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Nut height & questions.


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Hi all,

Having purchased a LP traditional pro I've been having intonation & tuning problems despite the locking tuners.Added to this, I feel the action of the strings is quite high despite maximum truss rod adjustment, producing a slight buzz after the 12 fret if played a little hard.I have maxed out the position on the bridge saddles to set the intonation but the octaves still dont match.I am looking for a Gibson authorised luthier at MD to take the guitar.Meanwhile here is a question on nut height:

I feel the nut height is a bit high. ( I am a fender player & prefer to have lower action feel).This guitar has been used very sparingly.I'm just curious if any of you had to lower the nut height on your new LPs? When I use a capo the action feels good.Will it be necessary to file the nut spaces to get a softer feel?

Please let me know your opinion. How do I find an authorized Gibson luthier in MD? Are Gibson Les Paul nuts available?



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Depending on individual guitar and strings, the adjustment range given by Tune-O-Matic bridges may be insufficient. Reversing Nashville T-O-M saddles is a bit of a precision mechanic work, in particular removing and reassembling the spring clamps holding the screws in place. I had to do it on all guitars for the G3rd and some B2nd strings to achieve proper intonation, and some E6th might call for that, too.


Admittedly, 1970's Norlin Gibsons featuring the Long Travel Schaller T-O-M, and most Fender instruments with six adjustable saddles allow for easier compensation. However, I once had to remove the springs of the E6th and G3rd saddles on a late-70's Fender Stratocaster of a bandmate in 1982 to achieve proper adjustment.


Gibson nuts were a much bigger problem during the Norlin years, but some grooves call for filing them lower still today. To leave some life in the nuts, I live with a little too much height usually. In contrary, I adjust all of my Floyd Rose locking nuts for the optimum.


Nuts of different makes are available for any guitar, blank and pre-grooved as well. Two of my recent Gibsons came stock with nuts I had replaced immediately. They grooved them perfectly using a PLEK machine at Thomann. Some forumites had Gibson stock nuts replaced as part of the deal. As far as I remember, it always had been about Corian nuts. In my opinion, bone, bleached bone, and Nylon nuts are the best.


Hope this helps.

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Hi JC..



having intonation & tuning problems despite the locking tuners


Inotation problems and locking tuners have really nothing to do with each other. Intonation is achieved by the getting the tuning stable when playing the fretted note @the 12th fret, to the harmonic note @the 12th fret or the opened note. If the harmonic (@the 12th fret) or open note is in tune as well as when playing the fretted note @ the 12th fret, if this agrees, then that string is intonated properly.


I feel the action of the strings is quite high despite maximum truss rod adjustment,


the truss rod is going to set the relief of the neck and not necessarily set the action. You want the neck of course as straight as possible. (Too straight, you'll be fretting out at the first 2/3 frets. To bowed, and the action is going to feel very spongy in the middle of the neck.) Use your string as a straight guide if you don't have a straight edge, and try to get the neck as true as possible, (a little bow is normal.) you can eye ball it too but you sort of need to know what you are looking for. and keep in mind, truss rod adjustments are usually a 1/4 to 1/2 turn, don't crank on the truss nut...


Of course, the way to lower the action are the thumb wheels on either side of the ABR bridge. Get a ruler with 1/32 scale. you may find some where around 4/32 on the low E and 3/32 on the High E (measured at the 12th fret while pressing the two E strings down at the first fret), is a good ball park albeit a little lower than factory specs.


(personally I like it a bit lower, but I have a light touch). oh and be kind to the threads on the posts and the thumb wheels, de-tune as you make these adjustments.



producing a slight buzz after the 12 fret if played a little hard


Normal, the harder you pick, the more oscillation / vibration you'll create on the strings, you don't need to "kill" the string to make your notes, and in fact you wont really PLAY that way, so, why do that to check/eliminate buzzing (This is a common misconception and where a lot of people start on the point of no return) try to back off the pick attack, the light touch is the way, try it, and see how that works out..


Will it be necessary to file the nut spaces to get a softer feel?


it's possible. The nuts are cut to generic specs. Depending on the string gauge you are using, it's very likely that the nut slots are a bit off. This is part of a normal setup, any good setup guy who is armed with nut files, a feeler gague and the know how can regulate those nut sluts for optimum settings for the gauge of string you prefer. you will also note that nut slots that are not deep enough, will give you tuning problems in the lower registers as they are actually pulling the string sharp to make the notes. And if they are cut too low. your open strings are going to fret out.


How do I find an authorized Gibson luthier in MD?

Probably want to ask Gibson Customer Service, I don't believe you need an "authorized Gibson" dealer to do a setup.

I'd think any reputable setup guy will be fine. he's not going to do anything that will void the warranty.


Are Gibson Les Paul nuts available?

a nut is a nut, is a nut... well there's different type of material of corse.. bone, tusq, plastic, most gibbys ship with some sort of plastic. But I would just let that be part of the setup work order.. "Please check/regulate nut"

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The reason I mentioned the locking tuners is that I find the tuning going down after getting into some deep bends despite the locking tuners. Could this be due to intonation issues?



That is not an intonation problem.


That sounds like the string isn't moving thru the nut slot smoothly, or in the case of new strings, that would be common as the string is still stretching out a bit.


One thing you can try as you tune up, give a little "up tug" on the string, this makes sure that you are pulling out any slack around the tuning post.


You can also consider lubing the nut slots, as well as the slots in the saddles at the bridge.


For a pinch you could just try a dab of Vaseline (put some on a tooth pick and just drop a small amount on the nut and saddle where each string pass thru (this is a called a witness point if you want to be totally technical! :) )


There's also a few products. Big Bends Nut Sauce is a popular choice.


some peeps even use pencil lead (Graphite).


Do a search with your browser for "lube a guitar nut"


plenty of stuff there.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Get in touch with some professional players in your area and find who their go-to luthier is. Set up is critical and forming a relationship with a really good luthier is important. There is no "perfect" set up but once you find your luthier he can tweek things to your liking. I found mine through a local music store that caters to professional musicians. B)

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Lots of great answers.


I would also mention, the nut CAN change not just the action, but the tuning if it is high enough, as fretting puts more pressure the closer you get to the nut, pulling notes sharp.


So, what it means? If you want to adjust the nut, have the nut slots filed, you might note how the strings tune on the open strings compared to the fretted notes. If frets 1 through 5 are in tune and the open strings are flat, it means the nut will be better if it is moved forward so everything is in tune with each other.


The intonation: the open strings being the same as fretted at the 12 fret is an ideal. Also, fastest way to check it. But the nut is usually the most "out" compared to the rest of the guitar. meaning the fretted notes. It's a little more accurate to check and adjust to all the positions, not just the nut.


As for the truss rod, the LP is the EASIEST guitar to get it right, because you can do it by ear and not have to guess. Adjusting the truss rod for more bow WILL raise the action, so you just lower the bridge. If you get more buzz playing the middle of the neck on up, and less buzz playing toward the open positions, you have too much relief, or bow. If you get more buzz playing toward the nut but no buzzing playing up the neck, it is too straight.

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Gonna add an important detail to this. when adjusting nut height and nut slot depth, you have to remember that if your action is really high at the nut and needs to be quite a bit lower you need to take the nut off and file it down from the bottom or else you'll have the whole string sunk into the nut and the string won't vibrate properly. ideal nut slot depth is to have only half the string actually resting in the slot.

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Darkside Mike has it right. Do not cut into the string slots. I remove the nut and draw a thin pencil line around the sides and ends at the bottom of the nut. Then I sand the bottom of the nut with a flat sanding block. The pencil line serves as a reference to tell me how much I have sanded away. It also helps me to keep the sanding depth even all the way round. If some of the line is left after I have reached the right depth it can be cleaned away with little trouble.


As for filing the slots, I just got a set of slot files from StewMac that have the round cutting edges. There are many that have the squared cutting edge. Some people prefer to use keyhole files. The idea of cutting a ROUND SLOT for a ROUND STRING-ingenious-Whoda thunkit?! As Darkside Mike says, the slot depth should be half the string diameter. I have been spending a lot of time on the Stewart-MacDonald web site. They have many good instructional videos. Guitar people who are "do it yourselfers" will find a lot of good info from their vids. Jedediah

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JC, I had same with 99 lp standard. I don't know about now, but my nut depth was way to high from the


factory. I hear this is not uncommon. I replaced the nut with a Graph Tech Tusq XL which is self lubing


to aid in bending tuning stability etc. They have a sizing guide on their website. The string spacing on my


lp matched the spacing for an Epiphone lp, but I sanded it to fit. Order with pre-cut slots and you just


sand off the bottom to your target height. I went about .020 on the low E and wound strings to about


.015 at the high E. These dims I got off of Dave's World of Fun Stuff, on you tube. Just use a feeler


gauge and measure from the bottom of string to the top of first fret on all 6 strings. Some sites try to


make this complicated, but their asses have been exposed. The feeler gauges I had, 2 drops of any


glue will due, I had, and the nut from Guitar Center was $15 bucks. I don't account for my time, but


after watching videos of the process on you tube before I started, start to finish was about 20 minutes.


A world of difference was mine for less $$$ than my last pizza. We pay enough for our gear as it is and


shouldn't get into a "take it to a guitar tech" mindset for a cheap and easy remedy like this.


Whatever remedy you choose, good luck.



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