Elevating the Art of Guitar Repair and Design for the last 4 1/2 decades.

Does your guitar always seems to be out of tune ?
Does it seem to be too hard to play ?

Text For Repairs and Setups : ( 519 275 1008 )

Precision work / Fast turn-around / Best price \m/ !

Compensated Nuts #accurateguitartuning.... in a nutshell

Compensated Nuts....
 in a Nutshell ...

Compensated Nuts in a Nutshell

Gibson Night Hawk

Butterscotch Tele

American Strat


A Compensated Locking Nut ??

Whadda ya nuts ?!??!

This piece of "bell brass" was sculpted / intonated, 
and installed just ahead of the leading edge 
of the locking nut bed. 

Want to hear what an"in tune "
 guitar sounds like ?

Check out these video links ....

McConville 12 String
12 String Guitar Tuning

I've inserted some recent compensated nuts into this post
so that you can all see my own evolution in refinement.
Above and below is a 1948 Martin
 00-17 that I recently restored.

I first experimented with this idea 22 years ago with a 12-string guitar I had made for a customer. Since that time I have refined the technique and developed my own approach.

I hope you find this mini-tutorial useful.

In a nutshell .... the "G" string needs approximately 1.75 millimeters of compensation and the rest of the strings roll back from that distance.

I start the process by cutting the bone or "Tusq" blank,slightly oversized, then match the fingerboard radius and nut slot ( Fender style ) or the ledge ( Gibson style ) on which the nut rests.This operation is quite exacting.  Once I have the "1.75 mm extension" ( that overlaps the fingerboard) , I start the tuning process. Initially, I "take the nut out of the loop" ... by intonating ( at the bridge ) the 7th fret note and the corresponding 19th fret ( octave ) note, string by string, making sure that the instrument is tuned to concert pitch ( or whatever tuning the customer is using ). Once those pitches have been determined; then I go back to playing the open string and checking it against it's corresponding 12th fret octave note. If there are any discrepancies at this stage ; I'll gradually dial back (shorten ) the 1.75 mm nut extension bit by bit for each string, until the open and 12th fret notes line up.     

There will always be very slight variations on this theme .... depending on the string gauge / tuning / scale length etc .... but I don't believe it is quite the "nano-science" that it is purported to be...

There is no doubt about it .... you will have to develop this skill to get precise and efficient. 

I go through this procedure in great detail for my Level 2 College students.

 Larrivee Parlour 

7-String compensated nut
 Schecter / Ibanez / LTD

I replaced the original black plastic nut
 with a piece of compensated black water buffalo tusk,
 for this Schecter Diamond Series

This nut is made from re-cycled Water Buffalo tusk.

The LTD locking nut required a bit of re-engineering
with a small brass strip / cut and intonated;
then installed "just ahead" of the leading edge.

Solid Rosewood Telecaster

After many experiments and variations over the past two+ decades;
 I have arrived at a system 
that definitely regulates the tuning across the span of the fingerboard
 to a much greater degree of accuracy.    

Last week  I installed compensated nuts on
2 American Tele's / 2 "road worn" Strat's /
1 Les Paul Standard / Larrivee Parlour
 Breedlove / and a Cort acoustic electric. 

There is an obvious need / desire in the industry,
for a guitar that plays perfectly in tune
 across the entire span of the fingerboard!

Anyone who plays chords along the first 6 frets of the guitar
will need a compensated nut to play perfectly in tune on
all of those garden variety first position chords. 

I have had a fantastic group of students again this past year ...
many whom have taken up the torch and are continuing to utilize their
newly acquired skills while "raising the standard" for accurate guitar setups.

   I hope these compensated nut tutorials,
 help to dispel some of the mystery.

 Illustrated below the 3-step 
process for a swamp ash
Gibson Les Paul nut.

This 3-step pictorial,  condenses this  
job into the 2 main stages of fitting the blank
and then the final slotted and intonated nut.

When you compare the most recent nuts that I've done,
you'll notice, that over time, I've shaped and refined my technique so that
.... at a glance .... it now just looks like a regular nut.

Below is a shot of a compensated nut I cut for a Gibson Songwriter
... very subtle ... unless I point it out
no one would even notice.

This is a guitar ( above ) that I built a few years back for Dayna Manning
... also with a compensated nut.

If you take a minute to check my
Page, you'll see a few more examples of the more refined compensated nuts.

Pretty well every customer that I've done a compensated
nut for ... eventually returns with every guitar they own
for a repeat performance !