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How should strings rest in the nut?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AzathothOuterGod, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. AzathothOuterGod


    Feb 20, 2015

    My friend recently switched to heavier gauge strings on his bass but they do not seem to rest in the nut properly. Instead of sitting comfortably they get pinched by the nut, and when tension is applied to them they pop into the slots, almost as if the strings are a little too thick. To get the strings out of the nut requires popping them out. This doesn`t seem to be a problem for his lower strings, but it seems to be preventing his G from getting tuned properly. The highest i could tune it to is D# before the tuning key requires inhuman strength to turn. This leads me to believe that the nut is preventing the string from fully stretching out, as if its locking the string in place.
    Thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    They're too wide for the nut slots. They're being pinched side to side. The nut will crack eventually.

    You can take the strings off and carefully run them back and forth through the nut slot to widen it. Try to do it evenly so it widens symmetrically. You don't want to deepen the slots, just widen them.

    I may be completely wrong about that. Wait till someone else chimes in and validates my suggestion.
    AzathothOuterGod likes this.
  3. AzathothOuterGod


    Feb 20, 2015
    thanks man
  4. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    Gorn is right, they are binding in the nut so that the tension from tuning peg to nut is not the same as nut to bridge and bridge to tailpiece. You can take a small round file and VERY CAREFULLY widen the nut so they will fit. DO NOT OVERDO THIS! Also, the only way to go back is to replace the nut so make sure you want heavier strings.
  5. AzathothOuterGod


    Feb 20, 2015
    thanks a lot guys, I will let him know
  6. If that's a factory nut, it probably was too narrow and too shallow in a general sense. I have to touch up the nut slots on virtually every bass I acquire.

    Properly filed nut slots will accommodate a slight variance of string gauges. Going with a gauge slightly narrower than the slots won't cause issues. But a significantly narrower gauge could cause some buzz from the side-to-side movement of the string in the slot.

    If you're new to this operation, I like Gorn Captain's suggestion, because it's fool-proof. You can't over-widen the slot if you're using the actual strings. But that's a lot of filing, kind of like trying to start a fire with two sticks of wood. They make nut files specifically for this, and you can get something similar at hardware stores.

    Just read up and have an idea what you're doing, or turn it over to a professional experienced tech. Widening or deepening the slots too much pretty much ruins the nut and will require a total replacement.
  7. Make a concious effort NOT to deepen the slot when widening said slot.
    Pay strict attention to this little detail.

    Don't just stick a rat tail in there and go crazy, else you'll need a new nut.
  8. raventepes


    Jan 7, 2012
    Reno, NV
    It might be best to find a tech who's able to file the nut properly. Depending on the instrument, the nut might have to be completely replaced to begin with.
  9. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    I have used the running an old string through the slots to both widen and deepen them on a number of occasions. For me, it has always worked beautifully. However, make sure that you are using round wound strings, unless it is P, then you can use either flats...because we all know flats work best on a P!!! :hyper::bassist::hyper:
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