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A different nut material

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Hambone, Sep 23, 2000.

  1. In an effort to keep some lively discussion up around here I want yall's views of something I'll be using on the CAD/CAM bass.

    I have at my disposal an almost obscene amount of aluminum that I intend to use for some parts of the new project. One area that will definitely get aluminum is the nut. The alloy that I have a lot of is an aircraft grade, very hard mixture call 6061 with a T6 hardness. Aluminum in this grade has the characteristic being very hard compared to say, pie pan alloy, but maintains the maleability required to be easy working. As a nut material, I think that it is perfectly suitable and will combine many advantages of the "harder to work" materials: Easy to carve, shape, and polish, high density, excellent resistance to abrasion by the strings, non-magnetic, nearly the same color as all of the other hardware, and CHEEP!!

  2. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Why not? The aluminum Hipshot bridge seems to get rave reviews.
    It seems like Hartke would have tried this...
    ...If you say bass and aluminum in the same sentence, I think of Hartke. I hope it works out.
  3. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    I have read that an Aluminum bridge gives more snap to the sound, but less warm lows. I dont know if these would apply to a NUT.
    But lets think of something...
    Can you make it Adjustable???
    I happen to love Warwick Nut's , you can adjust it in any way.
  4. I bet I could make it adjustable. I just saw one of those nuts - I think it was you, ifabara, that mentioned them in the "Basses" section a few months ago. I found it in my older Stewart MacDonald catalog. It is a fairly simple concept. The only thing I'll have to investigate is just how tall the nut would have to be, or how deep it would have to settle in the neck to make it effective for adjustment.
  5. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    Hey Hambone! Funny that you should bring this topic up. Several years ago the nut on my Riverhead bass split. A machinist friend of mine suggested that I replace it with one fabricated from metal, instead of nylon or bone. The frets are metal, why not the nut?? After some consideration, I went for it. Having access to a machine shop, he was able to provide me with one made from stainless steel. Still using it to this day!

    Now, the real question. How did it affect the tone? Not as much as I hoped. It was noticable, but only to my ears, since I play the thing everyday.

    Good Luck!!:)
  6. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Here's a suggestion. On my Staccato bass, nut is actually 4 individual brass screws (they could be aluminum), with the heads slotted for string shape/size. These are bolted into counter-sunk brass studs. This way, each string can be adjusted individually, and there is no interaction between the strings at the nut end. If you were to use one of the bridges that implements a similar concept on the bridge side (each string completely separate), it would probably make for excellent clarity.
  7. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Banned

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66
    Aluminum nuts were used on Danelectros back in the '50s/'60s. The "new" Danelectro still uses them (my '99 Dano DC has an aluminum nut). I don't know if it's T6 or not, but it works fine, and the originals from the '50s seem to have worn OK. BTW, it's held on by a small screw through the nut into the fingerboard.
  8. Brooks, your idea is intriguing! The only problem left to be solved in using this at the bridge end is how to maintain the movement needed to adjust intonation. A Kahler bridge does this somewhat, but still has a common frame for the string saddles to mount to.

    ONYX that stainless steel nut you've had made is extremely cool! Some have said that I have a stainless fetish but I really tend to go for legs and feet :eek: You would only have to polish it once and the density would be tremendous.

    I'm sure that eventually I'll turn my attentions to making a bridge from aluminum.

    [Edited by Hambone on 09-26-2000 at 11:44 PM]
  9. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Hambone, I have seen several different bass guitars where each string has it's own, separate bridge. Most recently, it was on a high-end Ibanez. Drop me an email, and I'll send you a pic.
  10. mcdmon


    Apr 22, 2009
    Gainesville area
    Yeah, I know, zombie thread.
    Anyone have any experience they can share about a stainless nut (wait, what?)? Really, just curious, and keep the puns funny.
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Just keep in mind that the nut material (in fact the nut itself) is only in play on open strings. Once you fret a note the nut no longer has any significance - assuming a properly set up nut - of any material)
  12. mcdmon


    Apr 22, 2009
    Gainesville area
    Well aware. I guess I should have been more clear. Do the open strings sound more "inline" with the fretted notes (assuming stainless frets) and how do the strings/nut hold up (from tuning)? I just haven't seen any so I assume their is a good reason they are not popular, but what is it?
  13. Droot


    Dec 29, 2006
    The Peavey T-40 came stock with an aluminum nut so it can't be an all bad idea.
  14. Hi.

    Holy thread resurrection mcdmon :D.

    I know that one should never answer a question with a question, but have You worked with stainless steel?

    I'd guess not.

    As for the aluminium, certain alloys are suitable for cutting a nut from. Unfortunately the aluminium that belongs to the categories: free, and easily obtainable, is one of the lousiest nut materials.

  15. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Metal (steel, aluminum, brass, unobtainium) nuts tend to make the open string sound like a fretted note.

    They hold up at least as well as any other commonly used material.

    They are not popular for a number of reasons. These include difficulty in machining, speed of fabrication, and expense.
  16. mcdmon


    Apr 22, 2009
    Gainesville area
    Thats what I figured. I have access to a friend's machine shop and lots of vacation time coming up...I think I might give one a shot (just because).
  17. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    the main issue is that aluminum is kinda "grabby", making for poor tuning stability.
  18. Hi.

    Only true with the "pure" alloys.

    Any construction alloy (AlSiMg) for IC engines for example are as good as any other metal.

  19. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009

    well, whatever danelectro used back in the day was about the worst nut material you could ask for.
  20. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    I'd say go mad-scientist and experiment beyond basically making an aluminum nut:

    - try new slot profiles -- frets are crowned, bridge saddles are rounded, but nut's edge is sharp...allowing for intonation, maybe experiment with a rounded break point

    - when brooks mentioned individual screws, I had this thought about 4 wolverine blade looking things projecting from the end of the fretboard, terminating on the headstock, or splayed fingers...anything...since they could taper down towards the headstock, the high point would be at the fretboard end and could be notched however necessary for proper string placement/intonation...

    - how about a nut that is integrated into a "veneer" of aluminum that covers the headstock...

    - how about a nut that looks like it has a band around the back of the neck...like the nut is the id tag part of an id bracelet...

    You've got the materials, now INVENT, MAN! :)

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