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Thread: What's up with that truss rod?

  1. #1
    Registered User Willi Bahrenberg's Avatar
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    Default What's up with that truss rod?

    Hello everyone,

    I recently received a so far unplayed The Loar 310-F-BRB Mandolin.

    This is what I found when I removed the truss rod cover.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I couldn't get a better shot, but to me it looks smooth inside the socket.
    Allen wrenches won't connect - but is there a tool that would?
    It's buried pretty deep, could it be that there's a part missing?

    So what's up with that!?
    Anyone??

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Keep trying Allen wrenches, including metric sizes.
    Common sizes that work on guitars are: 5mm (Martin etc.), 1/8" many other guitars, 9/64" (some diabolical truss rod designer's joke on repairmen who cannot get a set of Allens that include that size and can't buy an individual one locally).
    I would try 1/8" repeatedly at different angles, and if need be remove some of that excess wood and finish material that the maker left there in as if they didn't understand that an adjustment must be accessible.

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    John, isn't that a hex nut? Looks like threads all the way up on the upper inner portion, and it also looks like you can see where one of the outer points of the hex nut broke through the peghead overlay -- or is that just a screw hole? Looks near impossible to use as it is.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
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  5. #4
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    John, isn't that a hex nut?
    I don't think so but I can't really tell. If it is, it looks like it is completely inaccessible and thus of no use.
    Somebody here must have dealt with these things and hopefully will help out here.

  6. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    The OP can give up on the Allen wrenches, that's a hex nut. You just have to blow the picture up a bit. Look inside the body with a mirror. Is there a Allen screw on the inside of the neck block that you might be able to access through the end pin hole with a very long Allen wrench? If there is not that needs to go back to whomever it came from. That is a manufacturing defect. I don't know who distributes these in Germany.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    I'm not sure you could make that nut accessible even if you start hogging out the wood around it.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #7
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    If that's an inaccessible hex nut adjustment buried down in there, that means that everything from design to manufacture to quality control was very poor on this model.

  9. #8

    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    How many times have you heard: “They’re all like that.” from a salesman or a tech?
    I’m pretty sure it is a nut, and some excavation would be needed to get at it, so if new, back it goes. Anyhow, since dealing with corroded, weirdly-sized and inaccessible hardware is part of my psyche, I’ll just offer a suggestion that probably wouldn’t necessarily help here, but when a nut is very thin, rounded or hard to grasp with a socket, I usually turn the rounded lip on the socket to square. This on a lathe, but you could also just grind it well-enough. This lets it seat deeper.
    If as is possible here, the nut had a too-thin washer under that has partially deformed around the nut, things would get delicate, considering that hammering in that location is a bad idea.

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Hmm, I wonder if the factory ran out of allen fittings, or if they've designed and manufactured their own truss rod kit.

    And the pics that I can find of that model indicate it's an F-model, so if that's the case there's no way to adjust a transverse truss rod, except perhaps with an extra long socket or allen through the strap pin hole.

    My guess is that the only way to save that truss rod is to remove the string-nut and do enough surgery on the pocket so the hex nut can be removed and replaced with a proper allen fitting. Sort of a mess, to say the least.

    Edit: So, the interesting question -- does the truss rod need adjusting at this time???
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post

    Edit: So, the interesting question -- does the truss rod need adjusting at this time???
    That's a thought, of course, and if not someone could happily play the mandolin without even knowing that it can't be adjusted, but the fact remains it should be adjustable if it is going to be there, and if it is not it is a failure.

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    Registered User Willi Bahrenberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Well, thanks for all the expertise!
    I guess I'll give the idea of looking for an allen screw via the end pin hole a shot - It'll have to wait until Monday though, because I keep the Mando at work.

    I've read R.L. Givens used this setup on his mandolins - but that was design and this must clearly be a messup - or else there wouldn't be a truss rod access at the headstock in the first place.

    If that doesn't work I'll probably just try selling. I can't return it, since it was declared as used - although it clearly has never been played. It was way cheaper than a new one (wonder why...) so I'm confident it will find a buyer even if I'm transparent about the defect.

    The neck is ok right now, but to me truss rod adjustment is part of a proper "neck hygiene", so that's something that's a must for me even in a cheaper instrument.

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    If that's an inaccessible hex nut adjustment buried down in there, that means that everything from design to manufacture to quality control was very poor on this model.
    I have to agree with you John, if their truss rods utilize a hex nut that doesn't fit in the pocket with enough space for adjustment, that's a pretty big design flaw -- it would seem that someone in the engineering department doesn't know what truss rods are designed to do. Or if it was designed properly, it certainly was not executed properly in this case, so the QC department missed a big one.

    To the OP, sorry to say, unless you never will need to adjust this truss rod, or unless you are wanting to have a woodcarving project that will probably cost more in labor than it is worth and may never work or look like it should again, this instrument should probably be returned. I'm no luthier, but the other minds responding here are wise beyond their years regarding this kind of work, and it looks like there is no clean-and-easy way to fix this.

    Given no concern about time and money, I'd be tempted to remove the fingerboard, remove the truss rod and replace it with a proper one, then re-attach the fingerboard. But that's a lot of work and probably requires more skill and tools than I have.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

  16. #13
    Layer of Complexity Kevin Knippa's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    The "The Loar" website says this model has a two-way truss rod.

    I wonder if the truss rod was installed backwards (flipped end-to-end).

  17. #14

    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Carving that out enough to get a socket on the nut would probably weaken the neck so badly it would break before long. That is a mess.

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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    That is an interesting idea. If it is 2 way and installed backwards (by normal standards), perhaps it's accessible from inside the body. Although, if it was installed backwards, that would be a treat.

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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    I once had a " the loar" and had to use one of those ball end hex wrenches to adjust the truss rod. A standard one would not work, funky angle. I believe it was metric though.

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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Ludewig View Post
    That is an interesting idea. If it is 2 way and installed backwards (by normal standards), perhaps it's accessible from inside the body. Although, if it was installed backwards, that would be a treat.
    Question about this Dale... I've not worked with installing a truss rod since the late '70s and then of course it was a 1-way truss rod... If this one is installed backwards in a routed space intended for a properly installed 2-way truss rod, wouldn't the allen fitting be buried deeply inside the heel of the neck? Or is my memory of that outdated?
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    Carving that out enough to get a socket on the nut would probably weaken the neck so badly it would break before long. That is a mess.
    That is part of why I implicated the design along with the manufacture and QC. The pocked for the adjustment looks like it is in the vicinity of the string nut; the weakest part of the neck. There is already a bunch of wood removed from that weak part and carving away more would only make the situation worse. I have carved wood away to gain access to truss rod adjustments in the past, but those were cases where there was no significant loss of strength because the design placed the adjustment (properly) in a stronger part of the neck. There was simply too much wood left in the way by whomever made the thing and QC didn't pick it up.
    I've posted diatribes on this subject more than once, and as you might be able to tell, it is a pet peeve of mine. Someone brings in an instrument that needs a neck adjustment... no big deal, 5 minutes most likely, 10 minutes tops. Remove the cover and there is no room for a tool. Or, there is an inaccessible adjustment inside of a guitar body. I have several wrenches in a drawer that I have bent and/or welded just so I could get to the nut to make that "5 minute" adjustment!
    It is not "rocket science" to design and manufacture a truss rod system that is accessible and adjustable, but it seems to be beyond the thought process of many makers and manufacturers.
    Looks like this got me started again... carry on...

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    If in fact there is a way to adjust through the end pin hole it raises another question. Why is there a truss rod cover at all? I think what you're looking at is a manufacturing error.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  26. #20
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    ...Why is there a truss rod cover at all?...
    A good question for which I have no answer. I wasn't able to adjust this one either.
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  27. #21
    Registered User Willi Bahrenberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    A good question for which I have no answer. I wasn't able to adjust this one either.
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    That one is priceless

    In my case, at least someone put some effort into something, but this is just cheeky

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    A good question for which I have no answer. I wasn't able to adjust this one either.
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    At least the builder planned ahead and saved some MOP under the truss rod cover.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

  29. #23
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    A good question for which I have no answer. I wasn't able to adjust this one either.
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    I'm going to guess they just put the veneer on without cutting out the hole for the pocket? That's crazy. Did that one have a Floyd Loar label?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Oops.

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's up with that truss rod?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I'm going to guess they just put the veneer on without cutting out the hole for the pocket? That's crazy. Did that one have a Floyd Loar label?
    Hmmm, I was going to guess that this neck has a fixed support bar of some sort -- no adjustable truss rod -- but the buyer wanted it to have a truss rod cover so it looks "normal".

    You know what they say. "Normal is just a setting on the washing machine..."
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

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