Diagnosed nut problem, now what?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ryanfenderbass, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. Hi all. I just took some time this morning to diagnose the "rattling open A string" issue that's been plaguing my MIJ Classic 70s P bass since the day I got it. (I didn't return the bass because I figured it was just the crappy stock strings and bridge, unfortunately, by the time I replaced those items, the return window had closed--I also enjoyed playing it too much to care!). Now that I've sold off my other bass, this bass is my main player until I decide what my next investment will be. I love this bass, and it's next to perfect except for this stupid A string rattle. The rattles occurs no matter the gauge or tension of the stings. I've used .080 Rotos and Chromes, and now I'm using TIs (.070). All A strings rattled, but no surprise that the TI A string rattles the worst.

    I believe the A nut slot is too wide: the bass has been professionally setup (overlooking the open A rattle), there is plenty of relief in the neck, the saddle action it not too low (I can max out the height and the open A still rattles!). Unless there is 1 bad fret in which just the part of the fret under the A string is too high (unlikely, right?), I'm going to rest my case by saying the nut needs service.

    I made a paper shim out of post-it note which cured 95% of the rattle (only slight rattle it I really pluck hard), so that should settle it, right?

    Now what? Do I get a new nut? What kind should I get if I want an upgrade? I'm assuming I need a luthier to install it?


    edit: updated picture (problem is not string break!) :D

    Attached Files:

  2. I hate it when my nuts give me problems...:rolleyes:

    But I would take it to a respected tech/ luthier and have them take a look at it. Sounds like a new nut will fix it. Most of them can cut you up a new one and install it without breaking a sweat.
  3. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    You need a nut job....

    I love my TUSQ nut, I'd highly recommend it. To each their own though.
  4. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    First off: best thread title EVER!

    I'd definitely second taking it to a luthier to have new nut cut, but....

    If you want the 'on the cheap' option, I've fixed this by placing a small piece of paper underneath the string, cutting it as close to the shape of the nut slot as possible, being careful that it doesn't fall off when tuning the string back up. Seemed to do the trick every time. At least a good temporary fix before the luthier route.
  5. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    Judging from the pic, it looks like the break angle is too shallow. You may need a string tree for the A string.
  6. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Why would it be the bridge? :confused:

    Have you tried pushing down on the string between the nut and tuner to "set" the witness point?
  7. JLS

    JLS Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    That's my take, as well.
  8. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yeah, but you shouldn't need to alter the bass with a tree; loosen the A a little, and push the string wraps all the way down til they bottom out on the post.

    next time, use more wraps on the A string so that it does bottom out on the post.
  9. I knew I would get these responses based on my pic. It's not the string break angle. When I loosened the string to get the shim in place, the wraps slid upwards. The break-angle is usually fine, and I fixed it since the pic was taken (no change in problem). Also, there are 4 wraps around the post--should be fine anyway.

    To lay this notion to rest, even if I press down on the string behind the nut (forcefully), this not not stop the rattle. For clarification it is a rattle that happens at or past the nut, not a buzz that occurs at the headstock.

    Sorry for the misleading picture and I appreciate your vigilance! :ninja:

    So... new nut, huh? Any idea what it will run me? What makes Tusq so special? Should I buy pre-cut or have my luthier cut it? Lastly--what's the deal with brass nuts? (the innuendo gets better and better) :cool:
  10. You could putting in a little super glue. I've used the gel kind and it did the trick. Take the string out of the slot, use a toothpick or something to dab a little super glue in the slot, let it dry, then put the string back in.
  11. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    hmm; could it be something mechanical, like a loose part on a tuner?

    firmly pressing on the string behind the A does indeed eliminate the typical break angle issue; it might also eliminate the nut entirely (even a wide slot would likely not allow a string to bounce around if you're pressing right behind it).

  12. +1 epoxy might be better though...
  13. Not the tuners (had this issue with both stock and upgraded hipshot machines), or anything loose. Again, it's not a buzz or sympathetic vibration. The string is somehow being allowed to oscillate enough to literally rattle on the fingerboard--only when plucked open (i.e. 0 rattle on 1st or any other fret). That's what leads to me believe it' the nut, but I'm still open to advise and suggestions. Thanks!
  14. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
  15. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful for the free help (seriously, thanks!) but please read post #9.

    I'm taking a new picture now to try to ward off these suggestions (my fault, not yours). :meh:
  16. A new nut did not solve this same problem with my 1974 frettless P. I ended up putting another string tree on it and it is still there today 38 years later........ fixed the problem though and mine did EXACTLY what yours did.
  17. paparoof


    Apr 27, 2011
    fEARful koolaid drinker
    From my reading here, I'm under the impression this is actually a pretty common problem with the Fender inline 4 head stock. Is that not true?
  18. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    let's be clear here; you hold the A string down behind the nut and pluck it open and it still rattles?
  19. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    If you have settled on the TI strings, have a new nut cut for those gauges. It will solve your A string problem, eliminate any string binding in the slots and give you better action in the lower register. Bone and Tusq are fine materials neither of which are magical in any sense but certainly better and more durable than plastic. A decent tech will charge around $50 and the better ones can charge upwards of $100. The expense of doing it right is well worth it considering the number of problems it solves IMO.
  20. Yessir, very much so. Every string brand I've tried, no matter how straight the neck is, no matter how I set the action, and only the A string (to sum it all up).

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