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nut slot adjusting question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by fourstringbliss, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I want to widen the slots on my nut so I can string my bass BEAD. I don't want to spend $65 to get my bass setup since I know how to do basic adjustments and just need the nut worked on. I've heard of people doing this with nut slot files and round files, but I don't have any of that. Would it work for me to take ultra-thin fine grit sanding film, wrap it around the new larger string, and shimmy that into the slot, making it bigger?
  2. You can use small drill bits (BY HAND) and roll them in the slots until the slots are the right size.

    take your time...don't go deeper, just wider...

    use your new strings as a guide...and clean up your slots by dragging the new string back and forth in the slot a few times...
  3. Fasoldt Basses

    Fasoldt Basses

    Mar 22, 2005
    Stevens Point, WI
    Karl Thompson, Builder (Formerly Fat Karl)
    If you use sandpaper around a string, I'd suggest using the string guages you have now, and let the thickness of the sandpaper do the widening. You could also make a sort of dull file with a piece of your new string glued to something stiff... it might take a little more work this way, but you won't run the risk of making the slots too wide and ruining your nut.

    Do you know what your [bass's] nut is made out of?
  4. KenToby


    Aug 15, 2002
    Since we're in the same local area, do as I did and hit the local Harbour Freight store and get a set of small files for $2.99.
    The set includes a couple of round, half round, flat, "V" shaped, etc.
    You will notice that on 90% of basses, the gap between the open strings and the first fret are way bigger that that of the fretted first notes of the string and their respective 2nd fret.
    To fix this problem I use my round file with a slight taper the most since I can use the narrow tip to work the G slot and the wider middle of the file to work the E and B slots.
    Simply file a bit and fit check periodically.
    I go deep enough so that the distance between the bottom of the open E string and the F fret matches the distance between the fretted F and the F# fret.
    This way you will not have to wrestle at fretting the first few notes at the end of the neck; the result will be more comfort at playing your low notes.


  5. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    It's actually a plastic sanding film that is really thin. The nut is made of graphite. It's been suggested that I just use the new strings and run them back and forth making the slots bigger. I think I might try that. I might just have to use KT's suggestion and hit up the local hardware store for some really small files and do it that way, but using the actual string would ensure some accuracy.
  6. AlembicPlayer

    AlembicPlayer Im not wearing shorts

    Aug 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwet, USA
    you can super glue a piece of the string (proper gauge per slot) to a pop sickle stick and use it to burnish the slot...works like a charm with roundwound strings...not so good with flats :)
  7. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Needle files it is, then! I'm not sure I know what you mean by what you do with your file and the first fret, but I am going to get myself a small set of needle files from the local hobby shop and take my time widening the nut slots. You, of all people, know how many times I've switched back and forth from 4 to 5 strings, all because I miss that blasted low D but I can't hack the wide neck. It never occured to me that I haven't used the G-string once in the five years I've been playing bass, and I don't see myself starting any time soon. I do fingerstyle and it makes sense to have four strings I will use than only three and one that I miss. Now to the delicate surgery...Thanks Dave!