Ukulele & Languages

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Truss rods on Pono ukuleles

03 2012

I never knew my Pono baritone ukulele had a truss rod until a couple of weeks ago. I suddendly noticed, much to my horror, that my Pono had started to buzz badly when I played certain strings.  I knew the strings were not to blame as I had changed them shortly before the buzz first occurred.

I couldn’t understand what caused the sudden change in the sound. I hadn’t dropped my ukulele and it had received no shock, nor did I leave it in the sun or in the cold.

I showed it to my friend Guillaume and he spotted that the truss rod was slightly coming out. We could take it out even more when we pulled it gently. I quickly searched on the internet and found this explanation from Ko’olau Guitar and Ukulele  Company on how to set the truss rod. This guitar page (in French) was helpful to understand the principles of a truss rod too.

Here is my Pono with its truss rod sticking out. Thanks to Guillaume for the picture.












Not wanting to risk doing any damage to my uke, I emailed Ko’olau Guitar and Ukulele Company for advice. I got a very fast answer from John and applying all he said restored my ukulele’s natural buzz-free warm and mellow tone. Thanks John !

Here is the explanation I got, in case you ever have the same problem :

If the truss rod has tension then it will not come out. So push the truss rod back in, then turn the rod counter clockwise. If the rod nut only turns, but just feels loss, then continue turning counterclockwise until you feel the nut threading again. So after a little tight when turning, continue to turn approximately 1/4 turn. This will cause the truss rod nut to stay inside and will not come out. Also this will cause the neck to develop a slight dip (like ski slope), and this will cause the buzzing to stop. If you do not see any space around the 5th to 7th fret, then turn again, another 1/4 turn, counter clockwise.

When neck is too straight it is because weather is dry (natural dry, or heater or air conditioner). and when weather is humid (moisture), then neck will have dip (warp, ski slope), and you will then need to turn clockwise.

But remember, between clockwise and counter clockwise the truss rod nut will be loose and have no threads. When this happens, continue turning until you feel it tight again, then turn only small 1/4 turns at a time.

For more information on baritone ukuleles, check out Jeff‘s site Humble Baritonics. Jeff is collecting information on baritone ukuleles, including, tabs, chords and baritone ukulele videos.



  1. Lou on the 11th of March 2012 @ 12:44

    I love these posts that you do on fettling and fixing ukuleles. It scares the hell out of me so I really admire how you just get on with it and do it. You’re an inspiration!

  2. Armelle Europe on the 11th of March 2012 @ 13:00

    Lou: I enjoy learning about how my ukes work even though it sometimes implies taking a few risks. But I always ask the right people for advice before trying anything. I definitely don’t want to damage any of my ukes! Pono has never sounded so well!

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