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How can I tell if my Tele tuning issue is with the string tree or the nut slot?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by MichaelPerkins, Jan 18, 2021.

  1. MichaelPerkins

    MichaelPerkins TDPRI Member

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    I've never had this issue with any other guitar I've owned... or... at least I assume I haven't.

    I have a 2014 American Telecaster Standard, and the B-string is a pain in the ass to get into tune, and then stay in tune. I can tell that the issue occurs somewhere from the nut backwards. I've been told that it is best to relax the string by tuning it flat of the target note, and then tune up to the note. If you go past it and end up a little sharp, rather than just slightly going the other way, you should go way flat, and again tune up to the note.

    Well... what's happening is... if either of those two strings are flat, when I turn the tuning key, the pitch remains the same for at least an 1/8th of a turn, and then suddenly... doing... it shoots past the note to way sharp. I think what is happening is the 3-4 inches of string between the nut and the tuning key gets temporarily placed under higher tension, because something is stuck in the nut slot, and then suddenly the string slips, and the tension equalizes. Or... it could be something to do with the string tree that is holding the string down.

    What do you guys think, and what can a guy do about it?
     
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  2. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    Sounds like a nut issue to me. I suppose it’s theoretically possible for the string tree to do such a thing, I’ve never experienced it. I’ve known plenty of nuts to need fixing, though. Start with graphite lube, and if that doesn’t work, deal with the nut slot.
     
  3. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Nut.
    Fix groove.
    It's always the nut, isn't it?
     
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  4. somebodyelseuk

    somebodyelseuk Tele-Meister

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    What string gauge, and if heavier than what Fender fitted, has it had the nut filed?
    Forget lubricating it. That's only relevant for guitars with trems, and even then, it's not necessary
    As for the string tree, if it's the vintage style, it should NOT be clamped flat to the head. It's there to provide enough angle to stop the strings rattling in the nut. All other style trees Fender has done won't be a problem.
     
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  5. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'll respectfully disagree. Any place a string travels over or across (saddle, nut slot, string tree) is a friction point, and a dot of lube goes a long way toward helping keep the strings in tune.
     
  6. dickey

    dickey Friend of Leo's

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    Doing?!
    Run the point of an X-acto knife or razor blade through the slot, then lube.
     
  7. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

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    a common fault.
    string bind......rectified by widening the slot a few thou, to accept the strings diameter as it should.
     
  8. blue metalflake

    blue metalflake Doctor of Teleocity

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    Almost certainly a sticky nut
     
  9. posttoastie

    posttoastie Tele-Afflicted

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    Since you may have lubed the nut. Take the string tree off and see if that helps the tuning and go from there. You can also check the winding on the tuners and maybe wind the string down or up to allow more or less break angle.
     
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  10. MichaelPerkins

    MichaelPerkins TDPRI Member

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    I think it's the nut. I ordered some, "Lizard Spit Slick Nutz Nut Slot Lubricant". (Man I hate "Rar!!!" Monster Truck Ralley'esque product branding!) That stuff is expensive AF at $17 per 1oz. Luckily, I imagine I'll only need 1 oz. for, the rest of my life... I hope. Just out of curiosity, anybody know of a product that is as good or better, and maybe a little less Grave Digger?
     
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  11. Chuck berry

    Chuck berry TDPRI Member

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    One possible thing it could be is your string jams in the saddle. If you put lubricante it will fix it for a while but it dries you have the same problem. You have to open the slot a bit so the string can move freely
     
  12. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    Pencil lead.

    It will darken a white nut a little, but so does age. You could probably find pencils with a monster truck xxxtreme theme, but it would not be easy.

    Also, the suggestion to be sure the nut is cut correctly for your gauge of strings is spot on. It might only need a quick pass with a nut file.
     
  13. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Have someone with basic luthier skills look at it. It may need a little filing, especially if you put bigger strings on it. The slipperiest nut lube won't do a lot to fix the issue.
     
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  14. MichaelPerkins

    MichaelPerkins TDPRI Member

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    I have a ton of nut files, and have even made my own nuts on several occasions. I'm always hesitant to go DIY on a guitar that was actually made by Fender USA or Gibson. But, just in case it comes to that, do you know how important it is to have nut slots exactly as wide as the gauge string you plan to use? In other words, if I file the nut slot out to be 1/10th of a mm "too-wide" i.e. just barely wider than the string gauge I use, will that be a huge deal and make that one string more "dead" than the others? I know that the slot depth is crazy important for action and fret buzz, so I'd be filing a little and checking, then filing, and checking, etc...
     
  15. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

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    string bind=a common factory fault.= improper filing of the slot width[or depth]affects treble strings mostly. simply rectified by re filing slot to correct width/to accept the string[its diameter].allows for transfer of vibrations without hindrance.
    the 2 slot walls must not pinch the string too tight etc =cause for string bind. [fuzzy tone]...a jewelers needle file can suffice here..to simultaneously widen the slot/file the 2 walls., but avoid deepening the slot.=fret buzz maybe resulting etc.
    a simple diy job rectification .
     
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  16. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

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    string bind[at the nut]
    a sudden drop in pitch when string now fretted., the string de-tunes itself...=string being 'pinched' by the 2 slot walls. when string fretted, it increases the tension momentary! suddenly the strangulated string now releases etc etc=drop in pitch.
     
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  17. Thebluesman

    Thebluesman Tele-Holic

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    beeswax
     
  18. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    Lube is a band-aid. Fixing the nut slot is a far better solution. And yes, you can just take the string tree off as a trouble-shooting measure, but the problem could disappear and still be caused by the nut slot. The string won't be in the same position without the string tree.

    Don't use an X-Acto knife. A folded piece of 600-1000 grit sandpaper will do a better job, especially if you pull the high E over to the B string side of the string tree and to the B string's approximate position on the saddle and run the sandpaper under it. That makes sure that the sandpaper "cuts" along the right path, with the appropriate downward angle on the string tree side. Don't overdo it!
     
  19. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Nut maintenance is an important part of the setup. Don't be afraid to refine it, just don't scratch your guitar. No, a tiny fraction of a millimeter is not a problem. The danger is going too low. Always fret at the third and check clearance at the first. I also like to use a tuner when I cut slots, but be careful not to go too low. You can use the half pencil method to establish a no-go line, but be sure the pencil is straight and sharp. It's only a guide. The first fret measurement is critical.
     
  20. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    That would usually be a nut issue. I could see it possibly happening if the tree is way down low with no spacer maybe, but it definitely sounds like the nut slot.

    Your nut slot doesn't need to be tight to the string. But it needs to let the string exit toward the body in contact at that edge of the nut.... in a perfect world.
     
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