So what's going on? Did the neck shift? Was it adjusted correctly? Or was it just done poorly? I actually get these jobs all the time. In this case, the guitar above had a couple issues- so we decided to correct them best that we could.
1) The neck is too straight.
It's a fine line between where it feels best and having adequate relief. After measuring the relief I found much more on the treble side than bass side, suggesting a twist. I'm talking like .005" difference but that's ample enough. So first, set the minimum relief to the bass strings. Then adjust the string height.
2) The nut slots were cut too wide/deep.
You can see in the first picture quite clearly how wide the slots are. Likely cut with a v-shaped file but still overly done. Nut slots should only be wide enough to allow the string to pass through it without binding. A few thousandth's of an inch wider and the string will not only lose tone but also vibrate within the nut slot, creating an unpleasant buzzing when the string is played open. Which was happening with this guitar. So after carefully cutting the lacquer around the nut, I knocked it out and made a new one.
Since it was in the shop, we also changed out the pickups and tremolo.
It's good practice to check that the new pickups work before installing them. Best way to do that is to test the impedance with a multi-meter. This also gave me assurance that it was a matched set and that the bridge pickup was indeed slightly hotter output. When swapping pickups, just replace the old wires with the new. Going one for one you'll never forget which goes where on a mess of a circuit like this.
Finished 'er up and the buzz has minimized and it's feeling much more solid all around. Learn more about these methods at one of our upcoming setup classes!
Or other non-tremolo style guitar? These Stetsbar Tremolo systems retrofit onto your guitar with no modification needed (yes we sell them too)! Drop right in , and instant trem (and sustain). Add a new bone nut to lose that annoying 'string -ping'. Cut it carefully with a little more angle on the back side for the D and G (try to follow the string path best possible). You can easily use the stock nut to line up your string to string spacing as pictured.
A pretty common job to replace broken/worn/improperly cut nuts on guitars and basses, although many people are under the impression a new one is just magically "popped into place". There is a reason that most nut replacements cost $50-$100. and that is because the nut needs to be made for the particular instrument, often out of a slab of raw material. Some nut blanks are made to fit popular styles, but ultimately will still need final shaping, string to string placement, and proper slot depth (which requires the instrument be setup). Is it worth it? Of course! This is one of the most crucial areas on your instrument for your tone and ability to stay in tune!