How to keep your uncooperative beloved guitar in tune

One of the truly most beautiful guitars I own is the one I have the most tuning problems with. I have a Les Paul Standard reissue with a Corian Nut that sounds magnificent, but it’s a bear to keep in tune if I don’t maintain it properly. People always take note and razz the Snark Tuner darn near permanently attached to the headstock, especially me mates I jam with.  Of course in line with Murphy’s sadistic law it’s also the guitar I play day in and day out because it’s sweet mahogany “woody” tone. You can hear the wood chime in this guitar, in fact it rings so loud when not plugged in I could play it around a camp fire if no one was talking. It’s bad ass!

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The largest culprit in keeping any guitar in tune no matter the values and craftsmanship is the nut. Nut’s bind no mater what they’re made of, even the graphite nuts bind a bit. You can hear a nut bind when you tune, it will sound similar to the coil pinging on an electric space heater when you first power it up. That sound is the tension where the string meets the nut releasing. A large amount of slack slipping through the nut “pings” which happens most often when tuning or doing a several semitone SRV or Randy Rhodes monster bend RAWR!

If you search the interwebs many guitar forums say you should widen the slot on your nut with some sandpaper of a file. DON’T DO THIS! Changing the groove on the nut of your guitar is something only a professional should do. Unless you know how to shape, change and fit a nut, do a full fret job on a guitar, truss rod adjust your guitar neck  and intonate it, don’t touch the nut. You have a far higher percentage of having to have the nut replaced AND having your guitars intonation go wonky (that’s a technical term :D) then you do of success. I can do all the above and I still wouldn’t widen the slot on a guitar neck to accomplish this dilemma.

There are a few companies that make what I label as “goop” for your guitar nut. The most well-known brand I’m aware of is called big bends nut sauce with an MSRP of $25.99 and a street price of $19.99. It’s also messy overpriced nonsense! All nut big bends sauce consists of is graphite motor oil. You can purchase a quart at an auto parts store for $8 dollars. Nut Sauce is highly overpriced, Don’t be duped!

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The best way to avoid the cost, mess and over all easy cheesy guitar maintenance for tuning is simple pencil graphite. No, pencils do not have lead, it’s graphite. I recommend going to a gun smith or online and buying powered gun graphite (Wally world has it but hey, I don’t personally do Wally world because they’re raciest, sexist, corporate scumbags). Although if you’re not careful it can to be a wee messy but it’s nothing compared to Nut Sauce. It penetrates well and after two or three applications it adheres with plastic, bone and Corian nuts for years ensuring you’ll lose the tube of graphite long before you ever need it again DOH!

You can also take simple mechanical pencil refill as I’ve done in this example that can be purchased at most grocery, Drug and stationery stores. I didn’t even remove or slack the strings to apply this, I just rubbed it in the top of the strings and the sides of the nut, said abracadabra and whalla! Voilà! There it is! A nut that won’t bind any longer driving you thoroughly crazy with tuning issues.

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Until Next time, Beware the Demons in the pipes!
Demons in the pipes!

 

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