Truss rods on the move - happy spring!

It is that wonderful time of the year again (just like fall but in the other direction) where humidity changes drastically here in NY. Even with my music room being controlled humidity (relatively, no pun intended) the changes are very noticable in neck relief movement. FYI - this happens with reeds for sax too, every spring/fall I have a few weeks where I think I am the worst player on the planet until I get used to the reed dryness/wetness differences.

My question is, at what point do you go and redo your setup? Do you wait for spring/fall to end? Late spring / early summer, etc? About how long do you recon things take to settle down. I have noticed things changing for about a week now and hesitant to do anything about it as I figure they will keep changing.

What do others do?


This is a tough question, @John_E

Do you mean the intonation is off? . . . or is it fret rattling? :thinking:

There can be some small differences in tune (as measured with a tuner) which is “normal” and should be taken that way. There is going to be some seasonal changes in humidity, etc. that can affect your instrument. Remember, nothing is “perfect”. I don’t change anything unless it becomes noticeable to my ear. Then I make whatever adjustments are needed. Other people periodically adjust (or check) their setup. Whatever makes you happy. :slight_smile:

If you are changing strings, then you should check your action, intonation, etc.



I feel the action changing, and measured the change. I noticed in tuning i was tuning in the opposite direction of what it has been each day if needed. Neck relief has moved to about a .018 vs .014. can I deal with all of it, sure, not a big deal.

I had read that you should adjust each spring/fall due to weather/humidity, and now that I am seeing/feeling the changes it made me wonder … when does one do it?

OR, do you muddle on through and get used to it like I do my reeds?


Well, to a degree . . . that’s what I’m saying, @John_E . . . there will be some slight imperfections with changes in humidity and temperature, etc. If they get bad enough that you notice them, then go ahead and make adjustments as needed. I personally do not think you need to make any adjustments simply because it’s spring or fall.

Theoretically, you could make adjustments every hour . . . but that wouldn’t be very practical, would it? . . .:slight_smile:



P.S. I know that @howard deals with some pretty significant changes in temp and humidity over in Japan . . .

Howard, could you please jump in here and give us your opinion? Perhaps I misunderstood what John_E is concerned about, and don’t want to steer him down the wrong path.


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I adjust my truss rod probably monthly. Why would you wait or put up with it? Adjusting the truss rod takes a minute or two at most.

This is another reason why the gauges are useless. When the bass starts to feel funny, just tweak it a little to fix it. After a couple times you should get a very good idea for what feels right to you or not.


I was just looking at the Fender Bass setup instructions and they recommend you loosen off the strings before adjusting the truss rod and then retune before checking the new relief.
Never heard of loosening off the strings before and thought I would just mention it here.

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I don’t do that.
That said I only make minor adjustments.

They probably say that so folks who go a little nuts not knowing what they are doing don’t start popping strings (esp guitarists).

Corporate lawyers, etc

My engineer side prevents me from the doing the “tweak it a little approach”. Hahaha

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The thing about spec for relief and string height is it’s an average, not optimal for any style.

If all you play is light fingerstyle, it’s likely you can have flatter relief than spec and it will feel good. Or if you are like me and play aggressively with a pick, a little more relief than spec will allow you to have a lower action at the saddles.

It’s all a balance around feel.

If I were a luthier I would absolutely always use the spec values. But I am adjusting for me and the feel I like, not a customer.



I’d rather worry about breaking the truss rod than popping strings, if breaking a string is even possible by adjusting the trust rod. :slightly_smiling_face:


Maybe one day people will pay attention to this.
It always amazes me when I see someone pay $20-$30 labor to replace strings (an additional $30 or more) in a music store, and walk out of the store happy. That same person probably hesitates to invest in something he should be spending that money on such as strap locks and Bass guitar straps.
As I have seen you say many times before, setups are so easy to learn and do with tools any homeowner probably already owns.
The Bassbuzz forum has all sorts of advice on this.

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