Should I buy a new nut for my fretless neck?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Bassnomer, Jan 15, 2014.


  1. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Hello to everyone reading this, I hope you're well.

    Last week I ordered a Mighty Mite fretless P bass neck for my Squier VM Jazz. I installed it, shimmed it, and adjusted the relief. The string height at the nut was a bit high so I filed the slots with a small rat tail file. Over the last week I've been bringing it lower and lower to make it easy to play. Last night I was doing some more filing and suddenly I found some bad dead spots on the first 5 notes of the A string and a bit of buzzing at the nut. I believe I might have filed it too wide which caused the buzzing but could that also cause dead spots? I'm planning on picking up a new precut nut and starting again; sanding from the bottom instead. Opinions?

    Also, is there a way to get some "mwah" on the open notes? I've heard this tossed around a bit. I would prefer to have the strings as low as possible at the nut. What are my options?


    Thanks!
  2. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    My favorite is a black TUSQ nut. They are teflon or something lubed and keep tuning from being so "sticky". Also they are wodnerfully pre-cut so that means you really only adjust them by sanding sides and bottom to fit. If you do happen to sand too much you can always put a thin shim under it to save it.

    As for Mwah. This has to do with the angle the string hits the fingerboard. The lower the angle the more the mwah. BUT if you get too low and the neck is not PERFECTLY level (none ever are) a higher spot down the neck will start to hit and buzz and in extreme cases stop the notes from playing altogether.

    So here comes the "art" of setup. You need to adjust the truss rod to put ever so slight a relief so strings clear the high spots and then adjust your saddles to give you as low an angle as you can get away with. Just play with some of these adjustments and you'll see what I'm talking about.

    To get mwah on open strings they'd have to be laying right on the fingerboard and I never thought that was a good idea. If you want strings as low as possible at the nut then sand the bottom down as far as you can get away with. As I said if you go to far you can alway glue a shim in there to raise it back up a tad. The problem with nut sanding and filing is it's not reversible except by buying a new one.
  3. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Hey, thanks for the response. I'll look into one of those nuts and see what they're about. I think I'll just buy a new nut and file from the bottom so it's more uniform. Thanks for the info on the neck and saddles, I'll keep it in mind when I resetup my bass!
  4. antonspon

    antonspon

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    My MusicMan fretless came set up with the nut slots cut level with the surface of the fingerboard - wonderful mwah, including open strings. The neck is set nearly dead straight and the action is very low (the way I like it)...plays like butter!
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  6. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Do your strings actually touch the fingerboard at the nut?
  7. Precision101

    Precision101

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2013
    I've done this once. I used baking soda and super glue. Worked like a charm.
  8. antonspon

    antonspon

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013

    Yes, they do...just. I don't know whether it was set up at the factory or the shop, but they clearly filed the nut slots down after installation: there are grooves in the fingerboard behind the nut. Tuning and intonation are perfect so far (I've had it since 2006, still fine...I'm using D'Addario flats on it, so that probably also reduces wear).
  9. Precision101

    Precision101

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2013

    I have grooves in my neck too.
  10. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Okay, interesting. If I were to try to replicate that set up at the nut, how far would I bring down the slots? Are they still above the board? Thanks
  11. Fretweld6

    Fretweld6

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    On my 6 string fretless i set my B @ E strings at 0.015 inch using a feeler gauge between the finger board and the string right @ the nut. My A and D strings are at 0.012 and 0.010 inch for the G and C strings. The action is nice and super smooth and still makes sure to give me a true open string.
  12. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    After a long while of sanding, I have all the strings about the thickness of an index card off the board right at the nut. Not really any 'mwah' on the open notes, but it's very easy to play, so I'll leave it for a while and see how I like it. I'm still getting some dead notes in the first position on the A string and some slight ones around the 9th "fret" on a couple strings. Before I took down the first nut, I didn't have any except around the C# on the G, which I can handle. Am I missing a part of the equation here?

    If I bring the nut way down, is there a certain way I should adjust the truss rod? I current have a fair amount of room under the string at the 7th - 9th when the string is held at the first and last notes on the neck.
  13. Fretweld6

    Fretweld6

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    The Muah sound you're looking for is more a product of pizzicato close to or even over the neck and is caused by the direction of the vibration pattern of your strings being towards the fingerboard as opposed to at 90 degrees from it. Your bridge action also needs to be low enough and,if your fingerboard is not set flat and has high spots needing to be sanded out using the proper radius block,you'll need to adress those soon as you Will notice! :)
  14. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Thanks for the responses. I get what you're saying about the "mwah". I think I can get the perfect amount by adjusting the action at the bridge.

    *An update. I keep trying different things (truss rod, saddles, neck shim, clamps on the head stock) and I can't get all these dead spots to go away. The majority of the A string up until the 7th "fret" is lacking in sustain. The other strings are affected in this area, though not as severely.(The open strings are all fine)

    I don't understand why I never had this problem until I started sanding my nuts. (Haha) I assume that the nut has no effect on the dead spots since they're all fingered notes, but that's the only thing that I adjusted before they showed up. :help:
  15. Fretweld6

    Fretweld6

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Things show up when you're fine tuning the action lower at both ends and i suspect your next step may be to find uneven spot on the fingerboard and have them sanded out the proper way!?!
  16. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    That's a thought that keeps popping into my head (an unpleasant one). I'm determined to try everything I can to find out what the problem is and if I can fix it myself.
  17. Fretweld6

    Fretweld6

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    If you know what radius the fingerboard is and buy the proper matching radius sanding block,check on YouTube for Dave World of Fun Stuff and find his videos of a fretless conversion......one of the 3-4 videos on that include how he sands the fingerboard to a near glass finish!
  18. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    any problems with any "fretted" notes are not because of the nut.
  19. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    I'm a huge fan of Dave! I suppose I could do that with the help of a video.
  20. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Walter, do you think that sounds like a problem with the evenness if the fingerboard?
  21. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    could be, if you've got any humps in the wood there would be that annoying buzz on notes played behind the offending area.

    again, nothing to do with the nut once you play anything other than an open string.

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