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What are the benefits (if any) of changing out the stock nut?

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by Crazybayman, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. Crazybayman

    Crazybayman Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 16, 2017
    I'm pondering changing out the stock nut on my MIM Strat, for a graphtech. Would that improve anything (tone, sustain etc)?

    If not, I'll leave it.

  2. rolandson

    rolandson Most Honored Senior Member

    Depends upon whether there are issues with the stock nut.

    Personally speaking, if it's a plastic nut I would change it to bone. But then, if it were a Graphtech nut I would change it to bone as well. I prefer the sound of bone over any other material. I don't care much for the sound of Graphtech anything...nuts, saddles...they all sound sort of muted to my ear. That's me.

    I have heard nice things about a thing called ZeroGlide, or ZeroFret... I actually have one but haven't gotten round to installing it in anything....

    But you may want something different. Cool thing is, for a rather modest cost one can acquire a set of nut files and learn to cut one's own nuts and save a bundle.

  3. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Strat-O-Master

    Oct 25, 2017
    Nawth Alabama
    The stock nut on my brother's Affinity Strat looked like it came from an old Revell plastic car kit...maybe not quite that high quality of plastic. Complete crap. He wouldn't have known any difference but I couldn't stand to have it on there. It took me just a few minutes to replace it with a graphtech. I would have normally gone with bone but the white graphtech was available locally. Easy peasy...and I like that it is a slippery material. Bro' likes to yank that whammy bar around...
    Yaralag, dbolt, Bodean and 1 other person like this.

  4. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    Unless it's damaged, I'd leave it. I have seen plastic nuts where the strings act like hacksaws.. I would think your MIM is way better than that. Not to start a debate here, but you may not hear a difference when switching materials. Unless you have the bug to start modding and tinkering, like I do, the original nut is probably fine.

    Post a pic of the nut. Let's see.
    Yaralag likes this.

  5. Vindibona1

    Vindibona1 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Does the guitar hold tune? Is the string height at the nut appropriate so that it's easy to play with no buzzing? Is the sustain relatively decent? If yes to all of the above, I say no to nut change.

    With electric guitars, with the exception of metal nuts there isn't enough tonal difference to warrant the expense. I've changed nuts on 2 Strats and it made virtually no discernible tonal difference. In both cases I did it because I had string buzz. On other electrics the nut slots were cut too high, but for $5-10 a technician adjusted them and I feel no need for any change. JMO
    craigh and Crazybayman like this.

  6. Crazybayman

    Crazybayman Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 16, 2017
    Thanks for all the replies.

    It's the stock nut, and it looks like plastic. I'll take a close up when I get home and post it. Either way it's the only thing on the guitar that's beige/cream colour.

    Guitar holds tune fine, and I seemingly don't have the strings cutting through the nut. I do, however, have some string buzz when striking top 2 strings on the 1st and 2nd frets with a little more oomph.

    Admittedly, I've been hit with the upgrade bug recently, and I've been going with black parts, so I've had my eye on the black graphtech nut. If it were an improvement, I'd look at going with that. If bone is that much better, then perhaps I'll go with that.
    Groovey likes this.

  7. Stratoholic

    Stratoholic Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 30, 2010
    The only time you'll hear a difference is on the OPEN strings, and it will NOT help sustain either. But graphtech's tusq xl nuts are mostly made of teflon, the slickest substance that you can get.

    That will either improve tuning stability or elimimate any tuning issues you may have.
    SSJR, Crazybayman and Groovey like this.

  8. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

    Dec 4, 2013
    The purpose of the nut is to hang the strings the proper height over the first fret and have the correct size and shape slot so the strings do not bind.

    The material is either good or not and what you already have works.

    Almost every Fender guitar I have ever picked up has the string nut not correctly cut to the proper heights, fixing that will make it play like a champ and be a real improvement.

    Finding a black pearl seems to be easier than finding a tech that can actually cut a string nuts slots correctly however.

    If you could actually hear the difference between the materials you would be hired by someone and paid gazillions to ear test their stuff but you can not and neither can anyone else or we would be using "the best stuff" already.

  9. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 13, 2011
    Music City TN
    A material with less friction such as the graphite composites will give better performance (hold tune) when using the whammy bar.
    A harder (bone) material will transmit a more solid vibration to the neck possibly giving better sustain.
    Any real differences may be trivial on it's own but will contribute to the 'sum of all parts'.
    Crazybayman likes this.

  10. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2016
    NC. USA
    I understand the color thing. I went for a chrome look. See avatar.. If I didn't already have a nice bone nut, I'd probably be looking a chrome nut.

    But now that I think about it..... See, that's how it starts.
    Crazybayman and Bodean like this.

  11. vid1900

    vid1900 Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 25, 2016
    Stainless bridge, frets and nut makes the tone of the gods.
    Crazybayman likes this.

  12. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Strat-Talker

    Mar 9, 2017
    I find that strings stick more to plastic. This makes it harder to stay in tune when using a whammy. I replace all plastic nuts with Tusq.

  13. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Strat-Talker

    May 1, 2014
    I dont think you have to worry about the tone or sustain of whatever material you use for your it was said above, the nut matters only for the 6 open strings, the rest of the time the nut is your fretting hand.Any material hard and dense enough so that it wont get filed from the strings, ll make a fine nut......the only one that is a no no is the very soft cheap plastic ones for that reason alone...they get filed from the strings way too easy.

    So yours doesnt need to change although, if like it was said before you have the DIY bug, you can do a lot of things....i have replaced almost all my guitar nuts with either aluminium or brass ones that i cut myself using some nice cheap files from crimson guitars.They function as good as anything but look much better;).
    Crazybayman likes this.

  14. Jimi Lightning

    Jimi Lightning Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 21, 2016
    Ontario, Canada
    I put brass end nuts on my 2 shredders and found it made a difference. If you have the uograde bug then maybe.....the decision is already
    Crazybayman likes this.

  15. Stratoman10

    Stratoman10 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 24, 2015
    Va. Beach, Va
    I'm in the if it works leave it alone camp. If it needs changing then yeah, put in whatever you like
    Crazybayman likes this.

  16. Ebidis

    Ebidis Providing the world with flat bends since 1985 Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    This is not an issue with the nut. Once you fret a string, the nut is completely taken out of the equation.

    The nut affects only the open strings.

  17. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jan 10, 2014
    Initech, Inc.
    As others have said, if it holds tune, don't sweat it. I had a tech cut a new nut for me on my Gretsch because the old plastic one looked a little worn, now it doesn't hold tune as well as it did. The old plastic one was fine.
    vid1900 and Crazybayman like this.

  18. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2014

    I tried one of those graphite impregnated nuts before to see if it did anything. Basically the plastic and graphite made too soft of a composition so the strings dug in more than on the hard plastic of a regular nut. Went back to hand cut Corian countertop material for custom nuts or just buy the five for a dollar ebay ones.

    Hard surface with graphite powder in the slots will reduce your string friction.

    Crazybayman likes this.

  19. velvet_man

    velvet_man Strat-O-Master

    Sep 7, 2016
    Nothing to add about benefits, but beware bad installs. I dropped my strat off it's stand so that it landed face down on a hardwood floor and cracked the stock nut in half. So I took it in to get a new nut installed and thought it was all good. This was when I was in high school and didn't know any better. Skip ahead a few years, I get my guitar set up by a very well respected tech in town, and he tells me he had to raise the nut because it was installed too low. And after reading up a bit about proper nut installs here, I've realized the original tech also cut the slots too deep (the strings are completely buried inside the nut, nothing sticking out above). So now I'm thinking I'll need to replace the nut again at some point.
    Crazybayman likes this.

  20. Bluestrat83

    Bluestrat83 Strat-O-Master

    Jan 17, 2016
    Leave it as it is. When I bought a classic player strat it played really smoothly at the beginning but I took it new to my luthier for a new set up and I had a spare graph tech nut. He did a fine job cutting the nut but it didn’t made any huge difference in the sound and it felt different. Not a bad job but I wish I just kept it like that.
    Crazybayman likes this.