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Thread: Truss rod or not?

  1. #1

    Default Truss rod or not?

    With a neck that is short and stout and assuming we have stable wood, is it absolutely necessary to fit a truss rod? I do not know the answer, but I guess, if the neck has been well made, that it should never need adjustment. Or not?

    Murray Kuun #broadway mandolin by murray kuun, on Flickr

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    Most old Gibsons didn't have truss rods, my 1915 F4 is a good example, well played for over 100 years and the neck is as straight as the day it was built.

    I suspect truss rods were introduced with the advent of longer slimmer necks.

    Dave H
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    Gunnar 

  5. #3
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    The older oval mandolins did have an inlayed maple stiffener to help re-enforce them. These days it's easy to get and install a carbon fiber re-enforcement.

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  7. #4

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    Trussrods are insurance. Many instruments may survive without one. But considering the work and hours that you put into making a superior instrument, the $5 to $35 that you spend on a trussrod is money well spent. A lot of these vintage instruments were built by lifelong craftsmen and we cannot know the depth of their knowledge including their ability to judge a length of lumber and anticipate how well it will deal with over 100 pounds of string tension for 100 years. The availability of top grade lumber was night and day far better as late as 50 years ago. What was called mahogany back then was actually mahogany and now lots of things are referred to as mahogany when it isn't even a relative species. I never start out with the intent of building a something disposable so I don't risk not using an adjustable trussrod.

  8. #5

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    Kick a$$ looking cool modern mandolin!

    I'll disagree: truss rods are NOT insurance. A poorly designed and built neck can have all the truss rods and strengthening materials and it will still warp all over the place and have issues.

    The only instruments I have worked on that needed major neck help were those that had truss rods and a century of people misusing them. I'd suggest using a 1/4" x 1/4" or something similar carbon fiber beam. Keep this one tasteful and simple. The museums and major collections can wait for your next mandolin to have a truss rod, and you can add another bit to your skill set then.

    Mandolin necks are short and simple; once you get up to mandola or guitar and beyond, they are necessary.

    j.
    Spruce dork

  9. #6
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    Trussrods are insurance.
    Well yes and no. A truss rod will correct a minor bend in the neck and in that respect are insurance. However, I have seen plenty of bendy necks that can't be corrected by the installed truss rod. After you tighten it up close to breaking point and the neck is still bent, what do you do then? New neck? I don't know what the failure rate is, but my failure rate with carbon fibre is 0% from about 200 mandolins. Minor problem that was corrected by a re-fret 1% (i.e. 2 out of 200). The minor problem could have been corrected by a truss rod, if one had been installed, but I suspect the failure rate might go up. Swings and roundabouts, and this topic has been done to death previously.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
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  11. #7
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    I asked Phil Davidson not to use one on mine so he sawed the block for th neck in two along it's length and sandwiched a 3mm carbon fibre plate in the middle. Then shaped the neck and dressed the carbon fibre strip with ebony. It's going nowhere in any direction. Also as great sustain too.
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    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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  13. #8
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    I've done just about all types. No truss rod, truss rod, carbon fiber, noting at all... I've made one piece, two piece, three piece, and five piece necks.. With almost 20 years building, never had a problem (yet) with bowing of the neck... To me, reversing grain direction is the best solution to warping.. I know one is waiting for me around the corner, but you gotta watch for the small things with wood direction...
    kterry

  14. #9

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    I have decided here to go with an ebony strip (10 x 6mm). I can even stand on the neck :-)

  15. #10

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    I've built a lot of guitars and found out along the way that angled long grain is better than quarter sawn (depending on wood type). I've used neck wood at around 45 degrees here, with an ebony strip.

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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    a friend has made almost 80 mandos, for sale. and his thoughts were, 3 piece neck, maple ebony maple , and ebony on top, and as short as it is , why would it need a TR, and, if the neck warped, it was prolly because of the channel you cut in it for the rod. However , they can't be tweaked to the players desires, and he told me, he found many guys liked his mando , but would not buy without the rod

  17. #12
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    I have a mandolin without a truss rod with a very minor dip in it. Slightly larger replacement frets took care of that issue

  18. #13
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Buckingham View Post
    I have a mandolin without a truss rod with a very minor dip in it. Slightly larger replacement frets took care of that issue
    A simple twist of the truss rod would have been easier than new frets. I have had non truss rod mandolin necks get relief and when they do they can be fixed, but not as simply as adjusting the rod. I like having a truss rod.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  19. #14

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    As I mentioned before, I'm new to mandolins. I'm also new to this forum as an active participant. I signed up back in '07 but that was only to have a few questions answered. I find this post very enlightening. Guitar trussrods can be quite different from mandolin trussrods. All adjustable guitar trussrods are primarily designed to allow the adjustment of relief along the length of the neck from heel to nut. That is their primary function - to dial in optimal relief. Looking at cutaways, x-rays, and diagrams of different mandolin trussrods, the intent of adjusting relief sometimes seems secondary and the action of tightening a trussrod on some mandolins doesn't appear to be designed with the same intent acting more as anchor to directly offset the pull of the strings rather than a convenient of routinely used annual adjustment for relief. Some builders do employ a relief focused trussrod but the variety of other styles of trussrods is something I became aware of only this year. I also have an attitude when it comes to looking at instruments without a trussrod but it may be an attitude developed out of ignorance. After all, violins don't have a trussrod and the necks are significantly thinner than any mandolin. I've spent years setting up all sorts of violins and even the cheap $150 Chinese made student violins don't have any tendency to fail in a manner that a trussrod would address. Maybe its the comparatively short length of the thinner neck section. Add something like a carbon fiber reinforcement and you've got a superior structure. I think if one wanted to build for the masses and profit from selling to the average buyer, including a trussrod may be a marketing investment as I think there are a lot of folks who share my attitude (right or wrong) that a neck without a trussrod is untrustworthy. That would certainly include young guitarists who perform annual relief adjustments on their guitars.
    My mandolins employ a Gibson guitar style trussrod with a curved bed. I'm building solid body electric mandolins and the length of the neck before the heel begins is longer than usual with the heel beginning at the 16th or 17th fret and the full heel of the neck not until the 19th fret. Its not a standard or traditional design and I'm purposefully employing many of the things I've learned about electric guitars into the instrument at the expense of many of the things that make a beautifully made traditional mandolin so wonderful. My focus is entirely playability with the lowest string height possible to enable electric mandolin shredding -- something that may or may not entice a client. My neck construction is is three-piece, mahogany, maple, mahogany with the maple precut into having the trussrod curved bed prior to gluing it up using alignment pins. I make my own trussrods using 3/16 round stock for the rod and 1/2" roundstock for my anchor and the trussrods cost me about $4 each complete with brass nut. The downside is that the section at the nut is significantly weakened so I might be shooting myself in the foot. LMI will make a custom length dual adjustable trussrod that doesn't require nearly as much removal of structural wood for $32 and I'm tempted.
    Everybody has an opinion and I defer authority to those who have been building mandolins for many years longer than I have. I wish you all lived next door so we could discuss this stuff over beers.

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  21. #15

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    "I wish you all lived next door so we could discuss this stuff over beers."

    +1000!
    Spruce dork

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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    murrayK—Props for an awesome looking, unique design!!
    Chuck

  23. #17
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    I've owned 2 very nice mandolins, each costing 5K to 10K, which had non-adjustable truss rods which needed refrets to replace non-worn out frets so that the neck could be straightened. Both built by great luthiers. Just saying..

    On a different topic:
    Wrnchbndr: I would be able to read your posts (and would like to) if you started a new paragraph every once in a while. I just can't seem to get through the mass of words without a break. Sorry to sound rude, but it would help. Thanks.
    (Same to others who do the same)

    Addendum: I actually copied and pasted into Word and respaced and read your post. I enjoyed it and agree with many of your comments. Thanks.
    Phil

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  25. #18

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    very nice design, Murray!

  26. #19

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    I've done that process on a couple of old guitars. Sometimes you can get away with only pulling a few frets and if you're lucky, you can reuse the original frets. I have a soft spot for student level guitars from the 50s and 60s. For many people they were a nightmare to play as they were seldom ever set up. I didn't even know that guitar techs or luthiers existed. They are often very rewarding when given the proper attention.

    I've been busted for exactly the same lack of paragraph discipline in nearly the exact same way on another forum. Thank you for the wake up.

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  28. #20
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	181316 the third mandolin I built back in 2003 had a two piece neck without a truss rod.. last weekend it came back home to visit .. not only does it 'still have the sound' , but the neck is still poker straight.. the neck had an almost perfect reverse grain match with NO bowing, even after all these years. if done right, that truss rod may not be needed.. most pickers want to have that adjustment choice tho , and that's okay too...….
    kterry

  29. #21
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by buckhorn View Post
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ID:	181316 the third mandolin I built back in 2003 had a two piece neck without a truss rod.. last weekend it came back home to visit .. not only does it 'still have the sound' , but the neck is still poker straight.. the neck had an almost perfect reverse grain match with NO bowing, even after all these years. if done right, that truss rod may not be needed.. most pickers want to have that adjustment choice tho , and that's okay too...….
    Wood is wood and sometimes the nicest curly piece will be the unstable one that will bend under tension... It may make some customer of your best morel quite unhappy.
    I personally use Loar style rod in relatively thin necks. Just to be safe. I never had to adjust rod on my mandolins beyond the initial snug tightening that I did on day one, even on mandolins that came back for setups or efrets many years later. But I never regretted having the truss rod.
    Adrian

  30. #22

    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    Gotta have it.

  31. #23
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truss rod or not?

    I built well over 100 mandolins with carbon fiber with no issues (some 25+ years old), and if I was building one for myself that's still what I would use. However, I now use trussrods on most instruments, simply because they're more widely accepted in the market.

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