A gorgeous black brand new Les Paul Standard was bought in to be set up. The owner was very aware that there was a serious problem with the instrument; the strings refused to stay in the nut slots under even gentle string bending & the G wouldn’t remain in position at all. When examined it was apparent that the nut was already too low to allow it to accept deeper slots & that it would have to be replaced.
After setting the neck relief & the twelfth fret action, the first step is to remove the original nut. The lacquer overlapping the nut material is carefully separated at the joining edges and then the nut can be gently tapped free.
The slot is then carefully cleared of residual glue & lacquer to provide a fresh setting for the new nut.
A bone nut blank is selected that is as close to the required sizes as possible. The faces of the blank that bear against the bottom of the slot & the end of the fingerboard must be made perfectly flat. The thickness is then adjusted to enable the nut to fit snugly into its slot without requiring force to seat it.
The nut blank is then cut & filed to match the fingerboard width.
The top surface is roughly shaped to give a curve matching the fingerboard camber. This is not the final form of the top; it just makes it easier to file the slots. The slot positions are very carefully marked & an initial groove for each string is filed into the bone. These are cut at a similar angle to the headstock, just deep enough to securely locate each string. The guitar can now be strung up & tuned. The first fret action at this point remains very high. This allows fine tuning of the string spacing if necessary. It’s also important to note that you can always take some off, but you can’t put it back!
Each slot is then individually deepened until the required action is achieved.
The final shaping of the nut can then be completed. My preference is to angle the top slightly & blend in a radius on the leading edge. The end corners are also curved to soften the sharp edges. The nut is finally sanded & smoothed, taking care not to alter the areas that control the fit in the neck slot.
String pressure is enough to keep a well fitted nut in place but they are usually insured against slippage by a couple of spots of glue.
Finally reassembled & fitted with new strings, the guitar now plays as beautifully as it sounds.
A bone nut cut by hand with precision can enhance your tone & improve sustain, not to mention improve your tuning stability!
Call Richard on 01789 26 33 33 to book your guitar in to our workshop.