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Question Regarding Truss Rod Adjustment

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Dec 7, 2018 - 3:59:37 AM

RCraft

Canada

31 posts since 12/31/2016

I have a relatively new banjo (RK Elite), which I feel needs a little more neck relief. The third string fretted at the first and twenty-second frets just barely clears at the seventh, and i mean JUST barely. The open strings sound fine but I'm getting a bit of buzzing on fretted notes, especially the third string on lower frets.

Now, the problem is that the truss rod is already adjusted all of the way in the direction I need to go. I've definitely turned it the correct direction to the point where the nut stops moving and I don't feel like "cranking" on it any harder than I have. Is there any sort of easy fix for this at home or is it a "take it to a qualified luthier" sort of situation?

Thanks in advance.

Dec 7, 2018 - 4:06:22 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11583 posts since 8/30/2006

Are your frets properly dressed? That might be all you need.

You may have to put a little relief in the neck by clamping gently, then adjust the truss rod, then let up to see how that helped. It seems like people break these things daily.

Dec 7, 2018 - 5:31:23 AM

595 posts since 9/29/2009

Would a slightly taller bridge and/or snugging up the head help a little?

Dec 7, 2018 - 5:34:13 AM

beegee

USA

20968 posts since 7/6/2005

The first thing is to adjust the neck to dead-flat and check frets for level. Use a fret rocker if you have one. You'll likely find a high fret or two. If you need to level them, and don't have that ability, take it to someone who does. Once the frets are level, add a slight bit of bow(relief). Any buzzes should be gone. If not, then check the head tightness and neck angle. The action should be 7/64"-1/8" at the 12th fret. if you are using a 5/8" bridge, you can try an 11/16" bridge or shim the neck slightly.

Dec 7, 2018 - 5:36:19 AM

11231 posts since 6/29/2005

It sounds as if the truss rod may be broken.

Dec 7, 2018 - 5:58:21 AM
Players Union Member

2BUCKS

USA

78 posts since 6/10/2017

To add relief loosen the nut. Tightening the nut forces a back bow in the neck. Then work on other adjustments from there.

Edited by - 2BUCKS on 12/07/2018 05:59:27

Dec 7, 2018 - 5:59:33 AM

RCraft

Canada

31 posts since 12/31/2016

Thanks for the suggestions.

I should mention that when I say nearly new, I mean this banjo only has a couple months worth of play on it. It's not my main one and I haven't used it much at all. Fret wear is virtually nonexistent. I actually haven't touched it in months but pulled it out this past weekend and noticed this. Head tension, neck angle, and action are all good.

On my other banjos, when I fret the third string at the 1st and 22nd frets, it sits a little above the 7th fret and I can "bounce" it by tapping it with my pinky. Like I said, this one it is basically laying on top of the frets with an almost imperceptible clearance. I will check for any high frets as this is something I have not yet done.

I'm quite certain that the truss rod isn't broken. If feels normal with a bit of resistance, followed by a loose "neutral" spot and then further resistance as it moves in the opposite direction. Adjusting it they otherwise definitely makes the double-fretted third lay firmly against the frets.

Thanks again for the suggestions and I'll have a look at the frets this weekend. I have another banjo coming in the next few weeks so will likely end up selling this one; I just want to ensure that there are no issues with it when I do.

Dec 7, 2018 - 6:09:44 AM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

13156 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by RCraft

I have a relatively new banjo (RK Elite), which I feel needs a little more neck relief. The third string fretted at the first and twenty-second frets just barely clears at the seventh, and i mean JUST barely. The open strings sound fine but I'm getting a bit of buzzing on fretted notes, especially the third string on lower frets.

Now, the problem is that the truss rod is already adjusted all of the way in the direction I need to go. I've definitely turned it the correct direction to the point where the nut stops moving and I don't feel like "cranking" on it any harder than I have. Is there any sort of easy fix for this at home or is it a "take it to a qualified luthier" sort of situation?

Thanks in advance.


How many turns was that?

There's usually a lot of travel in the normal two way rod.  I've seen this same thing happen that was the result of the rod having too much glue applied during assembly.  The rod seems like it's reached its limit when it's really the glue preventing the rods from moving.  Sometimes it breaks free, sometimes not before the rod breaks at the threads.

Does "relatively new" mean under warranty?  If the rod doesn't adjust to add sufficient relief then there's something wrong.  You may want to have an RK dealer make the "adjustment".  It's worth it to have someone else take the responsibility of cranking any tighter on the nut.  It could be well worth the price that a shop might charge in the long run.

Dec 7, 2018 - 7:46:12 AM

6664 posts since 12/5/2007

Then it might very well be.....If you've adjusted the rod in the direction that should add relief and reached the limit, normal string tension, over a few days at room temperature might very well pull the neck up enough to add the relief that you need. It might also help to use a hair dryer to heat the neck and see if it pulls up on its own.

Dec 7, 2018 - 8:30:36 AM

11231 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by RCraft

Thanks for the suggestions.

I should mention that when I say nearly new, I mean this banjo only has a couple months worth of play on it. It's not my main one and I haven't used it much at all. Fret wear is virtually nonexistent. I actually haven't touched it in months but pulled it out this past weekend and noticed this. Head tension, neck angle, and action are all good.

On my other banjos, when I fret the third string at the 1st and 22nd frets, it sits a little above the 7th fret and I can "bounce" it by tapping it with my pinky. Like I said, this one it is basically laying on top of the frets with an almost imperceptible clearance. I will check for any high frets as this is something I have not yet done.

I'm quite certain that the truss rod isn't broken. If feels normal with a bit of resistance, followed by a loose "neutral" spot and then further resistance as it moves in the opposite direction. Adjusting it they otherwise definitely makes the double-fretted third lay firmly against the frets.

Thanks again for the suggestions and I'll have a look at the frets this weekend. I have another banjo coming in the next few weeks so will likely end up selling this one; I just want to ensure that there are no issues with it when I do.


When it's in the loose neutral position, the neck should be straight and flat with a straightedge, maybe a slight up-bow with string tension.  Turning it counterclockwise to the max should really bend it up quite a bit, which is what made me think there's something wrong with it.

If the neck is really backbowed when neutral and you have to use up the whole range of adjustment just to get it straight, then there's something wrong with the neck.

Dec 7, 2018 - 10:02:33 AM

RCraft

Canada

31 posts since 12/31/2016

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'll play around with it this weekend if I have and see what I come up with. Stay tuned for Monday's "help, I broke my truss rod thread" (joke). My career involves a lot of small fasteners on fragile components so I have a pretty good internal torque wrench.

This banjo is definitely within it's warranty period, but I did not purchase it in Canada so doubt that I actually have a viable warranty. It
seems that most companies only honor warranties in the country in which an item is purchased. Anyway, this is far from a major concern or priority for me at the moment. If I can't resolve the situation easily and without risk of damage, I'll end up taking it to a pro for an assessment.

Dec 8, 2018 - 3:44:25 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

11583 posts since 8/30/2006

Gold Tones, RK's and many others have a factory spec that they build to. They leave extra material for others to set up. Other, up scale builders give a better set up from the beginning. The factory guys aren't given the time.
Small , small increments are judicious.

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