Fretless Nut Mod

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Bass2x, Dec 28, 2005.

  1. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    I have a fretless coming in that the owner says is set up on the high side (for a more standup sound). I'm thinking about cutting it down. Is there a procedure for filing the nut? I assume the close action would be faster and have more growl. Yes?
  2. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    you should have files that match the guage of strings that you are using. file just a small amount at a time . do not make the slots too wide or you will get buzz and if you make them too deep you will need a new nut because you will not be able to get the strings off the fingerboard.
  3. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    Thanks, DZ.
    How deep is too deep?
    Is there a guide (online?) or preferred fretless setup re: depth of nut, distance off the fingerboard? How difficult is it to do? Need specialized files?
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    if yo udo not have special files use a file that best matches the size of the slot. as for depth, you should be able t ofit a business card snugly under the strings...

    as for an online guide check out gary willis' homepage and he has a detailed fretless setup guide...
  5. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    depending on how the nut is seated in the neck you could also remove material from the bottom of the nut and not touch the slots.
  6. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    I don't have nut files and can't justify a purchase of a set for a one-time job. Sanding the bottom of the nut eliminates the file accuracy problem... and the nut is uniformally high across all strings, but what's the best way to get the nut out w/o destroying it?
  7. senrats


    Apr 1, 2006
    Roswell, GA

    I also have a custom fretless job awaiting a nut filing. I reasoned that I should sand the bottom of the nut and not the string slots.

    What's the best way to remove the nut and then place it back in.
    Right now I have a stock MIM fender nut (plastic).... can't afford a custom bone job yet.
  8. I just did a defret on an old Peavey B-90 and I just took a big flathead screwdriver and set it against the nut and tapped it with a hammer a couple of times and the nut just popped right off. Just had to break the glue bond was all. Now that the defret is done I have filed the nut down from the bottom so I didn't have to buy nut files.
  9. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Sanding the bottom of the nut may or may not be a good idea. You can introduce some wierd buzzes if it's not sanded perfectly flat. It's actually faster to just file the notches.

    You can do it with a triangle file and a set of cheap drill bits. A set can be bought for less than ten bucks.

    The way that I do it is to place strips of masking tape alongside a fret untill the stacked strips are about 4 strips thickness above the fret heigth. move the strips of tape to right in front of the nut. The stacked strips of tape can now be used as a guide to cutting the notch depths evenly across the nut.
    Using the old nut for a guide, mark where each notch is to be cut. File the notch down untill it just touches the tape.

    Choose a drill bit that is as close to the string diameter as you can get. You can eyeball it close enough.
    Using a small pair of vicegrips to hold onto the drill bit at the very end, use a sawing motion with the drill bit untill you just reach the bottom of the filed slot. You'll have to press down on the business end of the bit. Next, file the top of the bridge down to allow half the string diameter to be above the nut.

    Be sure to cut the nut at a slight angle across the nut so the side toward the frets is a smidgin higher than the back side. The witness point has to be at the very front of the nut or the intonation will be off.

    The drill bit will cut pretty fast but still slow enough that you don't cut too deep.

    Go ahead and order two nuts. Theyre not expensive.Chances are pretty good that you'll mess up the first one you do. I did.
  10. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    How high are the frets on a fretless? This is something I've often pondered...
  11. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Oooops! I should have engaged brain and THEN started typing.

    Just put 3 or 4 strips next to the nut and file down to tape.

    Tnx, SOM.

    P.S., They are real low on a fretless! LOL
  12. floopy


    Mar 18, 2006
    Hi, I've just de-fretted a Yamaha RBX270, and I'm pretty pleased with the results (frets came out real clean, which was a relief).

    At the moment I've left the nut as it was when fretted, as I am unsure whether to try filing down the nut.

    I am OK with fingering the notes as it is, but wondered what difference it would make if I reduced the nut height, other than to make it less effort to press down on the strings.

    Will if affect the tone of the bass? (or the volume). Also, does it affect the intonation if you reduce the height of the nut?