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Installing LSR Fender Roller Nut

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by vid1900, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Installing the Fender LSR Roller Nut can be done either with conventional tools (razor knife, file, and hand saw) or with an electric router.

    There are 3 tools you absolutely can't install without. You need:

    An actual #0 Philips screwdriver (any other size will strip out the screw heads)

    A #51 drill bit (that's a hair bigger than a 1/16")

    A digital Caliper ($10 at Harbor Freight) http://www.harborfreight.com/4-inch-digital-caliper-47256.html

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    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
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  2. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Unlock the tuners, detune, and allow all the strings to pop off the neck.

    Using a #2 Philips screwdriver, remove the 4 screws from the back of the guitar's neck plate.

    The neck is fitted into the body pocket snugly, but will pull away with a gentle tug.

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    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
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  3. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Since there will be fine dust in the air of your shop, I'd suggest you slide the retention clip off the LSR and pour the bearings into a zip lock bag. No sense in getting the nut full of dust and crap.

    This will also allow you to polish the nut to a high sheen. It's made of stainless Steel, so Green Compound will instantly bring it to a mirror finish.

    To make the LSR work to it's full potential, you MUST polish the ball bearing sockets too. This is not some little tweak, this is what will allow you to divebomb all the way to the pickguard and come back in tune.

    1. Break off a Q-tip's ends, so you have just the paper shaft.

    2. Chuck the shaft into a Dremel or Cordless Drill. Set to max speed.

    3. Coat the shaft with Green Compound.

    4. Polish out the bearing sockets. This will take about 30 seconds per socket. Use a lighted magnifier to check that the bearings will ride on mirror surfaces.

    --- 03.jpg

    I read many people online lost the bearings and "had to buy an entire new nut".

    These are just standard 2.4mm (3/32") Stainless Steel bearings, and are available at any local bike shop; 25 for $3. Do NOT buy a whole new nut....
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
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  4. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Using a 1/2" socket, remove the tuner retention nuts from the face of the headstock. Note that many locking tuners are staggered and get shorter as the strings get lighter. label them 1 through 6 if you think you will forget during reassembly.

    Using a #1 Philips screwdriver remove the string tree (you won't be needing that ever again).


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  5. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    The old nut has to be removed. If it is the factory nut, it is probably just glued in with white glue.

    If a player ever switches to lighter gauge strings, the nut has to be replaced, so this part of the job is easy "everyday" guitar owner stuff.

    The nitro/urethane coating on the headstock touches the nut itself (again, assuming it's the original nut), so you need to score a line between the coating and the nut. If you don't, you might chip off a big chunk of clearcoat while taping out the nut.

    Use a razor and score along the nut. Don't worry about cutting into the nut, you are throwing it away anyway - because once you install the LSR, you can freely change to different gauge strings (and adjust the nut height of the strings) without replacing the nut every time. How cool is that?

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  6. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Here you can see the neck in a vise.

    Put the nut as close to the vise jaws as possible. You don't want to put a lot of leverage on the entire neck.

    I used a hard rubber sheet to protect the neck from the wood jaws. Yes, I know the wood jaws are supposed to be a nice soft surface, but there could be some odd trash embedded into the wood, and we don't want that imprinting into our fine neck.

    Find a piece of wood to drive out the old nut. Don't use anything metal, because if you slip, you will be buying a new $570 neck (yes, this is one of them fancy Fender Compound necks...).

    I used a paint stick that you get when you buy a can of paint.

    The first tap breaks the nut free, the rest easily push it out.

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  7. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Here is the old nut free of it's neck.

    The old nut has a radius to it's base. The new LSR has a flat base; this makes fitment much easier!

    You can see the white glue in the old slot.

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  8. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Here is where you are going to need that digital caliper.

    Fender gives all the dimensions in decimal inches, no easy metric measurements on this one (Hey, it's made in USA, right? Who needs silly Metric? [​IMG] ).

    We need to make the nut slot wider (towards the bridge), and we need to make it deeper.

    You can use the new LSR nut to lightly score a line where the wood will be removed. Remember to score the line just slightly INSIDE the desired width - you can always file out a little wood, but you can't add it back in.

    -

    The new nut, although it has a radius on the top, has a totally flat bottom. This makes it easy to route a nice flat slot for the new nut.

    Measure the depth of the new slot from the center of the fretboard, because the fretboard has a radius of it's own.

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  9. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    You can use a regular hand saw, and file for this part if you want to.

    Rosewood cuts like butter, so it's not like chiseling through some rock hard wood.

    The new nut slot needs to be parallel to the frets and flat to the fretboard; so that's a job for an electric router if there ever was one.

    There are 100 ways to skin the router guide cat, but to me, the easiest is to just use my dovetail jig.

    It already has a clamp to hold the neck in place, and it's super easy to "square up" to the frets, insuring a squarely cut slot.

    Here you can see the neck clamped in place, ready for a pass:


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  10. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    The dovetail jig has a scale on the side so you can "sneak up" exactly on the .219" size.

    The router itself has a scale to let you plunge into exactly .115" depth.

    It took longer to clamp up the neck than it did to actually do the routing.

    You can see I used a piece of 1/4" plywood to keep the Jig from scratching up the frets.

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  11. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Press the nut into the slot.

    Make sure it's not too tight (if you have to tap it in with a mallet, it's going to be too tight to shim it if you need to do this latter).

    Make sure the mounting holes are facing the headstock!

    Center the nut, and drill 2 pilot holes with the #51 drill bit.

    Remove the nut, and drill the pilot holes down 1/4" into the neck.

    The slot is too narrow to use a collar stop on the drill bit, so I used a piece of tape to mark my depth. You don't want to drill all the way through the neck, if you know what I mean.

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    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
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  12. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Unclamp the neck and vacuum up any dust.

    Reassemble the LSR, and remember to put 1/10 of a drop of lightweight oil in the bottom of each bearing socket. The smallest amount you can even dream of. I use Zoom Oil, so that is SAE 15 weight, but common 3in1 Oil would be fine too.

    Put the tuners back on (remember, if they are the locking type, you may need to install them back in the correct order).

    Put the neck back on the guitar. Make sure the neck pocket is CLEAN.

    Push the nut back into the slot, but leave a 1/32" gap underneath.

    Dip the nut screws into auto wax (they are so small that they might break if you have to drive them too hard).

    Install the screws about 1/2 way, not tight.

    Put the strings back on the guitar. This is a good time to try some other brand/gauge strings that you were always afraid that you would have to re-cut the nut for. You are now free to try any gauge you like.

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    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
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  13. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Tune up the guitar and check out the action.

    Lower the strings by turning the nut screws until you find a height that suits your playing style.

    Fender includes a bunch of stainless steel shims for you to adjust the action now or in the future (so don't throw the extras away).

    Tighten down the screws once you find the perfect height.

    -

    The Fender LSR is great because it's the last nut you ever have to buy.

    Normally, players shy away from trying heavier gauge strings for the top strings, because you have to permanently cut the nut for the larger diameter strings.

    With the LSR, the strings ride on top of the ball bearings, so there are no slots to widen.

    You can experiment, without any commitment, with any gauge strings you like.

    You can also experiment with any string height without worrying you cut the slots too deep and now you have to buy a new nut.

    A clever system, no doubt.

    -

    Since I had my same year/model unmodified Strat (both made in April 2014), I compared it against my niece's LSR seen here, to see if the **tone** had changed at all by replacing the nut.

    Obviously, only the open strings would have a different tone, the fretted notes would be the same, fretted tone.

    The LSR gives a very slightly brighter tone and a bit more sustain over the the stock nut.

    To our ears, through my 68 Plexi Marshall, my niece's LSR Strat sounded better than the stock Strat, but the difference was EXTREMELY subtle. If we did not have the two guitars plugged in together at the same time, you would not be able to notice a difference in a million years. The difference was lost even in the amount of time it took to swap guitars (that's why we ended up plugging them both in at the same time).

    So don't let some harry-eared old timer tell you that the LSR **robs your tone**; that's total nonsense.

    If my 20 year old niece can just barely hear the difference, you guys who have been playing loud for a zillion years are going to be oblivious to any changes, lol.

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    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
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  14. Swampash

    Swampash Senior Stratmaster

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    like a boss
     
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  15. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Another tip:

    The LSR comes stock as a Right Hand nut.

    To use on a Left Hand guitar, remove the bearings, and then widen the last 3 string slots with a small file.

    Then strings never touch the slots in actual use (they are just there to keep the strings from jumping out if you bend while divebombing), so you do not have to be very precise about it. Just open the slots enough so the 3 wound strings will pass through them cleanly.

    Vacuum up any dust, put 1/10 of a drop of oil in each bearing socket, and install as above.
     
  16. Highwaystrat

    Highwaystrat Senior Stratmaster

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    Very nice tutorial thanks for posting!
    I've thought about filing the edges of the LSR nut so they aren't so sharp. Have you done that before?
    I felt like using LSR nuts again but never installed one myself. The locking nuts don't let the strings move so bending feels different. The roller nut feels just like an ordinary nut.

    Thanks again, this will help a lot of people out.
     
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  17. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    The earlier castings had sharper edges and were only slotted for 46 or smaller strings.

    The latest LSRs are more rounded and take .052 strings no problem.

    If you have an early one, of course it's easy to file off the sharp edges, and/or open up the slots for heavier gauge strings.

    While you have it off to ease the edges, don't forget to polish out the bearing sockets.....
     
  18. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    TIP: You don't have to remove the strings to remove the LSR.

    Just take the two screw off, press the tremolo to the pickguard, and start sliding out the LSR.

    You can move it about 2 strings at a time.

    Pay attention that you don't lose any shims as you slide out the LSR.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
  19. kgwagner

    kgwagner Strat-Talker

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    Great tutorial. Clever move using the dovetail jig. Now I wish I hadn't sold mine.

    I've been thinking about using the X/Y cross vise with the drill press as sort of poor man's milling machine. Clamp the neck into the vise, get it positioned right, chuck a router bit into the drill press, and use the vise's positioning screw drive on the appropriate axis to move the neck past the bit, routing the slot as it goes.

    I have two concerns with that idea. First, accurately setting depth of cut may be tricky. Second, I'm not sure the spindle speed will be high enough. Have to do some experimenting. Any thoughts?
     
  20. fretwhizzy

    fretwhizzy Strat-Talker

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    Thanks for sharing that tutorial vid1900!
     
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