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Your Guitar: Adjusting the Truss Rod has published an excerpt of How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great (Second Edition) by Dan Erlewine. Here is a tiny taste of the excerpt, but visit to read the whole excerpt on how to adjust the truss rod on your guitar to help it play great!

Adjustments are what setups are all about, and the first adjustment to make is the truss rod. Almost all electric guitars have adjustable truss rods, and few setups would be complete without tweaking the truss rod.

Occasionally a guitar neck is perfect as is, and doesn’t require adjustment. If you have one of those, don’t mess with a good thing. This chapter will show you how to recognize a neck that’s perfect, and how to adjust a neck that’s up-bowed or back-bowed. Our goal is a state of controlled straightness, with a very slight curvature called “relief.”

Up-bow refers to a fretboard that curves in the direction of the string pull, creating a valley under the strings. This makes for high, stiff action.

Back-bow refers to a fretboard with a hump in the center, occurring when a truss rod is so tight that it bows the neck away from the string pull. Back-bow makes a guitar completely unplayable because the strings buzz against the humped frets.

Relief is a controlled up-bow, deliberately adjusted into a straight neck to create string-to-fret clearance that allows for the strings to vibrate without buzzing. Not every guitar benefits from relief, and not everyone likes it. The choice between relief or a straight neck is up to the player. But such a great majority of setups require relief that you can consider it a standard.

Truss rod control of the fretboard’s straightness goes hand in hand with setting the string height at the bridge and the nut. These adjustments together produce the playing action, so a professional will simultaneously adjust a truss rod while raising or lowering the bridge and measuring string height at the nut. This process involves watching, measuring, and adjusting the neck, then measuring, watching and adjusting some more. It’s a dance involving all of this at once, so you’ll need to refer to the nut and bridge chapters as you work with the truss rod information presented here.

Keep reading this excerpt on!

How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great, Second Edition by Dan Erlewine. From shopping for a first electric guitar to setting customized action, this do-it-yourself primer for owning and maintaining an electric guitar explains the ins and outs of choosing the right guitar; cleaning, tools, and basic maintenance; personalizing and improving on a “factory setup;” troubleshooting; basic guitar electronics; choosing and installing replacement pickups, pots, switches, and capacitors; setups of the pros; and much more. This new edition is overhauled from top to bottom and re-organized to make it easy for the reader to make his electric guitar sound and play great. This edition also covers bass guitars.