Proper Guitar Nut Height And Action

guitar nutHave you ever had issues fretting a note closer to the nut? Have you ever noticed that your string doesn’t quite fit in the nut, and tends to cradle itself on top of the nut slot?

If you have either of these issues, chances are your nut action height is off, and this can lead to your strings coming out of tune. How does this happen?

Simple. When you fret a string that is too high off of the fret, you are pulling the string down which in turn can cause the string to slip through the tuning peg and drop in tuning.

It is a chain reaction, and one that is often overlooked by many guitarists who blame these problems on either the tuners themselves, or the bridge action height, both of which are close to the source but not quite the exact problem.

In this article, we are going to go over proper guitar nut action height so that you can adjust your guitar correctly without causing damage.

If Unsure, Engage a Professional to Do the Job

If you have any reservations about performing this adjustment yourself, it is best that you save up a little bit of cash on the side and get the job done professionally, as a bad case of nerves can cause you to make a mistake.

And while guitar nuts are not expensive, most don’t come filed, which means you will have to go and get your nut filed out which is quite a bit more expensive than nut action height adjustments.

Steps to Get the Nut Height Filed Correctly

In order to make adjustments to the action of the nut, you will need a set of files, one that coincides with the width of each string rut in the nut, a feeler gauge, a tuner, and some time and a whole lot of patience.

The first thing you want to do is take your feeler gauge and check the distance between the string of the first fret and the fret itself. If your string reaches the feeler gauge (.018 inches is the best gauge to use for optimal nut action height) you are all set. If it doesn’t, you need to file down the nut.

Start by loosening the string, not taking it off. Select a file that best fits the fret, and file the fret down a small amount. Then tune back up, and use the feeler gauge to check the distance once more.

Repeat until you reach the proper height, and then move on to the next string.

That’s it.

It may seem easy, and it is, but only if you take your time and allow yourself to relax and approach the project at a reasonable pace. If you rush, you may wind up filing too far down, then you’ll end up with a nut too deep and you won’t be able to use it.

In the end, it is all up to you. Make your adjustments, and if you feel a bit nervous, bring your guitar to a professional. Good luck, and be careful; your guitar is only as good as you treat it.

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One Comment

  1. Matthew Sykes-Reply
    March 12, 2020 at 11:28 am

    “Select a file that best fits the fret, and file the fret down a small amount.” you mean the nut, not the fret!

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