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Leonard McCoy

On Gibson's Process for Cutting Nut Slots

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If Gibson's Plekking process has but one major flaw among the many advantages it brings to fretboard and playability, then it must be that the cutting of the nut slots is also done by the Plek machines, and not by hand, irrespective of whether you're ordering a guitar from the standard lineup or Gibson's Custom Shop. The reason I mention this is because in my experience Gibson guitars more often than not display a common nut problem.

While the string height at the nut is usually about perfect for playing anywhere on the fretboard, the string slots themselves are cut too straight, and too precisely to the string's exact diameter resulting in too tight a fit for the string to sit in the slot.  The string slots also don't widen slightly as the approach the back edge of the nut. They should be filed in the shape of slightly rounded "V" but since that isn't the case, the string, if it doesn't already get pinched by the tight fit of the string slot, can't neither move nor be angled towards its tuner post resulting in binding issues at the nut.

The notorious "plink" sound the string makes is caused by the string actually bumping against the edge of the end of the string slot and/or by too narrow a string slot. And because the tuner posts are at an angle for all Gibson guitars from string slot to tuner post, ie., they don't run in a straight line as with a Strat, the binding issues can be rather severe with Gibson guitars.

While it's no big deal for a luthier to fix this, the customer can't do it himself without costly special nut files and some know-how which is rather annoying.

Edited by Leonard McCoy

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Agreed! I have also, long ago, purchased the nut files and have also made my own bone nuts for some guitars. Easy does it, a little at a time, and patience......makes for satisfactory results!

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I now also ordered the files from StewMac. I can't be bothered to queue up for these kinds of issues with my luthier which is a real hassle.

Edited by Leonard McCoy

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While I totally agree with you, that the nuts almost always bind on new Gibsons, I don't know that it has anything to do with the Plek machine.  It has been a problem for many years before the Plek was even dreamt up.  I had a '64 ES125, and a '68 Les Paul and they had the same problem way back then.  Fortunately I have a local luthier who files them for me in about 10 minutes for about $20 as I am afraid to try it myself for fear of going too far requiring a new nut.

I have owned a couple over the years that didn't do this, but would say 95% or higher had this issue.

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