PRS SE Custom 22 - Tuning stability

LilyLazer

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Hello, I bought a PRS SE Custom 22 2018 one year ago. I restringed it after some months, from the original 9-42 strings to the D'Addario 10.5-48 and the string tension of the unwound strings was really too much. My personal technic fixed it lowering the bridge. The strings are a bit more harder then my Mexico Stratocaster, but the action is lower and the guitar is now more playable.

Now I have another problem, I think I had it at the beginning, but I guess I had underestimated it. If I use the bar to low the intonation then it doesn't back in pitch, the tuning reamain a bit higher and I have to stretch the strings to back in tune. I noticed that the bridge remain, afater I act the bar, slightly lifted, just a bit.
I guess I found out where the issue come from, but before to say anything I would like to know if somebody can tell me wha'ts going on with this guitar.

Thank you.
 
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jimfisher

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You likey need to have the slots in the nut widened a little bit for the larger sting gauge. An easy job for your tech is he has the proper nut files.
 

Draconomics

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So, I think what you're saying is when you use your trem, it wont return to pitch, instead it returns to a different pitch than where you began, correct? So, if the bridge is returning to a higher position then you should see a flatter tuning, if its in a lower position than its sharp. You mentioned you went to a 10.5 set. Your tech should have either adjusted the claw on the trem springs or possibly added or removed a spring to compensate, though since you went to a higher tension string set you'd add a spring if anything. You would have also needed to have the nut slots filed larger to accommodate larger strings so they dont bind. When you use a trem, the strings will slightly slide over the nut but if the slots are too tight they bind in the nut and you might hear a little "ping" sound because the string gets caught. I had that on my 35th Ani. I solved it by changing out the nut. I stress I'm a two-bit backwoods guitar repairman, but that would be my advice based on what experience I have.
 

LilyLazer

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Thanks.
The bridge and the springs should be ok. I setted it, initially. Then my tech did it, too.
I guess the issue is caused by the nut. And now I can tell you something more. (A little detail first about the nut. It had a little issue for the higher E string. The groove was too low and the string buzz a bit, just without pressing it. My tech fixed it.)
I don't know if it is useful, but I made a test. I pressed the strings in the headstock side. More or less evey strings back in pitch and don't change the tuning of the string between the nut and the bridge. Except the D string. When I pluck the D string in the headstock side I got a pitch, when I press it and then I pluck it again I got a lower pitch, the string is softer, and the tuning of the guitar is higher like when I use the bar.
So, maybe is the D string (more than the other strings?) that doesn't slide through the nut and keep the bridge tensed when I use the bar. Does this make sense?

I'm wondering if that was the cause of the tension of the strings during the bending. The 9-42 was extremely soft for me, and my other guitar is a Stratocaster Mexico with 10-46 of the same brand.
The lower strings are ok, as tension. But the higher strings was very hard. Perhaps if the the strings doesn't slide through the nut are more harder to bend it?
 

dogrocketp

I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!
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Possibly, but consider going with 9.5 -44 strings. Different guitars respond better or worse to different gauges.
 

LilyLazer

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Probably it's like you said, but I prefer to keep strings at least 10-46, considering I have those on my Strat (25.5" scale). I found 9-42 stock uncomfortably soft on my PRS, so 9.5-44 I guess doesn't change a lot. I think I should have tried the 10-46 first, but I was convinced that the 10.5-48 was better seen a scale shorter than the strat. Now I just afraid that the lower strings will be too soft and I'll get too much fretbuzz, seeing now I have a bridge a bit lower than the 1.6mm of the stock setup. But that's important to set a lower action.

Anyway, I'm not totally sorry about it, it's just this tuning issue I have.
 

dogrocketp

I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!
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I’m sure the nut is binding, and string buzz can be adjusted out of the neck. Although I don’t know where you are, a quick trip to the luthier with the string gauge you want to play and a replacement nut should get you sorted out. Just make sure he/she has worked on PRS before. You don’t set them up like Fenders or Gibson’s. There are tutorials on line if you have experience.
 

LilyLazer

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Thank you. I learnt to setup my guitars, but I guess all of us think my problem is caused by the nut, and I don't know if I can fix it by myself, I'd say no.
 

Draconomics

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Thank you. I learnt to setup my guitars, but I guess all of us think my problem is caused by the nut, and I don't know if I can fix it by myself, I'd say no.

Fixing nut problems can be a bit daunting only because once you take material off, you cant put it back on so if you screw up the nut you have to buy another one. However, its something anyone can do, you just need proper tools. An old trick I use is to take a slightly thinner string than the slot and wrap it in very fine sandpaper and run it thru the slot. Either that or use a nut slot file set. Look up tutorials and get proper tools before you do anything. You dont need heartattack priced StewMac stuff, just inexpensive but proper tools.

BTW, you will want to check your truss rod too since you are going to a larger string gauge. Bigger strings equal more tension, equals more pull on the neck, equals more relief. PRS has factory recommendations of .005-.010 relief at 8th fret. Click here to see PRS factory setup specs. You can adjust your axe to taste, but these are ideal starting points for a setup.
 

LilyLazer

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I found some interesting video about the work on the nut.
But make a nut slot wider is maybe a bit hard, because I have to cut away the side of the slot without go deeper.

I found some notion here: https://nashville.mi.edu/adjusting-the-nut-slots/ See the WIDENING THE NUT SLOTS paragraph.

Edit:
I found this, now: https://www.thefretboard.co.uk/disc...e-out-if-strings-are-binding-in-the-nut-slots It's about Stratocaster, but I think the issue could be the same, and a guy talks about Gibson and PRS, too.

«Stratocasters can be very frustrating...

1. Tune the string
2. Stretch the string by pulling it upwards away from the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge (at the 12th fret is the most convenient place to grab the string)
3. Especially if new, each time you stretch it, the string will come back a little flat. Less and less so until stretching no longer makes the string go flat.
4. Now you know your string is properly stretched.

5. Now bend the string behind the nut (in-between the nut and the tuners on the headstock) - like country players do.

If it comes black sharp - the string is binding at the nut - and you need a guitar tech...
»
 
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Draconomics

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I found some interesting video about the work on the nut.
But make a nut slot wider is maybe a bit hard, because I have to cut away the side of the slot without go deeper...

So long as you dont apply downward force on your nut slot file, then you wont go deeper. Try practicing on an old nut you might have lying around too, when I first learned how to file nut slots that what I did.

5. Now bend the string behind the nut (in-between the nut and the tuners on the headstock) - like country players do. If it comes black sharp - the string is binding at the nut - and you need a guitar tech...

Yup, that's nut binding in a nutshell. You dont necessarily need a tech at that point though,sometimes a little lube will help. There's actual nut lubricant you can buy, or you can use a graphite product be it powdered graphite for locks or the el cheapo technique of using pencil lead filings. That works great too.
 
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