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Adding a nut shim


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Hey guys,

I had a hell of a time removing the nut from my les paul studio.....and has to saw down the middle and collapse the nut, then take 20 minutes to carefully chip away the remaining shards of nut. My strat took 30 seconds!!

Anyway, I filed and polished a new graph-tech trem nut, and when i strung up and tested for clearance at the first fret.....i would astounded to find the nut wasn;t high enough!! I didn't lower the nut, just smoothed the edges so it would fit....it just doesn't.

So my repair manual says to add a shim, but doesn't say how or with what. Any ideas?

I was thinking masking tape or a hard plastic might work......anything soft would make the nut kinda bounce and shift under string tension

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A thin scrap of ebony or rosewood or even maple would do, *IF* you have a way to make a nice, thin, flat piece. Even if you have the tools to do that, the set-up time might not be worth it. I have shimmed strat nuts with aluminum cut from a beer can. I don't do it on customers guitars unless that's the route that they want to go. On a Les Paul nut, you can't really get away with not gluing the nut down, so the beer can aluminum might need whatever kind of coating it might have on it taken off. Maybe acetone would do that (keep the acetone away from your guitar or you could have some ugly paint damage !). Or if you can evenly sand the aluminum, which would also be good because it would give it some "grip".

Or maybe raise hell about the nut being too thin to whoever you bought it from until they give you a refund or a higher nut.

The way I make really thin wood shims is taping the wood on a flat surface using double-sided carpet tape, then I have a router with "feet" that raises it high enough that I can "ride" the router over the wood, planing it flat.

It's almost the same way I make full-sized hard maple , tapered neck shims for strats. But you can imagine that it takes some time to set-up a rig like that.

A piece of credit card plastic would already be nice and flat, but probably too thick and it's flexible plastic (tone sink).

If the nut needs to be raised about .005", then I'm almost sold on the aluminum idea.

Good Luck,


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I usually glue a veneer of wood, right onto the bottom of the nut, that matches the fretboard, and then sand down to height. Usually this leaves me with a very thin layer of wood, that is probably 90% glue, but it seems to work well. No beer can showing. No real harm to the tone, and it looks okay. (Almost invisible) I run the grain the short way across the bottom of the nut. (Running the same direction as the grain on the fretboard.) This helps it to blend in better. Probably not the official, approved method, but it works for me.

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Well, i decided to try something else. I had just finished shielding my strat with copper about .10" in thickness. My clearance at the first fret was about .04" at the low E when i am looking for about .15".

So I used the copper foil, folded it three times and flattened it really well so it looks like one sheet. It fits perfectly, but i haven't glued it in yet.

You think this is a good idea? The only downside is a bit of copper shows out the side.....but its no big deal

Right now its at abut .22" clearance, and ill just file the nut to the right size.

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What kind of adhesive are you planing on using to bond the metal to the wood? It really wouldn't matter in the long run since the tension of the strings should hold it in place, but I'm just curious.

For me the material could vary depending on how important the asthetics of the appearence are for the particular guitar.

Quick n simple-metal, slower but blending better-wood (which also will compress but not much since were talking a sliver to begin with).

On the wood end, even a couple of wooden match sticks and a sharp razor would work or a flat surface and some sand paper.

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Well, thats the tricky part. I used spray adhesive to shield my cavity, but that stuff is so hard to get off unless you heat it really well with a soldering gun......but I don't want it to damage my Les Paul.

I was thinking just the wood glue i was going to use on the nut in the first place would hold it in place.......i am probably wrong though :D

Perhaps I'll try very thin piece of wood, and ill paint it black so it blends with the black neck.

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the only part of the wood that should end up being visible is the 2 outer edges , which could easily be made black with a black marker.

Your high E should be no more than .010" higher than the first fret. It has to be at least .008" higher than the first fret. Low E should be no more than .020" higher than the first fret. It should be at least .015" higher than the first fret. The .008 and .015 heights will sometimes end up buzzing too much, but on a guitar that's just had a fret-level and been set-up, they can be the best heights.

The truss-rod has to be properly adjusted before adjusting the string heights at the nut. If you make the strings as low as possible at the nut, then adjust the truss-rod to make the neck more straight, you will probably have strings buzzing on the first fret.

Lossening the truss-rod to get rid of buzzing at the first fret is not the right way to fix the buzzing if the neck relief was already correct. It will get rid of the buzzing at the cost of making the neck play less comfortably farther up the neck.

Naptha or lighter fluid on a rag should remove any spray adhesive that you want to remove.

Using excess wood glue could come back to haunt you later if you want to remove the nut. just a couple small drops is plenty. The nut should fit fairly tight without glue, but you might need the glue to keep the nut from sliding sideways when you bend strings on the lower frets.

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