70 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2009 www.premierguitar.com
This is a good example of how revealing
“what’s hiding behind door No. 1” could
be very disappointing. A look of shock and
surprise came over our customer’s face as
we inspected this 1956 Gretsch Corsair in
his presence. Once I removed the truss rod
cover, you could see that the truss rod nut
was missing. No, wait! The nut was missing
but the truss rod was also snapped clean off,
flush up to the half-round washer. The customer had no idea that the rod was snapped,
making the relief to the neck non-adjustable.
Thank goodness we have our in-house procedures when we inspect and check in custom-er-owned instruments. If possible, it’s always
a good idea to inspect the instrument in the
customer’s presence and discuss its overall
condition, making sure to list any dents,
scratches and/or major damage.
1956 Gretsch Corsair, Model 6014
The Corsair evolved from the Synchromatic
100, a non-cutaway acoustic archtop. It has
a 16"-wide body, large open “F” holes, the
open “G” tailpiece and “T-roof” headstock
logo. The body, neck and headstock are fully
bound, and the rosewood fingerboard has
block pearloid inlays.
Truss Rod Rescue
If it weren’t for the Truss Rod Rescue Kit
(Stewart Macdonald #5680), the fingerboard
would’ve required removal, as well as the
filler strip and damaged truss rod. Then there
would’ve been the added prep time dupli-
cating the rod and reassembling everything,
along with possible binding rebuild and finish
touchup. With many hours—and at quite an
expense—I’m not convinced that this guitar
would have been a good candidate other-
wise. It’s really fantastic that Stew Mac has
come up with a brilliant alternative for repair-
ing a snapped truss rod.
Hex Wrench: The cutter and threading die
attach to the wrench for easy control.
Cutter: Removes wood around the truss rod,
exposing the rod and making room for the
Threading Die: A specially designed 10-32
die that cleans up the existing threads and
cuts new thread on the truss rod.
Pilot: Guides the cutter into a 3/8" truss rod
access hole for Fender guitars.
Spacers: Provide a smooth bearing surface
for the truss rod nut, and cover the last few
partial threads left by the die.
After I popped off the metal, half-round
Gibson-style washer using my mini spatula,
I was ready to attach the Truss Rod Rescue
cutter to the hex wrench and give it a whirl. I
used the cutter, turning clockwise to remove
wood until there was 5/8" of the truss rod
exposed—using only moderate pressure
and letting the tool do the cutting, stop-
ping frequently to remove wood chips from
the cavity. With the wood removed, I had
access to more of the truss rod and needed
to create more threads. I carefully threaded
the die onto the very short length of the
existing threads, turning slowly and stopping
when I hit resistance. From there, I continued
a quarter turn, cutting new threads, then
backed the die out, cleaned the threads and
removed the shavings from the truss rod
cavity. Paraffin was used to produce cleaner
threads, making it an all-around smoother
and easier job.
We were ready for a spacer (provided in the
kit) to cover the last bit of unthreaded rod
and provide a metal-bearing surface, and followed that by threading on a brass traditional
hex truss rod nut (Stewart Macdonald item
#1018). Using my 5/16" truss rod wrench (item
#6100) with its comfortable rubberized handle,
I adjusted the rod, creating .010" of relief to
the fingerboard. This repair was really that
simple. I was concerned that I might run into a
few snags along the way, making the job just
a bear … but it couldn’t have gone any more
smoothly. I’ll take a little credit for reviving the
truss rod, but I think this one is mostly due to
the Truss Rod Rescue Kit.
See you next month.
John Brown, of Brown's Guitar Factory, is the inventor of the
Fretted/Less bass. He owns and operates a full guitar manufacturing and repair/restoration facility, which is staffed by
a team of talented luthiers. He is also the designer of guitar
making/repair tools and accessories that are used today by
instrument builders throughout the world.
RESTORING AN ORIGINAL
1956 Gretsch Corsair Truss Rod Rescue