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Thread: US Nut vs SE Nut

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  1. #1
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    US Nut vs SE Nut

    First timer, go easy!

    I just put a US nut (Wide Thin/Wide Fat) on my SE Tim Mahoney. Looking at the 2 nuts, they are obviously different materials, the SE nut feels cheap compared to the US nut. They are the same general shape, same width, but I noticed the string spacing is slightly different. The outside E slots are wider on the US nuts. Is this just to compensate for .010 strings, vs the .009's on the SE? To clarify, the slots are not just wider, but in a different spot, the US being wider. So I know I didnt get a Regular nut, since they wider spaced...is this normal? Will I have a problem with this nut? It looks normal spaced on the guitar. Ive got 2 US models, this is my first SE model. Thanks for any info!

  2. #2
    Junior Member chet's Avatar
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    I was told by a local Luthier the SE nuts are metric and hollow. I put a US nut on my Tremonti SE. Didn't notice much of a difference. The strings did seem to fit better in the slots with little to no modification.

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    Narrowfield Pickup Fan HANGAR18's Avatar
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    That is an interesting observation. There is a similar difference between Epiphone and Gibson nuts on their Les Paul models. I always assumed that the more narrow string spacing on the import models was to accommodate younger, smaller hands. ie. SE = Student Edition.
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    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    The SE W/F is close to the McCarty W/F neck width. I dropped a McCarty nut on my SE singlecut and it was very close to perfect. It was a good mod.
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    PRS SE50, Mesa Single RectoVerb, Mesa Lonestar, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe

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    Does the American nut give any benefit to the tone?
    PRS SE Tremonti '03

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    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OperatorAce View Post
    Does the American nut give any benefit to the tone?
    Take a US nut and SE nut and drop them on a table. Listen to the difference in the sound difference. The US nut is resonant sounding and the SE is not so much. Any point of contact with the string, material is important. Tuner posts, nut, bridge saddles...none of those things should take away from the string ringing and sustaining.

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    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    Shawn replied and told me the SE nuts and US nuts are slightly different but both will work fine. The US nut is very hard and has a bell like quality when you drop it on a hard surface. The SE nut is clearly hollow and feels like plastic. The slots on the US nut look much more precisely cut.

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    Not that I don't believe you vchizzle about the US nut, but that video doesn't really demonstrate why it's better in a proper way. I feel that PRS quite often takes a salesman approach to describing tonewoods, finishes, glues and hardware without actually showing any sound comparisons. I'm sure there are materials that would really ring, but wouldn't necessarily make great guitar nuts.
    PRS SE Tremonti '03

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    I believe its Paul's theory of tone, that materials that ring or have some sort of musical quality would be better for tone than materials that are dead sounding. Can it be proven without a doubt? No, but the PRS guitars I've played and own tell me he may be on to something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bomonganni View Post
    I believe its Paul's theory of tone, that materials that ring or have some sort of musical quality would be better for tone than materials that are dead sounding. Can it be proven without a doubt? No, but the PRS guitars I've played and own tell me he may be on to something.
    Without a doubt I agree, PRS guitars are amazing. I can't help but feel that quite a bit of it is a giant sales pitch.
    PRS SE Tremonti '03

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by OperatorAce View Post
    Not that I don't believe you vchizzle about the US nut, but that video doesn't really demonstrate why it's better in a proper way. I feel that PRS quite often takes a salesman approach to describing tonewoods, finishes, glues and hardware without actually showing any sound comparisons. I'm sure there are materials that would really ring, but wouldn't necessarily make great guitar nuts.
    I don't think Paul's trying to demonstrate that it's better; simply that the materials sound different. He's not selling guitar nuts, he's selling his vision of, and ideas about, guitars.

    So the guitars are the proof, not some video.

    The guitars themselves should be ample demonstration that the man knows what he's doing, and speak for themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by OperatorAce View Post
    Oh I know for a fact nut material makes a difference - I suppose at hear I really just want to know if the PRS US nut is the end all be all, or are there better 3rd party nuts, and why?
    For that you have to ask a 3rd party nut maker, not PRS, right?

    Or you have to try a few for yourself. My thinking is that if you like the tone on your PRS, there isn't much point in monkeying around with different nuts, but everyone's different. Have at it and report back!
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    Yeah I need to just order a few, considering I have a SG that also could use a new nut. Seems no one I ask has any opinion on the differences between the tusqs and the US made PRS nuts!
    PRS SE Tremonti '03

  14. #14
    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    I don't think there is any question that Paul believes every word he is saying. He has said it for so long in "Meet and greet" sales pitches, that it comes out sounding like a sales job. But it really does have physics at the heart of all he does and says. There may always be a debate about whether nut material makes a difference, but there is no debate in Paul's mind or they wouldn't be on his guitars. To me he comes across as completely genuine and also trying to sell a guitar. Both are good things.
    1988 CE24, 1995 CE22, 2000 SC, 2003 Standard 22, 2003 Cu24 AP, 2006 Cu24 AP, 2006 SC AP, 2007 CuRo22, 2010 Starla Stoptail, 2010 Mira
    2007 SE Soapy 2, 2010 SE 25th Anni Cu24, 2012 SE Bernie, 2013 SE Angelus Custom

    PRS SE50, Mesa Single RectoVerb, Mesa Lonestar, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe

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    Oh I know for a fact nut material makes a difference - I suppose at hear I really just want to know if the PRS US nut is the end all be all, or are there better 3rd party nuts, and why?
    PRS SE Tremonti '03

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    I couldn't give you an opinion on the difference between the two, simply because I havent tried both. I like the US PRS guitars just the way they are, nuts, pickups, etc...I wouldnt change them, because I am completely satisfied with the guitars as they are. As far as my SE, I decided on the US nut, because for me, it works so well on the US models, I dont really feel a need for improvement over that. Maybe there is a better nut, but Im quite satisfied with what PRS offers.

  17. #17
    Senior Member swede71's Avatar
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    Im not convinced about the nut affecting the sound that much really but im absolutely convinced harder material will work better.PRS US nuts works great.I cant speak of PRS se nuts but i Believe they are plastic as my Epiphone and plastic is too soft.Strings will bind in nutslots more easily.

  18. #18
    Narrowfield Pickup Fan HANGAR18's Avatar
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    I think maybe some have missed the point about nut material. Energy transfer from the vibrating string, throught he nut material and through the guitar is incredibly important and the demonstration shows the ability of the different types of nut material to vibrate (ie the different pitches you hear when dropped on a table) which is equal to the ability of the nut to transfer energy through it. That's also why he said a nut made of rubber or whatever would be terrible. Enegry applied to one end of a rubber nut would be absorbed and not pass through.

    As for the book of tone, I don't think PRSh wrote it, as he has stated many times all that info was already out there and used by those who came before him. I think perhaps he may have actually compiled all of this learning into one place, perhaps an actual printed book, and then put all that learning into practice when his guitars are built. I think that is what all that book of tone stuff is all about.
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    Junior Member digeratti's Avatar
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    I recently watched a TED talk where Paul explains his theory of how guitars work. I think you will enjoy watching this?

    It's worth watching to understand why more resonant materials make superior nuts for any guitar. He actually demonstrates by dropping his nuts on the floor!

    I've made bone nuts but discovered that even when these are made from the ankle bones of Oxen (very dense), they may have some dead spots and I can hear differences in strings on those dead spots.

    Paul says, "It's not what the nuts add to the sound but what they remove that matters."

    Second, I have made nuts and also had them made for me by expert luthiers ... no contest ... the luthiers win, every time. It's not that I am stupid. I don't have the right tools to do this properly and it is just cheaper to have them make the nut for me than to buy the tools to do it, myself. Even if you do have the proper tools, it is challenging to do this right. Look for a luthier that does this a lot! It is as much an art as it is a science. The nut must match your frets which are not flat! The depth above the frets where the string slots are cut must be exact and differ slightly depending upon the string. The slot itself must match the string but not bury it or it will sound like a sitar! And you don't want it to have sharp edges or you will cut yourself on them!

    Finally, if this is done correctly, you WILL be able to hear the difference! It improves volume (increasing the signal to noise ratio) and sustain, and most noticeably, clearer, less muffled, tones from all of your strings.

    My experience has been so positive, replacing nuts with TUSQ is now SOP (standard operating procedure) when I'm ordering a new guitar along with a string change to my personal favorite strings ... D'Addario EXP110.

    Next to using good strings, having a quality nut has done more to improve my guitar sounds than anything else that I've tried. I've personally experienced this now on all nine of my personal guitars. And this is no sales pitch!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Brad737's Avatar
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    I can say with absolute certainty that a better nut improves the tone. Years ago, I bought an Epiphone Dot Deluxe from GCRon...basically a highly flamed top ES-335. Decent guitar for open jams. Anyway...It had a soft, black plastic nut. I replaced it with a pre-slotted Tusq. Some guys say it only affects open notes, but I'd swear it affects everything, because that's where the string is anchored. Also, tuning was vastly improved. I would swap nuts in a New York second.
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