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February 3, 2009

A Sticky Problem

Okay, so I'm going to get a little personal here. I've been having some issues with my G-string going out of whack. I've not experienced this problem before so I googled it and think I may have come up with the reason for the problem and a possible solution... the judicious application of some nut sauce...

NOW, before y'all report my blog for objectionable content (oh, go on, you can if you want to), here's what's going on. When I first got my Les Paul it was strung with Gibson Brite Wire Lights. They never went out of tune. Ever.

But they got old and I replaced them with GHS Boomers. I think they're actually the same gauge strings, but for some reason the G sticks at the nut and when you bend it (which I do ALOT) the damn thing goes out of tune. Initially I thought that maybe I'd knocked the tuning key and damaged it, but it seems that it's not unusal to have sticky nut problems with G-strings. Some players like to lube up their nuts with vaseline... some use pencil lead... and some use nut sauce. For research purposes, I'm going to try the sauce.

A more drastic solution would be to file out the nut grooves, but I'm NOT that brave!

Oh, and if you decide to follow my lead and try nut sauce out for yourself, make sure that if you accidentally squirt some on your body that you wipe it off imediately as it can eat into the finish!

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of the 'I Can't Believe I've Never Heard Of This Product Before' foundation.

For more information, check out the Big Bends website, here.


Furtheron said...

Don't - repeat don't file the nut slot. You may need to widen it but that is very difficult without lowering it as well and if you LP is set up well then lowering it may well cause action/internation issues.

Chapstick - I've used this before, it's easy to put in the case and no too messy. Slip the string out of the slot and rub some in, maybe using a cocktail stick.
Vaseline is another option but I find that too messy.
Pencil lead - the softer the better, so a B pencil or similar, sharpen the pencil and then simply draw it through the nut.

Alternatively try other makes of strings. What gauge? LPs are normally fine on a factory set up for 9s and 10s but anything heavier may lead to an issue, might be the boomer G is thicker than a Gibson set. At this point I'll plug Ernie Ball, I've tried Gibson, Fender, Rotosound and others over the years but have always come back to Ernie, ever reliable.

If all that fails and you do think the slot needs widening I'd take it some where prof - you don't want to ruin or need a total nut replacement for a simple slip of a file.

Kenski said...

Oh, absolutely... I wouldn't file the nut on the LP myself! I'm not that brave, expecially as the groove is already way too narrow.

Last night I tried the pencil trick, though all I had was an HB. Even sharpened that wasn't easy to use. I basically had to draw across the groove then push the powder in using fingers. A bit messy but not too bad. I also 'drew' on the string a bit before replacing the string and re-tuning.

Took a while to settle down but it definitely helped things in the end. Played for an our and was only just out. Enough to hear, but not as obvious as it was. I'm still going to try some of the over-the-counter lube for shits and giggles, though.

I read that most Gibsons with plastic nuts have the same problem and that the G is always the worst culprit. It's associated with the break angle over the nut for 3-a-side tuners and the middle two strings. Obviously you tend to bend the G more than the D, though.

You may find you have the same issue with the PRS, unless the nut is better finished (which it may well be!). Fenders and the like are supposed to be much more stable as the strings run in a straighter line.

Ultimately it might be nice to swap out the nut for bone or brass... I put a brass nut in the guitar I made as a kid. Heavy, but SUSTAINNNNNnnnnnnn....

Istvanski said...

Why not look into replacing the nut with another made of Teflon, or a Buzz Feiten nut? Les Pauls are notorious for this type of problem, I used graphite in mine and so far my nut and g string have been harmonious so long as there's lead in the pencil.