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Break angle --> nut slot wear?

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  • Break angle --> nut slot wear?

    Has anyone experienced accelerated nut slot wear as a result of an extreme string break angle? I think the answer is "yes", so its like more a matter of "by how much".

    The guitar in question here is a Tele with a synthetic bone nut and a string tree on the high E and B strings. The G string sounds "choked" or "muted" when played open. Been battling it for a couple weeks. This morning I detuned the G, pushed it under the string tree for the B string, and tuned it back up - voila, it rings like a bell. So I'm considering grabbing a second string tree, or a triple string tree, to address the issue.

    Will adding a string tree for the G wear out its nut slot faster than if it had no string tree? What about just putting it under the B string's tree - would the additional downward and sideways pressure accelerate the wear on the nut slot?
    Originally posted by crusty philtrum
    Anyone who *sings* at me through their teeth deserves to have a bus drive through their face
    http://www.youtube.com/alexiansounds

  • #2
    adding a string tree shouldnt really wear the nut much if any faster. i dont know if id use the B string tree for the G string

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    • #3
      If your nut slot is too low, take the strings off and put a dab of 2 part epoxy in the offending slot. You might have to repeat it a couple times, but you can build the height back up very easily like this and epoxy rings out just like bone.

      It's also possible to get 6 inline staggered tuners that will increase your string break angle without needing a tree:
      Click image for larger version

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      (These are from hipshot . . . not sure if someone else makes them)
      Join me in the fight against muscular atrophy!

      Originally posted by Douglas Adams
      This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the responses. It's a new guitar, so I'd prefer to try small fixes first. Didn't have this issue from the factory, nor when I put on my own strings, but with the second set of new strings it started acting a little funny in this way. I suppose I could try a bit of paper in the slot - that's worked in a pinch on another guitar. And pulling the string out of the slot to rest on the non-slotted part of the nut (and tuning to pitch) also makes it ring true.
        Originally posted by crusty philtrum
        Anyone who *sings* at me through their teeth deserves to have a bus drive through their face
        http://www.youtube.com/alexiansounds

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        • #5
          cleaning the slot before anything else is a good idea. building up the slot if its too low works well too as do the staggered tuners if you just need a smaller adjustment. sperzel tuners are staggered too, at least all mine are

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          • #6
            Sounds like your nut slot isn't cut correctly to work with the gauge fo strings you are using. Anytime there is a choking or binding it is because the nut slot is too narrow. Nut sauce can help as can a sharp pencil in the groove as well to prevent binding of the string and help tuning issues. I don't know that a string tree will wear a nut out faster. Wear comes from friction and use. If it does increase the wear and tear, it would be so minimal it wouldn't matter. Since the guitar in question is a tele, it is very simple to purchase another nut and drop it in. Filing would be minimal. I recommend a Graph Tech XL nut. They are impregnated with teflon and are self lubricating and that solves a lot of problems. Simple 10 bucks or so fix and you are good to go.
            The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

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            • #7
              If you're happy with the slot height the way it is, go ahead and add another string tree or a three-string one.
              Some Strats have two of 'em - no reason not to do it for a Tele.

              Assuming the height is right, you've inspected the slot for problems, and the only issue is lack of downward pressure, there's no sense messing with a brand new nut.

              I don't see wear on the slot being any problem in the foreseeable future. Maybe over decades, but even that isn't sure.

              EDIT: Bogner raises a good point - could it simply be binding, and not sitting in the bottom of the slot?
              If you've changed to heavier strings, perhaps you just need to widen the G slot a bit.
              Last edited by eclecticsynergy; 01-19-2021, 01:56 PM.
              .
              "My hovercraft is full of eels."

              .

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              • #8
                It's just a weird series of events. Factory strings were .09s, no problems. Put on a set of my favorite D'adarrio 10s for three weeks, no problem. Took those strings off to do a little PG work, put on a new set of the same D'adarrio 10s along with some graphite and chapstick in the nut slots, and the issue with the G string arose. So I'm thinking it's either not enough downward pressure (though it's the same amount of wraps, 2ish), too much gunk in the nut slot (though I've tried to clean it out with business cards, strings, and thin picks), or maybe the G string in the second pack is a larger gauge than what was in the first pack (shouldn't be, but this would also explain it). Visually there appears to be wiggle room in the G string slot. Might have try another G string in there just to see what happens, maybe add more wraps to the tuner.

                Any downsides to adding an additional string tree? Might not be the most graceful solution, but it appears that it would solve the problem.
                Last edited by alex1fly; 01-19-2021, 02:23 PM.
                Originally posted by crusty philtrum
                Anyone who *sings* at me through their teeth deserves to have a bus drive through their face
                http://www.youtube.com/alexiansounds

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                • #9
                  id say no. doesnt hurt to put a few extra wraps to increase the angle and see what ya get

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                  • #10
                    If you were expecting extensive movement of the string through the nut slot (due to a trem) then maybe a break angle would become somewhat relevant. You'd have to look at how many vintage trem equipped strats have had worn out nuts merely through use......or indeed any older guitar with a back angled headstocks have worn nuts merely due to use of the guitar.

                    I don't think I've ever come across a situation where the nut has worn before the frets......this being the slightly more relevant issue of course - a re-fret being the time when you would need to do the nut as a matter of course anyhow.


                    What you have a simply a case of a poorly cut slot which rolls off on the fretboard face rather than being a crisp angle

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                    • #11
                      Don't use chap stick in nut slots. Big Bends nut sauce or pencil if you have to.

                      Clean out the slot, take some very fine sand paper and very lightly sand each wall of the string in question. DO NOT GO DEEP ENOUGH TO TOUCH THE BASE OF THE NUT!!! Make a few passes on each side wall and pop the string in there and see if it changes anything. I bet it does.
                      The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by alex1fly View Post
                        It's just a weird series of events. Factory strings were .09s, no problems. Put on a set of my favorite D'adarrio 10s for three weeks, no problem. Took those strings off to do a little PG work, put on a new set of the same D'adarrio 10s along with some graphite and chapstick in the nut slots, and the issue with the G string arose. So I'm thinking it's either not enough downward pressure (though it's the same amount of wraps, 2ish), too much gunk in the nut slot (though I've tried to clean it out with business cards, strings, and thin picks), or maybe the G string in the second pack is a larger gauge than what was in the first pack (shouldn't be, but this would also explain it). Visually there appears to be wiggle room in the G string slot. Might have try another G string in there just to see what happens, maybe add more wraps to the tuner.

                        Any downsides to adding an additional string tree? Might not be the most graceful solution, but it appears that it would solve the problem.
                        Ive not heard of putting that sludge in the slot. Just graphite.

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                        • #13
                          I can't imagine Chap Stick being good for strings at all. I do use graphite or Big Ben's Nut Sauce, though.
                          Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                          • #14
                            The trick to using ANY lubrication in a nut slot is use as little as possible. Put it on with the tip of a toothpick. In the 80's I used petroleum jelly mixed with graphite powder. The problem? The graphite powder spreads too much, and you can see the dark color. Once the graphite separates from the petroleum jelly it contaminates the whole area. I switched to Chapstick in the early 90's because it's thicker than petroleum jelly, and doesn't tend to melt all over the area. It works well when used with intelligence, and it's invisible.

                            Dave - tell me. WTH do you think Chapstick is bad for strings, but some other product is cool. Got any hard data? Didn't think so.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ICTGoober View Post
                              The trick to using ANY lubrication in a nut slot is use as little as possible. Put it on with the tip of a toothpick. In the 80's I used petroleum jelly mixed with graphite powder. The problem? The graphite powder spreads too much, and you can see the dark color. Once the graphite separates from the petroleum jelly it contaminates the whole area. I switched to Chapstick in the early 90's because it's thicker than petroleum jelly, and doesn't tend to melt all over the area. It works well when used with intelligence, and it's invisible.

                              Dave - tell me. WTH do you think Chapstick is bad for strings, but some other product is cool. Got any hard data? Didn't think so.
                              I wasn't thinking its bad for strings, per se.

                              The issue I see is that the sludge will inhibit the vibration of the string.

                              If a nut slot is wide enough to take multiple gauges of strings, that suggests that there is "open air" between the string and the slot. (Until the string diameter gets large enough that it no longer fits in the slot, at which point it is resting on two points, boths sides of the nut channel.) Sludge like chap stick is just filling the gap between the string and the slot, which could impact how it vibrates.

                              Sludge in the nut slot would be like lining the slots with felt or some other non solid material. This could have negative impact on vibration of the string.

                              Additionally, sludge could migrate down the string (fingerboard side) which would definitely have an impact on its vibration. And its just messy and will get on your hands.

                              This does not discuss the potential for chemical reaction or corrosion, but that is another discussion.


                              So while there may be some nuts that you could use chap stick, there might be other situations where it is detrimental. In this case I don't think its safe to say its a good practice. It might work for some person, under some condition.

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