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Thread: Truss rod nut rounded out... Is it 1/8ths?

  1. #1

    Truss rod nut rounded out... Is it 1/8ths?

    My son (14) and I have just semi-completed an ST kit. Itís semi-complete in that itís playing well enough for now with the supplied parts and some finetuning on the intonation and setup needed.

    But we have an issue with what seems to be a rounded-out truss rod nut. Iíll write out whatís happened, but my main question is: what size is the truss nut on the ST kit? I think itís 1/8ths of an inch or 0.125 inches by measuring the supplied hex key and that Stratocasters seem to be 1/8ths according to Google.

    This is what Iím contemplating to fix the truss rod nut problem, and the reason I want to be 100% the nut is the 1/8ths size:

    Plan A: Purchase the correct sized (I thinK 1/8ths) ĎGripper Truss Rod Wrenchí from StewMac designed to turn rounded out truss rod nuts for about $30 shipped and see if that works. If so, problem minimised and all good.

    Plan B: If the above doesnít work, then purchase a new neck from PBG for under $70 and: a) lubricate the nut and rod with penetrating spray oil (Inox is my usual brand) before attempting to turn it (if needed), b) use the above tool (or a high quality hex key) to turn the nut (if needed), and c) go really, really easy and slow when turning itómaybe a ľ turn per day or something like that.

    Does that seem a reasonable approach? Iím not up for trying to replace the truss rod.

    We did this project since my son's buying an American-made Stratocaster. I have no idea about guitars or music generally, but he seems to. The aim is to be: a) an education for both of us in how guitars go together and work and can be broken, repaired, modified etc, b) as test bed for any future modifications to the Fender, and c) as a guitar to play (his fifth, with the sixth to come). The ST has all the supplied parts in it and itís working well, it is finished with a Feast & Watson Black Japan stain and Tru-Oil on the body and head with Tung Oil on the neck.

    Here is a picture:

    The only real problem we had was that when we installed the strings they ran along the frets. (Our pre-build was inadequate so we found this out late).

    In experimentation we found that by placing two layers of the plastic cut from a credit card under the feet of the saddle and then also rising the saddle to the maximum height, the string was playable. We concluded the neck had significant back bow and loosened the truss rod by about one to 1.5 turns over a couple of days. The nut was quite tight to turn and the supplied hex key slipped out a couple of times at the end of a ľ turn. The rod no longer turns and when trying to turn it more, the nut feels like it might be rounded out as it just slips around easily instead of engaging in the nut.

    Issue one is that the saddles are near their highest adjustment (indicating further back bow) and issue two is that further truss rod adjustments donít seem available. Need to fix both those issues, and hopefully Plan A will work and if not then Plan B should... I think... Or are there any better ideas?

    Last edited by Bluedirt; 04-08-2019 at 03:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Overlord of Music Sonic Mountain's Avatar
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    Jul 2017
    Toowoomba, Qld.
    Hmm, It'd be great to see some pictures. can you see down into the access hole?

    Where are you located? There might be a forum member nearby who can come and have a look before you spend any money.

    You shouldn't need to lubricate it, but you should definitely take it easy. I've no experience with the rounded nut tool, hopefully someone else does.
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  3. #3
    Thanks Sonic Mountain. I'm in Adelaide. I'm not too stressed about buying the tool in the hope it'll work, but I'd really, really, really hate to avoidably buy the wrong size!

    The pictures I've been able to get are fuzzy, to say the least, and just show a vague shape, really. Here's one:

  4. #4
    All the import guitars I've seen have been either 4 or 5mm allen key (with the exception of Fender MIM @ 3/16"). I believe 4mm is the most common nowadays, and the two PBG kits I've built have both been 4mm.

    Measure the key that was included with the kit with a set of calipers and that will tell you what the nut is also. (or supposed to be)

    I agree with Sonic that a new neck (or even fairly new) shouldn't need to be lubricated. IF it does need it, don't drench it thinking "more is better". If you saturate the wood at the truss rod, it can lead to even more problems other than a stuck nut.
    A couple of drops of good quality machine oil is all it should require. I don't recommend any kind of "spray" lubricant (DW-40; RP-7 etc)

    Stand the guitar straight up on its end (truss rod end up, I put it on a guitar stand) use a piece of wire (straightened out paperclip, or similar works great) use the wire to carefully drip the oil right down the wire into the threaded portion of the nut. The wire acts as a guide to deliver the oil right where you want it and not down the sides of the nut. The idea is also to control the flow. Not squirt a big splooge of oil down there. Let it sit for a while. It does take time (possibly over night).

    You could always make your own "gripper" like Dan E did originally too. Wouldn't take much doing.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  5. #5
    Thanks McCreed. I'll think twice on the lubricant.

    I'll also get some calipers through the week and measure the supplied key. On one hand the fact the nut seems rounded out doesn't quite give confidence the size of the key is 100% correct for the nut, on the other hand when the truss rod was turning the key seemed very tightly engaged and I had no doubt at the time it was correctly sized (till it slipped out). It was in fact quite tight to get in and out.

    I expect it was operator error, one of my specialities, although I'm surprised to have so badly misused an Allen key while being super careful and slow and pushing it in as turning. Or maybe the nut could have been softer metal than the key. I had to turn the key quite hard to get it to turn.

    Whatever the cause, I tried to measure the key with the ruler again and compared it to drill bits. On reflection it may well be 5mm, way off 1/8ths... But the calipers will tell us for sure.

    The kit was: 'Pit Bull Guitars DST-1 Electric Guitar Kit (American Ash Body)'. A beautiful bit of timber.
    Last edited by Bluedirt; 04-08-2019 at 07:01 PM.

  6. #6
    I've got some calipers now and measured the key across the flat surfaces. It measured 3.9mm. I suppose that means the size is 4mm, as suggested by McCreed, given the key would have to be a fraction smaller than the nut head and it;s clearly not 5mm, 1/8 or 3/16 which are the other options. So, I'm going to order this gripper tool and see how it goes!
    Last edited by Bluedirt; 05-08-2019 at 07:00 PM.

  7. #7
    So, I'm going to order this gripper tool and see how it goes!
    Yep, 4mm. Let us know how you go with the gripper. It's good to get real end-user experience outside of what the retailer is spruiking!
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

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