So have you ever tuned your guitar then played a few notes, decided to bend a few and then gone back, strummed a chord, only to find your tuning has drifted out again? This simple tip can save you an expensive trip to your local guitar tech and hopefully give you a sweet-sounding guitar once more.
For this to work you need a guitar with either a bone or similar material nut. It won’t work with locking trem systems like a Floyd Rose. You need to have stretched out your strings first, as new strings will of course always drift out of tuning.
Generally a guitar that goes out of tune normally has issues at the nut. You can check this by first tuning your guitar to pitch and then bend a few notes. If the guitar has gone flat or sharp on the string you bent there is a high chance the string is getting stuck in the nut. So there’s an old trick of putting some pencil lead in there (actually graphite and not lead) as this acts as a lubricant for the string, as graphite is really slippery. I have also used a Chapstick in the past to get similar results. Just apply a little with a cocktail stick in the nut grooves so it can get nice and slippery so your string won’t get stuck in the slot as you bend notes.
But here’s a better way:
- First take some regular string and cut a short length; around 20 centimetres should be enough.
- Fray the string by unravelling it, so that it is now all loose along its length. Keep it all together, still frayed out. It should not be a whole load of long string fibres.
- Soak this unravelled string in Brasso (the stuff you use for polishing metal).
- Then use this Brasso soaked string in the nut slots. One at a time place the string in the nut and use a sawing motion to rub it over the nut slots. Hold each end of the string keep the string taught as you use the sawing motion in the nuts slot.
What you are doing is very finely polishing the nut grooves so that they no longer grab hold of the string and make it stick. Brasso is a very fine abrasive and the unravelled string acts a ‘mop’ to apply it with, buffing your guitar’s nut slots. Take your time and give each slot a good polish using this method and you should find that your nut no longer sticks and therefore your guitar stays in tune!