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Fixing the nut: Luthier or DIY?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by groovemaster88, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. groovemaster88


    Aug 26, 2009
    I have a fretless fender jazz bass that I play with rotosound funkmaster roundwound strings. The bass sounds great, but the nut is much too low, and the E and A strings on the bass have worn down the nut so low that the strings have made deep grooves on either side of the nut. I would like to have the nut raised so I can play this bass again, so is their a way I can do it myself, or should I bring it to a luthier?
  2. ByF


    May 19, 2009
    It is not difficult to install a new nut. StewMac sells replacement nuts, either pre-slotted or blank, in bone, Tusq, or micarta. You could shim up the old nut, but as long as you're going to that much trouble you may as well replace the old plastic one with something more durable. If you have sandpaper, small round files, and a bit of patience, it's not hard.

  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    The classic DIY fix is to use masking tape on both sides of the nut to "dam" the material, drop in a bit of baking soda in each slot, then add one drop of super glue to the baking soda in each slot. It hardens into a bone-like substance. You will probably have to file slightly to adjust the slit and depth.
  4. klyph

    klyph Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Cape Cod
    So does super glue (CA glue) "mix" with the baking soda? That's really cool! :bassist: I've always used epoxy (the 5 minute variety, when my stash of west system ran out), but this sounds cheaper and less messy. Thanks!
  5. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    CA and baking soda react almost instantly to form a plastic-like material that is quite hard and can be filed and sanded to shape.

    Care should be taken to soak thicker layers of baking soda with CA or a pocket of unreacted baking soda can be left within a shell of the hardened mix and exposed while filing the nut slot. If that happens just dam/mask up again and add more CA to the soda so it hardens.

    I usually create a masking tape dam as mentioned previously, make multiple layers of soda/CA (if necessary) and use a tooth pick to drop fill the CA. I've also filled the entire slots, reshaped the nut into basically a blank and cut new slots for nuts that originally had offset slots...it happens.

    I've even used CA/baking soda to repair broken off nut ends. The mix even polishes up well.
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Filling and recutting the slots is one option, here's another:

    Carefully remove the nut (most are held in place with a sparse amount of glue), add a shim, and replace. The best shim material? The actual feeler gauge itself. The shim itself will probably have to be no thicker than .0015" - .002 which, coincidentally, are the two thinnest leaves on a Pep Boys feeler gauge set ($3-4). Glue / clamp the leaf to the nut's base, allow to dry, and trim to size with an exacto razor. The leaf is not much thicker than a sheet of aluminum foil and quite workable. If you put some real thought into the desired height, there's a good chance you may not have to touch the nut slots at all.

  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Hmmmm. Problably cheaper than visiting a machine shop and buying sheet shim material.

    The comment also makes me wonder how thick a double-thickness of aluminum foil would be? Mighty easy to work with, and the price is right.
  8. ByF


    May 19, 2009
    I just measured: Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty is about 0.0005", so a double thickness is about 0.001". Pretty thin stuff.

  9. Do I detect a model airplane builder amongst us? Me too.:bassist:

    Yeah, CA and Arm & Hammer makes pretty good fake bone. Dunno how it works, but it does.
  10. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Sorry, not for nearly 50 years. Way before CA.

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