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Rattling Truss Rod on a Washburn XB500


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My Washburn XB500 has a rattling truss rod - or at least, something inside the neck is rattling, whether it be the rod, or the channel that supports the rod  It does it mainly when I play a B flat on the G string - so, a sympathetic vibration.  It may instead be a rattling fret, or a loose tuning peg.

 

Is there anything that I can try at home - say, a quarter turn on the truss rod, or gently hammer down the frets  - before I take it to a luthier, or source a new neck?

 

 

Edited by bass_dinger
clarifying what I will hit with a hammer . . .
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I had this on Squier Jaguar Bass. Had the shop I sent it back to not returned it to Fender against my express wishes, I'd have tried the following

 

Tuners: brace each tuner whilst plucking the  G string and see if that makes any difference

 

Frets: these do not normally rattle per se when set in the neck but may, if set too high, cause fret buzz not rattle.

 

Truss Rod; this is what I had and if I inserted the truss rod key and braced it the noise went away. Needless to say the truss rod was already correctly adjusted. If your truss rod is not correctly adjusted and very loose, that may be the cause and easily rectified but if your truss rod was very loose it's likely your neck would be quite bowed, which I guess it is not? Equally if the truss rod is broken it could rattle too, but again you should be able to spot that as the allen key socket will just turn and turn.

 

Options; I was going to experiment with running/injecting some thin glue down the truss rod channel,( hold the bass on its bottom edge), something that sets soft rather than hard so any future adjustment is not ruled out. The other option is to carefully remove a fret( mask the wood on either side), then with a very fine bit carefully drill down to the truss rod channel and again inject ( syringe would work) some soft setting glue which should damp any rattle. Needless to say if you then adjust the truss rod it may break the glue bond and you are back to square one, so make sure the action is how you want it before doing the work. Had this not worked I was going to see if some expanding foam might have worked but getting it in before it started to expand may have been an issue. It's always a good idea before adjusting the truss rod to mark the original position of it and then you know where to go back to if necessary.

 

My truss rod rattle was more like a ghost note when I played the bass but could be heard clearly by sticking my ear against the neck and playing acoustically.

 

Just going back to you 'hammering down the frets', you could put a straight edge along the fretboard , any high ones will cause the edge to pivot on it. There's loads of YT videos if you are unsure what to do, you may need to remove the fret, reglue( superglue) and clamp it as left to its own devices it may just pop up again!

 

Oh, the other thing to check as it is an active bass is that the knobs, saddles, battery, electronics or even jack socket are not the cause of the rattle too.

 

 

Edited by yorks5stringer
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 18/01/2022 at 20:03, yorks5stringer said:

Oh, the other thing to check as it is an active bass is that the knobs, saddles, battery, electronics or even jack socket are not the cause of the rattle too.

 

 

 

Good advice!  I took a while to look at the possibilities, and it seems to the inside of a tuning peg, rattling in sympathy with the notes.

I will try the other options too, when time allows.

Thank you so much for your clear advice. 

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  • 3 months later...

I took the bass to my local luthier, who tells me that the truss rod is as tight as it can go - there is no more adjustment left in it.  Nor can it be easily slackened off - again, it is stiff.  

 

Only when 4 of the 5 strings are loosened, does the neck become straight.  I am told that the buzz is likely to be fret buzz, and it seems to me that it is getting progressively worse.  In January,  it was "when I play a B flat on the G string".  Now, in May, there is a resonance or buzz, when I play the notes D to G flat on the G string.

I am told that the truss rod can be replaced, or a new neck can be made.  Both options will cost the thick end of £1,000.  

 

So, I am looking for a replacement neck; or a replacement bass; or some advice on how I might get the instrument working again.  In particular are there any luthiers here who can fix a maxed-out truss rod?    

 

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Posted (edited)

Don’t they normally bung a couple of small washers under the nut on the truss rod in cases like this? 
I also seem to recall in the 90’s a tech telling me he had squirted something in the truss rod cavity not sure what it would have been something reasonably thick or jelly like to stop rattling on some basses maybe grease? 

Edited by Bunion
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7 hours ago, bass_dinger said:

So, I am looking for a replacement neck; or a replacement bass; or some advice on how I might get the instrument working again.  In particular are there any luthiers here who can fix a maxed-out truss rod?

Probably.  These things are usually fixable although there are risks to the fretboard.  But, all going well, it should be around a tenth of the cost you've been quoted.  I'll pm you in the morning.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Probably.  These things are usually fixable although there are risks to the fretboard.  But, all going well, it should be around a tenth of the cost you've been quoted.  I'll pm you in the morning.

If that doesn’t pan out I’m waiting on standby with the truss rod gel

 

 

 

92B5A4C9-3BF4-4CA1-82A8-1C6B6E7D48D7.gif

Edited by Bunion
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12 minutes ago, Bunion said:

If that doesn’t pan out I’m waiting on standby with the truss rod gel

 

 

 

92B5A4C9-3BF4-4CA1-82A8-1C6B6E7D48D7.gif

If that is Plan B, then I plan to take up guitar!!

 

I think that the stuff that goes into the truss rod cavity is similar to bathroom sealant  - flexible enough to move with the truss rod, but grippy enough to stop the metalwork from vibrating. 

 

However, it seems that my problem is not a rattling truss rod, but one that is fully tightened and stuck in both directions.   So, no washers can be fitted, and we have no more adjustment to remove the bowing in the neck.

 

It is a sad day for my bass guitar....

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Posted (edited)

I've just exchanged pm's with @bass_dinger  about the process and potential issues with trussrods and how I might be able to help.   It might be of general interest, so I've copied and pasted some of that here below and with a few extra points for a more general answer to the topic :)

 

 

Making and modding guitars and basses is my hobby and over the years I've managed to rescue a number of necks and seized, ineffective or broken truss rods. 

 

Depending on what type of rod it is and what specifically is the problem determines the options open to try.  

 

A 'traditional' one-way rod with removeable nut, for instance, that has run out of adjustment, can often be sorted with a spacer-washer added to allow the rod to bend a little further.  Sometimes that's enough (although it is a symptom or something else that has moved, dried, warped that resulted it in bottoming on the trussrod thread in the first place).

 

In the case of a modern two-way rod with a welded adjuster, though, it is quite often the case that the fretboard needs to be removed, the rod replaced and the fretboard reglued.  

 

To remove the fretboard involves heating it up to soften the glue and progressively ease a thin steel sheet under the board gently easing the board away from the neck. There are risks.  Sometimes, depending on the way the fretboard has been made, the fretboard breaks.  Also, it depends on the glue used.  Some makers (not Washburn IMHO) use epoxy and those boards have to be planed off and a new fretboard made.  Both of these possibilities, however, are rare and the neck can generally still be saved by cutting and fitting a new fretboard.  And, it sometimes turns out that the truss rod problem is the effect rather than the cause and that the neck itself has an irresolvable issue.  But again, that is pretty rare.  Often, once the fretboard has been removed, then the root cause can be fixed - a set bend can often be planed flat; a split in the wood can often be secured; a broken rod can usually be replaced

 

Removal of the fretboard sounds scary!

 

Well - there are risks as mentioned, but generally it is relatively straightforward.  This is a Gillett Contour where Gillett Guitars asked me if I could remove a fretted fretboard and make them a replacement fretless fretboard for a customer - it's the same process.

 

Here I am ironing off the fretted fretboard - takes around an hour taking it nice and steady, heating a fret's worth at a time and walking the thin steel sheet up progressively.  Celluloid dots will generally need to be replaced but MoP or clay dots generally are 'untroubled' ;)

ZMPXSShl.jpg

 

Here it is off.  In the case of a trussrod replacement, the rod cap would now be taken off, truss rod replaced, cap replaced and then the fretboard reglued.  In the event that the neck has a set curve in it, I would plane it back flat at this stage:

U9OMvPCl.jpg

 

And then the fretboard re-glued (in this case it was the ebony fretless board I'd made for it):

oHXgIigl.jpg

 

It then depends on the neck finish, but with luck, there is very little impact on the neck itself - masking the neck when the board is glued back on, it is usually just a case of carefully scraping off the glue squeeze-out flush and wiping along fretboard edge with a cloth moistened with the an appropriate finish (gloss, matt or oil)  :)

Edited by Andyjr1515
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Posted (edited)

That Ebony Fretboard looks so good...

Speaks volumes for your work when a manufacturer comes to you for a remedy... and see your name against a fair few rescued and custom items... headstock, truss rod issues, inlays etc

Edited by PaulThePlug
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Andyjr1515's PM, and this thread, and  messages from basschaters, have given me options to think about.

 

Most pressing is whether the existing fretboard can be saved and reused - right now, my understanding is that it could be reusable- but I need to be open to other options. For example, I would be content to lose the fret board (and the markers), if that makes the work easier for andyjr1515.

 

My aim is to have a usuable instrument again.  However, I am also excited about the possibility of improving the instrument - not just a replacement truss rod or fret board, but a better truss rod, or an improved fret board.

 

I also need to think about a spare bass while the neck on the 500 is in for repair.  That gives me the option of converting one of them to fretless.  However, right now, that feels like an unnecessary distraction.

 

Over the next few days, I will collect the bass and bring it home, and take some photos to share with andyjr1515. That will give him a better idea of the task.

 

 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

The saga continues.

 

Get a new bass 

Before I sent off the '99 XB500 for repair, I needed a replacement.  A helpful Basschatter contacted me, and within a week I had collected a second bass - a '94 XB500.   This earlier bass has a 3-way switch rather than a pan-pot to select the pickups - and the pickups are J-type single coils, rather than humbuckers.  At first, I struggled - I felt that I had to push the bass (and myself) to get a good sound - I needed more skill, more technique, in order to play well.  However, bandmates told me that they prefer the sound of the J-type, and I hear that it sits better it the mix.  It is also more rewarding - find the sweet spot on the string, dig in, and it gives more variety than the humbucker ever did.  (By contrast, the humbuckers on the '99 bass felt more even in response, more manageable for a novice, more forgiving - and generally, more "polite").  

So, I have a replacement bass that suits me well, and which I am happy to use while the other ('99 XB500) goes in for repair. 

 

Dismantle and dispatch the old bass 

I did not need to send the whole bass in for repair - just the neck.  However, I was nervous about removing the neck.  I knew enough to loosen the strings before I removed the screws, but needed advice before I made a start.   Andy advised that I should release the initial tension for all of the screws - 1/4 turn anticlockwise - and then take each screw right out, one at a time.  For myself, I numbered the screws (just in case they were different lengths, or thread pitches), and screwed them into a sheet of cardboard.  They were all the same, so, I popped the card and screws into an envelope which I then taped to the body.   I don't want to mislay the hardware!  

 

With all of the screws out, I was advised to rock the neck lightly backwards and forward a touch, to loosen it enough to be able to lift it out vertically from the neck pocket.  I should not try to pull it out from the side (the pocket and neck usually have a slight taper and so generally will not pull out from the side).  I followed the advice and the neck lifted out of a nicely snug pocket, as Andy said that it should.   

 

Having suffered the mild trauma of taking my bass apart, I next need to find suitable packaging - I am thinking that a carpet roll tube and bubble wrap would be a good choice.  I also need to decide whether to post it now, during a Post Office strike, or to wait until later in the month.

 

With a new bass already in use, and the old bass in bits, the possibility of a repair is all starting to feel more real. 

 

Just for fun, here are both basses together, at a wedding (I played.  The basses were not getting married . . . ).  Green '99 (in need of repair); and the replacement ash (?) '94 model.  Spot the differences!   

 

 

              

20220528_155332.jpg

20220528_155723.jpg

Edited by bass_dinger
Tiredness made for a poor first draft...spot
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  • 4 weeks later...

OK - an update. 

 

I think this is going to be OK.  

 

@bass_dinger sent the neck to me arriving yesterday...very nicely packaged and I had an initial look when it arrived and yes, the rod would only move 1/8 turn max...hmmm, but it did turn.  Also, the 5mm Allen key in my set (not all sets are equal ;) ) seems a fairly snug fit with no indication of slipping even when tackling the immoveable force.

 

A torch-light inspection showed it to be a two-way rod with the adjuster end block just visible.

 

So this morning, out came my WD40 can with its long probe.  I don't use WD-40 much, but as a screw releaser it has its uses.  I squirted the WD-40 down past the adjuster to the screw block and left it around 15 minutes and then started seeing if it would loosen.  And yes it did! 

 

I turned it a few times until I could measure a tangible bow with my levelling beam.  I then started tightening back to where it had been jammed (and where the neck was pretty level without string tension) and gave it a bit more welly...and it turned past its previous limit.  A few more 1/8 turns clockwise and I now have the level of back bow that would typically start with on a new build just before adding a set of strings.

 

So I think that the truss rod is probably OK and fretboard will not need removing.  I'll squirt a touch more WD 40 in and repeat the process, but I think this is going to be fine :)

  

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This feels like the equivalent of taking one's dog to the vet for major surgery, only to be told that it's just indigestion, and that some Syrup of Figs will sort it out...

 

I have learnt that:

Not all 5mm Allen keys are equal. So I will get a proper one, to keep in my kit case, rather than the one from my Poundland set. 

 

Not all luthiers are equal. In retrospect, it seems obvious that the first luthier should have tried an engineering solution (loosen the nut), before the luthier solution (replace the neck or truss rod).  Ironically, @Bunionwas closest to the target when he quipped about truss rod gel being the answer. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am thinking about having the neck made into a lined fretless. 

 

Before that happens, I have a question for those bassists who are playing a lined fretless.

 

I already know that I don't use the position markers on the fretboard. I instead use the side dots. 

 

So, should the dots to be on the fretline rather than in between them?

 

I don't already play fretless so, I have no opinion on what side dot positions I would prefer.

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16 minutes ago, bass_dinger said:

I am thinking about having the neck made into a lined fretless. 

 

Before that happens, I have a question for those bassists who are playing a lined fretless.

 

I already know that I don't use the position markers on the fretboard. I instead use the side dots. 

 

So, should the dots to be on the fretline rather than in between them?

 

I don't already play fretless so, I have no opinion on what side dot positions I would prefer.

No problem - Basschat is a great place to ask for that kind of question.  

 

 

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39 minutes ago, bass_dinger said:

I am thinking about having the neck made into a lined fretless. 

 

Before that happens, I have a question for those bassists who are playing a lined fretless.

 

I already know that I don't use the position markers on the fretboard. I instead use the side dots. 

 

So, should the dots to be on the fretline rather than in between them?

 

I don't already play fretless so, I have no opinion on what side dot positions I would prefer.

 

For me with a lined fretless it would depend on how "visible" the lines are under stage playing conditions. If they can be easily seen (or as easily as actual frets) then the markers will be fine between the lines as they are on a fretted bass. If the lines are going to be subtle then it would be worth moving the dots to be where the lines are.

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I have two 'bought' fretless basses and one self made.  All have the dots where the lines are (or would be for two of them).  The different dot  positions do not seem to cause me any difficulty going from fretted to fretless.

Edited by 3below
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