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Dear gentlemen
I have a Fender Tele custom shop maple neck on my bench. The truss rod is hardly doing anything. It is not loose. As you can see on the picture the neck has a crack along the middle. I have glued it. I didn't manage to close the crack fully on the fretboard, but it is absolutely closed on the backside. The crack must have occurred when someone, sometime, used excessive force to tighten the truss rod. I think that this implicates that the rod stopped working before the crack got there.
How can a truss rod just stop working when it is not loose?
I have lubricated the truss rod nut, and I have put a washer between the nut seat and the nut. Is there anything more I can do to try to make the truss rod work normally?
Another thing with this neck: The tang of the old frets was 0.020" but the slots were fit for a wider tang. Can this have made the neck soft? I'm surprised to find this issue on a neck like this.

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Hi, do you know if the neck has been refretted a few times, that can cause wider slots. 
cheers Taff

Of course.But this neck has never been refretted.

hi, without seeing the guitar it's just guesswork really, but, what comes to mind is - you have run out of thread so even more washers/spacers or a very stiff neck that is resisting further adjustment. But I'm sure you had looked into that.

Taff

There is enough thread, and the neck is not at all stiff. Rather soft compared to most other necks. The truss rod is able to move the relief maximum 0.4 mm -  0.016"

Hi, I am assuming that you have too much relief and the rod will not pull the neck straight. I would try inducing a back bow with the old two blocks a stiff beam and a clamp method, then tighten the rod to hold it there. Then let the strings force pull the neck into relief as you slacken off the rod, instead of the rod trying to force the timber.

I hope this helps.

Taff

Tried it without success. Now, the fretboard has been sanded flat with some fallaway from 12th fret. I will install frets with wider tang than original in order to get the neck as stiff as possible and hopefully with a small backbow. I hope this will be enough, but I will level the frets (very high - .052") with strings tuned in pitch. The size of the frets will make it possible to sand the frets to get the wanted relief.

Hi Bob, it would be interesting to hear/see the outcome. Did it work out for you?

Taff

I've worked on many guitars who's truss rod just failed. It's very possible there is some binding causing the neck to not move. Unfortunately if someone got glue in the slot and seized the rod at the factory, or somehow installed it wrong there is little to nothing that can be done. Do you happen to know if the customer has actually adjusted the rod in the past? My guess is its possible its always been stuck. Outside of someone messing up at the factory, there's not much that would stop a truss rod from working. Especially considering you have attempted to shim (rightly assuming you may run out of thread.)

In these cases our shop would get the rod tight, and work out any possible excessive relief by planing material out of the top and bottom of fretboard plane, and possible doing the same in the fretboard plane.

Sorry to say, you may just have a defective neck. And is the guitar has the proper paperwork and its not too old, Fender may provide a new neck under warranty. 

For you neck softening question, no. The frets almost certainly did not have an affect on the rod issue.

Best of luck!

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