Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Nut Height?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Classic5, Dec 21, 2003.


  1. Classic5

    Classic5

    Mar 31, 2002
    Australia
    I have a 5 string 35 scale Belman bass (Australian Made). Great bass but the setup needed some tweaking when I got it. I used some articles I found by Roger Sadowsky on setting up a bass and I tink I've done a pretty good job. One thing bothers me though.

    When recently fine tuning the action, I used a capo at the first fret and found that the bass was much smoother to play than without the capo. It finally dawned on me that the nut may be too high, resulting in a greater distance between the open string height and each fret.

    I'd love to know how to accurately check whether or not the nut is at the correct height and if not, how to go about adjusting it. The bass is still quite playable, but with the capo at the first fret it was noticeably easier to play. Is there a standard optimal height between the bottom of each string and the first fret?

    I now see why a zero fret would make a big difference.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I am no expert, but I would expect that the bottom of each string in the nut should be at the same height as the 1st fret...that is...imagine that bottoms of the nut slots represent a 0 fret. Just seems logical to me.
     
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Fret each string at the 3rd fret and the string should just clear the 1st fret. This will eliminate neck relief from the equation.
     
  4. Classic5

    Classic5

    Mar 31, 2002
    Australia
    Thanks for your comments guys.

    I'll try placing the capo at the third fret as you suggested FBB, when I get home tonight. I'll let you know the outcome.

    Brooks, I'm not sure about your logic. I would assume that if the bottom of each string in the nut is the same height as the 1st fret it would definitely be too low ie. it would buzz on the first fret. (unless the first fret is a zero fret, which isn't the case on my bass).

    Cheers.
     
  5. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Sorry...I should've said 0 fret. By the way, all frets are same height, aren't they? On a bass which does have a 0 fret (I have a couple), height is same as all the other frets.
     
  6. Classic5

    Classic5

    Mar 31, 2002
    Australia
    Brooks, you're correct in what you say as far as basses with zero frets go. My situation is different though - no zero fret on my bass, so the open string is on the nut - in your situation the open string would be on the zero fret.

    My point is that when I place a capo at the first fret, my bass seems much smoother to play. I guess this is how it would play if it had a zero fret. I just feel that it isn't as smooth to play because the nut is too high. God I sound like I'm going around in circles. You know what I mean though.

    Gonna try FBB's suggestion tonight.

    Thanks again.
    Cheers.
     
  7. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Classic5, I understand exactly what you mean. My point was that nut and 0 fret have exactly the same function as far as distance between the fretboard and the bottom of the string is concerned.

    Therefore, the bottoms of the nut slots and the height of the fret should be at the same height.
     
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Agreed. Completely.

    However, nuts are often left high so that a potentail buyer doesn't get any buzz when he wonks hard on an open string in a music store.
     
  9. Classic5

    Classic5

    Mar 31, 2002
    Australia
    Classic5, I understand exactly what you mean. My point was that nut and 0 fret have exactly the same function as far as distance between the fretboard and the bottom of the string is concerned.

    Therefore, the bottoms of the nut slots and the height of the fret should be at the same height.
    -----------------------------------------------

    OK, I see whay you mean and agree.

    I tried fretting the strings at the third fret as suggested by FBB and looking at the distance between the first fret and the bottom of the string.Looks like there might be a bit more space than necessary, (more on the B string than on the G) but it's not too drastic.

    I'll take the bass to a technician and see if they can bring it down just a bit.

    Is there an ideal spaceing or are we just talking the thickness of say a standard cardboard business card?