Adjusting neck tension on the 250M.

djadamdjadam Boulder, CONew
I have a new 250M and it seems it needs a little more tension from the truss rod, but I can't seem to be able to make the rod turn in either direction. I've used a fair amount of force, but haven't gone to 100% power because I'm afraid I'll hear something snap.

Is this thing whacky or am I being a pussy? When you've adjusted yours, did it turn easily or did it require brute strength?


  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Man, that's a loaded question...

    The truthful answer is that my D250m's truss rod required some (small amount) of brute force. IE, I held the "L" part of the allen wrench in a pliers and 'gently' turned it. I've adjusted probably a dozen truss rods on guitars ranging from brand new to 70 years old and I never had to use that much force to turn a truss rod (and I'm certainly not advocating that you do) If you've already tried some assistance from a plier or more substantial gripper than your fingers and it didn't turn... it's time for you to see a luthier. The Gitane Oval Hole truss rods are not in a place where you can easily put a drop of oil on them either - so that's double-reason to get the thing adjusted for you if you're uncomfortable putting more pressure on it.

    By the way - you may already know this, but the truss rod is a very sensitive adjustment and it affects other parts of the guitar's setup and playability. If your guitar is strung to tension with the strings you normally use... and you capo the 1st and 13th frets, you should have just barely enough relief to tap the string above the 7th fret and hear it go: "ting ting" ... anything more than that and you'll cause yourself problems around the 10th+ fret.

    I use .009 relief on the bass side at the 7th fret. IE, if you capo the 1st and 13th frets, you can not pass a high-E (0.10) guitar string between the 7th fret and the tensioned low-E string without it touching both just a little.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • djadamdjadam Boulder, CONew
    Posts: 249
    Thanks Bob! I thought it might be a loaded question. It's an awkward adjustment to make and I'd hate to let my inexperience lead to disaster, so I'll probably drop by my neighborhood luthier, who is quite a pro and probably has experience with these guitars and Selmer-style guitars in general.

    (nice sig by the way)
  • djadamdjadam Boulder, CONew
    Posts: 249
    Well I brought it to my local luthier and he adjusted the rod for me, flattening the neck beautifully. Indeed it took some brute strength and a good plier. It's soooo much more playable now and a joy to play.

    There's a slight buzz when I hit the low E string hard enough, so I'm considering some of the bridge adjustments people here have mentioned. Either raise the bridge or get a new one.
  • zavzav Geneve, SwissNew
    Posts: 94
    Very simple question.

    Should I loose all strings for relief ajustment, or it's OK to remove only 4d string to get an access to the hole and leave all others at the normal tension? I ask, because I think I read different recomendations...

  • SoulShadeSoulShade NW Ohio, USANew
    Posts: 56
    zav wrote:
    ...or it's OK to remove only 4d string to get an access to the hole and leave all others at the normal tension?
  • vincevince Davis & San Francisco, CANew
    Posts: 133
    Hey all,

    Great forum, this is my first post (er, reply). I just got a wonderful Gitane DG-250 as a combined birthday-xmas gift. It's a joy to play -the sound is way better than anything else I've played- but I think I need to make the suggested adjustments. I get a buzz both on the open low E and when I play the low E around frets 8-14 with the strings that came with it. I have a shipment of Argentines (both medium and light) on the way, and I will probably have to adjust a bunch of stuff. So here's a few questions I have...

    1- should I take it to the local guitar store and have them make the adjustments? my options are sort of limited where I live, but the music store seems like a decent place... but I'm not sure how much experience the repair guy has on selmer style guitars.

    2- should I scrap the bridge that came with it and get a new one? or ask the repair guy to make shims to raise the action? I'm on a sort of limited student budget, but I can probably barely afford a bridge in the $30-40 range... as long as the place where I take it does not charge a ton, or I can put it in myself.

    3- last one... Any good books on selmer style guitar repair and adjustment?

    I don't know whether I'll ever be an excellent player if I keep practicing, but I'm absolutely sure I won't be if I stop.
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    It sounds like what you need is a fret dressing - it's not terribly uncommon with fresh-off-the-boat-Gitanes. Any good guitar tech or luthier can do that so no worries. They just need to be aware that Selmer style guitars have a fairly high action so tell them not to lower the standard Gitane action (you may want to even raise it later.. who knows)

    Don't worry about getting a new bridge for now. If you like the sound you're getting with the guitar now - then you're fine. As you get into the style and start working on your rest stop picking and get to where you can play more aggressively and still control things - you may want to consider going to a more traditional bridge - for now - just make sure the plastic insert in the tailpiece isn't rattling and find out if you need a fret dressing. The traditional bridge is somewhat lighter - tends to be somewhat higher - and has a slightly flatter profile... so when you get to where you can control things and start digging in, you get a louder, more raspy Djangoesque tone that distorts more evenly across all the strings (IMHO) and that is 90% of what people are going for with the Dupont bridges. Fitting a bridge is actually more difficult than it appears so it's worth getting done by a luthier who has archtop guitar, mandolin, or selmer experience (all darned similar to fit) is a website maintained by Frank Ford - it covers a LOT of basic guitar repair / maintenance stuff. Frank's a good guy - really knows his stuff so start there as it's good information and the price is right (free). Most of the Selmer guitar maintenance/repair stuff is very similar to either flattop or archtop maintenance & repair. (some mandolin stuff too) I don't know of a specific resource focusing on repairing these guitars - likely because it is all covered by techniques for other types of stringed instruments.

    Good luck.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
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