giving my les paul a thourough lookover, setup, stringheight, relief, pickup heights and so on ... have some questions

Weaseldust

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it´s a ongoing work but im getting pleased with my relief, stringheight, pickups will be adjusted after a cleaning and new strings today, because i just installed Dimarzio Super Distorsion and it was with something in the back of my mind i always creates when installing pickus...GROUNDING ISSUES ... but none of those today, dead quiet touching all and everything and actually i can turn up gain and such pretty high before i get a headache ... So first my question

i have some trouble staying in tune....and im positive the NUT is the problem, the only thing i never ever messed with...because you cant go back easily. Well G string and also D and B really likes to go sharp....a while i spent more time tuning the damned thing than playing it. i thought it was possesed for a while, but then i realised it´s 15 degrees colder now rain 4-5 days every week...

so i took some pics of the nut slots with my smartphone in macro ... and it looks like alot of "grime" or grafit residue and they doesnt look completely straight...but it can be my wobbly camera work ... its really hard to see so so tiny details with 40+ yrs old eyes HA !!

my thinking is widening the slots wont cause disaster lika filing to deep ... Or is it time for me to try "nutsauce" i have heard about through the years... Never liked the idea of that and i have other guitars without problems and no nutsauce ever

any tips?
 

CB91710

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Don't try to DIY adjustments to the nut slots until you have some experience.
Even the guys who do this every day bork a nut every now and then.
Getting the angle wrong can cause intonation issues, as well as cause a "sitar" effect on open strings. Going too wide is almost as bad as going too deep, but in other ways.
The slots in the factory nut should be adequate for anything from 8's to 11's.

While tuning issues most often are related to the nut, it would be unusual for it to go sharp while being played. Flat? Sure, that could be nut or tuners, but sharp would require that the nut be sticking *and* you are applying tension between the nut and tuner. That shouldn't be happening unless you are pulling on the headstock.

Make sure you have the strings locked into the tuners... On the wound strings, I run the first wrap above the tail, and another wrap below.
On plain strings, I do the same, but generally run a couple of extra wraps below.
This is as secure as anything I have with locking tuners (tails are a little long in this shot, I was working on the setup and like to leave the tails long until I'm done retuning)


Tuners.jpg
 

LtDave32

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Tips? yes.

1st is a proper set of nut files. do not attempt to file your slots with anything BUT gauged nut slotting files.

If you decide to use some other files such as a needle file set, then go ahesd and order a replacement nut along with the proper nut files.

2) I recommend you go with nut files that are .001-.002 larger than your string gauge. .012 for a .010, etc.

3) strings should not sit in a "valley" of string slot. 1/2 the diameter of the string is well enough to hold the strings in place. If by deepening the slot to get a right height off the first fret creates walls on each side of the string, then I would remove material from the top of the nut to make the slots more shallow. The string bedded in the slot by 2/3 is fine.

4) use feeler gauges that are taller than the first fret, laid on top of the fret next to the nut is a way to help ensure you don't go too deep. Don't bet the farm on it, but it helps.

5) .018 or the thickness of a business card is as low as you want to go. Any lower and you may get buzz.

Finally #6.. Go ahead and order a pre-slotted replacement nut. everybody blows it on their first try. Everybody. Even I did. And sometimes on occasion I still do.

It isbabsolutely a learned skill, something you teach your muscle memory to do. There's a lot of craftsmanship involved, and the only way to learn it is to do it, and learn what you did wrong, and correct that on the next nut.

It will come down to one stroke at a time; file, check, file, check.
 

Weaseldust

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Don't try to DIY adjustments to the nut slots until you have some experience.
Even the guys who do this every day bork a nut every now and then.
Getting the angle wrong can cause intonation issues, as well as cause a "sitar" effect on open strings. Going too wide is almost as bad as going too deep, but in other ways.
The slots in the factory nut should be adequate for anything from 8's to 11's.

While tuning issues most often are related to the nut, it would be unusual for it to go sharp while being played. Flat? Sure, that could be nut or tuners, but sharp would require that the nut be sticking *and* you are applying tension between the nut and tuner. That shouldn't be happening unless you are pulling on the headstock.

Make sure you have the strings locked into the tuners... On the wound strings, I run the first wrap above the tail, and another wrap below.
On plain strings, I do the same, but generally run a couple of extra wraps below.
This is as secure as anything I have with locking tuners (tails are a little long in this shot, I was working on the setup and like to leave the tails long until I'm done retuning)


View attachment 651983

thats exactly how i been stringing up for years, and it´s the best way, no doubt ... i did the mistake and asked at a guitarstore ... the first answer i got didnt make good sense so i i asked in EVERY musicstore around my parts and got just as many different answers...this is like 10 years ago, but after all that asking i found the youtube channel of one of a guitarstore that went out of business 6 months earlier, and in one vid the owner showed how to do this...maybe thats why he went out of business...the still open stores keeps the secrets and makes money by changing strings and doing basic setup/adjustments ..... really sad actuallly.

I didnt widen the slots but i used musicnomads cleaner and "flossed" with various pieces of snugg fitting strings ... ... not guitarstrings, i, whats the word...very small ropes, HAHAHA the threads for sewing ... shoelaces, but smaller..LOL

English is not my first language..
 

Leee

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i have some trouble staying in tune ... … G string and also D and B really likes to go sharp ... … but then i realised it´s 15 degrees colder now rain 4-5 days every week...
Right.
Cold temps will make the guitar go sharp.

Metal strings contract much more than the wood neck.
 

Weaseldust

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Tips? yes.

1st is a proper set of nut files. do not attempt to file your slots with anything BUT gauged nut slotting files.

If you decide to use some other files such as a needle file set, then go ahesd and order a replacement nut along with the proper nut files.

2) I recommend you go with nut files that are .001-.002 larger than your string gauge. .012 for a .010, etc.

3) strings should not sit in a "valley" of string slot. 1/2 the diameter of the string is well enough to hold the strings in place. If by deepening the slot to get a right height off the first fret creates walls on each side of the string, then I would remove material from the top of the nut to make the slots more shallow. The string bedded in the slot by 2/3 is fine.

4) use feeler gauges that are taller than the first fret, laid on top of the fret next to the nut is a way to help ensure you don't go too deep. Don't bet the farm on it, but it helps.

5) .018 or the thickness of a business card is as low as you want to go. Any lower and you may get buzz.

Finally #6.. Go ahead and order a pre-slotted replacement nut. everybody blows it on their first try. Everybody. Even I did. And sometimes on occasion I still do.

It isbabsolutely a learned skill, something you teach your muscle memory to do. There's a lot of craftsmanship involved, and the only way to learn it is to do it, and learn what you did wrong, and correct that on the next nut.

It will come down to one stroke at a time; file, check, file, check.

yes, feeler gauges is on a shoppinglist but getting by for now with pieces of paper and a business card to ballpark it.

And yes files...i browsed on thomann and found a kit from ibanez, and their kits was like named like stringsets, 10-46 Etc ... that must mean that it is for guitars using 10-46 sets ?? but yeah 200 $ for that, i skipped jumping the gun that day....And i am not surprised its important how you shape the contact area on the nut, angles and i guess, no sharp edges in a dumb angle that can "grip" especiall the wound strings

ok there is preslotted nuts available ?? had no idea, that has always been a one week visit at a luthier for me.

thanks for great tips...you happen to know anything about pickup and polepiece adjustments huh ? =)
 

NotScott

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Definitely use proper sized nut files but before that, head to your local paharmacy and get a tube of plain old Chapstick. Put that in your nut slots and assuming they are not cut that bad, you will be done for a couple dollars.
 

dspelman

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yes, feeler gauges is on a shoppinglist but getting by for now with pieces of paper and a business card to ballpark it.
I've generally admitted to myself that tweaking a nut is NOT something I really excel at (my wife has an expanded list of those deficiencies), but I'd suggest tossing the old "business card" rule of thumb into the bin.

For starters, the original rule of thumb was not "business card" (because the thickness of a business card can vary widely), but a *new* playing card (Las Vegas has absolute specifics for those). Old playing cards absorb moisture and change thickness pretty quickly, which is why you can actually buy used playing cards, cheap.

Feeler gauges will make you much happier.

And don't ignore LtDave32's advice to make sure that the strings are NOT buried in the nut more than 2/3rds of their thickness. File off the rest of the top of that nut if required.

I have a tech who gets pretty artistic with the nut on the tuner side where the string exits on its way to the tuner. I'm not sure what, exactly, he does, but I rarely have a string get caught in the nut after a hearty bend, and this can make a big difference to your tuning while playing.
 

CB91710

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3) strings should not sit in a "valley" of string slot. 1/2 the diameter of the string is well enough to hold the strings in place. If by deepening the slot to get a right height off the first fret creates walls on each side of the string, then I would remove material from the top of the nut to make the slots more shallow. The string bedded in the slot by 2/3 is fine.
These came from the Gibson factory like this... one of the better nut jobs I've seen.

FV_Nut-1.jpg
FV_Nut-2.jpg
FV_Nut-3.jpg
 

LtDave32

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Good nut..

You can do much the same with Nylon 6/6, but you can't really get a "flare" on the back side of the slot. But the advantages of Nylon 6/6 outweigh that by far, IMO.

They never wear down.

They have a "self lubricating" quality.
 

CB91710

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Stewmac has less expensive nut files
Philadelphia Luthier does as well.

But given the OP is not a native English speaker, I suspect international shipping may be an issue for some sellers.
Reverb may he his only reasonable option.
 

Leee

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Good nut..

Nylon 6/6

They never wear down.
They have a "self lubricating" quality.
Hey Dave - what is your preferred nut material if you have a choice up front?

Pros/Cons of Corian, Tusq, etc….
 

CB91710

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For some measurements, I prefer "alternatives"
I have a difficult time with feeler gauges on pinpoint items, such as string clearance over frets.
It's too easy to roll the gauge on the fret surface and I can't always tell whether the "drag" feeling is from the proper location.

But cut off strings are good.
What gauge do you want? .009, .010, .013? A set of 8's provides most gauges you'd need.
This isn't rocket science... "go/no-go" is good enough. While the target might be .010, maybe you can tolerate any measurement between .008 and .013.
So all you need is two strings that surround the desired measurement... Grab a .008, and a .013
Slip them through the gap.
If the .008 passes without flexing, then you know that you are not too-tight.
If the .013 sticks, or deflects when passing through, then you know that the clearance is tighter than .013

So when I'm checking relief, I like my necks fairly straight.... .008 to .010 is nice.
So I do two things:
I make sure that a .010 or .013 will deflect.
I make sure that I can capo the 1st fret, and starting at the 20th, pluck the string in the middle of the neck and make sure I have enough clearance to produce a clear tone... then I play the neck "backwards" plucking the midpoint between my hand and capo, checking for clear tone. This ensures that I have sufficient relief.
 

CB91710

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Good nut..

You can do much the same with Nylon 6/6, but you can't really get a "flare" on the back side of the slot. But the advantages of Nylon 6/6 outweigh that by far, IMO.

They never wear down.

They have a "self lubricating" quality.
I was really worried about it when I got it out of the box.
The height of the slots is VERY low... I'd have to measure to get an exact number, but using a thin straight edge on the surface of the frets and in the nut slot, the "jump" as the edge clears the nut slot is barely perceptible... the thing is cut as low as a zero-fret.
And with the extreme angle of the outer strings on the "V" headstock, I was worried that they would pop out of the nut.

But no... I've never had either string pop out no matter how hard I've pounded the open strings.
 

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