ADVICE NEEDED TO SET UP A GIBSON WITH A LIGHTNING BAR WRAP AROUND TAILPIECE AND ZERO FRET ADJUSTABLE NUT?

Woman Tone Man

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I want to start doing my own truss rod adjustments and basic set-ups as I have three of these guitars pictured below. I need to know what I should purchase to accomplish this? I don't want to tackle fret leveling at this stage.

They have the zero fret adjustable brass nut (which I will be replacing with a titanium ones) and the lightning bar wrap around tailpieces with set screw adjusters as pictured.

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charlie chitlins

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Truss rod adjustment is always first.
Your preferred gauge of strings brought up to tension (in tune).
Fret a note at the 1st fret (use a capo as a 3rd hand) and another where the neck joins the body...this is the effective length of the truss rod.
Find the fret midway between the 2 and check how much the string clears it by.
Anything from a sheet of writing paper to a business card is fine...even a medium pick.
Once you get comfortable doing it, you can start developing preferences.
Go 1/4 turn at a time and check after each movement with the guitar hanging in playing position.
After it's set, it may settle after 24 hours, so check it again.
MAKE SURE YOUR TOOL FITS SNUGLY AND IS COMPLETELY ON THE ADJUSTING FASTENER.
 

cmjohnson

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I see no reason to go with the titanium version of the zero fret nut. No doubt it's more expensive, and titanium is very hard to work, particularly with hand tools, so getting the string height set optimally will be very much harder than with the brass unit. I say stick with the brass unit. Tonally speaking I don't think titanium is going to offer any advantage at all, particularly for it just being a nut.
 
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Woman Tone Man

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I see no reason to go with the titanium version of the zero fret nut. No doubt it's more expensive, and titanium is very hard to work, particularly with hand tools, so getting the string height set optimally will be very much harder than with the brass unit. I say stick with the brass unit. Tonally speaking I don't think titanium is going to offer any advantage at all, particularly for it just being a nut.
Thanks for the reply CMJ,

The titanium nut is a direct replacement sent by Gibson which is pre-slotted. One of my 3 LP Specials came with an after market zero fret adjustable nut which is adjusted a bit high at the first fret when I play chords. I do prefer some kind of metal nut as I do hear the tone difference in the ones with the existing brass nuts (sounds more chimey and brighter). Here is a pic of the last one I acquired with an after market zero fret adjustable nut.

LES PAUL DOUBLE  CUT P90 2015 CHERRY.jpg
 

cmjohnson

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I can pretty much guarantee that any pre-slotted nut will have the nut slots cut higher than optimum, and probably by a great deal. A good nut is slotted to fit the fret job and give super low first fret action without buzzing and it's a matter of just a couple thousandths of an inch that makes all the difference between being just right and too high or too low.

Any pre-slotted nut will require filing to fit if you want your action to be RIGHT. Have you ever filed titanium?
 

Woman Tone Man

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I can pretty much guarantee that any pre-slotted nut will have the nut slots cut higher than optimum, and probably by a great deal. A good nut is slotted to fit the fret job and give super low first fret action without buzzing and it's a matter of just a couple thousandths of an inch that makes all the difference between being just right and too high or too low.

Any pre-slotted nut will require filing to fit if you want your action to be RIGHT. Have you ever filed titanium?
Thanks for the heads up on that CMJ,

I'll start with the two height adjustment screws set to their lowest on the direct replacement Gibson titanium height adjustable nuts that they sent me for free and go from there. If the intonation with the titanium nut isn't acceptable I'll consider going with a direct replacement height adjustable Graph Tech tusc nut. I'll just detune the guitar to replace it and work with that.

The current brass nuts on the other two LP specials I have are wearing down (mostly on the wound strings). I think the G Force tuners are causing the strings to reciprocate back and forth on the brass nut. I've had pretty good luck so far with the G Force system in regards to tuning to pitch.

In regards to tools I should have for set-ups (not including fret files or a fretboard sanding beam) are there any other things besides the ones mentioned below I should consider?

1) Guitar neck slotted straight edge
2) String action ruler
3) Feeler gauge set
4) Capo
5) Nut slot file set
6) Truss rod wrench and Allen wrench set

If anyone else has used the Gibson direct replacement titanium nut please reply with your input.
:cool:
 
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kakerlak

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Capo at the first and adjust your bridge and truss rod to personal preference. Since your nut is adjustable, it's a great idea to lower it all the way. Take the capo off and slowly raise it to the point that your strings ring clear without buzzing against the first fret.
 

cmjohnson

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If you're going to be adjusting the height of the zero fret itself along the ridge, to fine tune and shape its curve, and it's titanium, you will need a diamond stone for that.
 

kakerlak

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If you're going to be adjusting the height of the zero fret itself along the ridge, to fine tune and shape its curve, and it's titanium, you will need a diamond stone for that.
I think these nuts ride on two set/grub screws that let you raise/lower the whole thing at either end.
 

Woman Tone Man

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I think these nuts ride on two set/grub screws that let you raise/lower the whole thing at either end.
Thanks kakerlak, you are correct. I think what CMJ is trying to convey is that even that it is a direct replacement, it still might need to be filed even with the pre-cut slots and height adjustment screws to fine tune it.

1614832602677.png
 
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kakerlak

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Thanks kakerlak, you are correct. I think what CMJ is trying to convey is that even that it is a direct replacement, it still might need to be filed even with the pre-cut slots and height adjustment screws to fine tune it.

View attachment 523096
It would be silly if they engineered that to be adjustable and dimensioned it anywhere close to being too tall at the bottom of it's range. Only one way find out!
 

cmjohnson

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I'm sure it's "close" and I'm aware of its adjustable height feature. But be aware that no company as of yet is making guitars with fretwork that is so consistent that any given "drop in" replacement nut won't need some tweaking to make the setup perfect on any given guitar. Even with the two height adjustments, you may still end up grinding down the top edge a little to fine tune the arch of the contact surface. IF, that is, you are very picky about your setup. Like I am.
 

LPTDMSV

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I think these nuts ride on two set/grub screws that let you raise/lower the whole thing at either end.
Yes, that's right. Gibson had these for most solid bodies in the 2015 range. They're not a zero fret strictly speaking, more of a height-adjustable nut. Gibson made the titanium replacements available under warranty because the brass ones were prone to notching on the wound strings. The cream-coloured inserts were made by Tusk, I think. I had it in mind to take the whole thing out and replace it with a hand-cut nut, but sold my 2015 model before I had got round to that.
 

charlie chitlins

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As you know, the nut height is adjustable.
When you fret a note on the 3rd fret, the string should clear the 2nd fret by the tiniest amount possible...like an angstrom;)
You might not be able to get every string exact because you're not adjusting the slots individually.
The lightning bar is trial and error and will give approximate intonation.
Don't go crazy...acoustic players have been dealing with approximate intonation for generations.'
In general, if it sounds good, it IS good.
Start with fresh strings broken in...fully stretched/seated on the tuners with maybe 30 minutes playing time.
With a tuner (or your ear) match the note of the open string to the fretted octave at the 12th fret.
If the fretted note is sharp, move the tailpiece back, lengthening the string.
If the fretted note is flat, move the bridge forward, toward the nut.
If you fret the note with too much down pressure, you will make the note go sharp.
If you commonly have a death grip and pull notes sharp, you can fret your 12th fret notes like that and compensate a bit by adjusting your intonation to account for that.
ALL of this stuff is an AVERAGE.
There is no perfect intonation.
This is painfully obvious when you get your guitar all tuned up and hit a D cowboy chord.
 

smk506

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I would be more surprised to hear there was any tweaking required with the titanium nut to be honest.

Both of my 2015s play/ed fantastically and sound like les Pauls.
 

LPTDMSV

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I would be more surprised to hear there was any tweaking required with the titanium nut to be honest.

Both of my 2015s play/ed fantastically and sound like les Pauls.
To my ears replacing the titanium nut with a bone or nylon one, similar to changing the bridge saddle material, I would predict that it would take a little "zing" out of the sound which I certainly noticed after changing saddles especially playing unplugged (and I preferred the more mellow sound of nylon but obviously that's just personal taste).

The adjustable titanium nut is fine for playability, if someone can cut a bone/nylon nut to be as good they're doing well.
 
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