I recently bought a Fender stratocaster MiM and was struggling with (fine) tuning it. I also own a PRS SE Custom 24. I was exploring upgrading the guitar and posted a query earlier here.

I am an engineer and product designer by profession and while that gives me some understanding of the mechanics of a guitar, I cannot claim any expertise so feel free to trash my views. To begin with, I had some hypotheses about what might be the issues with an entry level guitar such as Fender Strat MiM -- namely economies of scale may affect quality of materials, error rates, tolerances etc.

So, I decided to explore how I might extract more value from my guitar through various means. At first I considered replacing the pick ups, tuning keys and bridge --which would cost considerably (nearly the cost of the instrument). Then, after talking to some experienced forum members here, I decided to go for a set up by a top notch luthier.

On taking possession of the guitar after the set up, I did not find any significant improvement -- either in the tuning stability or in the intonation. I came to realise that the guitar was actually quite well set up from the factory and my anxiety (and the fact that I was aware I did not buy an American Strat) had a placebo effect on my perception of the MiM strat. The intonation, action, and tuning was good enough as set up in the factory.

My advise to anyone buying a budget instrument would be that they are generally speaking great value for money (at least I can say that about strats), unless they are lemons. So, here's a tip -- try the guitar out well in the shop, have it set up if required and you will be good to go.

Oh also, having tried out graphite and reflected a bit on the physics of it, I can hazard a guess that it is a waste of time as well. For the amount of pressure generated on the nut and bridge, graphite powder would make a very marginal difference. Having tried it out on my takamine and PRS, I am convinced that they offer very little for all the effort.

The reason I am posting this here is that anxiety can make us seek miracle cures. There is no other option but to buy a premium guitar than wasting time trying to mod a budget guitar. Some forum members may be angered by my post but I mean no disrespect.
Last edited by kbspam at Aug 26, 2014,
Glad your happy now with what ever reasons.

The Graphite trick is used when the nut slot is almost too small for the strings to fit in. Then you'd notice a bigger impact
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