No matter what type of stringed instrument you have, the nut is one of the most important parts of the overall performance, playability and tone of your instrument.

No matter what type of stringed instrument you have, the nut is one of the most important parts of the overall performance, playability and tone of your instrument.

In the video, Master Luthier, Nicole Alosinac, demonstrates how to properly install a pre-slotted nut. Continue reading below for step-by-step instructions.

One thing Nicole recommends to improve playability and tuning is to change the nut on your guitar to a self-lubricating Graph Tech TUSQ XL Nut.


Graph Tech TUSQ nuts are crafted from man-made ivory that’s impregnated with Teflon, so that the nut itself stays permanently lubricated. TUSQ XL is consistent from piece to piece, and within each piece, to offer you harmonically rich tones without the problems associated with natural materials.

Once the nut is in, there’s no fuss or muss -- you’re going to play in tune.

To find the right pre-slotted nut for your guitar, watch Finding the Right Nut Video and Guide. You can then dive right in!

Nicole is using the TUSQ 6061 Nut.

STEPS 1-3: Remove your strings and the guitar’s old nut

Before you remove the nut on your guitar, you’ll want to make sure you take a fine exacto blade, and score around the edges of the nut and on the paint because you don’t want any wood or finish to chip out. You want your guitar to look really good when you’re finished with it.

After you’re done scoring, take a block of wood, lay it flat on the fingerboard, and lightly tap it with a hammer. Sometimes you need to go back and forth until it comes out.

If you’re dealing with a strat type nut, where the nut is sitting in the slot itself, you have to take your block, put it on an edge, and tap it across rather than forward to remove the nut.

Now that the nut is done, you can move on to the next step.

STEP 4: Prep the slot and sand to fit.

Now that the nut is removed, you need to clean the nut slot itself. You can use a Stewart MacDonald file that’s made to do just this.

Grab the coarse side and hold the smooth side of the file against the edge of the fingerboard. Then, just run it across the bottom of the nut slot, making sure not to round it over and to keep it tidy.

Now that your slot is clean, take out your nut plank and see how it fits in the nut slot.

If it doesn’t fit because it’s too wide, take a little bit of width off by sanding the front face of the nut. To do that, use a 240 to 400 grits sandpaper, put it on your bench or any flat surface and sand along that. Nicole uses a sanding block for this step.

Try and take down the thickness of the nut just enough so that it will fit inside of the slot you just cleaned. Make sure it fits snugly, but not tight.

Next, square up the bottom edge of the nut. Make sure it’s 90 degrees and fitting the edge of the fingerboard and the bottom of the nut slot perfectly.

An easy way to do this is to take a block with a piece of sandpaper -- this is going to hold the nut in place -- and then you can just sand the bottom of the nut at a 90-degree angle with the other block.

You always want good contact between parts when you’re dealing with sound.

Put this in the nut slot see how it fits before moving on to the next step.

STEP 5: Set the string gap.

At this point you’re going to install the two outside strings on your guitar (your high “E” and your low “E” strings). This will give you an idea of how high your nut slot is sitting in relation to the guitar.

Measure the nut slot height by holding the string down on the third fret, and look at the distance between the first fret and the string itself.

On the high “E” string, look for a clearance of only 0.006”, and on the low “E” string look for clearance of 0.010”.

If you have more than this space between the string and the top of the fret, you’ll want to take down a bit of height on the nut. Loosen the strings, sand the bottom of the nut, and remeasure the string height.

After some time with the sanding block and getting the right height on the nut, everything should look good.

STEP 6: Clean up.

Finally, check if there’s any extra meat on the edges of the nut and clean that up. After that’s finished, you can remove the nut, add a small drop of white wood glue, and string it up.

Now that you have our Graph Tech TUSQ XL Nut installed, your guitar looks great, sounds great, has improved playability, and is going to stay in tune a lot better.