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Truss Rods - Myths and Legends Part 1

What is a truss rod? The truss rod is one of the most mystic of parts inside the guitar. players often become confused as to what it does, what it doesn't do and why it is even there. Over the next few blog posts we will delve into the myths and legends and hopefully shed some light on what a truss rod does and how to use it properly.


A truss rod simply is a stiffening device inserted into the guitar neck to provide resistance against string tension applied to the nut and headstock. A typical Fender scaled 6 string guitar with a set of .009-.042" strings will apply about 85 pounds of force to the neck. This can cause the headstock side of the neck to pull up away from the body of the guitar resulting in too much string relief and high action. Several types of truss rods can be used to counteract this force.


First type of truss rod is what is referred to as a stiffening truss rod. These can be steel, aluminum, brass, carbon fiber, even a very hard dense wood such as ebony. This type of truss rod can not be adjusted to allow for changes in string tension or changes in weather. These are often added to classical guitars or other nylon stringed instruments due to low string tension. They can also be used in combination with with an adjustable truss rod.


Photo: Two carbon fiber rods added to acoustic guitar necks and used in conjunction with an adjustable truss rod.

Next blog will focus on the single action adjustable truss rod. Stay tuned.

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