Get ready for the next big thing from The Music Zoo and the Fender® Custom Shop: The “Vintage Not Rod” Series. Back in the early ’50s, Leo Fender felt that if a guitar was built right, it didn’t need a truss rod (the adjustable metal rod embedded in the neck that helps keep the neck from bowing over time). But the reality of mass production meant that the assembly line could never spend enough time with each neck to ensure that it was made perfectly, so the truss rod went in, and the rest is history. Until now. Tommy Colletti and The Music Zoo traveled to Corona a few months ago to work with the Fender Masterbuilders on making a series of vintage-spec guitars with a solid, no truss rod neck. The Not Rod!
Some of the Fender employees could just not believe that a solid neck would be strong enough to not bend so we tested it out: above, Masterbuilder Mark Kendrick is standing on a neck that has no truss rod inside as other Fender employees and Masterbuilders look on. Mark proudly declared after the test that the neck was still perfectly straight. Masterbuilder Jason Smith didn’t believe him, but after looking it over had to agree. It’s an awesome piece of work that only the Fender Masterbuilders can pull off.
In the 1950 Fender built a handful of Broadcasters and double pickup Esquires with no truss rod, and those guitars are incredibly sought after today. Why do this now? Tone. Installing a truss rod in a neck means carving out a channel for the rod to lay inside, and where there was once wood, there is either empty space or there is metal. Less wood resonating, less vibration, less tone out of your amp. Plus, it’s how the very first Fenders were built, and that’s just cool.
The necks are carved slowly, in steps, to give the wood time to acclimate and adjust to its new shape. When they are done they will be completely stable. We’ll be releasing more info very soon on specific guitar models that will have the Vintage Not Rod neck, so stay tuned!