Busted nut

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by madjazzbass, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. madjazzbass

    madjazzbass Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Damn!! I've somehow managed to bust/crack the nut ... on my Fender 70s Jazz Bass; Are nuts hard to repair/replace 20170808_002431.jpg 20170808_001819.jpg ? Can I handle replacing it on my own? or Do I have to take it to a luthier/repair shop? Has anyone repaired/ replaced the nut on their Bass? Is it easy or difficult? I'm not sure what this one is made of, but I'd like to replace it with a stronger one.
  2. One can buy a nearly-formed nut from most any guitar parts forum or seller's site.

    You only need do some minor adjusting to make it right.... so I say go for it. The old nut pops off easily with the right technique and gluing the new one on is simple enuff.

    I personally go out cutting firewood pretty soon now..... and I've been fortunate enough to find bones from bear, elk, etc and cut and form all my own bone parts. I don't like to bleach the bone as I think natural bone is prettier than pure white.

    In your situation... and if i was in a playful mood, I'd "zero-fret" that bass at this time.... but that's just me.

    Being a bass player should mean being a pretty good bass mechanic too. Intonation, wiring, truss rod adjustments, fret sprout trimming, neck shimming.... and more..... should be in your accomplishments dossier.
  3. Flippy


    Jun 9, 2017
    Personally, I'd just take it to a luthier. Partly because I don't have any tools needed to replace and file the nut, partly because I have a good and cheap luthier nearby :)

    While you're at it, you might want to try getting a fancy nut like GraphTech
    madjazzbass likes this.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    If you're going to try to remove it yourself, check if the finish runs right up onto the nut on the headstock side - if so, run a razor knife along that line to separate the nut from the finish, or when you pop the nut out, you may take a big chunk of the finish with it. Been there done that. :(
  5. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    You can get a pre-slotted replacement nut that's pretty much drop-in, the trick is filing the nut slots to the right depth. This can be done with ordinary jewelers needle files if you are careful and patient, but it's easy to screw it up. If you want to try it yourself, buy two and use one for practice. Hundreds of YouTube videos on the technique. I like the Tusq nuts, don't buy cheap plastic ones like what it came with!
    madjazzbass likes this.
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    To do it right with accuracy and ease will cost between seventy five and two hundred dollars in tools. There will also be an investment of several hours of research and practice in learning how to do it by practicing the methods on scrap.

    Makeshift tools will cost fifty dollars depending on what you already have. The investment in time and practice is assumed. Unless you are an experienced tool user there will be little ease, much slop in accuracy, and lots of sweat and invective.

    This is not a job for those who are not handy. If you have to look through kitchen drawers to collect your tools, consider filling the windshield wiper reservoir as automobile mechanic work, or think a sixteenth of an inch is pretty darn small, take this job to a pro.
    DevinWard369 and Gilmourisgod like this.
  7. madjazzbass

    madjazzbass Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Yeah, I usually do all of that other stuff myself, but I've never replaced a nut before, Thanks
  8. I just got "actual" nut files this year. Before that, I used needle files and other makeshifts. It's doable, if you genuinely want to try. If you're ordering online maybe get two or three nuts, they're cheap and it won't hurt to have an extra.

    I don't know on yours but some Fenders had a curved bottom nut slot and some were flat. Someone here probably knows which you have but, if you can have it down for a while, might want to pull the old one out and check so you order the right one.
    RSBBass likes this.
  9. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    If you have a flat bottomed nut and the string slots are the right size and hight relative to each other (as they should be from a good source like Tusq or Graphtec) you can sand down the bottom of the nut to get it to the right hight. This is much easier than slotting individual strings. Make sure you order a nut that matches your fingerboard radius.
  10. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I'm too cheap to buy nut files for something I only do once in a great while. I've used small drill bits wraped with sandpaper to deepen slots. It takes a while, but that's probably a good thing when you're doing it the first time.
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    I don't think it's "pretending" to value the extensive training many luthiers go through. And how is calling it "hogwash" not knocking luthiers?
    RSBBass and mdogs like this.
  12. Joshua

    Joshua WJWJr Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2000
    Good grief, people. Let's all regroup, remember that the pros who contribute in this forum do so for free, and not act like we're in OT. M'kay?

    Posts deleted to clean out what I can't decide was or was not a violation of TB's rule #1; respect.
    RSBBass likes this.
  13. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Google it, a video guide is great.
    I refinised the back of my neck with the help
    and it came out good.
  14. bunnykeeper


    May 28, 2011
    Not only the finish, but maybe a little chunk of the neck, too!

    If you're not the original owner of the bass, you may not know what work has been done on the bass. I once had considerable difficulty removing a nut, only to find out that the previous owner had super-glued it in place.
  15. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    In the interest of peace and goodwill, I deleted my post. I did not intend to denigrate the skill and professionalism of Luthiery, for which I have only the greatest respect and Admiration. @Turnaround, I've read and learned a lot from your posts over the years, and greatly appreciate your input. If I came off as as a cocky amateur, I apologize. The point I tried (and failed, apparently) to make is: It is well within the reach of the average person with a little mechanical aptitude and motivation to learn the basics of setup, including nut replacement, given sufficient practice and access to accurate information. That's true of any learned skill. If you don't have the time or desire to learn these skills, by all means pay a Pro. Setups may be the bread and butter of most Luthiers, but obviously their knowledge base includes vastly more than that. I wouldn't council anybody to attempt a fret job, for instance, without a whole lot of practice on beater basses beforehand. I managed to get away with it on my build by watching what I'd estimate as 30 videos, reading numerous articles, and getting a lot of invaluable advice here on TB. Add to that an excruciatingly slow and careful process most would consider a waste of time and energy, and you have my experience. I consider myself to be of only average intelligence and mechanical aptitude, if I can do these things, so can others.
    madjazzbass likes this.
  16. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    I'm glad that you found some of my posts useful. And I too apologize if I came down a bit heavy-handed. I understand what you are saying and I encourage anyone to try DIY on a whole range of maintenance and repair on their instruments. And I would hope that they would do it the way you do - carefully and with a good deal of study and preparation in advance.

    For my part, setups are something I do a lot. I've got a darn good reputation for it. But it's more of a pain in the butt than bread and butter. There's very little challenge in it for me, I've been doing it for so long. I would like to say "anyone can do it" but one thing I have leaned is that it's not true. But that doesn't mean anyone shouldn't try. But there's not a lot of understanding amongst many DIYers about what constitutes good nut let alone how to make one. IMO there are a good number of luthiers that don't get it right. So I tend to steer DIYers away from nut work. I probably shouldn't. Many, even without a lot of experience, could do better than what I see on the majority of factory-produced instruments.
    RSBBass and Gilmourisgod like this.
  17. I admire your withdrawal, and even though I somewhat eschew the title of "luthier" as a necessity to perform most maintenance on a stringed instrument.... and there are exceptions to that broad-brushed statement .... I feel that mostly anyone who owns a bass or other stringed instruments (and there are more exceptions to that too: eg: Strads and other top-end gear) ---- then they SHOULD know what makes it tick besides plugging in and hitting the strings.

    OK - that's crass of me too - but I tend to dislike that there has to be some expertise-upper-echelon of lutherie attainment before one is allowed to work upon their own instrument.

    That said - I don't go along with the idea that one purchase beater-bass victims as a test ground for a n00b to dismember before working on a keeper bass.

    If there's real money in it, then I think the owner/operator will take a serious consideration as to what they need to do and the best way to go about it.

    BUT - here's a caveat from me - I DO believe that one should build a bass from scratch as a proving ground for someone who wants to tune up or modify any other instrument.

    Only in that way - one would experience the pratfalls and pitfalls of building something that to a novice or uninitiated, appears to be inordinately complicated.

    The inside or 'guts' is not so technically complicated that an adroit person could therefor not work upon. Some varied skills - yes - but it ain't rocket surgery.

    There's just not much that can go wrong in a slab instrument if one has sufficient intellect to pour urine out of their own boot(s).... present company excluded, of course.

    My hats off to those who are true 'luthiers' as they have garnered a niche position in the world of instrument repair, design and building ability that to me, feels of an ancient master's avocation.

    IOW- Most luthiers are pretty cool - but I dislike snobbery under the guise of cult authority. .... and I too, learn a lot from the various luthiers who post here (for free) and they are doing a noble thing disclosing some of their skills.

    I am not a full-time builder or repairman or designer of instruments - yet I can and have built quite a few for myself and friends (read: customers) who wanted me to create for them something unique and to their own heart's desires in a guitar or bass.

    I would not chose to do this work as a vocation.... probably in the same vein that I would not want to be a cop, a neurosurgeon or an atomic bomb tester.

    Hopefully I have not incensed someone here tonight either.
    madjazzbass and Gilmourisgod like this.
  18. Uche_bass


    Jul 31, 2017
    What do you mean by that?
  19. From Wikipedia:
    A zero fret is a fret placed at the headstock end of the neck of a banjo, guitar, mandolin, or bass guitar. It serves one of the functions of a nut: holding the strings the correct distance above the other frets on the instrument's fretboard. A separate nut is still required to establish the correct string spacing when a zero fret is used.

    It is claimed that with a zero fret, the sound of an open string more closely approximates the sound of a fretted string as compared to the open string sound on a guitar with no zero fret. Countering this claim are musicians who feel that a bone or even synthetic nut will enhance the overall tone of the instrument regardless of the string being played open or fretted. Since tone is so subjective, the two claims are likely to continue perpetually.

    Some manufacturers that frequently use(d) a zero fret are Gretsch, Kay, Selmer, Höfner, Mosrite, Framus, Vox, Vigier and bass guitar manufacturer MTD. Now very few manufacturers use this design and those who do list it as a feature. Steinberger uses a zero fret with their headless guitars but omit the nut; strings are mounted in place where the head would normally be, so there is no need for the string guides that the nut provides.[1] 2015 model year Gibson guitars incorporate a zero fret in order to accommodate a brass adjustable nut, which the manufacturer claims causes better sustain and intonation.

    Besides that, I just like them since they simplify so many variables in intonation, but witness points as noted and using different string types and diameters.

    Taking the nut out of the equation makes sense for so many reasons. Here's one of my builds.....with a zero fret....


    And, yes, that's dual binding there... white/black.

    One thing I notice is that open strings do NOT sound like fretted strings and are obvious to only another bass player......and isn't it sad that bass players are so nervous about what other bassist think?

    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
    Uche_bass likes this.
  20. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Pretty easy to start an argument when asking "is task X difficult?", and it's a job most would relegate to the pros.

    I do nearly all of my own setup work, but two things I don't muck around with is fret leveling or filing nuts, especially a new unslotted nut.

    However, this thread reminds me that maybe it's time to get more serious about my toolkit & add the tools to do those jobs.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
    SurferJoe46 likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Aug 1, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.