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Nut Question

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Apr 24, 2003.


  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    How (if at all) does changing the height of a string affect the sound of that string both as an open and a stopped string? I'm getting ready to adjust one of my nut slots (as magnetic a straight line as I fully admit that was, please try to resist if possible), and am wondering what I might expect.
     
  2. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Lowering the nut can often result in a more fertile sound.

    But seriously Chris, I can't imagine this having any effect at all on the sound.
     
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I'm only curious because at the moment my G string is set awfully high (Jesus, here we go again....), and is getting a very bright, "pingy" sound as compared to the rest of the open strings. So you're saying that lowering it will change the feel but not the sound....that's cool. Do any of you luthier types have any MacGyveresque (sp?) tips on how to tone down an obnoxious open string? Some type of muting material, perhaps?
     
  4. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    Why is it called "nut" anyway? Nuts are round or oval. Or crazy. "Bridge" and "saddle" are names that can be associated with function/shape, but "nut"? Nah...



    Edit: That was kinda off topic, sorry. But I am also interested in any good dampening method for open strings...
     
  5. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    The only fix I've found is to change the G string. Go to one that's a bit darker sounding. The downside is that the silk winding colors won't match at the tailpiece...
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I've thought of that, but it's only the open string that sounds that way...all of the stopped notes sound great. Besides, if the colors didn't match, how could I ever take my bass out in public, much less play a gig with it?
     
  7. Francois does this all the time.
    Rumor has it that he changes strings on breaks.
     
  8. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Actually, I heard he changes strings between songs; one set for latin, one set for fusion, one set for trad. jazz, one set for modern jazz...

    Chris- are you still fussin' with your nut? Lower the durn' thing an' quit yer gripin'... don't make me come down to L'vill and do it fer ya.
     
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    One thing that hasn't been addressed here is the possibility that the slot itself is inaccurate. Sometimes there is a miniscule high spot in the slot and the string resonates to that high spot and not the actual correct stop. Usually this creates a bit of a buzz, but it could be interpeted as "pingy" if it were really minor. Just a thought.

    ps-way to go to Nickeloid for being a supporter! [musta sold a Shen] Some of the other luthier types should heed his example as they are no doubt getting rich off of all the work free advertising on TB is getting them.
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'll be doing that this weekend. I had my highest profile gigs of the year this past weekend and didn't want to risk screwing it up. In light of my complete lack of woodworking skills, this was probably a wise choice.
     
  11. Chris:

    My simple suggestion: Don't do anything to the bass. Just NEVER play an open G.
     
  12. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Guys, I'm make things clear: I change my strings seven times a week. Sometimes a few more times in the week-end. Depends on the load... :D

    On a serious note, the only drawback I've seen with a nut in which a groove is too low, like flush to the FB, is buzzing.
    If the string is too high, the drawback is more effort to pull it down. Worst at half position.

    Cheers,
    François
     
  13. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    A good thought. Yesterday I was lowering the action on my daughter's school bass to a playable height for young fingers, and when I put it back together and brought everything up to tension there was a terrible buzz on open E - a real rattle - and I really thought I'd done something stupid like crack a seam or dislodge the sound post or something. After extensive inspection and investigation, I found that the nut slot was now too high at the back of the nut, and even though the string looked snug, there was a poofteenth of a millimeter gap causing a surprisingly loud and unpleasant sound. A quick file to smooth the string's path ... beautiful.

    My teacher recommends a business card's gap under the A,D,G strings and a double business card gap under E.

    The nut on my own bass is very slightly chipped between the D and A string. I'm convinced that the chip is what is making open D sound twangier than the rest. So I'm going to let a luthier look at it ...