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Heavier string gauges

Leiria
Posts: 330
I'm thinking of getting heavier strings but I've heard that might cause fret buzzing unless you get a higher nut. I was hoping someone could help me with this. I'm playing a TBird, if that helps.
Sidsquishus
Posts: 1499
I don't see how heavier (thicker) strings would, in and of themselves, cause fret buzzing. What you do need to think about is that you might need to make the slots in the nut wider to accommodate thicker strings. And you want nut files of the correct sizes (matching your new, thicker strings) to do this. And you want to do it right and not make the slots any deeper, only wider. And you want to know that this change is irreversible - if you want to go back to thinner strings, you'll need to replace the nut to have correctly sized slots.

In addition, you can probably expect to need to do a set up when you change strings. Different gauge strings mean the pull on your neck will be different, and to get intonation and action correct, you'll probably need to do a set up. Needing, but not doing, a set up can result in fret buzz.
Only way you're going to get buzz is if you mess with action and stuff like that. I actually just moved from a .10-.52 to .12-.60 set on my guitar Saturday and I had no troubles with fret buzz until I started messing with the bridge.

I actually did the same with my old Thunderbird. I wanted to put a B on there and Marko said to just file the nut.
Marko1960
Posts: 2174
Its all true, you havent given a reason for the change in string gauge, the standard 105 gauge covers just about every style of playing, is the change worth the hassle? Apart from all the things the lads mentioned, heavier strings will be ‘Sloppier’ because they dont need to be as tight as a lighter gauage to reach standard tuning
Leiria
Posts: 330
The standard gauge get the job done pretty well, but a while back I played a P bass with 55 gauge and I loved it. The guy who owned it told me something about the nut so I was checking. After what you guys said I'll just stick with 45
Sidsquishus
Posts: 1499
Not hard to do what you were thinking of doing, especially if you only want to change to a 55 G. If you have a friend with the tools to do a set up and the right sized nut file, you could do it. A shop/technician could do this for you in about half an hour.

That said, the warning about nut slots stands: you can make them wider but not narrower. And don't make them deeper!
Leiria
Posts: 330
I never siad anything about deeper nuts. Ands its not just the G string its the whole set. And I dont know anyone with the tools for it (except for a luthier, but Id have to pay)
Wouldn't it be easier to pop the nut off and put a new one on with bigger slots? They are cheap
Sidsquishus
Posts: 1499
Sorry Leiria - I thought when you said you liked the 55 it meant you wanted to use a heavier gauge g string, not the whole set. And the bit about being careful not to make the slots in the nut deeper is because it is really easy to accidentally make the slots deeper when trying to widen them for thicker strings. Making the slots deeper lowers the strings closer to the frets, which can create problems (fret buzz for example) that can only be remedied by replacing the nut.

Chuck - yeah that would be nice, pop off the nut slotted for your standard gauge strings and pop one in for a thicker set. But I've never done this so I don't know how easy it is to do. Some of my basses have a finished (some kind of clear coat) maple finger board and it looks to me like replacing the nut on these necks would not be simple as the clear coat comes up onto the nut. Even on an unfinished (rose wood, ebony) fingerboard, I'd be concerned about taking a chip out of the fingerboard when popping the nut up. Maybe not hard, but I haven't done it.
Leiria
Posts: 330
Quote:
Wouldn't it be easier to pop the nut off and put a new one on with bigger slots? They are cheap
That was actually my first thought when I was told about the nut thing, though I have no idea how that's done, or if there even are cheap wider nuts
Marko1960
Posts: 2174
Wait a minute, lighter gauge strings would be floppier and youd have to tighten heavier gauge strings more thus putting more stress on the neck and having to tighten the truss rod, why did nobody spot that? Anyway, changing the nut isnt as simple as it seems, getting the old one out can cause damage and theres no guarantee that an off the shelf nut will pop back on without any set up being required. Nut files are really expensive so it works out just as cheap to take it to a guitar tech. You can use a nail file as used by girls, (and some boys!), carefully taking a little away from both sides of the slot until the string is a snug fit. I'm wondering if it was just the P bass that sounded good, which they do as we all know

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