I'm replacing the nut and doing a setup on an Epiphone Les Paul. I'm using a pre-slotted TUSQ nut for the replacement. Before popping the old nut off it played "ok" without buzzing. In doing some preliminary measurements the neck had an extreme amount of relief. I loosened the truss rod completely and clamped the neck into back bow and then tightened the truss rod and got the neck completely straight. I put in the new nut and proceeded with my setup. I haven't touched the nut slots with a file yet and with the neck straight I've got a lot of buzzing at the first fret. I've got the bridge where I want it for good action. I slowly added some relief. Even with .010" relief I'm buzzing quite a bit at the first fret with the worst buzzing on the D string. I hate to have to shim a brand new nut. How would you all proceed? Would spot leveling the first fret be an option? As always any advice is appreciated. Thank you for your time.
It's hard to chase these little dragons as they appear.... it's like playing whack-a-mole. I'd probably start from scratch....take off the nut, then do a fret dress & level on the perfectly straight neck.
Reinstall the nut and, if it needs to be shimmed, so be it.... or make a new one. Trying to just spot-level the first fret and hope for the best is probably not going to work-out too well. If it doesn't solve the issue, it may create more problems for you.
Be careful, too, of using a triangular fret-height gauge in the leveling process. They have their place to identify the errant high fret, but can't be relied-upon to ensure the plane of the frets as a whole. Particularly, of course, if the questionable fret happens to be the first one. Hesh Breakstone has waxed eloquently elsewhere on that subject in depth.
Good luck and have fun!
Thank you Russell.
The pre-shaped nut blanks can be a big time saver but - as you note - are not ideal for all situations. I use them when I can but often wind up working from standard blanks.
I see a lot of nut slot depth variation in the Epi's which could be a contributing factor. Suggest you divide and conquer. Set the action height at something reasonable (.050" to 0.060" measured at the 12th fret) with each string fretted at the first position. Leave the relief at 0.010" and then measure the height of each string at the first fret. A reasonable target measurement would be around 0.020". If the strings are below 0.010" you will likely have buzzing.
Best of luck!
JR, Thank you. I appreciate the advice.