(1 of 3) Neck Assessment and Adjustment on an Acoustic Guitar


  • 12 or 15 in. Metal Straight Edge
  • Alan Wrench, Hex Key or Socket Wrench
  • Light Piece of Paper, Paper Towel or light cloth to use as a backdrop
  • Phillips Head Screwdriver (if your guitar has a truss rod cover)

A bowed neck can cause all sorts of problems. Poor intonation and fret buzz are among the top two. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to check the straightness of your neck and make adjustments based on your diagnosis.

Visual Assessment

1. First, hold your guitar up and sight down the treble and bass sides of your instrument’s neck checking for any signs of a bow.


Physical Assessment

2. Place a straight edge flat on the frets in the middle of your guitar’s neck between the E and A strings. Now check for any rocking by alternating slight pressure between the ends of the ruler. If the ruler rocks up and down at all, then you probably have a forward bow in your neck.


4. Now check for any signs of a gap underneath the frets. You should use a white piece of paper or a light colored cloth as the back drop for this. If you notice a gap between some of the frets and the bottom of the ruler then you probably have a forward bow.


5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4, first between the D and G strings and then between the B and E strings.

Now you should have a good picture of the overall health of your guitar’s neck. If you assessed your neck’s condition correctly, you should know if you have a back bow or a forward bow; or if you’re lucky and your neck is perfectly straight.


7. This is where the variations start in your setup. During your visual assessment you should have determined whether your neck has a back bow or a forward bow.  If you neck has a bow in it, click on one of the links below to determine how to correct it.

How to Fix a Back Bow –>

How to Fix a Forward Bow –>

Next Step –>

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