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Thread: Frequency of truss rod adjustments?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    6

    Frequency of truss rod adjustments?

    Hi Folks,

    I have a 5-string Stingray HH Through Neck. Love this bass! I bought it new about three years ago. My question has to do with the frequency of truss rod adjustments. With most other basses I had, I rarely, if ever had to tweak the truss rod.

    The same went for this bass for the first couple of years. Like most electric basses, I could have it in the case for a few weeks and when I took it out, it was still almost dead-nuts in tune. The base lives in the (finished) basement of our home in the northeast.

    About three months ago, when I took the bass out after some time, I noticed all strings were detuned a fair amount (maybe 1/2 step). Also the playing action was noticeably high. I checked the neck curvature, per the manual, and there was more bow in the neck than usual. I turned the truss rod 1/4 turn (90 degrees) tighter, and it improved things considerably. Despite being a bit puzzled by the sudden neck motion, the bass played well for the few rehearsals I had at that time.

    The bass was then back in its case for a month or so and when I went to play it yesterday, the action has now dropped very low to the point of the strings buzzing. It looks like I am going to have to remove some of the additional tension I put in a few months ago. I figure a 45 degree loosening should do it.

    Anyway, the questions for the community are:

    1) The abrupt detune worries me a bit, especially since this is a through-neck bass, so if something moved, it was part of the instrument. i looked closely, and there are no signs of the fingerboard delaminating, a loose bridge, or other obvious issues.

    2) The sudden neck motion is new to me. Is it normal for the necks on MusicMan's to move a little more than normal? My neck is painted (and thus should provide an additional barrier to humidity migration), but having to tweak the neck twice in a few months is a bit worrisome, given that this something I normally never had to do, including on a 4-string MusicMan (with a bolt-on neck). I thought it might simply be the wood settling, since the instrument is relatively new.

    I am at least glad that I now have to spin the truss rod back towards the original factory setting (rather than tightening it further), but any thoughts from others who have more experience would be most welcome. I have a studio session in a few weeks, and I definitely would like to have the bass settled in for that.

    All thoughts would be most welcome. Thank you.

    Jonny Bass

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    4
    Let me first say that I'm guessing here. It sounds like when you "cranked" the truss rod the first time there was a delayed effect. I've had that happen. I've gotten the action right where I want it and then, over the next couple of days, it continues to move and the bass buzzes a lot.

    I usually make very minor truss rod adjustments every 1 to 4 months depending on whether the neck has moved. (I don't have a schedule, I just adjust as needed.

    There are times when I use a 'trick' to get the neck where I want it. I've had basses (not Music Man) where I've unbowed the neck and it quickly, and consistently, goes back to being bowed. Under those circumstances I overcompensate and leave the bass in the "buzz" zone for a week in order to let the neck assume a new position. After a week or sow I ease the truss rod and the neck remains very straight.

    I didn't explain the last bit very well but perhaps you'll get the idea anyway. I was, for some odd reason, having trouble coming up with words that properly described the process.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Dall-Ass, TX
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    17,810
    Sometimes I leave a bass or two in my Evil Lair, which is a converted one-car garage where I sip martinis and record music and generally fart around on the internetz. When it was converted, I should have sealed the concrete - I know this now, but did not then. Anyway, it can get fairly humid in the summer and rather dry in the winter. So leaving basses in there for too long is bound to lead to changes in the wood. (I try to rotate them in and out.)

    This is why we have truss rods with easy adjusting wheels. I rather think you don't have a real problem; when the neck moves for whatever reason, there is an easy solution. One Bongo I've had for maybe 15 years now will sometimes go sharp and other times flat. I tune it, check the relief, adjust if needed and play the horse doo-doo out of it. I don't see it as a problem at all - it's just maintenance.

    That's my story, anyway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    4,069
    I agree, adjust it when needed and be thankful it is so easy to do.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    562
    It was a particularly dry winter here in NJ and, as a result, I ended up running a humidifier in my basement studio (where I keep all of my guitars) for 8 hours a day this year and all of the trusses needed the occasional tweak. First time in 10 years that I've had to do it. Now summer's on it's way, the humidifier isn't running and the basses are calming down. None of this was a problem or a concern, just seemed to be one of those years.
    SR H "Redwood" born 8/6/2008
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    U.K Shropshire.
    Posts
    1,473
    The EBMM truss wheel is on par with sliced bread for its frequency of use and ease of use.
    Neck adjustment is part of day to day life especially in a constantly changing climate like the UK

    StingRay 4H Buttercreme 2005 L.E. ("Leighton")
    StingRay 4H Light Blue over Vintage Sunburst. 2005 ("SunBlue")
    GENZ-BENZ & ORANGE AMPS.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Sterling, Colorado
    Posts
    1,884
    Quote Originally Posted by Jbass View Post
    Hi Folks,

    I have a 5-string Stingray HH Through Neck. Love this bass! I bought it new about three years ago. My question has to do with the frequency of truss rod adjustments. With most other basses I had, I rarely, if ever had to tweak the truss rod.

    The same went for this bass for the first couple of years. Like most electric basses, I could have it in the case for a few weeks and when I took it out, it was still almost dead-nuts in tune. The base lives in the (finished) basement of our home in the northeast.

    About three months ago, when I took the bass out after some time, I noticed all strings were detuned a fair amount (maybe 1/2 step). Also the playing action was noticeably high. I checked the neck curvature, per the manual, and there was more bow in the neck than usual. I turned the truss rod 1/4 turn (90 degrees) tighter, and it improved things considerably. Despite being a bit puzzled by the sudden neck motion, the bass played well for the few rehearsals I had at that time.

    The bass was then back in its case for a month or so and when I went to play it yesterday, the action has now dropped very low to the point of the strings buzzing. It looks like I am going to have to remove some of the additional tension I put in a few months ago. I figure a 45 degree loosening should do it.

    Anyway, the questions for the community are:

    1) The abrupt detune worries me a bit, especially since this is a through-neck bass, so if something moved, it was part of the instrument. i looked closely, and there are no signs of the fingerboard delaminating, a loose bridge, or other obvious issues.

    2) The sudden neck motion is new to me. Is it normal for the necks on MusicMan's to move a little more than normal? My neck is painted (and thus should provide an additional barrier to humidity migration), but having to tweak the neck twice in a few months is a bit worrisome, given that this something I normally never had to do, including on a 4-string MusicMan (with a bolt-on neck). I thought it might simply be the wood settling, since the instrument is relatively new.

    I am at least glad that I now have to spin the truss rod back towards the original factory setting (rather than tightening it further), but any thoughts from others who have more experience would be most welcome. I have a studio session in a few weeks, and I definitely would like to have the bass settled in for that.

    All thoughts would be most welcome. Thank you.

    Jonny Bass
    Since 2010, I have owned 19 or 20 Music Man basses and guitars. Unfortunately, the issue you are describing is one that I have dealt with on at least 5 of the instruments. I baby my gear and always keep them in their factory hard shell cases when not being played. They are all also always kept in a smoke free climate controlled room. With the 5 or so instruments I have had, it always seemed going in to summer the necks would go one way and then going into winter they would go the other way. I literally have had the strings on the fretboard and then I would adjust the neck back to normal. A few months later, the strings would suddenly be really high off the fretboard. I would then have to adjust the truss rod in the opposite direction from months earlier. On one bass it was so bad, that I would max out the truss rod in both directions. Ironically, the ones with the worst issues, 3 were roasted necks, which are supposed to be more stable.

    Now, even though my instruments are always kept in a climate controlled room almost constantly, I do live in Colorado. The town that I live in, is at approximately 4,000’ elevation. I don’t know if the higher altitude and maybe air pressure is playing a roll or not but those 5 or 6 Music Man instruments are the only ones that I own that do that. None of my Ibanez, Zane or K.B, guitars or basses have ever had neck issues.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    My Place
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    1,992
    As to the painted neck minimizing climate effects, the
    opposite is more often the case.

    Think about this: Humid weather flattens the FB and
    dry weather lets it bow [surrender to string tension].

    OK, so the FB move MORE than the main neck wood.
    It expnds more than the neck does in humid weather,
    and viceversa. IOW necks are LESS responsive to the
    weather than FBs are.

    OK again .... so, the neck is grow or shrinks less than
    the FB. So, now paint that neck, partly protecting it
    from the influence of the weather. If the paint makes
    the neck EVEN LESS reactive to weather, then you've
    exagerated the problem .... the problem that the FB
    grows and shrinks MORE thn the neck, which is the
    cause of neck bow and neck flattening [loss of relief].
    S.U.B. SL4 - SR4p FL [x2] - SR4HH FL [Moses neck]
    SL4p FL [x2] - SL4HS FL - SL4HS FL [Moses neck]
    SR5HS alnico - SR5p FL ceramic [x2] - Bongo4Hp FL

    "Too many basses is never enuf"

    Golem is NOT engaged in social networks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    922
    How variable is the temperature and moisture level in the area where the bass is stored? Some necks also just seem to be more "reactive" than others.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple fretboard / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood Fretboard/ 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Signature Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    6
    Hi Folks,

    Thanks for the feedback, suggestions, and shared stories.

    A couple of follow-ups:

    1) I had a rehearsal a couple of days ago, and, as I mentioned in my first post, I turned the truss rod 45 degrees counterclockwise (loose), and the string height was just right. The bass played fine.

    2) Regarding temperature/humidity the bass lives in a finished basement with heat, usually in its case, but sometimes on a stand supported (only) by the neck. Temperature control is good, ranging from 66/68 F in winter to 72/74 F in summer, although humidity can vary a fair amount 25-30% in winter to 60-65% in summer.

    Also, one speculation on what is unique about this bass: being a neck-through design, a single piece of wood represents the entire mechanical support for the strings from bridge to nut. The wood grain is all oriented in the same direction for the entire run of the wood. In contrast, a bolt-on neck represents two different pieces of wood, each potentially responding differently to humidity and temperature. In this context, it would not be surprising to see through-neck instruments be more sensitive to environmental changes. Just a thought. It would be an interesting study to do a poll of folks with through-neck MMs vs bolt-on in terms of frequency of neck adjustments.

    In any event, the message seems to be that the neck will move from time to time, its OK when this happens, and it's been designed to be very easy to adjust. I'll just make this part of the routine.

    Thanks again to everyone who took the time to weight in on this. I appreciate it.

    -JBass

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    `


    Not so certain that a thru neck is one unaltered
    piece of wood. I don't actually know what EBMM
    does, but a G&L neck that appears, even on close
    inspection, to be one piece is not. G&L necks are
    "bi-sawn". A narrow saw cut splits the neck along
    its length, allowing routing the truss rod groove,
    and when the halves are glued back together, the
    grain looks continuous. This not only provides for
    installing the truss rod, but breaks the "integrity"
    of the grain so the neck is far less likely to twist.

    There is no reason that and entire thru-neck can
    not also be bi-sawn. I have never seen an EBMM
    thru neck, but look at it and see whether you can
    imagine any other way of installing the truss rod.

    I repeat that I don't actually know how EBMM
    builds their necks, bolt-on and thru-neck. I am
    only stating that a casual observation doesn't
    necessarily tell us the story.

    Prolly someone from SLO will set me straight as
    to the real deal.
    Last edited by Golem; 05-27-2018 at 03:11 PM.
    S.U.B. SL4 - SR4p FL [x2] - SR4HH FL [Moses neck]
    SL4p FL [x2] - SL4HS FL - SL4HS FL [Moses neck]
    SR5HS alnico - SR5p FL ceramic [x2] - Bongo4Hp FL

    "Too many basses is never enuf"

    Golem is NOT engaged in social networks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Camelon, Scotland
    Posts
    74
    I must be one of the lucky ones as I only ever adjust the truss rod if I change gauge of strings.

    My Sterling is 2 years old and I haven't touched the truss rod since I put my preferred gauge strings on it when I bought it. My basses live in gig bags in a room that varies in temperature during the year.

    Of course I may not actually notice changes in the neck. There's always that possibility. I've never been one for trying a credit card under the strings - I set it up so that I only get rattles when I play hard and that's it
    2016 EBMM Sterling 4H with Hipshot Double Stop & HB6 Ultralites

    1998 EBMM Stingray 4H with Hipshot Double Stop & HB6 Ultralites

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