In this TUSQ XL Nut review, I’ll tell you what makes this man-made ivory material unique and what it can do for your guitar. If you’re looking to improve the sound of your instrument, check out what I have to say about why this nut could be a good starting point!
If you are in a hurry, click HERE to go directly to the TUSQ XL Nut Configurations table.
You can use the table of contents below to take you to the area that interests you. Click on the little box to open it, and then click on the section of the article you want to read, or you can read from start to finish if you want the full Graph Tech TUSQ experience!
What Is The TUSQ XL Nut?
The TUSQ XL nut is a man-made ivory material that has been impregnated with Teflon-type material (PTFE). It is made from 100% organic polymers under heat and compression, designed to be very consistent throughout and to eliminate areas of soft spots and weakness.
This gives the nut the ability to transfer vibrational string energy to the neck that is acoustically consistent and harmonically rich, which improves the guitar’s tone and sustain.
TUSQ XL nuts come in a wide variety of pre-shaped and slotted sizes to fit almost every instrument. Nut blanks are also available for custom shaping and slotting.
TUSQ XL Nut – Cheat Sheet
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ☆ 9.6 Out Of 10
Price $15 to $22
The TUSQ XL nut replaces the nut that came pre-installed on your guitar.
Nuts are pre-slotted and available in shapes and sizes to fit almost any neck.
Nut blanks are also available for custom installations.
If you want to go directly to the nut configuration specs then click here.
✅ Keeps Strings In Tune
✅ Improves Tone
✅ Brings Out Hidden Harmonics
❌ Not As Good As A Double-Locking Tremolo System
❌ Material Can Darken
❌ Tonal Difference Can Be Hard To Hear If Guitar Already Sounds Good
9.8 Out Of 10
9.0 Out Of 10
9.5 Out Of 10
10 Out Of 10
Graph Tech Company Profile
Graph Tech is a Canadian company formed in the early 1980s by Dave Dunwoodie, president.
They are known for their TUSQ, TUSQ XL, and Black TUSQ XL man-made ivory guitar nuts. Graph Tech also makes saddle & bridge pins, string-saver saddles, the ResoMax Harmonic Bridge System, and Ghost Modular Pickup Systems.
Their products are made in the USA, Japan, and Mexico. All their products come with their 45-day “Love it or Return it” guarantee, even if it’s been sanded, etc.
Over the years, Graph Tech has partnered with over 180 guitar manufacturers to install their products. They have made products for Gibson, Schecter, Tom Anderson, Martin, Taylor, Larrivee, Godin, Den, and Tacoma.
Who Is The TUSQ XL Nut For?
TUSQ XL nuts are for players that want better tone with enhanced tuning stability. They contain Teflon (PTFE), which gives them the properties of a man-man ivory nut plus prevents the strings from binding inside the nut slots.
This enhances tuning stability, especially for players with tremolo systems on their guitars.
TUSQ XL Nut – Slotted Configurations
Here are the slotted nuts currently available. TUSQ also makes XL blanks (unslotted) for Fender-style necks (PQL-2200-00) and Gibson-style necks (PQL-4000-00).
See the explanation of abbreviations at the bottom of the chart.
|L x W x H ( E-E)
|1.61″ x 0.18″ x 0.31″ (1.33″)
|1.62″ x 0.128″ x 0.225″ (1.370″)
|Gibson Zero Fret
|1.638″ x 0.240″ x 0.215″ (1.394″)
|1.656″ x 0.236″ x 0.303″ (1.349″)
|All Fender 6-String
|1.687″ x .128″ x .198″ (1.363″)
|All Fender Lefty 6-String
|1.687″ x .128″ x .198″ (1.363″)
|Ibanez & PRS
|1.691″ x 0.235″ x 0.313″ (1.387)
|1.693″ x 0.236″ x 0.350″ (1.378″)
|Fender 1950’s/60’s/70’s vintage & reissue
|1.700″ x 0.130″ x 0.213″. (1.390″)
|Gibson made before 2014
|1.714″ x 0.185″ x 0.369″ (1.412″)
|Gibson made before 2014 (aged)
|1.714″ x 0.185″ x 0.369″ (1.412″)
|6-string electrics with 15′ radius
|1.715″ x 0.202″ x 0.336″ (1.386″)
|Gibson made after 2014
|1.725′ x 0.185″ x 0.405″ (1.408″)
|Epiphone made 2014 and after
|1.727″ x 0.241″ x 0.377″ (1.362″)
|Epiphone Lefty made 2014 and after
|1.727″ x 0.241″ x 0.377″ (1.362″)
|Epiphone guitars with 15″ radius
|1.730″ x 0.243″ x 0.357″ (1.344″)
|Epiphone guitars with 15″ radius (aged)
|1.730″ x 0.243″ x 0.357″ (1.344″)
|Epiphone Lefty before 2014 with 15″ radius (aged)
|1.730″ x 0.244″ x 0.353″ (1.343″)
|1.756″ x 0.194″ x 0.319″ (1.467″)
|1.764″ x 0.129″ x 0.255″ (1.361″)
Curved Nuts With A Middle Tab – Consider This:
These nuts are designed to accommodate a fret slot with a flat radius or a curved one.
To use it as a curved nut, you need to sand or file off the center “tab” so that it’s flush with the remainder of the bottom of the nut.
My personal preference is not to use it for flat guitar slots (with the tab still on). If you don’t remove the tab, you will have large areas on both sides of the nut that do not sit flat against the neck of the guitar. This could affect sustain, harmonics, and tone of the instrument.
Instead, you can use a TUSQ XL PQL-2200-00 blank and have it shaped and slotted to fit your guitar.
Take your guitar to a luthier if you are not experienced with making guitar nuts.
What Are TUSQ XL String Trees?
TUSQ XL string trees are replacements for the string tress installed on your guitar. They are made from the same material as the TUSQ XL nuts.
They are self-lubricating to significantly reduce the friction of your high E and B strings as they slide under the string trees when you bend a string or use the whammy bar.
These string trees work in tandem with TUSQ XL nut or may be used with the nut that came pre-installed with your guitar.
They are sold as a set of two long and one short string tree with chrome mounting screws to accommodate any headstock configuration.
If you have staggered locking tuners on your guitar, you do not need string trees.
TUSQ XL Nut Versus Bone And Ivory Nuts
The TUSQ XL nut is a “man-made ivory” self-lubricating material specially designed for optimal acoustic performance, while bone and ivory are natural materials from animals. TUSQ XL has a cleaner and brighter tone than the warmer tones you typically hear from bone and ivory.
If you drop each of these types of nuts on a hard surface, you can hear the difference. The TUSQ XL nut has more of a clear “bell-like” sound than bone and ivory. This can translate to more sustain and a sharper/clearer tone on a guitar.
TUSQ XL is a very uniform material, while bone and ivory can be grainy with soft spots that make them more difficult to work with while shaping and slotting the nut. Non-uniform materials can also adversely affect guitar performance.
Features And Benefits
Check Out These Great TUSQ XL Nut Features.
Consistent Quality Control
The TUSQ XL nuts are man-made to exacting specifications to give you a consistent and great-sounding tone. Natural materials, like bone and ivory, can give you unexpected results.
No Grainy Or Soft Spots
A grainy guitar nut can give you tone and sustain that varies from string to string. If you slot a nut and hit a soft spot, it will wear faster over time, especially if you have an aggressive tremolo style.
Material Can Be Filed, Sanded, And Polished
TUSQ XL is very easy to work with. It can be filed or sanded and then polished to a beautiful finish to give you a factory-installed look.
Flake And Chip Resistent
The nut material is flake and chip resistant during installation and everyday use. It is hard enough to give you great sound but has enough “give” to very well over time.
Environmentally Friendly Material
TUSQ XL nuts are 100% organic and environmentally friendly, which means you can rock responsibly!
What I Like About TUSQ XL
Here are the things you might consider about TUSQ XL when deciding on a guitar nut for a new neck build, replacement, or repair.
Keeps Strings In Tune
TUSQ XL is impregnated with Teflon (PTFE) to keep your strings from binding in the slots and putting your guitar out of tune, especially if you like using your whammy bar! This is the major difference between TUSQ and TUSQ XL.
For more info, see How To Keep An Electric Guitar In Tune.
Improves Guitar Tone
Your guitar nut and bridge are both critical determinants of the overall tone of any string instrument. They transfer each string’s vibrational energy to the neck and body. It’s a difference you can hear, both acoustically and electrically.
Even an expensive guitar can have a poor tone if the nut is not designed or installed correctly. TUSQ XL nuts help bring out the natural tone of your guitar’s wood.
Brings Out The Hidden Harmonics Of Your Notes
If your guitar is missing that “certain something,” it just might be harmonics. Harmonics can give a guitar its characteristic sound and “sparkle.” Any slight variation in materials or assembly can enhance or dampen harmonics.
TUSQ XL was designed with this concept in mind, and it’s a difference you can hear.
What’s You Might Not Like About TUSQ XL Nuts
There are some things that I would like to point out about this product.
Does Not Work As Well As A Double-Locking Tremolo
Nothing will keep a guitar with a whammy bar in tune as well as a double-locking tremolo, not even self-lubricating nuts! With “regular” whammy bar use, a TUSQ XL nut will give your guitar good tuning stability.
If you love doing divebombs and other whammy bar tricks, consider going for a complete double-locking installation or trade the guitar in for something really made to rock.
Even if the strings don’t get bound up in the nut slots, they can slip on the tuning machine post if they are loosened too much with the whammy bar.
The other option that works really well is using a TUSQ XL nut in combination with locking string tuners. I have used graphite nuts with Sperzel and Fender locking tuners with excellent results.
Material Can Darken
TUSQ XL can darken over time. Although some players will appreciate the vintage look, it’s something you should be aware of. If you don’t like the look, you can always replace the nut with a fresh one.
Tonal Difference Can Be Hard To Hear
The improvement in tone and sustain can be difficult to appreciate when you first pick up the guitar, especially with fretted notes or if your guitar sounded good before the nut change. The easiest way to evaluate this is by listening carefully to notes played on the open strings.
Modify Only When Necessary!
If your guitar already sounds great the way you bought it, leave it alone. You might not like the sound as much as you begin changing things unnecessarily.
This seems like common sense, but I have seen players get themselves in this predicament several times, especially with making irreversible modifications to their guitars.
If you have a vintage guitar, changing the nut or anything else could permanently lower its value, even if you keep the original parts.
Are You Qualified To Make Guitar Adjustments Or Modifications?
It’s great to work on your guitars, especially if you have a lot of them, but you should always be aware of your limitations.
Adjusting things like an electric guitar’s string height (action) or pickup height can be straightforward. Still, some adjustments require the proper training and experience, like adjusting a guitar’s truss rod.
When you doubt your ability to adjust, repair, or modify your guitar, it’s always best to bring it to a competent guitar technician or luthier (guitar designer & builder). You can permanently damage your guitar, and it might never play and sound right again!
Making modifications to your guitar can void its manufacturer’s warranty and cause permanent damage to the instrument. Certain modifications are irreversible, so you may be stuck with them, even if you desperately want to restore the guitar to its original condition!
I learned that the hard way over the years until I did a three-year apprenticeship in a guitar repair shop. Now I have my own home workshop with the proper training and equipment to safely maintain and repair all my instruments.
Remember: “When In Doubt, Send It Out!”
Is The TUSQ XL Nut Legit?
Absolutely! This nut can be an excellent solution for whammy bar guitars that won’t stay in tune. Additionally, if you don’t use your bar or have a fixed-bridge guitar, you can still benefit from improving your instrument’s tone and sustain.
Whammy bar users with a TUSQ nut should seriously consider upgrading it with a TUSQ XL (self-lubricating) replacement.
Graph Tech has an excellent reputation, and I have used their products for years. The chances are good that your guitar already has a Graph Tech product pre-installed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions I get asked about TUSQ products and guitar nuts in general.
What Is The Difference Between TUSQ And TUSQ XL?
The most significant difference is that TUSQ XL nuts are impregnated with Teflon (PTFE) to make them self-lubricating, while TUSQ nuts are not. This gives you better tuning stability, especially if you bend strings or use a whammy bar.
Is TUSQ Better Than Bone?
TUSQ products are man-made to give you a tone that is generally considered to be cleaner and brighter when compared to bone, which can be fuller and warmer
What Are TUSQ Nuts Made Out Of?
TUSQ is made from 100% organic and environmentally friendly polymers. It does not contain animal by-products.
Should The Guitar Nut Be Glued?
Yes, the guitar nut should always be glued into the neck slot. Gluing the nut keeps it from moving from side to side and can provide better acoustic coupling between the nut and the neck. It is typically installed using white wood glue and clamped until dry.
How Do You Remove A guitar Nut Without Breaking It?
Tap the nut lightly on the fretboard side with a smooth wooden block and a small hammer until it loosens. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could damage the guitar.
What Is A Zero Fret Nut?
A zero fret is a fret that is placed between the headstock and neck of a guitar in the position where the nut would usually be. It replaces a traditional guitar nut. Some makers and players believe it gives the guitar better intonation and playability.
What Is The Difference between TUSQ XL And Black TUSQ XL Nuts?
The only real difference is in color. Both types of nuts contain the same materials and have the same benefits.
The TUSQ XL nut is an excellent product to consider if you are having problems with tuning stability or would like to improve your guitar’s tonal characteristics.
It is especially helpful for players that bend strings or use the whammy bar aggressively.
Although the nut is not as effective as a double-locking tremolo system, it can provide most players with an excellent solution if the nut is used with locking tuners.
TUSQ XL nuts are available pre-slotted to fit almost every make and model guitar and as blanks for installers that need to custom shape and slot a nut from scratch.
Their design and material consistency are generally superior to bone and ivory nuts.
Self-lubricating nuts have been shown to decrease string breakage, especially when used with a floating vibrato bridge guitar. For more info see Replacing Guitar Strings If One Breaks – Replace Them All?
If you are happy with the sound and performance of your guitar, then I would not recommend changing your nut. It’s hard to predict how changing it will affect its overall sound.
Tell Me What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this TUSQ XL Nut review, have any questions about this product, or want to leave your own review. I will be happy to help you.
- Have you used Graph Tech products in the past? What do you think of them?
- How do you keep your guitar from going out of tune when you use the whammy bar?
- Do you have any Graph Tech products on your guitar? What are they?
- After reading this article, are you thinking of installing a TUSQ XL nut on your guitar?