At the end of the fingerboard is a guitar nut.The strings are in slots and the string spacing is defined.If the slots on your guitar get worn out, you need to replace the guitar nut, if you want to change the size of the strings or the spacing on them, or if it's a bad sound.You need a pre-slotted drop-in replacement nut and some basic tools in order to do it.If you want to replace the nut, you first need to remove the old nut and then make minor adjustments.
Step 1: All the guitar strings need to be removed.
Use the tuning keys to loosen the tension of each string.Pull out each bridge pin that holds the strings to the bridge at the bottom of the guitar with needle-nose pliers.Set the strings aside.Since you already have to replace the guitar nut, you can take advantage of this opportunity to put new strings on your guitar.
Step 2: Use a craft knife to score around the guitar nut.
To prevent lacquer from sticking to the nut when you knock it loose, trace the finish around the edges with the tip of the craft knife.Take a look at where the nut meets the wood of the headstock.This will help free the nut from the lacquer and any glue that may have been used around it to prevent it from breaking when you knock it loose.Don't cut yourself with a craft knife.
Step 3: Place a small block against the nut.
You can hit the back edge of the guitar nut with a hammer if you use a wooden block that is thick enough.Place it against the long edge of the nut where the wood meets the fingerboard.The wooden block will help distribute the pressure of your hammer blows to knock the guitar nut loose all at once and avoid damaging the wood around it.
Step 4: To remove the nut from the block, lightly tap the back edge with a hammer.
The wooden block should be placed against the long edge of the nut with 1-2 fingers of your non-dominant hand.Carefully wield a hammer with your dominant hand and gently tap the back edge of the wooden block to knock the nut free.This should only take one light tap.If the guitar nut doesn't come free after 1-2 light taps, try scoring around the edges with your craft knife.If you try to make it come loose by swinging the hammer harder, you might damage your guitar.
Step 5: The new guitar nut needs to be tested to see if it fits.
The old nut was against the wood of the fingerboard, so try to fit a new pre-slotted drop-in nut there.Determine how long you need to make it by looking at how it sits.The strings need to clear the first fret so they don't buzz against it.If the old height was good, try to make the nut the same height as the new one.A little taller is better than a little short.You can buy pre-slotted guitar nuts online or at a music store.
Step 6: The guitar nut needs to be sanded down with 800 or 1000-grit sandpaper.
Attach the piece of sandpaper to the work surface with masking tape.Sand the bottom of the nut a little bit at a time, testing it on the guitar as you go, and stop when you are happy with the height and fit.At a time, remove a small amount of material from the nut.The strings will be too close to the first fret if you remove too much.If there is any overhang, sand the ends of the guitar nut.When the nut is resting in the slot, remove only a bit at a time.
Step 7: Attach the new nut with glue when you are happy with it.
The nut has wood glue on it.Press it firmly into the slot.It should be left to dry for 24 hours.It is not recommended to use permanent glue, such as superglue, to attach a guitar nut because it will cause damage to your guitar if you ever want to replace it again.
Step 8: The string slots can be colored with a pencil.
To color in the string slots on the new guitar nut, use a regular wood and graphite pencil and a yellow one.The strings can get caught up in the new nut as you install them.This is a good time to clean the old strings.
Step 9: The guitar needs to be tightened up.
Put the bottom ends of the strings back into the bridge, secure them with bridge pins, and wind the top ends around the tuning posts.Use the tuning posts to tighten the strings and tune the guitar to the correct pitch.If you press down on the third note of the top string, you can see if there is a gap between the string and the first fret, which is less than the thickness of a credit card.Your strings are resting at a good height if that is the case.