Jan 21, 2015

Graphtech TUSQ Nut (42mm Strat)

          A brief review of the Graphtech TUSQ nut, installed as an upgrade to the original nut on my Squier Bullet Stratocaster.  An overpriced but very functional upgrade to almost any guitar in regards to tuning stability.

Full review right after the break.

          At around $10 for this small piece of... TUSQ material, it's definitely overpriced for what it is, but almost certainly worth it on any lower end guitar or one suffering from tuning instability.

          One thing I liked about it was the design - mostly smooth, and with rounded slots to wrap around the strings.  The surface is flawless, which is to be expected for a synthetic component of this size.

Stock Squier on left, GraphTech on right

          Worth noting is that I needed to add a shim myself - the GraphTech holds the strings just slightly lower than the stock nut, and I needed to eliminate some fret buzz coming from one of the first frets.  To make a shim, I carefully shaved off a sliver of wood the size of the nut slot and approximately 1mm thick, and glued it into place under the nut with a bit of Liquid Fusion.

          So how much of an effect did the new nut have?

  • Great - By far the best improvement has been tuning stability.  Even with intentionally excessive tremolo arm usage and cheap stock tuners the guitar stayed remarkably well in tune.
  • Okay - The tone has not changed noticeably - GraphTech claims that it increases harmonic frequencies, and this may be the case, but it's a subtle difference and impossible to tell if it's anything more than confirmation bias.
  • Okay - The sustain has not changed noticeably either - I feel like there is a slight increase, but again, it could be entirely bias in perception.
  • Not Great - The fret buzz was not eliminated by either the new nut or the shimming.  

          Overall I'm happy with the increase in tuning stability and subtle improvements in sound.  I also appreciate the cleaner look of the GraphTech compared to the cheap plastic original.  However, the lack of apparent tonal improvement is slightly disappointing, and the price is marked up a little high.

8.5 / 10 stars for overall quality

7 / 10 stars considering the value

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