First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

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First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby Drew Ballantyne » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:14 pm

I finished my first scratch build a month ago. Okay, the maple/ebony neck was one I bought in 1988 from Stew-Mac when I built my first guitar from prefab parts, but I did strip and refinish it. The body is from a plank of poplar I bought about 10 years ago and started, but I didn't have a neck-pocket template so it sat, cut out, for a few years. Bored on the 4th of July, I decided to get with it and started sanding the finish off the neck and build a guitar. I hunted down a Floyd Rose from the '80s, bought the templates and bits I needed and went to work. Most of this was done over two days. I made a neck-pocket template using this neck as my guide, marked everything out, did the cavity routs, made a jig to rout the locking-nut ledge and cobbled together a "router table" to round the body edges over. Everything went at least as well as I could've expected, and all the parts line up perfectly. Action is 1/16" at the 22nd fret without fret buzz (16" radius) and I had forgotten how much I love the neck shape. The original plan was to paint it a dark metallic purple, but I like the oxidized look of the raw wood so much that I'm going to leave it as-is for awhile in hopes the lighter grain darkens up some, at which point I'll use Tru Oil or something similar to seal it from atmospheric changes. I'm not going to mess with the gold-tooth look of the Floyd, either. Anyway, I call it Wartzenol (say it out loud if you don't get it).

I do have a question concerning the truss rod. From what I can tell looking in the channel, it seems to be a boxed-in truss rod as opposed to a Gibson-style rod. It is rattling in the neck on certain notes. My plan was to remove the adjusting nut and washer, then put tubing over it, but that's not an option. I tried grabbing the adjusting nut with needle-nose pliers to see if I could remove the whole rod, but it doesn't want to move. What are my options to get rid of the rattle?
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby Henrique Schneiter » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:02 pm

Maybe you should contact stewmac to determine the kind of rod. The double-action truss rods they sell can sometimes be pulled out, perhaps with some light tapping to break glue residues along the rod. The other choice would be remove the fingerboard and deal with the rattling properly. If the rattling is minimal and not being picked up, you could also try to live with that.
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby Mark Swanson » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:34 am

You can remove an inlay or two and drill a hole through the fingerboard and into the rod channel. Then squirt in something like an acrylic caulk, the type that dries "rubbery". Something that dries soft will still allow the rod to work but will dampen that rattle.
    Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby David Schwab » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:44 pm

That's a La Si Do (Godin) neck made in Canada. When I worked at American Showster back in the 80s, we started using their necks. Probably around the same time Stew Mac was carrying them.
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby John Meyers » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:15 am

For the trus rod have you tried tighting it up just a little. Most of the time that will get rid of a rattle because it puts tension on the rod. I know this can affect the relief but I would try and see if a little turn would help and still not affect the relief to much.
I don't make mistakes, I make adjustments!
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby Drew Ballantyne » Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:08 pm

David, thanks for confirming what I suspected. I've been telling people I'm sure it's a La Si Do for years - I knew it was made in Canada (per the heel stamp) and that it was made by a guy named Robert (roBEAR). It has a really comfortable profile and was built for speed. It's also quartersawn maple and very stable.

I've tried tightening the nut, and loosening the nut without success. I may have to resort to drilling and injecting to calm it down. Playing it unplugged, certain chords really sound distorted (yeah, I mean distorted, like it's plugged into a really quiet amp). A C# on the A string really gets it going, and I can't help but feel that's contributing to chords on the lower strings sounding "scattered" through an amp. I need to get more scientific with it and determine if it's really responsible for that or if I'm just "projecting."
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby Greg Robinson » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:32 pm

Drew, are you absolutely certain it's the truss rod? I've chased resonances like this for weeks before, and after having gone to the effort of pulling dot inlays and injecting silicone, only to find that it was a sealed tuner with a loose part inside. Another time it's just been the headstock exit side of the nut having a bad transition. Or just bad strings.
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby Drew Ballantyne » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:28 pm

No, not absolutely certain. I broke a string tonight so I took the opportunity to clean and polish the frets and fretboard and discovered a loose tuner nut. I was hopeful that was it but, alas, no dice. I'll keep chasing. How on earth did you determine it was loose part in the tuner?! Did you take the tuners off and shake them?
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby Greg Robinson » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:28 am

Actually, I drove it with a loudspeaker and frequency generator until I got resonance, and then removed/isolated parts until I found the culprit. The tuner didn't rattle when shaken. Extreme case, maybe, but a good learning experience!
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Re: First build from scratch, and a rod-rattle question

Postby Drew Ballantyne » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:17 pm

"Extreme situations call for extreme measures." I'm going to experiment a little with window insulating strip and see if I can feed some of that through the truss-rod recess. We'll see...
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