Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: American Strat truss rod nut semi-rounding out. Looking for advise

  1. #1
    Supporting Member SoulFetish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,353
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 501/1
    Given: 418/0
    Rep Power
    7

    American Strat truss rod nut semi-rounding out. Looking for advise

    A very good friend passed away recently and left his American Strat to me (mid 90's, I think).

    I removed the strings so I could check the electronics, clean the neck/frets, set the intonation,etc. -- give it a thorough 'go-through. I ordered a 3 pack of strings from Sweetwater and cleaned up the exterior and electronics while I waited for the shipment. When the strings arrived I installed the strings and began to bring up the tension slowly, to check the neck for adjustment.
    I noticed pretty quickly that it was in need of adjustment, so I let off much of the string tension and grabbed my hex set and as I began to turn it (1/8th" hex), it slipped in the nut. I removed the tool and reinserted it to see if there was any play, which there was.
    So, rather than damage it any further, I did some reading. Apparently, this particular neck is a M-F'er to fix if the nut strips to the point of rounding out enough so it won't take a 1/8th" hex anymore.
    I'm guessing that the wrong tool had been used on the neck a few times. My particular SAE hex set is kind of shit and hasn't been upgraded yet, but I did find that an old xcelite attachment was a better fit. Still, it worries me and I don't think I can afford any more slippage before it damages to the point of needing replacement.
    Stewmac has a tool which may be helpful, and I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this particular tool, or had any advice about how to proceed with this issue in general?
    Here is the tool:
    Gripper Truss Rod Wrenches

    I would like to keep this in it's original condition.

    0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

  2. #2
    Supporting Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    3,749
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 441/0
    Given: 83/0
    Rep Power
    14
    Sometimes a Torx bit of a slightly larger size can be carefully ground with a slight taper and the 'flutes' sharpened a little more with a Dremel cutting disk. This can be tapped into the hex recess and give enough purchase to get the nut out if it isn't too tight.

    0 Not allowed! Not allowed!

  3. #3
    Supporting Member SoulFetish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,353
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 501/1
    Given: 418/0
    Rep Power
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    Sometimes a Torx bit of a slightly larger size can be carefully ground with a slight taper and the 'flutes' sharpened a little more with a Dremel cutting disk. This can be tapped into the hex recess and give enough purchase to get the nut out if it isn't too tight.
    at this point, I could probably back the nut off. Problem is, in these guitars, the truss nut is set way back in the neck with a walnut insert that would have to come out as well to remove the nut.
    Does not look like a quick fix. But it may be the best fix.

    0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

  4. #4
    Supporting Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Nova Scotia
    Posts
    219
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 116/1
    Given: 271/1
    Rep Power
    4
    Those Stewmac tools look like they could be worth a try, although you may end up needing to grind a little off the end, depending on what size the taper starts at. Mick's point about sharpening the flutes is a good one; my favourite hex drivers are these Wera ones https://www-us.wera.de/en/great-tools/hex-plus/ that are already shaped this way and they grip extremely well. Also of course try to pick out the recess to ensure there is no dirt, metal bits etc. in the hex socket. I'm not sure what Fender were thinking using such a small hex size, and then burying the nut behind a plug. It might be (barely) adequate under ideal circumstances, but the reality is that truss rod adjusters get abused and they should know that and design accordingly. Good luck and sorry to hear about your friend.

    0 Not allowed! Not allowed!

  5. #5
    Supporting Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    2,939
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 2,165/1
    Given: 1,235/2
    Rep Power
    7

    1 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    - Own Opinions Only -

  6. #6
    Supporting Member SoulFetish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,353
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 501/1
    Given: 418/0
    Rep Power
    7
    Helmholtz, thanks for that link, by the way. It was exactly the info I needed.

    So, I ended up buying the Truss Rod Gripper tool from StewMac. I also bought the replacement truss rod nut and some other supplies as well so the cost of shipping would seem like it was worth it.
    The package arrived last week, and I got set up to start the process on Saturday after work. This was my first experience buying any tools from StewMac, but they have some great ideas for products they offer and seem to have a good reputation in the community, so I was looking forward to doing this project...
    I cannot stress how disappointed I am in the Truss rod tool I received. It didn't last longer that 1 minute into the first time I used it. * The first use! This is a complete piece of shit! I have no idea how they source it, but the quality of steel in the one I received is complete garbage. I'm really hoping that it was a total outlier, and maybe they ran into a batch that was not hardened properly?
    It's difficult to photograph, but the tool basically turned into a friggin dowel after 30 seconds. I couldn't believe it.



    This would be bad enough, but it essentially made the condition of the nut worse and I had no idea if it would even be salvageable. But, I did the best I could trying some of the suggestions posted above while tearing through my father's and my tool collection for something that might fit and work.
    I figured that the condition of the nut was beyond working with a hex tool, so I found a metric torx tool that seemed like a snug fit (I even took a propane torch to it and quenched it in mineral oil before I began). But this failed as well.
    With a flashlight and my magnifying visor on , I thought I could see that the hex shape hadn't completely rounded out. So I grabbed the old mans venerable Xcelite hex set, found a size which was a pretty good fit and started the process again slowly....
    It seemed like it might be turning, and the walnut plug looked like it might be working out of the headstock a little bit!





    I might be able to save this thing after all. I took the soldering iron to the hole again to heat up the glue, and see if I could work it out a little more.



    I'm going to take this bit of progress as a big win for the night. I decided to stop here for now and finish up the day with some encouragement. I'm optimistic that another session should rap this up successfully. But for anyone interested, the number stamped on the Xcelite attachment is 24-99. It will grab the 1/8" truss head when the standard size begins to spin out. Here is the hero of the day:


    1 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

  7. #7
    Supporting Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    2,939
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 2,165/1
    Given: 1,235/2
    Rep Power
    7
    A drop of hot water applied to the outside of the dowel before heating might help to melt the glue. Most glues can be broken by steam.

    1 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    - Own Opinions Only -

  8. #8
    Supporting Member SoulFetish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,353
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 501/1
    Given: 418/0
    Rep Power
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmholtz View Post
    A drop of hot water applied to the outside of the dowel before heating might help to melt the glue. Most glues can be broken by steam.
    I took your advise. I applied just a small amount of water to the outside perimeter of the dowel before I heated it up, and the walnut dowel came right out with minimal torque.

    What a relief to have that part of the job accomplished. This was the most sensitive part of part of the operation where, if something went wrong, it would probably mean setting up the drill press and doing some cutting. But, it didn't come to that.
    In any case, the only other hiccup was after the dowel was removed, the truss rod nut got to about a 1/2" from the outside and would not budge. It was just spinning in place. Pretty easy to see and figure out that it was butting up against a thin layer of glue left behind by the dowel. After looking through my dremel bits, I found a sanding attachment with the right diameter to clean up the route. It didn't take much, and the truss nut came out nicely.
    I thought I took a couple of photos, but I guess I didn't.
    I applied a little Teflon lube to the threads on the new nut before I installed it; then another thin coat on the washer that separates the dowel from the nut. The last step was to take some light sandpaper and quickly smooth out the outside of the walnut a little bit, apply a small amount of wood glue, and reinsert it.
    I'll have to do a little finish work after the wood glue dries on this one. Now that I've gone through this process, if I had to do it again, I could probably do it so there was no visual evidence that the work was done (or very close).
    But not this time. There's a little cosmetic work to be done here

    This is a big win, though.
    Helmholtz, Bloomfield, and Mick, I appreciate you guys helping me out with some guidance in this job. I appreciate it!

    2 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

  9. #9
    Supporting Member SoulFetish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,353
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 501/1
    Given: 418/0
    Rep Power
    7
    One really important thing I wanted to mention was that I called StewMac this morning and told them about my experience with the truss rod gripper tool I received and they refunded my money no questions asked, with no need for returning the tool.
    Certainly, I understand that no manufacturer has a perfect batting average. So, even though the tool didn't work out in this case, the service stepped up and I'm happy with the resolution. I personally would not hesitate to do business with them in the future.

    1 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

  10. #10
    Supporting Member SoulFetish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,353
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 501/1
    Given: 418/0
    Rep Power
    7
    Last post and follow-up:

    I modified this tool to see if I could recover some use out of it. I used a bench grinder at my friend's shop to grind off the stripped end and finished it off by hand using a file.
    Then I hardened the steel by heating the end 2/3rds of the hex using a propane torch, and quenching it in mineral oil.
    It's pretty interesting, you can physically feel the difference before and after just by touch. But more importantly, it held up physically testing it out with applied torque. The test was done superficially, in that it was done by hand; no machine tests or measurements were taken as I don't have any equipment to verify hardness before and after.

    You can see the original tool in the above post. Here is the modified/hardened tool:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	StewMac TrussRod Gripper - Ground&Hardened.jpg 
Views:	23 
Size:	886.2 KB 
ID:	57431

    2 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    Last edited by SoulFetish; 03-18-2020 at 09:18 AM.
    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

  11. #11
    Supporting Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    PDX
    Posts
    3,325
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 60/0
    Given: 35/0
    Rep Power
    18
    Just be cognizant that until you temper it it might stay very brittle and sheer off under torque. Assuming it's just O1 drill rod you probably don't have much to worry about as it's a fairly forgiving material. I use lots of it for all kinds of custom tooling and cutters. Many times I don't bother hardening it as it's a single use tool and it won't need to cut again. I also use it for truss rods as well as truss rod nuts and it's great for those as well.

    Glad it all worked out for you and i hope that the Stewmac replacement nut was higher quality than the Fender originals which are usually terrible.

    1 Not allowed! Not allowed!

  12. #12
    Supporting Member SoulFetish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,353
    Thumbs Up/Down
    Received: 501/1
    Given: 418/0
    Rep Power
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by David King View Post
    Just be cognizant that until you temper it it might stay very brittle and sheer off under torque.
    Shit! Total rookie move on my part. I completely forgot temper it after quenching. Hmmm, I should have done it right after, if I understand it correctly. Do you think it's too late?
    The tool mod was kind of an improvisation, because I was essentially playing with house money. Even so, it was an oversight form the beginning. I didn't even think to see what the best way to temper it using what I had available. Looks like heating it up in the 400˚- 900˚ range for an hour is the generally accepted practice in this case... and that's probably not Fahrenheit, is it? how am I supposed to get a controlled 750˚F burn for an hour without a kiln (or whatever)? I do have a buddy who has a glass blowing shop, and my old man has a Reliant wood burning stove?
    How do you do it, David?

    Assuming it's just O1 drill rod you probably don't have much to worry about as it's a fairly forgiving material. I use lots of it for all kinds of custom tooling and cutters. Many times I don't bother hardening it as it's a single use tool and it won't need to cut again. I also use it for truss rods as well as truss rod nuts and it's great for those as well.
    Hopefully, the slower cooling of oil quenching relieved enough of the brittleness of hardening to keep it from breaking (fingers crossed).


    Glad it all worked out for you and i hope that the Stewmac replacement nut was higher quality than the Fender originals which are usually terrible.
    StewMacs looks okay. It's bullet shaped, like I think my '79 strat had. The one nice thing is that the nut is hollow through, so you can get enough of the tool in for it to get a secure grip. The Fender slot looks like it's chamfered and shallow.
    I'm really glad it worked out as well, considering that I had no practice run. But if I've learned anything in my life, it's to trust the learning process.
    Thanks for chiming in and bringing that to my attention, David. I really appreciate it. Even if I get away with it in this case, it could have cost me in a project down the road

    0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Gibson2015 lpm vs studio vs American special strat
    By Ren in forum Plug Your Music/Band
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-25-2015, 11:33 AM
  2. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-10-2011, 03:44 PM
  3. Strat truss rod allen key size
    By Chevy in forum Guitar Tech
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 06-26-2011, 06:01 PM
  4. My Strat wiring plan... is it good? stupid? Please advise.
    By BlackAngusYoung in forum Guitar Tech
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 04-23-2010, 02:35 AM
  5. Standard Tweed bulnose rounding radius for routing?
    By tubeswell in forum Cabinetry
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-28-2008, 06:10 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •