Neck CPR

“Bones, I think that neck needs some CPR”

“Dammit Jim, I’m a guitar builder, not an EMT!”

What the heck are we talking about and why would my neck need it?

As all of you know, and love about us, we use a single action truss rod.  If you have watched the process, it’s essentially a straight steel rod that we force into a curved channel so its hugs really tight (in the spirit of the #metoo movement we do want to stress that we did ask permission of the truss rod and it did say yes).  All throughout our processes, we work that rod several times to make sure it’s doing what it should do. But, alas, sometimes after leaving our facility the wood in your neck can constrict, squeezing the rod just a bit too tight. Thus the need for some CPR.  

Ideally your neck, when it’s loose and relaxed, will have a good amount of relief.  We check this with a straight edge. You can check it on your own guitar by using your strings as a straight edge.  Hold down a string on the 1st fret and also around the 12th – 14th and see if the string touches the in-between frets.  Conversely, if you tighten the rod, it works against this relief and will adjust your neck towards a back-bow.  This way, depending on what gauge strings you use or what tuning you’re in, you can adjust your neck for that specific tension.  Most necks seem to play the best mostly flat with a tiny bit of relief.

Now if your neck is NOT responding correctly, this is where CPR can get things moving again.

  1. Take the neck off the guitar.
  2. Loosen the truss rod all the way, be sure that the nut is no longer snug against the washer.
  3. Find a fairly low table surface and rest the heel of the neck on it fret-side up
  4. Use one hand to support firmly under the headstock (you don’t have to place your hand underneath it, our crew does this with no hand underneath BUT they know just how much to push).
  5. Use your other hand or both to push down in the middle of the neck with enough force to flex the neck.  Not enough to break off the headstock…but be firm.

You should hear and/or feel a click or a pop.  This is the truss rod freeing itself. Go ahead a do this several times, just as you would perform chest compressions in CPR.  Once you hear those pops you will probably see some relief in the neck but mounting it back on the body and stringing it up should make it quite a bit more noticeable.  Now you can get the strings to tension and adjust the rod to get it where you want it. As always if you ever have any questions please contact us. Cheers!