Truss rods were originally used experimentally in some Paracho-made guitars prior to 2000, but consistently thereafter in all Hill and New World Guitars; domestic and imported guitars alike, with the exception of the very short scale 480, 520, 580 and some 615 imports.

While they have now become a standard for us and many other established classical guitar companies, there are still questions, doubts and non-believers in the use of truss rod reinforcement/adjustment in the necks. We'll lay out both the rationale and procedure for adjustment for those of you so inclined.

While it was a fairly arcane operation for the Master Series guitars [directions for these: click here], the Signature and Performance models' access nut is easy to get to. The adjustment can be done with the strings up to pitch, so anyone needing to tweak their action can do so easily.

From the Builder's Perspective

A wooden neck under string tension over time will tend to pull into a shape like the proverbial bow for an arrow. Some builders have inserted wood and graphite as reinforcements into necks to counter this tension. Steel string builders, faced with significantly greater string tension adopted adjustable steel truss rods almost a century ago, and have been using them satisfactorily since then.

For the classical purist who wants an 'unadulterated' neck and believes a quality guitar will have a neck withstanding the challenges of environment and time, we have seen any number of instruments 30-40 years old whose necks have bowed to the point of needing the only remedy possible short of replacing the fingerboard altogether: a fingerboard planing and refret job.

The function of wood is hydroscopic: to absorb and expel water when the tree is alive, this attribute does not fully go away when the tree is no longer alive, and continues every day in your guitar. In the case of importing instruments from one continent to another, for instance, where variations in environment create neck or top movement, the ability to dynamically adjust the action with a truss rod is a great time saver.


From the Player's Perspective

A profound and annoying manifestation of hydroscopic wood is for the traveling musician to go from 85% humid Atlanta to 25% dry Denver environment, for instance: the guitar expelling enough moisture to alter the string action. In some cases, their guitar's neck can move; the action getting higher or dropping to a buzzy condition. Being able to dial in the right action becomes the difference between an ordeal and a performance. [Nylon strings are also subject to environmental changes.]

You may only play in your living room, but the change of seasons may have an effect on your guitar, and you might benefit from the truss rod's adjustment capabilities... or you might be like the vast majority of players and never need to touch the thing at all.

But What About:

All the Extra Weight in the Neck...

The truss rod may add some weight to the guitar, some of which is in the neck. However, the underlying issue the question raises really is: does the extra weight make the neck heavier and unbalanced. The answer is no. The actual addition of a few ounces of steel may make the guitar heavier than without a truss rod, but it is surely a non issue.

The Altered Sound...

A guitar with a truss rod probably sounds different than one without. Since we're happy with the quality of sound our guitars make, we'll leave it to those interested in quantifying such things.

It is possible for a truss rod with no tension on it at all to create a sympathetic buzz which can be eliminated by putting it slightly under tension

It's not Pure

Whatever that means, you're probably right.

How to do it

All of our domestic models provide access to the truss rod nut at the end of the fingerboard at the sound hole. Insert a 9/64" allen wrench into the nut. If the guitar were lying with its back on a table, turning the truss rod wrench counter-clockwise, the neck will move toward the ceiling; clockwise the neck will move toward the floor. You shouldn't have to turn it very much to effect a change, so move it a little and try it to see how much you've altered it.

All of our New World models are shipped with a truss rod wrench in the accessory box. If you need one and don't have one, contact us, and we'll send you one.

Not enough information? More details about adjusting your truss rod here.

catalog  showroom scores dealers Players news video luthier contact