Guitar and bass strings can exert hundreds of pounds of tension on a guitar neck. So, it makes sense to slacken off the strings when you're not using the instrument, right?
This is magnificent and I really feel that every player should watch it.
Restored film showing the Fender factory from circa 1959. That vintage, pre-CBS Strat you've been wishing for? That's it being set-up by the sweating, bare-chested, guy. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
I've got tons of respect for the men and women working here. Especially those blokes spraying without masks—they've all probably died from dissolved lungs by now.
Huge thanks to Mark Chyna for sharing this with me.
Did I mention, 'brilliant'?
Adjusting neck relief on a Rickenbacker built before September 1984 can be a source of stress.
The truss rods used before that date have some quirks and can cause a little confusion. Let's take a look at how they work and how they can be adjusted safely.
Early Ricky truss rods were made from a single metal bar folded in two, back along its length. At the ‘open’ end, one rod was left just a little longer than the other. This longer bar was threaded for an adjustment nut.
When the adjustment nut is tightened, it forces a metal ‘spacer block’ to push against the shorter bar. The shorter bar, in turn, is forced into a bow. When installed in the neck, that bowing bar can correct for the neck-bow caused by string tension.
Rickenbacker generally installs two of these rods in each guitar neck. Adjustment is at the headstock end, under that big truss rod cover. You can often identify these rods: Behind the aluminium spacer block, you can see two channels cut in the neck wood. In the gap between the spacer and the start of the fingerboard, you’ll generally see the end of the shorter bar (the one that gets forced out).
These rods aren’t the strongest in the world. Don’t try to adjust your Ricky neck like you would a modern instrument. Just tightening those truss rods against string tension is a good way to ruin them or cause the fingerboard to separate from the neck (which, to be fair, it can occasionally do anyway).
You’ve got to ‘help’ your neck into position before you tighten the adjustment nuts on the rods. While not strong enough to actually move the neck into position, the rods can usually hold it there once you do the hard work for them.
Yep, most Rickenbackers will have two rods in the neck. Each rod can be adjusted individually. The claim is that you can set a slightly different relief for the bass and treble sides (to give a little more relief for the wound strings, for instance). If you can make this work reliably and repeatably, good for you. I'd advise you to equalise the tension and set the rods so bass and treble relief is the same.
After ’84, Rickys have come with a more traditional truss rod installed. These are more sturdy and can generally be adjusted under tension the same as most modern instruments. These rods can usually be identified by a thinner, steel spacer—more akin to a long ’washer’—in place of the aluminium block of old, and by the fact that the rod ‘channel’, and therefore the rod itself, isn’t visible in the neck wood.