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Changing to heavy gauge strings on acoustic guitars with no truss rod

Ok, so my parents went to Peru for a while and brought me back this beautiful acoustic guitar made by a small Peruvian shop called Effo Guitars. Upon first playing this acoustic, it sounded great and was very easy to play. However, it had ridiculously light gauged strings on it, which are not suitable for the style of music that I play. So I changed the strings to some D'Addario 0.12-0.53 gauge strings, which is what I usually play with, but the guitar now does not play all that well and accordingly does not sound all that good. The problem I'm looking at is way too high of action. So I'm thinking, "no big deal, I'll just adjust the truss rod a little bit and things will be alright" dice. I can't find any point on the whole guitar that will allow me to access my truss rod...not on the headstock, not on the edge of the sound port...I can't even feel anything inside the guitar.

Is it possible that this guitar's truss rod is not adjustable? If it is adjustable, why would any luthier build a guitar and not allow access to it? What are my options here?

I know that if it comes down to it, I could remove the piece of the bridge that sets the string height and shave some material off the bottom of it, but that is my absolute last resort...any suggestions?


Scoobie Sat, 01/20/2007 - 15:15

Some guitars don’t have a truss rod.....................

I've been playing guitar for along time and I don't trust just anybody setting up my guitars. You can screw up a guitar trying to adjust the truss rod if you don't know what your doing.

Take it to someone that specialize in guitar set-up and see what they say.
My guitars are set-up for what gauge string that I use, My 2 cents.


hueseph Sat, 01/20/2007 - 18:01

My first thought is that you have yourself a guitar designed for nylon strings. AKA a classical or flamenco guitar. Taking into consideration where the guitar is from, it seems likely. Nylon string guitars do NOT have truss rods. Get those Steel strings off that guitar before you do permanent damage. If it is a guitar of any value, you want to preserve the guitar as it is. If not, you can sell it to me. ;p . Otherwise, learn to appreciate the sound of nylon strings.

Tommy P. Sat, 01/20/2007 - 18:41

Get those heavy strings off asap, or you're guitar will be in need of repair. Keep it humidified and stored in its case.

No truss rod will mean you must stay within string tensions that the guitar was designed around.

Some guitars are not meant to be strung with traditional heavy gauge acoustic strings, especially those with thin vibrant tops. The high tension will pull and stress the wood, causing damage.
Common problems will be bowing of the neck, problems of neck warpage where the neck joins the body, pulling up of the bridge, undue stress on the top, and top warpage.

Try a set of DR RARE RPML-11 phosphor strings, they are designed to have lower tension.
Also, you may try some gypsy jazz guitar strings which are even lower in tension, due to the thin fragile design of a traditional Gypsy jazz guitar. The tone will be very different, and the silver plated copper strings wear out fast, but you'll be able to go with a heavier gauge.

Some manufacturers list the tensions of each individual string.

I agree that a pro setup will benefit, but 95% of the shops out there won't know anything about what I just said about varying string tensions, old fashioned trussless guitars and thin fragile woods. Find a good guitar shop/tech you can trust.

CoyoteTrax Sat, 01/20/2007 - 22:19

Tommy's got the right idea, get those heavy strings off your guitar asap. The guitar's made by some unknown small manuf. in peru...hello.

Sounds like you're stuck with using light gauge strings and playing the guitar according to it's design and specifications (not necessarily a bad thing). For example, I have a washburn d9 that sounds beautiful with light strings tuned to 420Hz instead of 440Hz. It's an amazing instrument provided you work within it's limitations. Push the envelope and it sounds like every other cheap chinese made ac guitar.

Changing out the bridge saddle is easy enough to do and can help you lower the action but again, the best idea, is to just go with the setup the manufacturer went with and count it as a blessing you have a unique guitar made in peru.

And BTW, some nylon string guitars actually DO have truss rods. I have no idea what hueseph is talking about. My nylon string guitar absolutely has a truss rod, so...

hueseph Sun, 01/21/2007 - 00:08

Well, traditionally nylon string guitars do NOT have truss rods. But hey what do I know. My bro works with a luthier here in Vancouver. Not exactly a guitar making epicenter but still. Yes I know that many of the newer electric-acoustic nylon strings have trusses. This is so that they can make a more shallow neck. The tensions created by nylon strings do not require a truss rod.

Some purists might think that cutting a channel in the neck for a truss will comprimise the tone. Not that you'd care but I do agree with that ideal. Then again I also think putting a peizo transducer in a classical guitar is idiotic.

Scroll down to physical characteristics.

"Locate the truss rod"

Being that the guitar is made in Peru where there are strong Spanish ties especially in music. It seems likely that the guitar is meant for nylon strings. Now I know that this is not necessarily true but it is likely.

anonymous Mon, 01/22/2007 - 16:11

the shop the guitar was purchased from had classical style guitars with wider necks and nylon strings as well as the style that I ended up with, which had a thinner neck and steel strings, albeit very light guage steel strings. So, I'm pretty sure the guitar was meant for steel strings, but I'm starting to get the feeling that it was meant for a lighter style of playing than I am used to. I think I will try Tommy P's suggestion with the DR low-tension strings. I play metal and fast-strumming country, and while it would be cool to learn how to play spanish tunes, I'm not going to stop playing the music that I love. If it comes down to it, I might just have to sell it and buy a dreadnaught style here in Canada, but here's hoping I don't have to!