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Gibson guitar tuning stability hack. Does this really work??

Doomrider78

Member
Messages
3,778
I'll admit I didn't watch the video, because what is written above is all you need to know. A properly cut nut is the most important and possibly most overlooked factor in tuning stability, playability and tone.
Yeah, and for people to keep on repeating the mantra "its a terrible headstock design" is stupid: Sure, it's probably Gibson's own fault for not cutting their nuts properly :spit , which leads people to think this, but there is nothing wrong with the design in principle. Just execution, sometimes.
 
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Mr Fingers

Member
Messages
2,538
There's no such thing as tuning problems on a LP, nor is the headstock design somehow terrible. There are poorly cut nuts, misadjusted bridges and tailpieces, and users who don't know how tuning machines work, or how to stretch strings. If anything, the LP with its simple string path, sharp saddles, and rigid body is a recipe for stability. Sure, the string path is not straight, but that is irrelevant since there's no trem and to be honest, the angle (sideways) is next to nothing. I play all kinds of guitars, and even the ridiculous vintage Fender trem is no b ig deal to get right if you have the knowledge and patience to set it up properly. I have no super tech skills but by learning what I'm doing and doing it carefully, slowly, and thoroughly, I can get fine results. In other words, anyone can.
 

Capstan Philips

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
140
Underlying the video is a valid point - too steep an angle over the nut can hamper the string's ability to move back and forth in the nut, causing tuning inconsistencies. Conversely, too shallow an angle can prevent the string ringing cleanly and cause the note to decay more quickly.

Here's how I go about optimising tuning stability, proceeding to steps 3 & 4 only if strings are found to be going sharp. Advice assumes a fixed bridge or decked trem. Some of this is fairly rudimentary, but still...
  1. Apply lubricant to all nut slots - e.g. Big Bends as suggested above - remove string from slot, apply lubricant, reseat string, remove excess lubricant.
  2. Tuned to standard pitch, take each string in turn, at 12th fret, and pull string reasonably firmly away from fingerboard then tune back to pitch - repeat 3-5 times until tuning is barely affected by subsequent pulling. Play a few large bends up and down fretboard on each string. Retune.
  3. Reduce break angle of problematic string(s) by using fewer winds on post or - as per the video - winding string up post.
  4. If tuning issues persist after significantly reducing break angle, it's likely that the nut is cut too tightly for the string - widen slot (or take to tech for adjustment).
    If tuning issues are resolved but now the open string sounds 'muted' or 'banjo-like', it's likely that the nut slot is cut too wide for the string - fill and recut the nut slot, or fit a new nut and start over (or take to tech).

As others have stated above - there is no substitute for a well-cut nut - it's absolutely critical to tuning stability, open string tone and string height (slots cut too high seems to be a common feature, even of 'big brand' American-made guitars).

TBH, I have never had an LP that holds tune quite as well as does a well set-up Strat. I kinda accept the headstock design doesn't allow for that, but it sounds as though others on here may have had better results with their LPs, so perhaps it is possible to achieve Strat-like tuning stability on a LP, given a nut that is cut precisely enough...
 

Guppie

Member
Messages
959
Oké, my LP Special has tendency to go out of tune. Mainly the G string just like a lot of LP's and SG's. Please don't act like you don't know what the op is talking about just because your guitar doesn't have that problem.
The headstock design isn't the best out there, let's admit that too please. The headstock design makes it absolutely crucial to have a very good cut nut. Which Gibson themselves seem to have a problem with.
I'm willing to try out the "hack". I've thought about it myself sometimes but never remember to do it when restringing. It's just another method of stringing. It isn't more of a hack than applying nut sauce is.
The guy is just trying to help.
 
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xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,286
The key word is "hysteresis", otherwise known as hang-up. If the friction is high enough to hold the string, but low enough to allow the string to occasionally slip, you get variable difference in tension across the bridge and or nut. The easiest fix, imo, is to widen the nut slots so that the sides of the guitar string arent cramped in. Often the nut slots are sized in the factory for stock size 9 strings, and so 10 or 11s are squized in, and that causes a high degree of hysteresis at the nut. When you attempt to lift the string out of the nut slot, it should not stick in there at all.

Also big bends is a ripoff. Its teflon grease with a 10000% markup.
 

Capstan Philips

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
140
Yeah, and for people to keep on repeating the mantra "its a terrible headstock design" is stupid: Sure, it's probably Gibson's own fault for not cutting their nuts properly :spit , which leads people to think this, but there is nothing wrong with the design in principle. Just execution, sometimes.
I pretty much agree with you although, if comparing with for example Fender's headstock design, the latter probably allows for ever-so-slightly more latitude in how precisely the nut is cut.

(From all I've read about Leo Fender, reducing production time/costs was of as much appeal as enhancing the performance of the finished product, so in that sense the Fender headstock design would exemplify his practical/utilitarian ethos :)).
 

Capstan Philips

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
140
Also big bends is a ripoff. Its teflon grease with a 10000% markup.
It sure is - I wish I'd thought of it first!

Can you suggest an alternative of similar colour and consistency? Google throws up various products available here in the UK, but I'm familiar with some of them in automotive/cycling applications and they're thicker or more colourful than anything I'd put on a guitar nut.
 
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apeekaboo

Member
Messages
886
It sure is - I wish I'd thought of it first!

Can you suggest an alternative of similar colour and consistency? Google throws up various products available here in the UK, but I'm familiar with some of them in automotive/cycling applications and they're thicker or more colourful than anything I'd put on a guitar nut.
Chapstick works as an alternative. Apply with a toothpick.
 

Austin_Taunt

Don’t tell my wife I’m buying another guitar
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
943
I found the best way to make my guitar sound like a great Gibson is to sell my Anderson or Suhr and buy a Gibson :)
There are far cheaper ways to sound out of tune!!

Just teasing. I played a Gibson classic for a decade and I loved them and had no tuning issues. Not sure what happened but now I much prefer the 25.5” scale. I’ve had 4 different Gibson’s the past couple years trying to bring back that love I had for them. Weird how preferences change.
 

GenoBluzGtr

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,217
I've always been kinda OCD on how the pegs wind when I change strings, so I've kind of defaulted to the "Wind Up" method. I've rarely had any issues w my LPs tuning stability. Maybe that's why?
 

musekatcher

Member
Messages
2,334
Gibson angles the headstock on purpose, so it has much more break angle than a Fender, on purpose. As a result, the friction on the nut is much higher, like double or more. As a result, the nut slots must be much smoother, more precisely cut. I finally worked mine to being about as reliable as a Fender,, taking really big bends and going back to pitch. It took a few tries.
 

BEACHBUM

Member
Messages
3,054
3 minutes of gabbing and noodling to finally get to the point and tell us something that could have been expressed in one short sentence and then 8 more minutes of gabbing and noodling. You've got to love these guys.:( My problem is that since he is specifically stating that it's an issue with Les Pauls and better tuning skills is the solution then I guess we have to assume that only Les Paul players are doing it wrong and for some unknown reason Fender, Ibanez, Yamaha and Gretsch players etc. have got it right.:rolleyes:
 
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Guppie

Member
Messages
959
Gibson angles the headstock on purpose, so it has much more break angle than a Fender, on purpose.
Nobody is thinking it's by accident but I've never heard a compelling reasoning to why they do this. Maybe it's because some people think more break angle equals more sustain or something (it doesn't). I personally think the strings fanning out is much more of a problem.
 

tommygunn1986

Member
Messages
2,827
I've had a few LPs, an SG, and an Explorer. Never had any issues. I use a pencil on the nut slots every time I change my strings (on every guitar). Also, I play rock n roll so if it was slightly out of tune, that's just extra flavor.

One thing I wonder though is why they don't just cut the nut slots at a slight angle. That would reduce friction.
 




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