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Making A Single Action (gibson Style) Truss Rod

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There were a few threads rolling around about which truss rod and length of truss rod to use for unusual scale guitars. I'm currently making a 30" (short scale) bass and couldn't bother with having one custom made. By the time I get one it would cost far more than the worth of the actual materials. So I decided to make my own. I used the standard truss rod length (18") used for a 25.5" scale guitar and came out with 21" truss rod for a 30" scale, simple ratio calculation. I've used dual action truss rods but can't see why a simple single action Gibson style wouldn't do the same job. I just copied the "traditional" truss rod found on the Stewmac website.

Materials and tools:

3/16" steel rod

brass dome nuts (5/16") with NF 10-32 threads


3/8" bolt (for anchor nuts)

tap and die for cutting NF 10-32 threads

5/32 drill bit

11/64 drill bit

power hand drill

medium bastard file

center punch and hammer


Heres the rod I made for my 30" scale bass.


I bought a 10 ft. length of 3/16" rod for $3.00

brass dome nuts cost me $0.47 each

3/8" bolt and washers I had laying around

1. I cut the rod to the length I needed (21") and threaded both ends (up to 1") with a NF 10-32 die.

2. The brass nuts were drilled out using the 5/32" drill bit and then followed thru with the NF 10-32 tap.

3. I cut the 3/8" bolt into 5/8" sections with the hacksaw.

4. Each bolt section was slightly flattened with the file on one side and then center punched.

5. I drilled a hole in each bolt section using the 11/64" bit. Why not the 5/32" bit? TOO TIGHT for the tap! I learned that after breaking a tap.

6. The hole is then threaded using NF 10-32 tap.

7. Screw the rod through the anchor block so about 1/8" of rod comes through and hammer (peen) the rod flat onto the anchor nut.

8. Put a washer and brass nut on the other end and you are done.

Why brass? Brass is a relatively soft metal and should you encounter any turning problems when trying to adjust your truss rod at a later date you would rather have the brass nut strip before the steel rod. The nut can be easily removed and replaced...the rod cannot!

Here are a bunch of pictures showing how I managed all the steps.


I can easily make half a dozen traditional style truss rods for less than the price of one. These truss rods are made for headstock adjustment on a Gibson style guitar with a truss rod cover plate, ie. recess cut large enough for a 5/16" socket (or wrench) to adjust. Installation requires routing a 3/16" wide, curved truss rod channel ie. deeper in the center. A 3/8" hole is drilled at the butt end of the neck to hold the anchor block and the other end must be the right length for the rod with threads left over inside the neck to give room for tightening. The rod is slightly bent to the same curvature of the slot and then a 3/16" wide piece of maple (or other hardwood) with the bottom cut to the same curvature is glued and inserted over top of the truss rod. The face of the neck is then planed flat and fretboard is glued down. EEZY PEEZY JAPANEEZY!

Edited by Southpa
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