Author Topic: Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire (Read 3215 times)

frugalnacho

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Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire
« on: December 19, 2014, 05:27:35 PM »
My strat has a problem with the nut at the b-string. The slot has split all the way down, consequently the b-string now rests on the 1st fret. The guitar is about 16 years old and has logged a lot of play time. I have never replaced a nut on a guitar before. I figured I could google around, but I wanted to ask for advice in a thread first. I will have some time off work over the next couple weeks for the holidays, so I would like to get on it asap.

So mustachians, any advice on how to replace it? Anything I need to know or look out for?

blub

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Re: Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2014, 09:29:43 AM »
Here's a video of somebody doing it: https://youtube.com/watch?v=pYq1UOlKpQ8#t=530 (I skipped to the part where he actually takes out the nut). It doesn't seem like it's even held in with glue, it's just tightly in there.

A new nut looks like it will cost around $10 (just browsing Guitar Center), which is almost as much as a new Squier :). You might want to consider using epoxy to put it back together, instead.

One other thought is to just put some padding, like some folded paper towel, in the slot for the B string.

GuitarStv

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Re: Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2014, 10:03:32 AM »
I've epoxied broken nuts back together with good results. Squires often have shitty plastic nuts. It's really worth replacing if your has one like that. There should be a pre made nut that you can pick up cheaply for a direct swap.

If your guitar has been played heavily for 16 years it might be time for a new neck or refret as well.

frugalnacho

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Re: Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2014, 11:06:31 AM »
Why would the neck need to be replaced? It's still there and still holds it's shape fine. Does it get old or worn?

The frets are noticeably worn down with little valleys under each string, but they are still elevated enough that they are causing no problems. At what point to they need to be replaced?

The nut appears to be plastic. It looks like there is a 1/16" layer of something clear on the back of the nut. Not sure if it is a glue holding it in place, or if it's a layer of lacquer used to elevate the nut. I'm hesitant to rip it out until I do a little more research.

Yes the squire was cheap. I think I paid $99 for it back in the day, and it had a "list price" of $299. I have played other squires over the years, and i've always liked mine and felt it was better quality than the other models I have played (mine does not seem like a high end model at all, just 1 notch better than the cheapest squires i've played). Still, she's my girl and we have bonded over the past 16 years.

Glenstache

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Re: Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2014, 11:24:37 AM »
Do it and replace with a good quality nut. Do not epoxy it in place as this will make it permanent, which is not good.

Here's a how-to from Stewmac (where you can probably order one, too).
http://stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Nuts_and_Saddles/Making_a_Nut_Step-by-Step.html

While you're at it, spending an hour or two on a general setup adjusting the truss rod and adjusting the bridge for intonation will be time well spent. I've taken quite a few inexpensive guitars and made them sound dramatically better by spending a bit of time doing this. Don't worry about frets until you are at the point that you get uncontrollable string buzz when you make chords. On a squier neck, replacing the neck will probably be more cost effective than doing a fret job, and is something that you can do on your own.

Edit:
the instructions above assume you are slotting your own nut. You can also buy pre-slotted nuts, which is probably the way to go unless you happen to have the right size files sitting around (unlikely). For example:
http://stewmac.com/Materials_and_Supplies/Nuts_and_Saddles/Slotted_Unbleached_Bone_Nut.html
« Last Edit: December 20, 2014, 11:35:13 AM by Glenstache »

frugalnacho

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Re: Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2014, 12:42:05 PM »
I called around to a few music stores to get prices. I'm off to pick up a pre-slotted nut made of tusq for $12. Im going to take the old one out, and hopefully the new one fits right in. I've made truss and bridge adjustments on this guitar before to get the intonation correct. I hope I don't have to do it again after installing the nut, but I will check it out and see how it sounds first.

GuitarStv

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Re: Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2014, 06:21:42 AM »
Why would the neck need to be replaced? It's still there and still holds it's shape fine. Does it get old or worn?

The frets are noticeably worn down with little valleys under each string, but they are still elevated enough that they are causing no problems. At what point to they need to be replaced?

The nut appears to be plastic. It looks like there is a 1/16" layer of something clear on the back of the nut. Not sure if it is a glue holding it in place, or if it's a layer of lacquer used to elevate the nut. I'm hesitant to rip it out until I do a little more research.

Yes the squire was cheap. I think I paid $99 for it back in the day, and it had a "list price" of $299. I have played other squires over the years, and i've always liked mine and felt it was better quality than the other models I have played (mine does not seem like a high end model at all, just 1 notch better than the cheapest squires i've played). Still, she's my girl and we have bonded over the past 16 years.

It's probably lacquer holding it in place. You want to use a razor to cut the lacquer before you tap the nut out, otherwise it might chip around the wood.

The neck will last pretty much forever provided it doesn't warp or have the truss rod break. Typically with bolt on neck guitars it is cheaper to buy a new neck than have it refretted though. You can do a refret yourself . . . but it's a very time consuming and finnicky process (more so with maple as it's finished, so you have to repair the finish after the refret too). It's possible to screw up the neck pretty badly doing a refret, (you can introduce backbow by going with too wide a tang on the frets) and after your done you have to properly level and polish the frets.

Frets wear slowly, so it often creeps up on you in very tiny increments. If your frets are very worn you'll notice little things . . . like you have to press much harder to prevent a note from buzzing, it will be very difficult to do fast pull-offs cleanly, barre chords require more pressure, tapping passages become nearly impossible to play, the divots in the frets will actually change where the string sits so your intonation will go off, stuff like that. The biggest problem for me is the extra pressure you have to use to fret . . . it ends up leading to poor technique (you get a death grip on the strings) and all the tension can lead to wrist problems when you're regularly playing two hour sets.

Those tusq nuts usually work great, and should sound better than the cheap plastic one you had before. Just fit it and check the height a few times, sanding down as necessary. DON'T use epoxy to finally stick it in place, just a tiny dab of wood glue mixed 50-50 with water will do.

frugalnacho

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Re: Replacing nut on fender stratocaster squire
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2014, 07:30:31 AM »
The nut was easy to remove. Not sure wtf they had it glued in with, but it was a bitch to get all that old glue out. Took about 2 hours with an eye glass screw driver. Once I got the new one to the spot I liked I put a little bit of elmers wood glue and shoved it in, then strung it up. In the process I broke 4 of my tuning pegs. I guess it was about time for them to all go at once. The intonation appears to be fine, but I will have to check it more extensively when I have more time.