How To Fix A Bowed Guitar Neck Without A Truss Rod

Table of Contents

A simple DIY guide!


Feel like playing your guitar has actually gotten harder over time? Don’t blame your skills; it’s just heat and time doing their work!  It’s likely that your guitar’s neck is bowed. A bowed neck can raise your guitar’s action and make it difficult for you to press the strings down on the frets. This could be fixed by tightening the truss rod, however many guitars don’t have one. If your guitar doesn’t have one either, don’t worry! There is still hope because, in this article, you’ll learn how to fix a bowed guitar neck without a truss rod!

What is a truss rod and what does it do?

A truss rod is a guitar component that stabilizes the guitar’s neck against the tension put on it by the strings. It does its best to keep the neck straight, while the strings, bridge, and nut work together to bend it like a bow. Form factor-wise, it is a thin metal shaft that sits under the fretboard and runs from the nut of the guitar to the heel. While this is a useful invention, there are older and cheaper guitars that don’t come with truss rods in them. These guitars are more prone to get a bowed neck than guitars that have truss rods in them.

What causes a bowed guitar neck?

There are a few primary factors that cause a bowed or warped guitar neck. With time, the force exerted on the neck by the string slowly bends it. This effect is further enhanced if you live in a hot area with a lot of humidity.

Did you know? Light gauge acoustic strings can exert a force of up to 180 pounds on the neck of your guitar!

How To Fix A Bowed Guitar Neck Without A Truss Rod

Fortunately, a bowed neck doesn’t have to mean a death sentence for your guitar. It is entirely possible to learn how to fix a bowed guitar neck without a truss rod! Let’s see how:

What you’ll need

The list of materials that you need to fix a bowed guitar neck isn’t long and with the exception of one item, the rest can be easily found at home!

  • Clothing iron
  • A piece of cloth
  • A bench clamp
  • Measuring tape

Step by Step Guide

  • The first step in straightening your guitar’s neck is to remove all its strings so that they don’t get in your way.
  • Second, place the guitar on a flat surface and measure the distance between the bottom of the guitar’s neck and the bench’s surface.
  • Now get your clamps, place them 12 inches apart, and set their height to the same distance as the distance between the neck and the bench.
  • Next, cover your guitar’s neck up with a piece of cloth thick enough to provide a protective barrier between the neck and the clothing iron. Direct heat will damage the finish and color on the neck so we have to avoid that. The cloth (or t-shirt) will also protect the guitar from any damage the clamps could do to it.
  • Afterward, take your clothing iron and iron over the neck near where it meets the guitar. The heat is our main player here, as it will loosen up the adhesive in the neck. This will let us bend the neck back straight.
  • Finally, place the guitar between the clamps and tighten the one near its head to restrict any unnecessary movement. Once you’ve done that, tighten the clamp near the bottom of the neck to push it down into place.

After following these steps, all that is left to do for you is to sit back and let time do its magic. Leave the guitar in those clamps overnight, as the adhesive in the neck cools down again, your guitar’s neck will be straight again!


In summation, a bowed guitar neck is a real pain in the neck! However, learning how to fix a bowed guitar neck without a truss rod isn’t as hard as it may seem. With some bench clamps and other items found around the house, you can fix it yourself in no time! Happy playing!

Jim Henneberry

Jim Henneberry

I love playing my guitar, and my kids got hooked along with me.
This is a family thing now - why don't you join the family fun? :)