THE TRUSS ROD
in the newer cheap guitars is the functionality of the "truss rod".
This is a metal rod running inside the length of the guitar neck (Usually
about 1/2" below the fret board.) to counter to "pull"
of all those strings. The "pull" of the strings can create
a "forward bow". If you tighten the truss rod, it creates
a counter pull theoretically reducing any warping. The easiest (Yet
not necessarily the most accurate way ) of seeing if a neck has a "forward
bow", is to sight down the neck like you would a rifle. If it looks
flat, or has just a slight amount of "pull", chances are you
are OK (Please note that the classical guitar, utilizing nylon strings,
does not traditionally use a truss rod so don't worry about your future
classical friend not having one. There is usually less string pull or
tension on a nylon stringed guitar. And the neck is usually bigger having
more mass and strength. Some guitar necks are actually made of a sandwich
of woods glued together. The photo below on the right is an example.
This sandwich effect makes the neck stronger.). Other evidence of a
"bowed neck" is if the action - or the string height (The
distance between the string and the 12th fret.) is high making it difficult
to press the strings and play.
shows the truss rod slot that runs through the inside of the neck
On the left
is the slot opening displaying the end of the truss rod that can
I used to tear my
hair out when repairing the earlier cheap instruments because many of
the truss rods did not work. My only choice then was to either toss
the instrument, or remove the frets and flatten the fret board, then
reinstalling the frets. The labor could exceed the price of the guitar.
Occasionally I can fix a warped neck by using a heated "neck stretcher"
but that is a story for a deeper look into the guitar.
A Zebra wood Electric with brainy fancy
electronics and a photo of Meher Baba inlaid with Ebony and Abalone.
LOOK AT THAT PAINT JOB. THERE'S OZZIES FACE UNDER THE BRIDGE"!
One battle a parent
will have when buying a guitar for their son or daughter, is the cosmetic
aspect. Most professional musicians I know don't really care what the
instrument looks like. Well, maybe that's going too far, BUT, I do know
that the emphasis is on playability and sound. The two most important
features in the relationship between man and musician. Many kids are
going to be attracted to that fancy glittery thing shaped like hangman's
Ax. Well, here again, the news isn't that bad. Most of these instruments
are fairly well constructed as well, and should provide a structurally
integrated start. If you are shopping for an electric guitar, you might
want to ask the store owner about the strength of the metal hardware
like the bridge and "vibrato arm". Even today, they are sometimes
made of weakened pot metal and can break. But, this is becomming more
rare. The DOWN SIDE about fledgling musicians focusing on looks, is
that they may exclude a really great instrument available at a decent
price because of a few "dings". I really don't know what to
say about this dilema, I had to have a Madras belt when I was 13. Maybe
you can show them a photo of Stevie Ray Vaughn's Strat. It was definitely
ridden hard, but very road worthy!! On my third album
A VIEW FROM THE PLAIN (Acoustic oriented finger
style guitar.) I made extensive use of an old Regal guitar I bought
for $30.00 at a flea market. Once I re glued the back to the sides,
it made a great slide guitar. Matter of fact, all the slide guitar work
on that album was done with the little Regal (Hint: Have a nice guitar,
sounds great but strings very high off the neck? Can't afford to fix?
Whala!!! You have yourself a "slide guitar"!!).
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