December 12, 2023

Guitar Nuts

Nothing to do with squirrels; this post is intended to help you make the correct choice when replacing your guitar’s nut. If you like to play play a tremelo arm or whammy bar  as part of your style but find that your strings just keep breaking then this post will hopefully get you through! Even if you don’t whammy like a madman and your strings continue breaking at or near the nut then it’s time to consider a replacement. You may also like to consider upgrading the saddles in your bridge if you find consistent string breakage a problem in this area of the guitar also.

The nut is the part of the guitar at the end of the fretboard which the strings pass across where the headstock and fingerboard meet. The nut is ordinarily a small strip of bone, plastic, brass, corian, graphite and stainless steel with grooves for the string to sit within and some come replete with rollers and ballbearings to reduce friction.

Because using a tremelo arm changes both the tension, pitch and the length of the string in such a vigorous way the less friction there is between the string and the surfaces of the guitar the better and this is where using the appropriate hardware can be so beneficial.

It`s worth bearing in mind that the material from which the nut is manufactured will have an effect upon the sound your guitar makes so where possible try out as many different types of nut material as possible before making your decision.

Alot of instruments come as standard with plastic nuts – these are can often be cheap, soft and even, god forbid it,  hollow, inferior quality nuts that will destroy your sustain and cheapen the tone of your playing.

Bone or Ivory nuts are hard wearing and have to be individually carved and fitted to your guitar. Graph Tech guitar labs make an artificial “man-made ivory” nut called  TUSQ. Whereas bone and ivory have hard and soft spots as part of their natural grain, hampering consistent transfer of vibrations to the guitar top, TUSQ nuts, saddles and bridge pins are designed to transfer the right frequencies more efficiently from the string  to the guitar body.
Graph Tech Labs also produce a range of saddles called string saver saddles with a unique combination of materials made to enhance tone and dramatically reduce string breakage. The inclusion of TEFLON into the saddle reduces friction, as compared with graphite, by around 500% and will never wear out either.

Teflon is 500% more slippery than graphite and is impregnated throughout the String Saver material, so its lubricating properties will never wear out.

TUSQ nuts are fitted to all Taylor guitars.

One of the most successful innovations in nut design incorporates rolling seats in the nut to reduce friction even further whereby the string passes over one rollingcylinder and then beneath another. Fenders LSR roller nut reduces the friction that can cause tuning instability. Designed to accept string gauges .008 to .056. The nut Comes with a Wilkinson adapter for older Strat® Plus models, instructions and mounting hardware. Normally there are thin metal shims that could be removed to lower the nut in.005″ increments to suit the kind of action you require on your guitar.

If you are planning an upgrade it’s definitely best policy to locate and source a highly competent luthier who can discuss these options with you, examine your existing hardware and perform a quality upgrade and installation.

You should also get to know your local luthier and expert because they will also be able to set up your guitar in a way that makes for great tonal and playability improvements.

Well, That`s all folks,

Jake Edwards

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