How to Install Guitar Truss Rods

by Steven French
Replace the truss rod for better boxing and flexing of an old guitar's neck.

Replace the truss rod for better boxing and flexing of an old guitar's neck.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

When building your own guitar or repairing an old guitar, you may need to install a new truss rod. The truss rod is the metal rod inside a guitar neck that can be adjusted to reduce boxing and flexing of the neck as the guitar ages. The process of installing or replacing a truss rod is somewhat complex and requires some woodworking experience, but with a little patience and care you can have your new rod installed in a few hours.

Items you will need

  • New truss rod
  • Metal spatulas
  • Cloths
  • Steam iron
  • Guitar adhesive
  • Allen wrench
  • C-clamps
Step 1

Lay the guitar flat on a table or workbench facing upward. Place some support under the neck so that the guitar doesn't move around or wobble.

Step 2

Gently pry away the plastic edging along the sides of the fretboard with a small spatula, working your way from the top of the neck down. Apply very gentle pressure and be sure not to bend the edging.

Step 3

Place a heated (nonstick) iron flat on the fretboard and leave it for several minutes until the fretboard heats up, slightly melting the glue. The iron should be set on a medium-high setting with no steam to avoid damaging the wood.

Step 4

Remove the horizontal nut at the very top of the fretboard by prying it up with a small spatula.

Step 5

Place a cloth on the flat portion of the headstock to protect from scratches and slide a spatula under the fretboard, gently applying upward pressure to remove the fretboard from the neck. Apply the iron every 6 inches to release the adhesive as you go down the neck.

Step 6

Place a cloth on the flat face of the guitar to protect from scratches, and use a spatula to release the portion of the fretboard connected to the guitar face. Remove the entire fretboard. With the fretboard removed, you can access the truss rod you want to replace.

Step 7

Loosen the truss rod and remove it from the neck. Use an Allen wrench if necessary.

Step 8

Place the new truss rod inside the slot and tighten it slightly so that it holds firmly.

Step 9

Apply adhesive to the back of the fretboard and put it back in place against the neck. Lay several flat boards on top of the fretboard, and apply C-clamps to hold them down firmly. This keeps the fretboard flat while the adhesive dries. Allow several hours of drying time.

Step 10

Press the plastic edging back into the sides of the neck, working your way from the bottom to the top.

Step 11

Apply adhesive to the back of the nut you removed in Step 4 and press it into place at the very top of the fretboard. Use a C-clamp to hold it firmly in place while the adhesive dries.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images