New nut or file the existing?

Phylodog

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So I've been working with and playing my 2020 Trad Pro V and I'm starting to bond with it pretty well. I've changed the pickguard and I've got new pickup rings and a new bridge & saddle to install. I also purchased a TusqXl nut as I've had some tuning stability issues and don't suspect the locking Grovers as I've heard the *PING* more than a few times. I have a set of nut height gauges coming today and I'll have everything I need to get to work.

Except confidence :)

I looked into buying nut slot files but the TusqXL was considerably more affordable and after watching a few videos it didn't look too difficult. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of nut slot files, I'm just a bit nervous about removing the old nut. I know to score the finish to avoid chip out which is easy but cutting down the center of the nut makes me nervous, it wouldn't take much of an oops and I'd have a permanent scar on the neck. The other thought is that I could spend the money to buy the files and end up needing to replace the nut anyway if I screw that up. I love to work with my hands and I'd say I have slightly above average mechanical ability but I'm not sure which is easier to mess up.

Does anyone have any advice to nudge my decision one way or the other?
 

el84ster

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Ok, if you have slightly better than average mechanical ability with your paws, you could do this.
I’ve done it many times. You just have to go carefully and methodically. It’s more scary than hard so once you’re over the psych-out it’s not bad.
Go slow and easy.
 

Subterfuge

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I had a few nuts that pinged, it's a fairly easy remedy and as the previous post said go carefully and methodically ... I would work that nut to death before I resorted to banging it out .. never knocked one out before and I wouldn't be confidant to experiment on my prized possession ..
 

dc007

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Good luck......nut slots and bridge saddles are just something I choose not to do but if I actually tried it would be doable. Slow process when done correctly
 

Phylodog

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Thanks for the replies. I've seen at least one video where the nut was gently tapped back and forth to see if it would break free easily before resorting to cutting through the nut. I was planning to try it but I wasn't going to put much pressure on it when I did, is this a bad idea?
 

palmerfralick

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So I've been working with and playing my 2020 Trad Pro V and I'm starting to bond with it pretty well. I've changed the pickguard and I've got new pickup rings and a new bridge & saddle to install. I also purchased a TusqXl nut as I've had some tuning stability issues and don't suspect the locking Grovers as I've heard the *PING* more than a few times. I have a set of nut height gauges coming today and I'll have everything I need to get to work.

Except confidence :)

I looked into buying nut slot files but the TusqXL was considerably more affordable and after watching a few videos it didn't look too difficult. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of nut slot files, I'm just a bit nervous about removing the old nut. I know to score the finish to avoid chip out which is easy but cutting down the center of the nut makes me nervous, it wouldn't take much of an oops and I'd have a permanent scar on the neck. The other thought is that I could spend the money to buy the files and end up needing to replace the nut anyway if I screw that up. I love to work with my hands and I'd say I have slightly above average mechanical ability but I'm not sure which is easier to mess up.

Does anyone have any advice to nudge my decision one way or the other?

New one by an expert that you trust. too many variables for a novice. I had mine done with bone and the could not be happier. Righteous guitars in Alpharetta Ga. cost is very reasonable
 

Conquistador17

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An old trick, but works on my R9 - take the strings out of the tuners and nut, find a pencil (yeah, not easy these days!) and shave the graphite into the nut slots. wipe off the extra, restring, and it should help quite a bit. Pencil lead is just graphite, cheap and a decent lubricant.
 

dasherf17

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So I've been working with and playing my 2020 Trad Pro V and I'm starting to bond with it pretty well. I've changed the pickguard and I've got new pickup rings and a new bridge & saddle to install. I also purchased a TusqXl nut as I've had some tuning stability issues and don't suspect the locking Grovers as I've heard the *PING* more than a few times. I have a set of nut height gauges coming today and I'll have everything I need to get to work.

Except confidence :)

I looked into buying nut slot files but the TusqXL was considerably more affordable and after watching a few videos it didn't look too difficult. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of nut slot files, I'm just a bit nervous about removing the old nut. I know to score the finish to avoid chip out which is easy but cutting down the center of the nut makes me nervous, it wouldn't take much of an oops and I'd have a permanent scar on the neck. The other thought is that I could spend the money to buy the files and end up needing to replace the nut anyway if I screw that up. I love to work with my hands and I'd say I have slightly above average mechanical ability but I'm not sure which is easier to mess up.

Does anyone have any advice to nudge my decision one way or the other?
Right there with you, pd...there's days/weeks I take off doing guitar work..my hangup is wiring...I wired an LP kit, it buzzes like crazy (grounding), no pickup action (short somewhere), so I desoldered everything to start over again...when I build up the courage...the when (note "when") that's up and running, I have an SG kit where as a novice I didn't get the neck in the right spot...upon removing it, the neck came off the tenon (tongue, if you didn't know...apparently laminated), leaving the tenon in the guitar...
The nut (to me, anyway) will be the easier part. Sounds as 8f you have a good tiol coming.
Good luck, my friend!
 
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dasherf17

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Thanks for the replies. I've seen at least one video where the nut was gently tapped back and forth to see if it would break free easily before resorting to cutting through the nut. I was planning to try it but I wasn't going to put much pressure on it when I did, is this a bad idea?
Go with filing the nut you have...the "ping" sounds like one of the wound strings (depending on which one it is) going through a tight groove...simply take a file of the string size and open it up a bit.
They also have abrasive cord for the job.
 

MW110

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If you hear a „ping“ the slot is too narrow. Just take a proper nut file a go down in the slot till you hit the bottom of the slot. Fix some tape on both sides of the nut to protect fingerboard and headstock. Use the file pointing into the same direction as the strings go. Make sure the slot is just a bit bigger than the diameter of the strings and your tuning issue is gone for ever! Good luck....
 

MW110

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One more thing ...DO NOT BUY CHEAP CHINESE FILES! Don’t! They are crab and never have the same size as the strings. Go for Göldo or Hosco!
 

Tinpan

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So I've been working with and playing my 2020 Trad Pro V and I'm starting to bond with it pretty well. I've changed the pickguard and I've got new pickup rings and a new bridge & saddle to install. I also purchased a TusqXl nut as I've had some tuning stability issues and don't suspect the locking Grovers as I've heard the *PING* more than a few times. I have a set of nut height gauges coming today and I'll have everything I need to get to work.

Except confidence :)

I looked into buying nut slot files but the TusqXL was considerably more affordable and after watching a few videos it didn't look too difficult. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of nut slot files, I'm just a bit nervous about removing the old nut. I know to score the finish to avoid chip out which is easy but cutting down the center of the nut makes me nervous, it wouldn't take much of an oops and I'd have a permanent scar on the neck. The other thought is that I could spend the money to buy the files and end up needing to replace the nut anyway if I screw that up. I love to work with my hands and I'd say I have slightly above average mechanical ability but I'm not sure which is easier to mess up.

Does anyone have any advice to nudge my decision one way or the other?
Stewart MacDonald has free how to videos....not to mention YouTube. Watch some how to videos and then make your decision.
 

DonnaB

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So I've been working with and playing my 2020 Trad Pro V and I'm starting to bond with it pretty well. I've changed the pickguard and I've got new pickup rings and a new bridge & saddle to install. I also purchased a TusqXl nut as I've had some tuning stability issues and don't suspect the locking Grovers as I've heard the *PING* more than a few times. I have a set of nut height gauges coming today and I'll have everything I need to get to work.

Except confidence :)

I looked into buying nut slot files but the TusqXL was considerably more affordable and after watching a few videos it didn't look too difficult. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of nut slot files, I'm just a bit nervous about removing the old nut. I know to score the finish to avoid chip out which is easy but cutting down the center of the nut makes me nervous, it wouldn't take much of an oops and I'd have a permanent scar on the neck. The other thought is that I could spend the money to buy the files and end up needing to replace the nut anyway if I screw that up. I love to work with my hands and I'd say I have slightly above average mechanical ability but I'm not sure which is easier to mess up.

Does anyone have any advice to nudge my decision one way or the other?
Put a String Butler on it. No more ping, and it’s gonna be staying in tune plus you haven’t physically altered the original guitar nut. No need to.
 

Freddy G

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Don't put a new nut in. The existing one needs to be tweaked ever so slightly. Trust me.
Pencil lead was mentioned. Do that. If it still pings take it to a luthier or a good tech and have them clean up the string slots. I do this all day long, every day.
String butler? That is an unnecessary monstrosity.
 

heavypic

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OP - I've experienced high nut slots and 'ping' on a few guitars. I invested in nut files (Philadelphia Luthier Supply and Stewmac) to successfully correct these problems. Here's a good tutorial: Nuts - how to cut the slots (lutherie.net) Play close attention in the tutorial to how the backside (tuner side) of the nut should be flared like a bell. The front side (FB side) of the nut slot should be flat and level for the first ~2mm and then ramped down and flared as you approach the tuner side of the nut slot. Purchase nut files the same gauge or slightly larger than your chosen string gauge. You'll need a capo and feeler gauges (like those you use to gap spark plugs and valves in your car) as well. Put the capo between frets 2-3 and measure the gap with feeler gauges (typically .012-.006" depending on which string) between the string and fret #1. Once the height is properly set at the front/FB side of the nut/sting slot, then proceed to ramp downward and flare the backside/tuner side of the nut slot for proper string clearance. Ideally, only the front 2mm of the nut slot should support the string (see illustration in linked article). Mark your slots with a graphite pencil and proceed with a few light, smooth strokes of the nut file. The pencil mark will be removed where the nut file removes material. After a few strokes, re-capo and check string height again at the first fret. Mark slot again with pencil and continue... Work SLOWLY, CAREFULLY and PATIENTLY....you don't want to cut the nut slot too deep....that's a whole other repair/replacement issue. Protect headstock near the nut with blue, painter's tape beforehand.

Nut files are a good investment. Factory guitar nuts are customarily left on the high side to allow for adjustment for your specific set-up/style. If you have a guitar that's difficult to play a Root 6 bar chord (F major) cleanly at the first fret, that's a good indication that your nut slot heights are too high for some or all strings.

Guitar action set-up (neck relief, bridge height, intonation) and nut slot filing are good skills to learn to save some $$ if you have several guitars. Be sure the guitar is set-up properly (neck relief, bridge height) BEFORE you start filing nut slots. After the nut slot adjustments, you'll likely need to tweak your set-up (neck relief and bridge height) again.

Offer up a prayer to the nut-slot gods and seek inspiration from Yoda before cutting nut slots...LOL!!! Good luck young skywalker.... just joking....have fun!!
 

Phylodog

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Great post heavypic, thank you for taking the time.
 

heavypic

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You're welcome! BTW...you can search online for recommendations for string clearance at the first fret (when capo is set between frets 2-3). The heavier strings need more clearance (Low E at .014-.010") than the lighter strings (High E at .006-.007). It's your preference how high or how low you choose within the recommended ranges you will find online. I did a Strat (9.5 radius) and LP Special (12 radius) recently. From Low E to High E my clearances at the first fret were set approximately at .010 / 010-.009 / .008-.007 / .007-.006 / .006 / .006, respectively, with capo set at F2-3. I use 10-46 strings and those clearances worked out well for both guitars in standard tuning. My set up includes a little neck relief to avoid fretting-out. My string height action at the 12th fret are approximately .075-.078" (Low E) and taper down to .063-.065" (High E). I like to dig in with a 1mm pic so my action is not too low, nor too high - it's high enough to play fingers or slide without fretting-out. Good luck...
 

Michael Matyas

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You should learn how to "back file" your nut slots. I'm not gonna go into details here, just point you in the right direction. Stew-Mac sells videos and books that shows how to do this. Also, the stated gauge of nut files may not match the string gauges. I purchased files eons ago from Stew-Mac's paper catalog, and I need to use the .060" file to cut a slot for an .046" low E string. I don't know if their current tools run small, but that is what happened to me.
 


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