Studio Skillset: Guitar and Bass Setups Part 1—Neck Adjustment and Action

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Unless you’re dealing with a very old or out-of-whack instrument, adjusting the truss rod is a pretty safe and painless procedure. That said, the middle of a tense session and a player’s prized instrument don’t make for an ideal scenario  for your first attempt! As with anything, you’ll improve with practice. Acquiring a junky guitar to restore to health is a good way to gain confidence, fast.

Tune in next week for Part 2 when we learn to quickly and easily fix intonation issues that can rob a guitar or bass of power, sweetness, and clarity.

Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn-based producer/engineer who works with uncommon artists, and a journalist who writes about music and how we make it. Visit him at

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  • Peter

    This is the clearest ‘how to’ on truss rods I’ve come across. Which frets to use, and which fret to measure at, using either a rough gauge (pick thickness) or a specific gape thickness for those of us with feeler gauges, gives me the confidence to try my hand at an adjustment that, quite frankly, was a bit too scarey for me in the past. Thanks!