How to properly file new Graphtech tusq xl nut on a Les Paul?


Silver Supporting Member
So I just replaced the nut on my Epiphone Les Paul '56 goldtop with a graphtech tusq xl nut which is supposed to be a drop in replacement to the original nut. I replaced it, as I switched to 11's and the strings were binding in the nut when tuning, causing issues.

There's a video on YouTube that I followed closely on how to replace it, and I had to sand the new nut quite a bit to match the size of the original nut. The lower EAD strings sound fine and are at the correct height, but the top three strings and especially the high e sounds muffled, and are slightly higher above the first fret than they should be. Also, the high e string buzzes like crazy but just at the first fret. I'm not sure how it could be like that, as the string has plenty of clearance over the first three frets, and the action is plenty high.

Is the nut being out of the correct position causing this issue, or are the nut slots not cut correctly?

Do I need to get a set of files to fix the problem, or do I need to sand the nut some more?


Silver Supporting Member
The slots may not be large enough for 11's and may need a little filing with the correct size nut files to get them right. As for getting the string height where you want it, again you will most likely need the nut files to fine tune each slot to the correct depth. The preslotted nuts will get you close but they all need a little extra work to really dial them in. As for the high E buzzing, it sounds as if you may have sanded to much off the nut on that end. If you fret the string at the 3rd fret, you should have a very small gap between the 2nd fret and bottom of the string. If the string is touching the fret top then you have gone to low with the nut.

Edit; I just reread your post and the issue with the high E buzzing may just be a poorly cut slot.


I had an issue installing one of these recently. Had my luthier sort it out. I wouldn't start messing with the nut slot you can ruin the guitar...I almost learned the hard way. I think he said the bottom graphtech nut was angled different than the slot and he had modify the nut to get it to work.


Graphtec nuts are preslotted for string spacing, however they are not drop in replacements. Get the good nut files.
Then practice on a lot of nuts.
What’s the best way to file nut slots? PRACTICE.
You can even get some hobby wood or some bone blanks, buy a bunch of plastic nuts, and PRACTICE making a lot of nuts.
Get a belt sander.
Maybe a small parts holder vise. Sandpaper, digital calipers, a pencil to do the frank ford half pencil trick, and sand the top of the nut so the slots aren’t deep, this will make the files easier to control. Lots of videos out there too. Watch all of them. Then when you get the hang of it see if a guitar tech will give you some one on one lessons...


Yeah, there's really no such thing as a "drop in replacement" nut. Any replacement nut would almost certainly have to have the nut slots filed and cleaned up, and most likely the overall height of the nut would have to be filed down, sanded and polished.
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ie added a few graphtech nuts to my Epiphone guitars
they all had to have the bottom sanded (nut slots were cleaned up with a coarse file, and finished with a fine file)

I coarse SANDED the bottom till the 2 e strings were at the right hight when tuned up (using feeler guage)
then I used fine sand paper to polish it...installed, strings and played for a while

I eventually elmer glued the nut in once I was happy...I didn't have to file any slots...on 2 dots, 2 les pauls, and a g400

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