August 21, 2021

How to Fix a Bowed Guitar Neck Without a Truss Rod - Guide

Warped neck and no truss rod? No worries! Learn How to Fix a Bowed Guitar Neck Without a Truss Rod to get your guitar playable again.

There are so many things that can be done to prevent a guitar from warping. For one, you have to understand how to take care of your instrument or any of the parts involved with it and how that affects its overall performance. If you don't know how to take care of your instrument, you can get warped guitar necks. And what's worse is if there is no truss rod available for adjustment in your neck, you would have to readjust it manually. The good news is even without a truss rod at hand, there's still hope when getting warped necks adjusted.

Your guitar's neck may look straight, but it isn't always. Sometimes guitars have a slight curve towards the body of the instrument. Other times, a small bump or dip in one specific area can create a lot of tension on one side of strings and make playing techniques less than desirable. A slightly bent neck will easily correct that little imperfection in your acoustic guitar, allowing for better sound and greater playability but too much of a bend will cause the opposite. Whether through too much tension or fret buzz a warped neck is the worst! So let’s take a look at how we can fix it.

 

Materials


Most amateur guitar enthusiasts will only have one option at their disposal, which is heat.  There are a few solutions that stand out when it comes to creating heat, however, in our example, we are going to use the following;

  • A Bench clamp
  • Clean cloth or old T-shirt
  • A Clothing iron
  • A Measuring tape
  • A String winder

Watch the video below to get a thorough understanding of how to fix a bowed guitar neck without a truss rod.

The Method For Fixing A Bowed Neck Of A Guitar With No Truss Rod

Step 1: Take Off The Strings

The string tension is likely the initial cause of the problem. Too much, or uneven, tension over time without being played has caused the warping. So use the string winder to loosen and remove them. Make sure you have a new set to put on when you finish.

Step 2: Measure

The old adage - measure once cut twice applies here. Except, instead of cutting it's applying heat to unwarp once. Place the guitar with the fretboard facing up and figure out just how bent the neck is and in which direction. you should also make sure the neck angle lines up while you're at it.

Step 3: Clamp The Neck

Each end of the neck needs to be clamped down to hold the guitar steady. this will also allow it to resist movement in the center. You will need one clamp near the headstock and one close to the 12th fret.

Step 4: Apply Heat

As mentioned earlier we use an iron to heat the neck. The heat will allow the wood in the neck to be reshaped. Make sure you wrap the neck in a cloth or rag to prevent any burning of the fretboard. It is also a good idea to have the iron set to medium heat for the same reason.

Step 5: Fix The Bow

Now you need to bend the neck back into the correct position. This can be done with an extra clamp, or some books, etc to provide neck relief. Be careful not to burn yourself. 

Step 6: Wait

You should now have something holding the corrected neck in place while it cools down. Once the glue and wood have been reset, the neck should be much straighter. You can replace the strings for a complete guitar setup.

Other Options

There are more accurate methods that are performed by luthiers but you would have to go and buy new tools to perform these fixes. At the cost of buying new tools, it would not be much different in cost to get a professional to take a look at your guitar. 

For example, you could use tools like corked pads or even some cauls that can be placed between a neck straightener and a neck. One type of caul is made by applying some glue and letting it dry so as to create a profile that mimics the contours of the neck.

Again, you'll need a heat source for your heat repair project. In addition to that, you may find that in some cases like this one it's beneficial to have two or more clamps in order to hold the neck down while marking the holes for each clamp and to avoid twisting it. Once the neck is straightened out make sure all of your clamps are aligned and then clamp it down so that it can cool off.

 

Final Word

This is a fairly simple job to do at home and you may be able to do it with tools you have lying around the house. But, this is no substitute for a proper repair performed by a luthier. If you still find the guitar to be unplayable after trying yourself it may be best to head out and find a professional, or to replace the neck entirely. A luthier would be a lot more accurate when it comes to fixing intonation and other courses of fret buzzing too. They are experts at adjusting nut height, ensuring the tuning pegs are working as required, etc after your neck reset.

 

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