Straightening your Electric or Acoustic Guitar neck for better playability

Author: Ian-Bush  Date Posted:8 August 2012 

Being a wooden instrument you will experience some movement in the neck from time to time, particularly between seasons. This is completely normal and easy to remedy if you know how.  

It's important to note that over-tightening or loosening (our guitars have a 2-way truss rod) can result in damage to the guitar. If you work in small increments you should be ok, but if you're not so confident best to visit your local luthier.


Tools Required

Capo, Feeler Gauge, Truss Rod Allen key, Tuner


1. Tune your guitar to your normal tuning (with your normal gauge of strings on the guitar)

2. Place a capo on the first fret

3. Hold the guitar in playing position

4. Place your finger on the very last fret of the neck on the low E

5. Measure the gap at the fret the ideal gaps are shown below under "ideal gaps”. These gaps are super thin - about the thickness of a business card so if you don’t have a feeler gauge a business card will do a basic job. (You can buy a feeler gauge from a hardware store for only a few dollars)

6. If you have too much gap, adjust the truss rod 1/4 turn clockwise and recheck

7. If you have too little gap (it's too close to the fret) adjust the truss rod 1/4 turn anticlockwise and recheck

Ideal Gaps

Steel-string acoustic guitar - Gap 0.05mm at the 8th fret

Nylon-string acoustic guitar - Gap 0.05mm at the 8th fret

Electric guitar Gap 0.025mm at the 8th fret

Bass Guitar Gap 0.356mm at the 7th fret

Comments (2)

Great timing

By: Anonymous on 9 August 2012
With the changes in humidity and temperature during wintertime, the guitar tone woods will shrink, expand and generally move around. This is a great blog post to read up and know how to keep your guitar in top playing condition. Great article Ian and great timing. I have a few guitars I was about to adjust the truss rod... so now i can put them up on the workbench.

what is the scale?

By: Anonymous on 8 August 2012
Great guide but you don't say whether it is inches or millimeters. Please add in this detail. Thanks.

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