjustment of the truss rod had a huge effect. I did the adjustment with the strings on, but that should not make any difference, or?

  • Carbon fibre or wooden neck? – leftaroundabout Apr 3 '18 at 16:19
  • @leftaroundabout The whole thing is made from carbon fiber, no wood at all (if you are curious, it is the Journey OF660). – StefanH Apr 3 '18 at 17:05
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Many folks think it's a rather simple operation of just tightening the nut on the truss rod, but actually it is recommended that the neck be clamped in a jig that causes the neck to be bent backwards the desired amount and then tighten the truss rod in order to hold it in the newly desired position. Many a truss rod has been ruined by trying to force the neck without the proper devices. The purpose of the truss rod is only to hold in position, not actually do the positioning. This might be one of those times to consult a qualified technician.

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    I would not even touch my guitars rods – Neil Meyer Apr 3 '18 at 11:19
  • @NeilMeyer - I have good bass book and the writer says 'go for it - you can always crank it back.' That works if you go slowly and keep careful track of exactly what you're doing. It's easier said than done... Like taking apart a watch and then trying to put it back together... – Stinkfoot Apr 4 '18 at 20:12
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I see now in the comments that the OP has now mentioned a specific, special guitar, and @leftaroundabout has answered with the appropriate information for that guitar. This is answer is applicable to most conventional electrics, but is probably not to relevant to the actual guitar in question.)

You don't have to take them off, but you should loosen the strings before adjusting the truss rod, particularly if you are tightening it to lower the action, which stretches and increases tension in the neck.

You can damage the neck or the truss rod if you don't, because of the tension from the strings pulling in the opposite direction, particularly if you are using high tension strings.

That could cause your truss rod adjustment to have less effect than otherwise, although on a guitar that seems unlikely, especially if you tightened almost a complete turn. (I surmise it would give out with some ugly noises when that was happening.)

You can also strip the truss rod nut by tightening it to too much (I did that once, although it was a 5 string bass with heavy strings and a 35 inch neck), or it might be a factory defect, as @b3ko has mentioned. See this article about that: Guitar Shop 101: Dealing with a Stripped Truss-Rod Nut.

Regardless of the article, I am with @SkinnyPeacock - you've got a good guitar and you don't want to mess it up - take it to a good guitar tech. These sorts of adjustments, unless they are very minor, are not as easy as the youtube DIY videos suggest. Adjusting the truss rod often also requires you to adjust the action down by the bridge, and can also effect intonation, and how the strings sit in the nut.

Good quality modern guitars are carefully engineered precision tools, with a number of related components that interact with one another - better safe than sorry. (I've ruined two basses over the years by messing around with the action and the truss rod.)

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i bought a new fender strat and after a few year i brought it to a professional to have it set up. they noticed the same thing. turns out the truss rod was broken from the factory. they contacted fender and the neck was replaced for free.

not saying this is the problem but it is possible. at this point i would advise taking it to someone that knows what they are doing.

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The whole thing is made from carbon fiber, no wood at all

Well, that's highly relevant. Most carbon fibre necks don't have any truss rod at all, because unlike wood, the stuff can never warp after the epoxy matrix has set (only elastically bend, or else splinter completely). Perhaps this truss rod isn't really meant to fulfill the structural support role it would in a wood neck, but is only meant for fine adjustment, yet for some reason the neck has so much relief that this isn't sufficient.

That again shouldn't happen on a carbon fibre neck – the properties can be much more precisely controlled than for wood. So, in case of the Journey OF660 I would hazard a guess that this is actually some problem with the neck joint; moving parts are always more risky than solidly glued joints (or at least multiple-screw designs as on Fender electric guitars). When the whole neck is angled a bit too much forward, it's basically the same effect as a neck with very strong relief.

Since such a neck joint is completely nonstandard, I wouldn't expect that a luthier can help you much, hence my suggestion would be to contact Journey directly. Perhaps they can tell you something that can be done about the neck joint.

If nothing can be done about it, I daresay they're responsible for replacement as this is clearly just a production error then. Not sure how far you'd get when pressing for that, though.

  • Good to have someone that actually knows about this particular guitar. I certainly don't. – Stinkfoot Apr 3 '18 at 20:36
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    @Stinkfoot nor do I, but I do know a bit about basses with CFRP necks and my main instrument is a carbon cello. Just transferring from that... – leftaroundabout Apr 3 '18 at 20:38
  • I am old school - I only know about wood and wires. :) – Stinkfoot Apr 3 '18 at 20:56
  • @leftaroundabout If you got you right an adjustable truss rod is quite useless as the carbon material is very stiff, so now as I turned the rod I somehow increased the tension, despite the material not giving in to it. So I ask myself is this okay, or may it be bad for the neck/material? should I turn it back very it was? Thanks for your competent answer! – StefanH Apr 3 '18 at 21:29
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    @StefanH not necessarily useless. Even a carbon neck isn't completely stiff, it's just much stiffer than a normal wooden neck (and in particular, it never changes its stiffness in response to temperatures etc.). Still the relief will be slightly affected by string tension, so it can make sense to have a truss rod to counter that. But because of the higher stiffness of the neck itself, the truss rod has to work harder to make any difference, and thus should only be relied upon for really fine compensations. If the action is much too high on your guitar, it may be barely noteable. – leftaroundabout Apr 3 '18 at 21:38
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The truss rod in a guitar is for adjusting the neck relief, not a direct way to adjust the action. You can get slightly better action by reducing the relief of a neck that is set very deep, but there is only a small amount that can be gained that way.

Action adjustment is primarily done at the nut and the bridge, and is affected by the neck angle as set to the body or bridge.

Looking at the model of your guitar, it has a screw on neck made to be removable for travel. I would suspect that there is an issue with your neck bolting. Either it has come loose, or there is something interfering with the clamping system setting the neck to the original angle.

Because it is a bolt on neck it is possible to shim the neck or cavity to adjust the angle, if you action problem isn't from a mechanical problem with the connection system. A luthier or competent guitar tech should be able to do it even though it is carbon fiber. Shimming a bolt on neck such as on a Strat is a common procedure.

EDIT: I wanted to restate that the truss rod isn't for action adjustment, and you shouldn't try to get a better action by adjusting it.

  • Thanks for your answer, but btw even if it is not intended for adjusting action this procedure worked quite well with another (wood) guitar I have; is there anything harmful with doing so, because your statement sound like a warning? – StefanH Apr 5 '18 at 5:24
  • Only a warning that you shouldn't expect large action change from using the truss rod. The relief is part of an action adjustment, but not the way to change the string height from the strings. google.com/search?q=site%3A+frets.com+truss+rod – Alphonso Balvenie Apr 5 '18 at 18:50

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