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In my continuing adventure into the amazing world of CBG's, I soon discovered that my local music store, while interested in my builds and willing to carry them, thought that the playability and professionalism of them would be greatly enhanced by placing truss rods in the necks.
While the thought may be anathema to the true CBG purist, there is without doubt among those of us who are building guitars about the nagging problem of the sagging neck! Under the tension of strings, few unsupported necks do not give way to some pressure.
So I researched truss rods, and found that professional rods, while not terribly expensive, do add to the cost to produce a build by at the least $25.00, plus the cost of shipping. For those of us trying to create our own guitars on a budget, plus doing so with the satisfaction of doing as much as we can on our own, what could be more satisfying than building your own Martin-style adjustable truss rod?
Here's what you'll need to build your own truss rod, - and all of these items can be purchased at your local Home Depot for about $25.00, and will give you enough material to do several rods: you'll need a length 3/8' aluminum C-channel, a 1/4" threaded rod, a 1/4" hex nut rod coupler, a 1/4" flat washer, a 1/4" T-nut, and a 1/4" allen screw.
The first step is to cut the 3/8" C-channel to 16", then cut two 1/4" slots one half an inch in from each end. Next, draw a line the length of the C-channel on both sides, connecting the bottom ends of the tabs you have cut, and remove 1/4" of the side of the C-channel along both sides. A Dremel with a fine cutting disk works well for this, or you may use a bench grinder.
Next, cut the 1/4" threaded rod to 17" and file the thread so that it will take the nut coupling. Now, you mount the T-nut on one end of the C-channel, and, using pliers, bend over the tabs you cut in the aluminum.
Thread the 1/4" rod into the C-channel at the T-nut. Next, fit the allen screw to the 1/4" hex coupler; you may have to cut its length down. Apply LockTite to the threads and attach it to the hex coupler, and allow time to let it set. Slip a 1/4" washer over the free end of the threaded rod, (opposite of the T-nut end) and screw the coupler nut up tight to the end of the C-channel.
Now you're almost done, but you need to use your bench grinder to grind down the overhanging edges of the T-nut at one end, and the washer at the other end of the C-channel, smoothing over and rounding down the bent-over tabs. Now, take a metal file and file off the hex corners of the coupler nut, so that it is smooth and round to match the head of the allen screw.
There! Your home-made Martin-style adjustable truss rod is complete! Take an allen wrench and tighten the allen screw slowly and carefully, and you will see the C-channel bow upward. By routing a channel and fitting your truss rod flat side upward in the neck of your guitar, and glueing your fretboard over it, you will be able to correct for neck dipping, the most common concern for string tension on your CBG. Note that this truss rod only corrects in one direction, but if you plan it right and do it right, that should solve most concerns with these kinds of necks.
For a visual reference on how to build your own truss rod, refer to http://youtu.be/ysKRHdIaaEg, to which I am indebted for this procedure.
Let me know how this works for you. You can see pictures of the one I created on my page.
For my next article, I will show you how to create your own fret templete, that can be customized for any scale length you want to build - no more trying to copy off an existing guitar, or buying expensive fret templates online!
Happy building! Tim LaFave