When anything goes wrong with your bass guitar, it may seem like the end of the world. After all, as musicians, we depend on our instruments to get us through everything. Through emotional hardships and financial, too, our instruments are supposed to make it through even when we can’t.
So when you see your warped bass guitar neck, it may feel like a punch just below the gut. Not only is this every player’s nightmare, but few bassists actually know how to correct the problem and fix the bass guitar. Even fewer understand just how common a warped neck is.
It may be scary, but it is nothing to panic over. Warped necks are part of our world. The best thing you can do is learn how to diagnose the problem and work through it with a calm attitude.
First off, you need to check which way your neck is warping. If it is bowing inwards (dipping), then your neck has too little stress on it. If you neck is bowing outwards (peaking) then your neck has too much stress on it.
Believe it or not, there are a variety of things that can cause neck warping. One of the most common is changing tuning. When you change tuning, your string gauge needs to change as well. This makes up for the difference in tension to achieve said desired tuning. If you don’t change your string gauge, you need to adjust your neck. All tuning have different tension levels. Keep this in mind, as it will also affect your intonation.
If your guitar is in a cold room half of the day, and then a hot room the other half, your neck can start to dip due to the extreme temperature changes. It doesn’t mean your neck is broken, only that the wood expanded and unexpanded, which allowed the truss rod to move.
There are numerous ways for your neck to warp, but only one way to fix them all; adjusting the truss rod of your bass guitar.
On most bass guitars, the truss rod will be behind a plastic cover on the neck, just behind the nut. In some cases(mostly Fender) it will be located at the end of the bridge. This means that you will have to take your face plate off. No big deal. To adjust the truss rod, you will need either a flat head screw driver or a hex (Allen) wrench, depending on your make.
The same rules as all tools apply to your truss rod; lefty loosey, righty tighty. If your neck is dipping, you will need to tighten your truss rod in order to add more tension to correct. If you neck is peaking, you will need to loosen your truss rod in order to alleviate the tension.
Either way, never adjust more than a quarter turn at a time, no matter the circumstance.
A little goes a long way, and you can further damage your neck by being careless. Between each adjustment, hold your bass guitar away from you at a forty-five degree angle to check your work. Once it is nice and straight with a tiny bit of relief, you are all set. You have just fixed your warped bass guitar neck.
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