I’ve had the joy of working some remarkable guitars through the years. This time I’ll write about a Gibson* Les Paul Iron Cross, owned by Arturo Civit. This one is a close replica of one James Hetfield owns.
This replica has even the same wear of the original one!
What I liked about this one is that Arturo fitted an Earvana* nut on it, which I think is a mandatory addition for anyone who wants to play really in tune.
If you think this is just another gadget I dare you to take your guitar, an accurate tuner, and write down how many notes are really in tune. Usually these are grouped around the 12th fret and start drifting away from good tuning as you get closer to the nut or bridge.
Here you have a chart showing the location of out-of-tune notes on the first half of the fretboard. The upper one shows a typical guitar and the lower an Earvana-equipped one.
Owners of recent Washburn USA*guitars know their chords sound more solid because they are built to comply with the Buzz Feiten* tuning system. I, however, prefer the Earvana nut for various reasons:
-It can be installed without altering the guitar (the original nut can be reinstalled anytime),
-You can use any tuning device (Buzz Feiten tuning have to use specially calibrated tuners).
-You can use a capo without compromising the correct tuning.
-It’s much cheaper ($35 US).
-Any luthier can install it using traditional methods. (Buzz Feiten system can be installed only by certified people after completing a special training in the USA: $140).
As every new nut, the Earvana needs to be adjusted to a comfortable playing action. In the following pictures you can see the original and the final height. You can also see in the first one how the strings pass over the nut, and later they are UNDER the top.
Once the action was set, I reshaped the top to make it look like it came that way from the factory.
The bridge makes clear how the Earvana nut makes a difference. In the “before” picture (below, left), bridge saddles are adjusted like an stair, ascending from the fatter strings to the thinniest.
In the “after” picture (above right) saddles are closer together, especially in the treble strings. Since the Earvana nut gives an additional compensation at the other end of the string, the saddles doesn’t need to be adjusted to the limit. This will be excellent for acoustic guitars, where the simpler saddle can’t be made too thick.
Once I played it, the efectiveness of the new nut is self-evident: chords sound solid, like they do on a piano, without the usual trembling present in guitars. You gotta hear it to believe it!
*BTW, I’m neither related nor affiliated with the brands mentioned here. Altough I wouldn’t mind to!