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Adjusting a Locking Nut

3/28/2013

ibanez refit locking nut locking nut is too high
1. A Locking Nut is a great way to maintain tuning stability.  This locking nut is on an Ibanez RG7620 7 string that I just refretted. 2. Measuring the Nut-Height.  During the refret I sanded a slight twist out of the fretboard.  Now the nut is a little too high for optimum playability.  The height of the nut is about .005″ too high at the 1st string and about .010″ too high at the 7th string.
layout cuts to nut seat scribe maximum depth of cut of nut seat for locking nut
3. Layout is Key to a quick and accurate adjustment of the nut.  I removed the rear-mounted machine screws that hold the nut so I can clamp the nut in place a little offset. 4. Scribing the Neck to mark the maximum depth of cut.  The .010″ feeler gauge acts as a spacer between the offset nut and the razor blade.  I will repeat this process on the treble side.
 establish depth of nut seat with chisel at sides of fretboard remove waste rosewood with chisel from nut seat
5. A Sharp Chisel is my tool of choice for this job.  I rest the cutting edge of the chisel in the scribed line and lower the handle-end of the chisel.  A light mallet blow brings the very edge of the nut seat to it’s final depth of cut.  I will repeat this on the treble side. 6. Paring Down the nut seat.  I will make a series of light cuts until the middle of the nut seat is on the same plane as the ends of the nut seat.  As I near the edge of the treble side of the nut seat, I will switch sides to prevent tare-out.  A shoulder plane would also be a good tool for this job.
sanding nut seat flat clean up corner of end grain at nut seat
7. Final Adjustment of the nut seat is quick and easy with some self-adhesive sandpaper attached to the bottom of the nut.  I am using the nut itself as a sanding block to ensure a flat nut seat. 8. Cleaning Up the Corner of the nut seat will ensure that the nut sits flat.
determine shim thickness of locking guitar nut make shim for ibanez locking nut
9. Shimming the treble side of the nut.  The bass side looks great but the treble side is too low.  A .004″ feeler gauge is the perfect thickness for proper nut height on the treble side.  I have the nut secured in place with the machine screws to ensure an accurate measurement. 10. Making the Shim is easy.  I will simply cut off a small piece of the .004″ feeler gauge and clean up any burrs from the tin snips with some sandpaper.
checking nut height low action at locking nut
11. Checking the Nut Height is straightforward.  I fret each string between the 2nd and 3rd fret and observe the gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the 1st fret. 12. I Then Compare that gap to the gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the 2nd fret while fretting between the nut and the first fret as well as fretting between the the 3rd and 4th frets.  I want the first measurement to be very close to but about .002″ higher than the 2nd measurement.
a locking nut adjusted for low action
13. All Done.  Adjusting the locking nut will allow me to set up the guitar for very low action with no fret buzz or intonation issues.