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How to correctly file down a nut?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by kmk42019, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. kmk42019


    Aug 14, 2006
    I have a 4 string yamaha cheapo that I want to tune to BEAD. I have a set of DR Low riders that I want to throw on there(B is .125 gauge). So I need to file down the nut to fit the larger strings. What tools do I need and is there a correct procedure for doing this?
  2. measure the diameter of the B string you want to put on and then use a circular file that comes close to that diameter to basically "drill" a wider space for the string.
  3. sometimes the string itself would fit in the groove, and just ramming it back and forth makes a good enough slot. You may still need needle files though, do you have a hardbor freight by you?
  4. kmk42019


    Aug 14, 2006
    Do files come in different gauge sizes or are they in inches? I need a file for gauge .125
  5. lowtide

    lowtide Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2006
    Bradenton, Florida
    Owner: Buzzard's Bass Shop
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Stewart MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply.

    Nut files.
  7. noam


    Nov 29, 2007
    I bought a set of Norman Nut Files on Ebay that work really well, and are pretty much foolproof.
  8. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    1. Look for an appropriately-sized chainsaw sharpening file - they're round, coarse enough to cut quickly, and reasonably priced.

    2. You can also wrap a piece of abrasive around a shaped stick, drill bit, or bass string and use it to widen, or deepen, a nut slot; remember to take into account the combined thickness of the stick/drill bit/string and the abrasive.

    3. If your nut is bone or plastic, you can use a #11-sweep carving gouge, but they're relatively expensive and a little tricky to use unless you're already a carver.

    Good luck!
  9. DING DING DING!!!! Winner! Great suggestion, and the price is right.
  10. kmk42019


    Aug 14, 2006
    What kind of abrasive? sandpaper?
  11. I'd think that some 800 to 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper (grey in color) would be about right - wouldn't cut too fast.
  12. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    IME, 800-1000 would be very slow sledding; I'd prefer to use something between 120- and 220-grit. I'd probably use a stearated, open-coat, aluminum oxide (because it doesn't "load up" quickly).
  13. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Polishing starts with 600 grit. It's not a good choice for cutting.

    Cutting a nut with 120 is overkill. If not handled gently it can snag a softer material like Corian and chip or crack it. 220 is a decent choice.

    A small tapered rat tail file is a better choice for roughing in.

    Nut files are the best choice for cutting the string seats in a nut.
  14. Grinky


    Oct 16, 2007
    I think the nut on my bass is too high. Should I file it down or just get a new one?
  15. If it's not too late, I seem to recall that a properly shaped nut groove has a slant to it providing a witness point right before the fretboard starts.
  16. EXCELLENT recommendations! added to my knowledge base - thanks.

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