Don’t be nervous.
If there is one thing that gets so many guitar players out there very nervous, it’s the idea of manually adjusting your instrument’s neck. While we recommend taking your guitar to a professional for dead-on setups every once in a while, we also thing that you should make an effort to maintain your instrument and tweak it on your own.
Don’t tweak it too hard either, but neck adjustments actually fall into the category of settings you can perform on your own, as long as you know what you’re doing. We did our best to explain how to perform guitar neck adjustments, summing up four concise points. Do check them out below.
Step 1: What you need for neck adjustment
We’ll keep this one as brief as possible – to perform a guitar neck adjustment, you will need an action gauge, a proper neck wrench and a capo. Three things, easy to get, affordable to purchase.
Action gauge we recommend: String Action Ruler Gauge Tool for Electric Bass and Acoustic Guitar
Step 2: Measure, twice
The next thing to do is measure the current relief of your neck. The first step is to tune your guitar. Then, take the capo and place it onto the first fret and hold down the sixth string on the last fret. In that position, place the action gauge behind that same sixth string, and rest it on the frets.
Finally, gently slide the gauge from the first to the final fret while writing down the space between the fret and string (as indicated by the action gauge’s markings, of course), and single out the greatest distance or the largest gap you found from the top of the frets all the way to the string’s bottom.
Step 3: Determine the required adjustments
This one depends on your playing style. If you tend to strum lightly, minimal relief is recommended. If you’re a heavy strummer or use a capo, more relief will be needed. Specifically, light and medium strummers should look at about .010 relief, while heavy strummers and capo users should keep the relief anywhere between .015 and .020.
Step 4: Do it!
First of all, USE A PROPER WRENCH. These often come with guitars, but if you didn’t get one with your instrument, make sure that you have the tool that fits that truss rod perfectly.
Now the exact tweak – For adding relief, it is best to turn the wrench counter-clockwise, while removing relief requires a clockwise motion. Basically, if you are looking directly at the rod nut, right is tight, left is loose. “Right” and “tight” rhyme, and “left” and “loose” begin with a same letter, so there’s one way to memorize the whole thing.
And that would be about it. The final word is to always tune your guitar after every single adjustment so it stays in proper shape. As you can see, there’s much less chance for things to go wrong when you measure everything. So just take it easy and slow and adjust that puppy!