Replacing the narrow 1 9/16" nut of my 1967 ES-355

luizhmax

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So I've just bought a 1967 ES-355 with the narrow nut of that period. Just for the sake of enhanced playability, is there any negative side in replacing it for a brand new nylon 1 11/16" nut? Not talking originality or devaluation... just the technical part of this conversion. Will it be a smooth conversion? Thank you
 

MooCheng

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spreading the strings with a new nut is something I done with every Yam SG SBG I ever owned,
very easy conversion if you can find someone to cut a good nut.
and its reversible, just keep the old nut if it comes out in one piece

enjoy your new ES, nice guitar
 

luizhmax

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spreading the strings with a new nut is something I done with every Yam SG SBG I ever owned,
very easy conversion if you can find someone to cut a good nut.
and its reversible, just keep the old nut if it comes out in one piece

enjoy your new ES, nice guitar
Awesome! Thank you for sharing.
 

EdmundGTP

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An actual wider nut will overhang the edges of the neck; by .03" on each side if you go with 1-11/16 width. It will buy your luthier more space to space the strings out but it will feel out of place if he doesn't contour the ends of it to blend nicely with the neck.

What Moo is suggesting is NOT necessarily replacing the nut with a wider one, but getting a new nut made of the same (or VERY similar) width, only having the slots cut with more space in between to spread out the strings a bit more. For a job like this the nut should really be custom made entirely.

Bottom line is there's only so far you can spread out the strings, because you don't want them hanging out past the end radius of the fret wires. Otherwise your high and low E's will be slipping off the neck whenever you fret them. If the guitar hasn't already had one, a re-fret could possibly help here as well. New frets an be cut that extend over the neck binding (rather than ending before) if you don't mind losing your binding nibs. This can give you a fraction more of playable surface width on the frets, and allow for slightly wider string spacing when that new nut is cut.

Reality is you'll be lucky to gain any more than .010-.015" of clearance between the strings doing the nut alone, but that might be just enough to improve playability for you. You might gain a few thousandths more between strings with a re-fret as well. Worth a shot. Just go to someone who knows what they're doing. I'll be exploring both of these options when I get around to re-fretting my '69 ES. Until then I'm finding the nut width to be surprisingly tolerable. I figured I'd hate it, but not so.
 

luizhmax

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An actual wider nut will overhang the edges of the neck; by .03" on each side if you go with 1-11/16 width. It will buy your luthier more space to space the strings out but it will feel out of place if he doesn't contour the ends of it to blend nicely with the neck.

What Moo is suggesting is NOT necessarily replacing the nut with a wider one, but getting a new nut made of the same (or VERY similar) width, only having the slots cut with more space in between to spread out the strings a bit more. For a job like this the nut should really be custom made entirely.

Bottom line is there's only so far you can spread out the strings, because you don't want them hanging out past the end radius of the fret wires. Otherwise your high and low E's will be slipping off the neck whenever you fret them. If the guitar hasn't already had one, a re-fret could possibly help here as well. New frets an be cut that extend over the neck binding (rather than ending before) if you don't mind losing your binding nibs. This can give you a fraction more of playable surface width on the frets, and allow for slightly wider string spacing when that new nut is cut.

Reality is you'll be lucky to gain any more than .010-.015" of clearance between the strings doing the nut alone, but that might be just enough to improve playability for you. You might gain a few thousandths more between strings with a re-fret as well. Worth a shot. Just go to someone who knows what they're doing. I'll be exploring both of these options when I get around to re-fretting my '69 ES. Until then I'm finding the nut width to be surprisingly tolerable. I figured I'd hate it, but not so.
thank you. that was very enlightening and helped me a lot.
 

Airplane

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I recently got a 1969 ES345. The internet tells us the narrow nuts suck. Guess what: i love it! And i have big hands!
Maybe you should give it a few weeks of playing. Remember the materials back then were probably better than todays. So it might change the tone (of cowboy chords).
 


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