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Thread: Changing the nut on a PRS SE

  1. #1
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    Changing the nut on a PRS SE

    Hello everybody,

    I am very happy with my PRS SE Dave Navarro in white. So much so that I have decided to upgrade the nut on it. Problem is, I can not loosen the old one, the glue is to hard. Now, I don't want to bang to hard on it, I am afraid it might do some damage to the whole of the neck. Any suggestions?

    Thanks

    Guttorm Andreasen, Oslo, Norway

    Here it is in a gig last friday, by the way:


  2. #2
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    Use a razor and score the finish on all sides around the nut. Get a block of wood and lay it on the fretboard, butting it up right against the nut. Give the open end of the board one quick rap with a hammer and the nut should pop right off. Sand the bottom of the new nut, apply a little wood glue and string it up. The tension in the strings will hold the nut in the correct position while it dries.

  3. #3
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    I'm a big proponent for putting bone nuts on every guitar i get, but i gotta tell you the SE's have what i consider maybe the best material i've come across next to bone. The slots are much too high like any new guitar thats not boutique or very high end. But thats a 5 minute job. And in fact, it was during the filing when i noticed the constancy of the material. You can always feel by filing them what the material is like. If it's soft or hard and other things. the old graphite nuts could be tone robbers and you could feel and see when filing why. The SE nut impressed me because i could tell it is a very resonant material and the filings came out like fine power unlike cheaper nuts. Then upon use i found the guitar stays in tune better than any strat i've ever owned, and i've owned many. This may be the only guitar i may leave with the stock nut because theres seems no reason to replace it and it may even be better with the stocker than bone. I saw Paul talking about the material they use and how they scrutinized materials to find something great and i really believe he nailed it.

    That said, i WOULD be interested to see whether there is any improvement in tone because i have seen serious improvements in depth of tone when crafting a good bone nut on some guitars. Others have shown no difference at all. I tend to think if any guitar is going to fit into the latter category it's a PRS, even the SE. Si my advice would be to leave it. But if you insist, one way to remove them w/o damage is to carefully saw the nut in 1/2 lengthwise being careful not to go so deep as to cut into the wood. Then use pliers to collapse it in upon itself. if you do replace it please post the results. Many can't hear subtle differences, but in some cases it's a big enough improvement for most anyone to tell. But i gotta tell you, if i was to wager on it i'd but good money on the bet that it's not going to be better in tone or tuning and vet likely worse in one or both unless it bone and made with extreme precision and lubed well. But why bother when the stocker seems so good. If i thought i could improve the tone with a new nut i'd made one asap, but this is one of the only guitars i feel won't likely benefit.

  4. #4
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Yeah, if there is no issue with the SE nut (String binding or placement issues) then changing the nut isn't much of an upgrade. I swapped mine to Tusq because of binding issues and (certainly in the case of my Marsden) I felt the spacing wasn't making good use of the fretboard width. Was there a noticeable inmprovment in tone and or sustain? Not really and I wouldn't notice after a few days anyhoo...

    Having said that... If you want to swap it then - as mentioned above - just carefully score around the nut and then tap it towards the headstock with a block of wood. It should pop right off. may take a sliver of wood with it but nothing too major. Just clear up any residues of glues before you install the new one.
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, Fender Strat
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for your input, guys. My main concern was tuning instability, it really goes out of tuning very quickly. Everything else about the guitar, I love sincerely. So I will listen to you and keep it as it is.

    While I have your attention and you seem to be in the know: My version is the "old" one, probavly 2011, with a flat, level top and no single coil/pull option on the tone control button. Is it worth trying out the new version as well? As good? Better? Hard to get them here but buying from the US is an option, although that makes them really expensive.

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
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    As far as tuning stability, give locking tuners a look. The Grover mini locking tuners are an exact drop in replacement for the SE models and the tuning buttons can be swapped to maintain the same look.

    I've owned both the 25th anniversary SE Custom 2014 in Royal Blue (flat top, 3 way, no split) and a 2012 SE Custom 24 in whale blue with the blade, coil split, and Beveled top. The 2012 was definitely more comfortable to play and offered more versatility with the coil splits. Definitely worth a look.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boysnake View Post
    Thanks for your input, guys. My main concern was tuning instability, it really goes out of tuning very quickly. Everything else about the guitar, I love sincerely. So I will listen to you and keep it as it is.

    While I have your attention and you seem to be in the know: My version is the "old" one, probavly 2011, with a flat, level top and no single coil/pull option on the tone control button. Is it worth trying out the new version as well? As good? Better? Hard to get them here but buying from the US is an option, although that makes them really expensive.

    Thanks again!
    The nut is often #1 suspect on cheaper guitars, but i gotta say mine stays in tune amazing. But theres a good chance your bridge may be to blame IF you adjusted the 6 plates screws of if you bought it used and the previous owner did. the reason is that the PRS trem is unlike any other 6 screw trem in that the screws have notches in them which the bridge plate knife edge rids in. Just like most 2 screw trems. But theres a problem when you do that with 6 vs 2. With 2 the screws can be at different heights and thats not an issue. When you use SIX notched screws theres going to be major tuning headaches if the 6 screws aren't exactly at the same height.

    heres the fix if you need to readjust it. Loosen the strings and remove the springs to the point the strings are so loose the bridge can sit flat on the top. Or better yet remove the strings altogether, but you can do i w/o if you want. Screw all six down till they just stop so you know they are all at the same height. Now back each one off the exact same number of turns. I would do 2 turns at first then with the bridge riding in the notches see how much clearance there is between the bottom of the trem and the body. You want it about 1/16" off the body. If you need to go more than 2 turns, tru say 1/2 turn on each again trying to be very accurate. Once it's at the right height put the springs back and tune up.

    If you bought it new and have never touched the screws, it's probably ok.Then again some store employee could have tweaked it not realizing PRS trems are different than others. I did ! Thats how i learned. It did work quite right and i checked the PRS site and got the info. And as they say on the site, don't do it with strings to pitch and springs on or you may damage the knife edge of the plate holes.

  8. #8
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    The SE nuts are cheap hollow plastic, and will collapse and crack over time. I swapped mine out for a tusq, and the guitar stays in tune much better, and sounds better acoustically. They use a lot of superglue on the SE nuts, I put a razor blade in between the fretboard and tapped down and it came out with a few hits

  9. #9
    A♥ hoards guitars ♥A rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by metalrocker View Post
    The SE nuts are cheap hollow plastic, and will collapse and crack over time.
    This is the first I have read about this. Have you seen a stock SE nut collapse or crack? Got any pics?
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    Hmmm....yeah, that seems odd on a guitar that is built so much better than others in it's range...no splinted headstock, but a one piece neck. Steel trem block. Just doesn't seem like they would go to such lengths over and above all others in the price range to build great guitar then use a hollow nut. Was that a old SE? From what i've read i was given an impression the older ones weren't built as well. Or maybe theres something to it tonally. To save $.00000001 on the material by hollowing a nut out seems unthinkable. what other reason might there be? Something strange there. I DO know that in the past some luthiers used scalloped nuts and even some that were partially hollowed out i believe for tone enhancement. So that might well be it. But if so i'd imagine the USA line would also have that.

  11. #11
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    The SE nut has a slight indentation on the underside from the moulding process. It isn't hollowed out though and the material is actually quite good. Usually, when there's an issue with the SE nuts it's from the cutting of the slots and associated string binding. I've changed mine to Tusq on the Bernie, but not because I thought the SE nut was cheap but because the strings where binding causing tuning issues and I wanted the string spacing widened. I also had Tusq installed on my long gone SE C24. Again I had some binding which is even more of af an issue with a trem equipped guitar, but the high E string slot was cut too low. If I ever got an SE with a perfectly cut nut I wouldn't change it as the actual material is just fine.

    The is abosolutely NO way the nuts on an SE will collapse and crack. That just won't happen.
    Modified SE Bernie Marsden, Fender Strat
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  12. #12
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dazco View Post
    Was that a old SE? From what i've read i was given an impression the older ones weren't built as well.
    I have an '03 that sold new for $399 at the time. The guitar is built flawlessly. The stock nut is still kicking after 11 years. Just to dispel any rumors or misinformation.
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