Nut ptoblem: tune Eb, capo one?

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by drneilmb, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. drneilmb

    drneilmb Squier-Meister

    Age:
    112
    176
    Jun 8, 2019
    Iowa, USA
    I have a new-to-me guitar with a nut problem. It's an LTD EC-256 and I right away re-strung it with 9-42s and the open D string is almost completely dead, way past buzzy, almost mute. Fretting between the 2nd and 3rd frets, there is no clearance at the first fret, the string lies right on the first fret. From reading online, I think that slot on the nut is cut too low, and also from reading online, I don't think that there is an easy fix.

    I am trying to find a pre-slotted Graphtech replacement nut in the right size, but even then, I'm afraid that I'll need an expensive set of nut files to make it work. Or, the only Luthier I can find locally wants $60 to make a new nut (which is completely reasonable, but about 50% of the price I paid for the guitar).

    In the meantime, can't I just tune down a half step and capo up one fret, turning it into a zero-fret setup? Should I use bigger gauge strings to make up for the one fret shorter scale length?

    Sorry for the rookie questions, this is my first guitar project after 30 years of owning only one guitar.

    -Neil
     
    strat_strummer likes this.
  2. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Squier-holic

    Age:
    57
    Nov 24, 2018
    Grouse hunting
    I made the mistake of over cutting on a nut and I just superglued a tiny slice of pick material in there. Worked perfectly. I have actually used this method a couple of times when I dropped down to 9s. It can be kind of tough getting fat fingers in there so I used tweezers.
     
  3. Oldguitarguy

    Oldguitarguy Squier-Meister

    311
    Mar 2, 2019
    Nj
    Neil, don’t worry about the TUSQ nut install. They come with string slots. You sand down the other side (the side that rests on the neck) a little at a time until the strings sit at the right height. No need to cut slots with the preslotted. Also, graphtech has good instructions. Look online. I did an Epiphone. It was fun, easy, and a great upgrade. Got for it.
     
    LutherBurger, Caddy and drneilmb like this.
  4. 5ofeight

    5ofeight Squier-holic

    Age:
    61
    Nov 14, 2016
    Glasgow, Scotland
    You don't mention what the string height is at the 17 fret or if the saddle is at the correct height, come to think of it you have given no information on the neck either...was the guitar playable before you changed strings?.
     
  5. drneilmb

    drneilmb Squier-Meister

    Age:
    112
    176
    Jun 8, 2019
    Iowa, USA
    I didn't notice any problems before I changed the strings, but I didn't spend too long playing it since the strings felt fairly old.

    The neck appears visually straight and checking the relief by fretting the first and the last fret shows just a small amount of clearance under the low E string at the twelfth fret. I think from what I've read that means just a tiny amount of fore bow which seems okay for the truss rod adjustment.

    What measurements would be relevant for determining the proper height of the bridge? The notes on all six strings sound well without buzzing on the 16th-21st frets. Does that mean that the bridge is high enough?

    I would be happy to take more measurements if you can explain where to measure.

    -Neil
     
  6. 5ofeight

    5ofeight Squier-holic

    Age:
    61
    Nov 14, 2016
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Relief is measured at the 8th fret, sting height on both E strings on the 17th fret should be no higher than 1.5mm, but all this means nothing unless you are working with a straight neck and then work from there, saddles are radiused to match the fret board radius..
     
  7. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    Wo wo ... slow down drneilmb.

    How did it play before you changed the strings. Maybe it was set-upped with 10's or 12's and the truss rod was tensionned regardingly. Start by doing a full setup with the 9's, and then you can re-evaluate. Don't go spending money on things the guitar doesn't need.

     
    Bob the builder and Caddy like this.
  8. Caddy

    Caddy Dr. Squier

    Age:
    72
    Nov 29, 2010
    Indiana
    Measure relief by putting a capo on the first fret and holding the string against the last fret. Then use a feeler gauge to measure the gap between the fret and the string at the 7th fret. You will want to be at about .012.

    I have a feeling it was setup for heavier strings.

    If it does need a new nut the Graphtech pre-slotted ones are a fairly quick and simple installation.
     
    radiotech likes this.
  9. drneilmb

    drneilmb Squier-Meister

    Age:
    112
    176
    Jun 8, 2019
    Iowa, USA
    Okay, I'm slowing down here guys, thanks for the simple advice. I tuned up the strings, capoed on the first fret and fretted the last fret on the board. Measuring the relief at the eighth fret gave right around 0.010 inches.

    Loosening the truss rod about a quarter turn gave 0.015 inches of relief and the D string fret buzz was gone. Working the truss rod back tighter very slightly, it's possible to choose how much buzz the D string will have.

    I think this is consistent with putting lighter strings on and having to loosen the truss rod to get the same amount of forebow. So with a loose truss rod (and resulting higher action) it does work okay.

    I do wonder if the nut is totally ideal though. Checking the nut by capoing on the third fret and looking for clearance at the first fret, the D and high E strings are on the first fret, while the other strings have very slight clearance over the first fret.

    The string height isn't unreasonable at the 17th fret, with about 3/64" on the high E and a skosh more (can I get a 3.5/64"?) on the low E. Both of these are less than 1.5mm.

    Sounds like I've got a guitar that is what it is when it's all set up (still have to do the intonation).

    Thanks for all the good advice everyone, keep it coming.

    -Neil
     
    radiotech likes this.
  10. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    Europe
    If you feel that the nut is actually cut too low after you've measured the relief, there's an epoxy product called Blufixx you could try. It's a resin that looks like liquid glue. It sets with a UV lamp and becomes solid. You can clean/add/retrieve as much as you want while you're putting the product on the nut because it doesn't dry until you use the UV lamp. If you've put too much and it has already dried with the lamp, you can "file" it a bit with weld tip cleaners or some very thin sand paper on the tip of a small string. A friend of mine used it and he was happy.
    It was an advice from Vintage Guitar Magazine. There was an explanatory video and I had written a thread on this forum at the time. I'll look for it if you want.

    Ok, can't find the thread, but here is the video. My friend said he used the "wood and plastic" version of Blufixx (it was on a plastic nut). You need to clean the nut slot perfectly beforehand, otherwise the UV glue will slip.
    Moreover, the UV lamp in the kit works ok for the big low E string, however not so much for thinner strings so you might have to buy a bigger lamp.
    In the end, it wouldn't be less expensive than a new nut (about $16 for Blufixx + $ 20 for a bigger UV lamp + $ 5 dollars for weld tip cleaners) but you could keep the old nut and it could save you a trip to a luthier.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  11. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Squier-holic

    Sep 2, 2015
    NYC
    I think your diagnosis is correct. While you're waiting for your Graph Tech nut to arrive, put a tiny piece of paper inside the nut slot to raise it... you can glue it in if you want, but I wouldn't bother with that.

    I'm unfamiliar with the LTD EC-256, so I looked it up. I like it. :)
     
    Caddy likes this.
  12. Jay Jackson

    Jay Jackson Squier-Nut

    Age:
    66
    585
    Sep 1, 2018
    sanluisobispo CA (3401
    what LutherBurger said put a peace of paper in the slot to raise the string up and see if that helps then you will know for shure that is where the problem is
     
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