Filing a Nut

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by lonote49, Jun 26, 2003.

  1. lonote49

    lonote49 Guest

    Jun 29, 2002
    Cottage Grove, MN
    In my neverending search for low action on my P-Bass clone, I finally worked on the nut. I have always been reluctant to do that, for some reason. I carefully filed down the slots until each string, when fretted between the second and third frets, had just a paper's thickness of clearance at the first fret. The difference in playability, especially on the lower positions, is amazing. I see a lot of threads about adjusting bridges and truss rods but very little about working on the nut. It wasn't hard but it requires a lot of care.
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    ouch! why would anyone want to do that.

    sorry, couldn't resist.
  3. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler Guest

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    The reason why you hear more about adjusting action at the bridge and trussrod is because work done on the nut is not reversible, so if you screw up and go to low, you will have to get a new nut entirely. So it is less common to fix action problems with filing a nut.
  4. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Actually,Ben, there are at least two ways to correct for a nut slot that is too deep. One way is to build up the slot with a mixture of baking soda and superglue and refile the notch. Another method is to remove the nut and place a shim of the correct thickness under it.

    The safest way to cut the notches for the strings is to use a feeler guage laid flat on the fingerboard, right up against the nut. Start out with a feeler guage(s) that you know is considerably thicker than the frets are high. File the notch down to the point that the file just barely touches the feeler guage. If the string is still too high, simply use a thinner feeler guage.
    When you go shopping for a file, look for a handsaw file. A long narrow triangular file that will cut a vee shaped notch that can be rounded pretty easily by sawing an old string through the slot.

  5. 4Mal

    4Mal Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    My 'Lex' Luthier is cutting a new graphite nut for a J project. Cost is $25 bucks ... I'd rather have him do it rather than dink about with the files for that long... I have heard good things about Corian for a nut. Anyone else ?
  6. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler Guest

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    Well, both of those are more time consuming than just adjusting the action back at the bridge.

    BTW-Do you have more info on the baking soda thing, I would like to know more info on that for the future.
  7. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    I'm sorry but if you have a nut problem, no amount of bridge adjustment is going to correct it.

    To build up the notches in a nut, a pretty common practice is to make a "putty" or thick cream from baking soda and super glue. just fill the notch with the mixture and cut a new notch.

  8. geezer316

    geezer316 Guest

    Jan 26, 2003
    When i de-fretted a p-bass it was the one thing i tried to avoid doing because of lack of confidence,it tried every which way to get the action lower with no avail.I finally gave in and carefully ,little by little filed them done one by one.After some trial and error it worked out fine and its now where i want the action to be.:bassist:
  9. kurosawa

    kurosawa Guest

    Jan 27, 2001
    York County, Virginia
    I have a little library of graphite nuts with slots cut to exact size for 4 different gauges. Took a while to figure out hot to make them "just so." Now it takes me a few minutes to make a new one. Much better than trying to fix a bad nut--the fix may blow up during a gig.