Strat truss rod is stuck

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Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:03 pm

I had a guy come into the store today needing a set up on a 50th Anniversary Strat. This is the second place he took it to have it set up after getting a great deal on the guitar. The other place didn't get it where he wanted it. But the action is rather pretty high but there is still buzzing high up on the fretboard.
First thing I checked was the relief. It's about .040". But the truss rod nut is REALLY tight. I can't hardly turn it. I stripped my hex wrench trying to turn it. Fortunately I haven't broken the truss rod or the neck, but it's getting ridiculous.
I've clamped some back bow into the neck and am letting it sit right now. I was hoping though that with introducing the back bow it would free up the truss rod so I could turn it. But it's still as tight as ever. It's not exactly seized up, but it just turns really hard, loosening or tightening, and then just stops and I can't get anymore out of it. I don't know if I've run out of thread or what's going in there. And with it being a Strat neck I can't exactly just take the nut off and grease it.
I think I'm starting to understand why the guy who sold it let it go so cheap.
So, what's my next course of action?

Thanks
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:28 am

You have the first step correct. Clamping the neck into a backbow is right. That should take the pressure off the rod.
I have in the past, put a few drops of light oil down the truss rod and let it penetrate for a day and then put a few more drops.
Or a quick spray of WD-40.
Work the rod slowly back and forth, it may start to loosen.
Do you know if it is a 2 way rod?
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:45 am

Gordon, thanks. I'll try putting some oil or something in it to try to loosen it up. I've also seen a lot of guys on the webs talk about putting heat on the nut with a soldering iron. I dont think that will work with this configuration. It would probably just melt the finish and burn the walnut plug.
I'm not sure if it's a 2 way rod or not.
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Steven Smith » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:46 am

I had one with a similar issue, it was the Fender hybrid two-way rod. I scored the finish around the plug then used a soldering iron to heat the plug up and pulled the walnut plug out. That allowed me to get heat on the nut and, in my case, I was able to get the nut out. Cleaned everything up, added another washer to make up for some wood compression, lubed the threads, put in a new truss rod nut and then put in a new walnut plug. After a quickie finish repair it was all done.
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:06 am

The walnut plug is available from Fender. I've needed to replace the trussrod nut twice in 20 years and replace a broken trussrod once. It comes as just a wooden dowel with a hole through it. You need to shape it to the contour of the slope once its in place. I carved much of the old ones out before I used a soldering iron and wet cotton cloth to steam the adhesive loose and get the trussrod nut to push the old one out. Its a seat-of-your-pants repair if you need to do it.

All that said, there are a few times including just this week when I have pronounced a Fender neck unfit to repair due to an excessive amount of relief in the neck when it is unstrung and the trussrod is not engaged. The necks were just too banana shaped for the trussrod to cope. The wood beneath the nut was collapsing under the stress. Replacement necks are available from Fender.
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:31 pm

update:

I put some oil in and got it to break loose. It's turning quite freely now but it seems the truss rod is maxed out. I get to a certain point and it just stops. Seems to be the same point where it was when I started.
I'm not sure at this point whether to pursue removing the plug and trying to get it worked out or pronouncing the neck dead.
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Steven Smith » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:20 pm

I would pull the walnut plug to investigate further before I trashed the neck. It may be repairable.
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:14 pm

How level is the neck when the trussrod is rotated to the zero compression position -- when it is not pushing or pulling? If its near flat, its worth repairing. I hate the biflex.

You can do a check on ebay to see what an American made neck is selling for and that'll tell you whether its worth the repair. Look for an average price because you never know what evil exists in a used neck until you get it.
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby David King » Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:14 am

Original owners are presumably eligible for a new replacement neck from Fender under warrantee. This is a pretty common and straightforward repair. I usually turn my own walnut tube to save some time. Get a stack of washers in there (also handy to make these in-house if you have a lathe).
As Mark says some of these necks need so much truss rod tension to get straightened that they may require heating or fret removal and sanding flat of the fingerboard followed by a refinish of a maple board and refretting so the hours can add up.
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Steven Smith » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:07 pm

The biflex rods are terrible IMO. If no warranty neck replacement is available I recommend that my customers save the original neck for vintage value, if any, and then put a Mexican neck on the guitar if they want to keep the costs down. Mexican necks play just as good as the American necks and are about 1/2 the price. Of course almost all of my clients are players and not collectors.
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Re: Strat truss rod is stuck

Postby Mark Wybierala » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:05 pm

I do not believe that a warranty or original owner situation is required anymore to acquire a neck from Fender. A phone call is all it takes. I have had a few situations where I got different answers and results via telephone conversations with a Fender parts person.
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