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Nut depth for 8 string

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ChristoMephisto, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. ChristoMephisto


    Sep 4, 2011
    Recently got my Hagstrom H8 back from getting the nut replaced cause the strings were spaced out evenly. Not close like how octave strings are suppose to be.
    Now the string height at the nut seems an issue.
    Pressing down at the 3rd fret, and measuring at the 1st it's
    E .013/.021
    A .013/.010
    D .006/.008
    G .003/.006

    The bass E is really high compared to the rest, and the E/A are both high compared to the D/G pair.
    Plan on bringing it back to the tech to correct this. Should I get him to lower the E/A relative to D/G, or cut a new one?
    Is the a recommended string height at the nut for basses with octave strings?
  2. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    I think there's a formula for it. The depth depends on the diameter of the string as each string will move a different amount when it's plucked, and one factor determining how much each moves is its diameter.
    So I think it is normal (correct?) to have the E sit higher in the nut than the A.

    In real life, you're not fretting at 3, then plucking behind where you're fretting.
    The only difference the nut depth makes is for open strings and at the first couple frets, but it'd have to be cut very badly to make playing uncomfortable.
  3. ChristoMephisto


    Sep 4, 2011
    Even if the bass strings are 90/75?
    the E string still seems to be sitting twice the height of the other
  4. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Twice as high "sounds" too high. Search here, and I think you'll see some formulas others use. Like many things, it's all rule of thumb. Individual tastes will determine what you like and don't like.
    But I think that the depth of the main strings (not the small ones) should be higher on the E and get deeper (meaning the string gets closer to the frets) toward the G, in relation to the diameter of the strings.
    As for the smaller strings, I don't know. I "guess" they should bottom out at the same depth as their pair.
    I'm obviously not an expert on this. I'm sure we'll hear from one.
  5. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    No, the strings, whether a big bass 135 B string or a skinny guitar 0.009 should have consistent height. The general standard is when you fret a string at the third fret it should just barely clear the first fret.

    If the nut's too high it affects action along the entire neck and causes intonation problems. A properly cut nut is the key to being able to do
    A proper ser up, and most nuts are just marginally acceptable at best.

    OP had a nut cut that sounds like it's an amateur job. No excuse for either the incorrect spacing nor the woefully inconsistent slot depths.

  6. ChristoMephisto


    Sep 4, 2011
    That makes more sense, being consistent at the first fret and closer to it as well.
  7. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Devil's advocate here....and I know I'm not making this up.

    Do we agree that the range of motion for the E is wider than the range of motion for the G? The E is much bigger, and has less tension than the G.

    So, as the E string moves around (when plucked open), it needs to be higher off the frets than the G to not hit the frets. Correct?

    Are you then saying that the G should be as high off the frets as the E? So that they are even?

    I don't think so. Many players like the string height as low as possible without buzz.

    If all nut slots are at the same depth, you do not achieve that.

    Here's a trusted source discussing this with regards to guitar nuts, but I think the same applies to bass:

    I'm obviously not an expert - just my line of of thinking and experience in getting a few nuts cut.
  8. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    if that were true, then the big strings would buzz more than other strings on the same fret, since frets are all basically the same height all the way across;

    you want them all almost as close open as they are at the second fret when fretting the first fret.
  9. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Doesn't that take the depth of the slot out of the equation since the string is fretted?
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    The G and D are pretty close but the E and A are waaay too high. .003-.005" is a decent range when using the "3rd fretted" technique provided you're using feeler gauges to determine the 1st fret > string gap. All is not lost as it appears that none of the nutslots have been overcut. Proceed with caution as it's easy to remove too much material quickly.

  11. ChristoMephisto


    Sep 4, 2011
    Or another way to explain it is the strings follow the fret radius, but is higher on the bass side.
    Got sidetracked about just the bass strings, but hoping to get a clear answer about octave basses, so if octave strings were added, the string height should be the same at the first fret, right?
    Measured again without pressing at the third fret and they are different between the octave and the fundamental.
    E .03/.035
    A .02/.026
    D .015/.018
    G .009/.012

    So looking at it, the bass E should go down to .03, and the bass A to .02
    Might as well get him to level off the D/G strings too
  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    Yes, which is my point; fretted, they're all the same height off the next fret up.

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