Going down in string gauge: nut considerations

superbadj

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I’ve been using .12s with a wound G for years now. But after a few recent purchases strung with .10s…I’m considering downsizing my strings.

I’ve set up all of my Teles/esquires with nuts sized for the .12 set. How likely am I to have issues downsizing?

Certainly neck relief and general setup will change. But will the nut work as-is? Or will that extra space cause issues?
 

Boreas

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Depends on the existing nut slots and how round they are on the bottom. I would just do it and see what happens. You can always have a new nut made if you find an issue with buzzing or playability. Just SAVE the old one in case you want to go back to the original gauge strings!
 

PhoenixBill

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I think you’ll likely be just fine. Unless the nut slots were excessively wide to start with! And even if so, there’s a trick to avoid a new nut: the old baking soda and superglue trick will build the slots back up. If it’s a bone nut, mix a little bit of bone dust in with the baking soda. There’s a StewMac video with Dan Erlewine showing how this works—assuming of course you have a set of nut files.
 

nickmsmith

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Probably no problem at all. I went from bass VI strings to regular baritone strings on my long scale Tele.. and it’s totally fine. And that’s a significant difference. On the low string, it’s like around an 80-90 down to a 64 or so.

12s to 10s is an easy swap. Truss rod relief will probably be the only adjustment that’s needed.
 

schmee

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Unlikely, but possible. I've gone down recently with no issues. One guitar from 10's to 9's and one guitar from 11-.048 to 10-.046's But it really depends on the 'micro details' of the bottom of the slot.
Think of it this way: A zero fret doesn't care, so unless the slot bottom interferes with a clean string support and exit, 'yer good to go.
however, some misfits between slot shape/bottom shape and the string angle can cause some "zzzzzz". But you'll know it when it does!
 
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PhoenixBill

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From a practical standpoint, also look at a set of nut files. They don’t come in an infinite number of widths! Going from memory, my sets have a .010 file, then the next one jumps up to .013 and then up to .017. So there will always be a thousandths or two or three or four extra clearance anyways. The only real problems occur when a) the clearance is too tight, in which case you may have tuning issues, especially after string bends, it might not go back to correct pitch or b) the clearance is so great, and I mean ten or twenty thousandths, that the string “pings“ as you bend the string.
 

superbadj

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All good replies and mirroring what I was thinking. I do have files but files matched to my .12 preferences. I’ve always enjoyed the almost acoustic-like string feel (rhythm player) but lately I’ve really liked how easy some of the new guitars with .10s are to play.
 

boris bubbanov

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You could split the difference, and try out some 11s.

I've changed from 12s to 11s on a number of Teles and Esquires, and been able to carry the entire setup over. Didn't touch the truss rod at all, and the slots were fine.
 

superbadj

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Yeah I have some 11s that I could use. Wish I could trade in my cache of 12s for some slightly smaller gauges! Oh well.
 

FortyEight

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im an 11 guy. it has always felt like the best of both worlds to me. im also more of a rhythm player but two note bends are possible and fine. imho
 

schmee

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From a practical standpoint, also look at a set of nut files. They don’t come in an infinite number of widths! Going from memory, my sets have a .010 file, then the next one jumps up to .013 and then up to .017. So there will always be a thousandths or two or three or four extra clearance anyways. The only real problems occur when a) the clearance is too tight, in which case you may have tuning issues, especially after string bends, it might not go back to correct pitch or b) the clearance is so great, and I mean ten or twenty thousandths, that the string “pings“ as you bend the string.
Having nut files wont help going to smaller strings, unless you have a nut fill that adds material back on! Maybe he needs a 3D printer! :lol:
 

T Prior

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Fender guitars are typically shipped with 10's from the factory , the NUT is gonna be fine. You may have to add some neck relief if the strings are making a slight vibration (no fretting). I would have thought going to 12's would have made a noticeable difference NUT-wise.

Are you saying that the guitar in question came with 12's from the factory ? That wasn't clear in your post.
 




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