Filing out a nut

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by djphil, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. I'm thinking about converting one of my 4 strings into a BEAD tuning, and strung that way not just tuned as such. So, what type of utensil/instrument would I use to file out just a regular plastic nut to accomodate the larger string sizes? Thanks!
  2. Deej! - great to hear you wanting to take on this cool little project.

    There's lotsa ways to go about this so you've got some room for a little creativity and flair while becoming a lot more familiar with the geometry of the instrument.

    Tools are fairly simple for both removal and installation. To take out a plastic nut, you can use a pair of square jawed pliers and wiggle it out (it shouldn't be permaglued in). If it shatters, all bets are off an you can use whatever you can devise to get the fragments out. ;) Just keep in mind that it's essential to keep the nut slot clean and undamaged for the new one.

    While you're prepping the slot, be thinking about what you want to refill it with. There's plenty of options here - plastic, micarta, graphite, brass, aluminum, bone, ivoroid, Corian, and probably a few others. You can buy blanks from luthier supplies like Stewart MacDonald or get the material by scrounging for surplus and scrap. Each is easily worked by simple hand tools like files and coping saws but can also be shaped with some power tools like jigsaws and dremels. Final setup is usually no worse than a matter of trial and error but with a little patience is pretty easy. The more you study on this aspect of the process the better prepared you'll be when it's time to finish it off.

    I can't emphasize enough how attainable this is by the average joe. I did my first one when I was barely out of high school from a section of clarinet key brass that simply rocked. If you've always wanted to point to a little custom touch on your own axe this is the perfect, low-risk project for even the simplest of minds :D
  3. Hey thanks for the info there! But what I think I've decided is that I'm gonna maybe just get more of a "budget" bass and mess around with it. This Charvel has a pretty big sentimental value to me, and also, the nut is laquered in and so it'd take a lot of I don't know what to actually get it out. It's not like I can just "pull it out", as you helpfully suggested. I wish I could, but it's just not possible. I'd have to get some sort of drill and work away all the laquer on both sides then try and redo it, but I'm not sure I wanna mess up the finish near the headstock like that.

    So, I may be looking for a Professional Series Spector or a MIM or MIJ Jazz or something. We'll see. :)
  4. poppamies


    Dec 15, 2002
    You don't have to take out the nut at all. You are moving to hevier gauge strings. Just take the strings and use the actual string as a nut file. If the nut is a plastic one there will be no problem at all using the round wound string as a file.
  5. Well, yeah. :)

    That makes total sense.

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