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Nut Replacement Question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by jessicabass, Mar 7, 2014.

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  1. jessicabass


    Dec 22, 2009
    I have a broken nut and need to replace it, whacked the bass onto the microphone stand on the weekend gig.
    Only thing on a bass ive never done yet is replace a nut.
    Its a 4 string curved with higher e to lower g.
    Question 1. Whats best way to remove to it without screwing up the sourrounding area?
    Question 2. When i replace it, do i need the same style nut?
    Can i replace it with a flat nut or one with the e,a,d,g slots all even inline?
  2. I have seen videos of nut replacements, but it was on guitar, not bass. Their method of nut removal was to use a small saw and cut across the length of the nut, leaving just a sliver of the nut so you don't cut into the neck. Then you simply pinch the two sides of the nut together and remove the pieces. You can take the same saw or a small file and shave away any remaining pieces of the nut. Most nuts will not be an exact fit and will require filing the nut slots to get the right string height at the first fret.
    If you look at the nut, the slots for the strings should all be at the same height. The non slotted part of the nut is taller on the E side of the string because you need more material there to help hold the larger string in place. The G string requires less to keep it where it needs to be. If the nut was the same height all the way across, you would either have an E string that keeps popping out or a really deep G string slot. It might be best to take to your local music shop and have them replace it for you. My local shop keeps unslotted nut blanks and they install and cut string slots according to the requirements of the instrument they are working on. If you do decide to replace yourself, buy more than one nut because you are more than likely to mess up on the first one or two. You will also need to know if the base of the nut is flat or curved at the same radius as the fret board, and you might not be able to find that out until you remove the current nut.
  3. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Depending on your bass (this is where "I play a ___" would be really helpful) the nut can be more or less challenging to remove. Some nuts are set right into the fretboard, where some are set "above" it. In most cases, it's held in there by some glue, and it really depends on the company as to what they use. Sometimes a little bit of alcohol can help break down the glue and then you can tap it right out, sometimes you are stuck digging it out. If you aren't comfortable doing this because it is quite possible to damage the bass, it might be something worth taking it to a pro for.

    The style of nut does depend on the bass. the length varies greatly depending on your string spacing, as a violin bass is considerably narrower than some of the Yamaha canoe paddle necks. The width can also vary a lot as well, as nuts set into the fretboard tend to be significantly narrower than those against it. Most repair/supply shops have a variety of blanks that will fit most basses and if not, they usually have something they can cut down/shape to work.

    If you have a "standard" bass, then you can likely get a nut that has precut string slots. Most of these will be intentionally cut too high and need to be adjusted down, but the majority of the work has been done already. If you don't have the tools to be doing that kind of work, it will likely work out better/cheaper in the long run to have it done by someone who knows what they are doing.

    Likewise, if you are interested in a brass/bone/plastic/some other material nut, now is the time. I'm not going down that road though, because there is more than enough discussion here about the benefits or "benefits" of those.
  4. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    The nut is one of the most critical elements on the bass, I recommend taking it to a competent repair person.
  5. MrRubi04

    MrRubi04 Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2011
    Brewster, NY
    I once removed the nut by pressing with my fingers, away from the fretboard and it popped right off! Held in with a little glus. I replaced it with a pre-cut replacement and used super glue to fasten it. Just make sure (pre-fit before gluing, and match up the new against the old) it is right before applying the glue.
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    Big +1

    I dont think I've ever seen a home-replaced nut that was anywhere close to bring right, even when the owner thought it was "fine". Filing it to where it was supposed to be invariably blew the customer away with how much better the instrument played.
  7. Replacing a nut is extremely easy and can be customized to the player's taste. Tool wise, it takes sandpaper (to sand down bottom if nut stands too tall) and/or a finger nail file to widen any grooves. I use graph tech black tusk http://anthillmusic.com/c-237-bass-guitar-nuts.aspx

    If the old nut is not set within a groove in the fretboard, take a small block of wood and place it against old nut from fretboard side. Hit it gently with a hammer. Clean up any old glue residue. If within groove use razor knife to score between wood and nut on top and bottom. Use small flathead screw driver to clean out groove. Install new nut. I don't even glue my nuts into place, as string tension will hold it in place if bass is set up properly (and allows for any further hight tweaks by merely sanding the bottom of the nut.)

  8. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I have to agree with mongo2 and walterw. Nut work is very exacting and critical. I too have rarely seen a DIY replacement that was done right. It's not difficult to get the old nut out or to get the new one in place. And if you are just looking to hold the strings in position, you are done. But if you want ease of playing, good intonation on the first few frets and freedom from string rattle, the work becomes quite demanding. One too many strokes with a nut file can turn a good setup into junk.
  9. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    (Shaking head...)

    This is so wrong, I don't know where to begin...
  10. Notice that you're mum on information that could help the OP, or anyone else. I guess we should go ahead and shut down TalkBass with a simple phrase that will cover everyones questions: BRING IT TO A PROFESSIONAL. Why not take this logic one step further: If you aren't a "professional" bass player, hire a certified professional to play your instrument for you. But whatever you do, don't touch that bass!

    Seriously, Jessica, here's one vid of many. This isn't rocket science:

  11. jessicabass


    Dec 22, 2009
    Thank you for this.
    And thank you all also for the help.
  12. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Sanding the nut's thickness on top of a piece or carpeting...riiiiiiiiiiight!

    Fnord: unbunch your panties.
  13. Technicality


    Feb 10, 2011
    I wouldn't go as far as to say its easy, but its definitely do-able with some patience and care.

    Taking it to a professional is not exactly a super simple solution either, as I've seen less than perfect jobs done by repair people. There are also horror stories on here of people taking an instrument in for routine work and getting it back totally ruined. If you don't know someone you trust to do it right, and you don't know what a good nut is supposed to be like, learning how its done is probably the best way to be sure its done properly.
  14. braud357

    braud357 Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2010
    Gonzales, LA
    I took this upon myself a while ago - had a couple of Squier's that I wanted to install bone nuts. After getting a price of $100 each at the local music store, I decided to tackle them myself. I ordered some pre-slotted nuts, and bought a set of needle files at the local Home Depot. I had to sand for width and thickness, using sandpaper on a glass surface. I also found a good tutorial by John Carruthers on youtube, which helped immensely. The only other tool needed was a set of feeler gauges. Main thing is to GO SLOW !! I took my time, and they came out great. Both basses play and sound better than they ever did before. If you are handy at all - you can pull this off !
  15. Another post: another wealth of information for the thread.
    I wonder why these guitar techs are so secretive/defensive? :confused: Oh yeah, they count on the ignorance of players and feed their insecurities so they can keep getting paid money. :scowl: Why won't they share information? Why are they posting in a Set Up/Repair section always sticking to their manta: Bring it to a Pro Bring it to a Pro Bring it to a Pro :confused:
    Oh yeah, they count on the ignorance of players and feed their insecurities so they can keep getting paid money. :scowl:

    Hope this thread works out as a nice commercial for all the "experts" with no advice. :rollno: There is no Ghost in the Machine. What one man or woman can do, another can do.
  16. Session1969

    Session1969 Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2010
    Consider yourself fortunate enough being able to do alot of things I take to my luthier. This is one thing I'd take in and I'd find the best person possible.
  17. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    I'm tired of idiots with attitudes. I'm done with this.
  18. +1
    Jessica, you're probably going to run into to this problem again, and again (as you collect more basses). Self sufficiency is the best cure. Here's a funny Canuck that has tons of vids on setting up stringed instruments. Free flow of info: :cool:


  19. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I agree with you. But sometimes is takes quite a bit of training and a lot of practice. I'm not sure that it's helpful to call down those people who have both just because they make their living from that training and practice. Especially when they are sharing their advice freely on a public forum without any chance of recompense.
  20. He wasn't sharing any set up or repair advice. I would have loved it if he did. :atoz:

    just call me IDIOT WITH ATTITUDE!


    By the way, we're talking about at 15-30 dollar nut here that everyone is freaking out about. OP stated: "Only thing on a bass ive never done yet is replace a nut." I think she's ready for that dangerous dive into nut replacement. What are you guys doing on a thread about set ups, if you're afraid to adjust your bass?

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