Nut filing

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dax21, Jun 13, 2019.

  1. dax21


    Nov 26, 2011
    I'm setting up my 4-string Ibanez BTB for C standard tuning, basically going BEAD and tuning it halfstep up. Idea is to use the bottom 4 strings out of a light five string set, going with 120 for the thickest string. Issue is that strings can't exactly fit the nut as is at the moment. So - nut filing. Nut is typical plastic Ibanez type.
    I would really prefer to do this on my own as opposed to taking it to a tech, and I have a few questions:

    Using actual file or some fine sandpaper?
    Filing only the sides or the bottom as well? I figure I should probably check the action at the top couple of frets before going lower.
    What about the corners?
    Any other useful tips or things to know in advance?

    I've searched the forum but most threads are quite old and are usually about more subtle adjustments.
  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    You want to widen the slots not deepen them. You can wrap some sandpaper around a string and use that to widen a slo, but that tends to make the slot a bit too wide - .it will be the diameter of the string plus the thickness of the sandpaper on each side. So you might try using the next smaller string wrapped with the sandpaper, it might give you what you need. Or perhaps an appropriately sized drill bit wrapped with sandpaper.
    dax21 likes this.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Unless they're too high to begin with, which OP says they need to check before doing the work.
    It's a separate issue than string fit, but one that can be addressed at the same time if necessary.

    OP: If you don't need to make the slots deeper, use a pencil or marker to color in the bottom of the slot. As long as you don't file off that color you haven't made the slots deeper.
    dax21 likes this.
  4. dax21


    Nov 26, 2011
    Excellent points, thanks! I will use an old string that is one size down and wrap it in sandpaper and go slowly until it fits. Marking the bottom is also something that didn't cross my mind. Will report back with results, much appreciated!
    lz4005 likes this.