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Low nut: raise the action, get heavier strings, or just replace it?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Sgroh87, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. Sgroh87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I just bought a used Roscoe bass from GC (haven't joined the club yet, sorry!), and after putting some fresh strings on it (Dunlop Super Brights 40-100), I noticed that if I dug in a little too hard, I got some buzz on the open strings. I'm pretty sure the action on it is fine; I can drop the saddles flat on the bridge, add a little bit of radius for the middle strings, and the fretted notes up and down the neck basically play fine. The D and A are a little buzzy but mostly okay, but the E and G are both pretty bad. I can get rid of most of it by jacking up the saddles, but that makes the action harder to play on (not hard, but I'm used to playing my fretless, which has its strings just grazing the fingerboard).

    I'm wondering if I should just raise the action and deal with it, put on some heavier strings (not my preferred choice due to some minor arthritis in one of my fretting fingers), or just replace the nut. If I have to replace it, do you think there's any chance I can get the GC techs to do it as part of the purchase? The tech even mentioned that the nut was a little low, so maybe he will fix it as part of the sale (one can hope).

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    you might get away with raising the saddles, but IMO, every adjustment has a purpose and trying to fix one thing by adjusting something else is not the right thing to do. you can either get a new nut, or put a layer of something under the nut, and re file the string groves on the nut accordingly.
  3. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Only change the nit configuration if the problem exist ONLY on open strings.

    But also be aware that those Dunlop strings are not only a lighter gauge but also more flexible than most. The result is a softer feel and more tendency to buzz at the same action as heavier/stiffer strings. My best bet from your description is that the nut is not the issue despite what the GC tech said.
    dkelley likes this.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    If the problem is that the nut slots are just a fraction too low, it is easy to build them up a little with some super glue mixed with baking soda or sanding dust from whatever the nut is made of.
    Then all you have to do is file it back to the right shape.
    nolezmaj likes this.
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    How much clearance do you see between each string and the 1st fret while fretted at the 3rd? Feeler gauges are a godsend in this situation.

  6. Sounds like a properly setup nut to me.... something that is rare imho. Imho a nut should be EXACTLY the same string height as a fret. Nothing annoys me more than the following pointless side effects of having nut slots higher than if it was just a zero fret:

    Harder to press frets on lowest frets....

    Tuning imperfect due to extra string stretching to play the lowest fretted notes

    Inconsistent tone between fretted and open notes

    Setup complexity to try and get consistent action low, mid and high on board


    None besides myths that don't follow logically as soon as you're playing anything other than open strings
  7. Also, as noted earlier, imho it should have the same fret buzz if you play hard on first fretted notes. If it buzzes open but not fretted on 1st fret, nut may be cut lower than if it was just another fret..... build it up. If buzzing is about the same then nut is correct imho.... again a rare thing.... so play it, or raise action the correct ways (raise bridge saddles a bit, or if relief is actually back bowed then loosen truss a TINY bit and let it sit a day or two (you can play it the whole time though)

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