Weird tuning/fretting problems on an LP - related to nut?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by morphine, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. morphine

    morphine Member

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    May 23, 2007
    Hi guys. I have an Epi Les Paul Studio Goth (no jokes about cheap crap please, it's actually quite good for the price :p), about 3 years now. I'm trying to learn more about setting this stuff up just right, and perhaps actually doing it in the process.

    I've already read quite a bit about setting up guitars, and am trying to learn more. I have the action and the intonation just down right the way I like it, and the neck bow seems OK to me too (fretting at 1st and 16th fret leaves the tiniest bit of space around the 5-7 zone). Strings are 10s. However, there are two things that piss me off and I *think* are related to the grooves in the nut. I hope you can enlighten me:

    1) In order to tune the guitar so that it sounds "right" when playing both open chords and barre chords, I have to tune the wound strings to pitch, and then the G string slightly higher (1-2 cts), than the Bm string just higher (2-3), and the high E even slightly higher still (3-4). What gives? :eek:
    2) Fretting hard at the first three frets makes the note pitch higher than it's supposed to. It goes as follows, in relation to the first fret:

    6th - E - 20 to 30 cts when fretting, 50 cts if hard
    5th - A - 10 to 20 cts when fretting, 30 cts if hard
    4th - D - 5 to 10 cts when fretting, 10 if hard
    3rd - G - same as above
    2nd - Bm - 3-5 cts when fretting, 10 if hard
    1st - E - almost right, 2-3 cts when fretting, 4-5 if hard
     
  2. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    Gainesville, Florida
    I'd say you need a nut adjustment, as you suspected.
    #1, I've found that sometimes a guitar's tuning does need to be "tempered", which is the slight "off-tuning" you wrote about. Some of the higher-end tuners allow you to save your tempered tuning to a user preset. I'm not suggesting that this is the answer to your problem!!
    #2, fretting too hard at the first few frets will usually make the fretted strings sound sharp... as far as I know, that's just how it is.
    A correct nut adjustment (slot depth and angle) should hopefully minimize both problems. Don't cut on the nut if you're not real sure of what you're doing, or you may have to learn to make a new nut!!! Re-check your intonation after the nut's right.
    All the best!
     
  3. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    Gainesville, Florida
    I'm new here, but I figured y'all had discussed the details of nut cutting (and replacement) in earlier threads. Hope it's ok to steer Morphine to a more complete answer regarding nut slot adjustment than my previous post. The best answer I've found so far, by searching this forum for "method cutting slots" is one by Guitslinger Tim near the bottom of this thread:
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=183582&highlight=method+cutting+slots
    ...since Guitslinger Tim discusses building and adjusting a nut, hopefully there's more info than you'll need... file with extreme care, and consider taking it to a repairman instead!
     
  4. morphine

    morphine Member

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    May 23, 2007
    Thanks for the info guys. I have no real skills or the tools for setting up the nut, so I'm kind of at a loss here. Where I'm at (Portugal), a proper luthier is very hard to come by, and they charge an arm and a leg, naturally.

    I'm thinking that if the process of simply putting in a new nut isn't all that complicated or dangerous, I might actually buy a 6-pack of them and keep trying until it's right :D
     
  5. morphine

    morphine Member

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    May 23, 2007
    Heh I just read that thread. I'm forgetting about attempting to fix this nut, with all the detail involved, I'd wreck my guitar in the process.
     

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