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Do I need a new nut on my fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by fourstringbliss, Sep 28, 2010.


  1. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I bought my first fretless and I think I might need to get the nut replaced. The nut itself is in good shape but the slots are cut so deep that the strings rest on the fretboard in front of the nut. In fact, the slots continue into the fretboard on the tuner side of the nut. I've read that the nut slots on a fretless should be really low, but still have the strings above the fretboard.

    The only real problem I'm experiencing with this is that I get a clanking noise when I fret at the 12th fret. Because the nut slots are cut so that the strings lie on the fretboard when I fret at the 12th fret half of the string is hitting flat along half the length of the fretboard.

    Do I need a new nut? Is there an advantage to having fretless nut slots cut this way?

    Thanks!
     
  2. ggunn

    ggunn

    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Whatever is happening in the speaking part of the string when you play up the neck has nothing to do with the nut.
     
  3. GM60466

    GM60466

    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    Its not the nut
     
  4. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    It's just that I get that clanking noise when I fret the string. This doesn't happen on my fretted because both ends of the string are raised above the frets. I figured it's happening here because a long area of string is hitting the fretboard at the same time, rather than a small area of string.
     
  5. THand

    THand

    Jun 9, 2008
    I would first try adding whiskers of relief to the neck to see if that would stop the clanking. If you have to add too much(AKA more than you want) then I would first try to put a little shim under the nut. If that wasn't satisfactory, then I would cut a new nut. In theory, if it tunes and plays and intonates correctly your nut is ok. There could be a high spot on your neck causing your problem, too. So you may need to level the board instead of getting a new nut. I think about the nut like this: make an F on the E string...the string is touching the board, correct? So there should be no real problem if it touches for an open note. All that said, mine is about .003-.005" above the board, personally.
     
  6. spufman

    spufman

    Feb 7, 2005
    Central CT
    THand is right on with his advice. For me, the neck adjustment is hyper-critical on my fretless since I want it really low with controllable buzz, but fully playable. My nut is ever so slightly above the board and yeah, the grooves are cut into the board at the back side of the nut (from the factory) to accomodate this height. Took me a few tries before I found a fretless with the neck stability I needed. Worth the hunt.
     
  7. ggunn

    ggunn

    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I understand, but the nut height (nut slot depth) is only a factor with open strings. If your problem is happening when you play up the neck, it's not the nut. Your problem is likely the bridge saddle height and/or the truss rod.
     
  8. Bloodhammer

    Bloodhammer Twinkle Twinkle Black Star

    Jul 7, 2009
    Shreveport, Louisiana
    The trussrod probably needs a slight tightening. I had the same clacking on a fretted bass and the problem was that the neck was bowed backward just enough to wreak havoc, but wasn't noticeable by just looking at it.
     
  9. Sorta-kinda. Sure, the 'speaking length' is out of the picture, but the length between the fretting hand and headstock is what's clanking, amirite? It's possible, but unlikely, that enough of the 'clank' will make it into your pickups to be heard. Can you tell? If so, as said a little relief will go a long way, and/or a shim under the nut. My fretless has maybe half a millimeter of clearance at the nut. But I've had others that had none (like yours) and it wasn't an issue. So I'd try a little relief first.
     
  10. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I'll try adjusting the truss rod, but I'll probably just have to get it setup professionally. I've tried adjusting it and the clack is still there. I am almost finished modding the snot out of it and it has a new bridge - maybe that'll do it.
     
  11. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Yup. It's clanking at the 12th fret, but not before or after. It's not noticeable through the amplifier but it's annoying and I want it gone. I think it would be better if there was a bit of space between the strings at the nut and the fretboard.
     
  12. Really shouldn't be needed. Relief will fix this. Easy to try, right?
     
  13. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Yup.
     
  14. Bloodhammer

    Bloodhammer Twinkle Twinkle Black Star

    Jul 7, 2009
    Shreveport, Louisiana
    That may be best if you're unsure.

    BTW @ THand; sorry to be stupid/naive, but what are whiskers of relief? a wire brush? :confused:
     
  15. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I could put a little more relief in the neck and see how that works. I don't want to put too much more in there because I want to have the strings nice and low.
     
  16. Bloodhammer

    Bloodhammer Twinkle Twinkle Black Star

    Jul 7, 2009
    Shreveport, Louisiana
    If there's too much relief, you'll know because it'll be hard to play and won't be intoned. Just give it 1/8 turn and then play at the 12th "fret" and keep doing that until the clank goes away.
     
  17. THand

    THand

    Jun 9, 2008
    LOL, no, just another way of saying "add a small amount of relief at a time". You know "a little bit", "a small amount", "just a whisker" all mean the same thing.
     
  18. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Will do.
     
  19. THand

    THand

    Jun 9, 2008
    the warning: common advise is to turn no more than a 1/4" on that rod per day. then string it up, tune it up, and let it settle. Mine usually take a few days, if not weeks, to stabilize in the perfect spot. Be patient with it.
    i confess that I have turned up to half a turn in a day(trying to diagnose a problem) and no damage was done, but i don't advise going over 1/4" per day simply because so many pro's warn us not to.
     
  20. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I've done a half turn before with no problems, but I need to do just a little bit at a time here.

    Thanks for the advice! I'm in good shape to take my time because the clank doesn't come through in the amplified sound.
     

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