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Manuel Marino Music Composer

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Photo by Chewy Chua

If you have a new guitar or a new nut, it’s important to properly file and adjust the nut to ensure optimal playability. Here’s a step-by-step process for filing and adjusting the nut on your guitar:

  1. Start by ensuring that your guitar is properly strung up and that the neck is straight and not bowed or warped. If the neck is bowed, you’ll need to adjust the truss rod. If it’s warped, it may require more extensive repairs.
  2. To eliminate fret buzz, it’s recommended to level and crown your frets. This process involves ensuring that all the frets are even and properly shaped.
  3. Gather a set of feeler gauges and a set of nut files. Different grades of sandpaper may also come in handy.
  4. Begin by fretting each string individually, starting with the high E string between the 2nd and 3rd fret. Use the feeler gauge to check the amount of space between the bottom of the string and the first fret. There should be approximately 0.005 inches of space between each string, and the string should barely touch the 2nd fret. Take note of the measurements by recording them on a piece of paper as you move across the fretboard to determine the height of the nut slots.
  5. Most players prefer a string height of 3/64″. However, preferences vary, with some players liking it higher (4/64″) or lower (2/64″).
  6. Alternatively, you can use the traditional method of setting the string height, which involves using feeler gauges below the nut and filing down to the factory depth and width. Some players find this method to be more effective.

By properly filing and adjusting the nut, you can ensure that your guitar plays smoothly and without any fret buzz. It’s important to take your time and make small adjustments as needed to achieve the desired string height and playability. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with making these adjustments yourself, it’s always a good idea to seek the assistance of a professional guitar technician.

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