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Compensated Nut

//Compensated Nut

Compensated Nut

If you have a fixed bridge on your guitar then a compensated nut is worth considering. However if the bridge has move-able saddles and they are adjusted properly there is no reason for two compensation points on one instrument making the compensated nut unnecessary. Replace your nut only if there is an issue such as: it’s broken, too soft, nut slots cut way too low etc. When strings are fretted the nut is no longer in the tonal equation. It becomes irrelevant. It’s only in the mix when the string is open. If the nut is cut properly, and height adjusted correctly and as well there is no binding in the slot then there is no need for a “compensated nut”. 

image Haywire Custom Guitars 2-1/8" wide neck
Why replace your guitar nut? There are clues to look for when deciding if it’s time.

Why a compensated nut?

The “why” behind a compensated nut is fairly easy to understand. It’s simply marketing and shelf space. It benefits the manufacturer more than the player. In a way, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Players think they need it because they have been told by the manufacturer. Guitar stores want to make money so they’ll agree with the producer. The player adds it and “thinks” it makes a difference. What do you have? Supply and demand for a solution to a made up problem. No one seems to take into account the expansion and contraction of metal strings nor the inability to compensate for action that is too high. The “compensation” idea theoretically is to help a bit more with getting open strings in relative tune to the fretted ones. In practice that is the job of the adjustable bridge making adjustment at the nut unnecessary. There is a need for only one steering wheel in a car as well. Therefore now you have two options to adjust strings at the nut or at the bridge however both adjustments are not necessary.

Guitar Hardware Manufacturers

The guitar hardware manufacturers are always looking for ways to try and foist products on unsuspecting gullible guitar players who are ready to believe there is something out there they need but don’t have yet. More times than not guitarists will fall hook line and sinker for the “new” best thing for their beloved instruments. Use what you have. Guitars have been played for hundreds of years without “compensated nuts”. Why now? It’s simply a ploy to get more sales. If you really want to play in tune then lower your action. Get the action as low as possible and the need for any “compensation” will diminish immeasurably and you will be a happy guitar player now playing “in-tune.

By | 2024-03-23T07:31:35-04:00 March 23rd, 2024|Guitar Education|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Rick Mariner Owner and Founder and CEO of Haywire Custom Guitars Inc. He is a member of The Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (A.S.I.A.) as well as a guitar player. Rick holds a bachelors degree from University of Md. and a Masters degree from George Washington University. Rick developed his exclusive 8 – Point “Gig- Ready” guitar process that allows for Custom Guitars that are “GIG-READY”. With Rick’s many years of development and guitar set-up experience, Haywire Guitar shop “Builds satisfied players… one Haywire guitar at a time”.

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