Use Graphite Dust on the Nut

By Fernando Leal

Whenever I change strings on a guitar with a bone or plastic nut, I always add graphite dust from a regular pencil on the nut slots. I do this so the strings don’t stick in the nut. Have you ever heard sometimes your strings “crack” when you are tuning your guitar? Well, that happens because they get stuck.

11 comments to Use Graphite Dust on the Nut

  • Keith

    Common trick that really helps.

    There is a product called NeoLube No. 2, which I first found out about in the Navy. It is basically brush-applicable graphite. Colloidal graphite suspended in an isopropanol alcohol gel. It works much better than pencil lead, for one because the “graphite”is actually GRAPHITE, and for two, because you jut brush on the goo exactly where you want it, let the alcohol evaporate. So, it is cleaner and more accurate, plus it performs better.

    • Fernando Leal

      Well, it might work better than what I said about the pencil. but how much does it cost? Is it easy to find. Im not saying it might not work better but, it sounds difficult to find and expensive, IMO. I worte to use a pencil because, well, everyone has a No2 pencil at home. Its easy to find and affordable. Plus, I dont think its worth to buy that NeoLube thing only for the guitar nut, to prevent going flat on your tunning in part( yes, in part, you might have shitty tuners).Ill take a look at that Neolube stuf, though.

  • Ben Gray

    Neolube! Hadn’t thought about that stuff in years. That would work really well, especially since you can be very accurate about how much you’re putting on. Worked wonders for stainless steel fine thread valve caps. Just apply sparingly and let it dry before stringing the guitar. I use a white graphite compound, works as well as anything else I’ve used. If you’re getting a “crack” noise while tuning- especially if it sounds like you’re tuning, you hear a crack and tuning jumps up a bit (and suddenly)- check your nut slots and make sure they’re correctly sized for your strings! When I buy a new electric guitar that has a plastic nut, I usually have to widen the slots, because they normally ship them fitted with light strings (E=00.9″), and I play mediums. Since I don’t play with locking nuts, I lube them lightly- this in combination with tying the strings off correctly at the tuning machine keeps my strings better in tune when using my tremelo.

  • Oinkus

    Try some Tri Flow it is a teflon based lubricant, nut and bridge and pivot points of tremolos.

  • Bastard Bass

    While these products “all” will offer a solution, it is a temporary solution for a permanent problem. String catch is caused entirely by the string grove not being shaped properly to the size of the string. this is likely because your instrument has a stock/pre-fab string nut as 98.9% of instruments do. If you are lucky enough to purchace an instrument with a Bone nut, it is likely factory set “if at all” to the string gauge installed at the factory. a repair tech or an interested “home tech” can match the slot radius to the string gauge and eliminate this problem for good.
    “A properly carved string nut is essential to good tone and vibrational transfer as well as smooth tuning”.

    • Fernando Leal

      I didnt know that. And yes, its temporary, but Its either that or getting a bone nuit as you say. I dont know if Earvana nuts work the same.

  • Fernando Leal

    When the strings get stuck, I believe theres more tension from the nut to the tuners than from the nut to the bridge, thing you dont want to have because you’ll get out of tune whenever you are playing. Why is that?The string might “un-stick” with a bend or something and you’ll get out of tune if you were. =)This didnt made it to the post

  • Keith

    It doesn’t have to be Neo-Lube proper. Fill a Purell bottle with graphite dust and you have basically just made your own. I also use liquid lock lubricant sometimes, though that has to be applied more carefully, as it is more oily and runny. I only use it on poly finished guitars, because their finishes are impervious to almost anything.

    Whether your nut is fine or not, this trick cannot hurt. I also use it

    No. 2 pencil lead isn’t pure graphite. It is graphite embedded in a material, and it can “cake up,” unlike pure graphite.

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