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Nut Height Surgeons, Please

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Old Fart, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Old Fart

    Old Fart

    Mar 11, 2011
    I just need a little hand-holding. I do NOT want to replace this nut.

    I measured my fret height at .048". I am stacking two feeler gauges (total thickness of .051) against the nut and CAREFULLY filing. About 20 iterations so far. I am trying to get the .005" feeler to make contact between the 1st fret and the string, with the string fretted at the third fret. Once I am there, I may not have the guts to continue down to .003" or .0025".

    In the meantime, I just want some hand-holding. Am I doing the right thing? Will I safely not screw this up, as long as there is .005" clearance at the 1st fret, with the string fretted at the 3rd fret?
  2. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I think you're spot on. I'd aim for the .005 with procedure you described: gap between the string and 1st fret while fretting the 3rd. This gives you some wiggle-room to smooth the slot with emery cloth or steel wool if required. As you may have guessed, it's really easy to overcut a nut...a few swipes of the file goes a long way.

  3. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Three thousandths on the short leg of that triangle is going to leave less than three thousandths at the first fret. Someone using a moderate attack will be able to cause buzzing in the lower register. You may want to stack a little bit more on there. Start with fret height plus .010". Once there, work your way down a few strokes at time. Remember to leave enough to polish the slot with 400 and 600 grit papers wrapped around a smaller file.
  4. Old Fart

    Old Fart

    Mar 11, 2011
    Surgery was successful. The patient is resting comfortably.

    After filing the slots down to the feeler gauges (which were .003" taller than the frets), I still needed to file the slots more to get the 1st fret gap to .005".

    I also learned that once you are at .005", or .004" or especially at .003", you have to be VERY careful.