Nut slot depth check using the "click" method Question ??

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dregsfan, Jun 20, 2020.

  1. dregsfan

    dregsfan *Spay And Neuter*

    Sep 13, 2006
    I've done it several times (cutting a new nut/slots) but it's been sooo... long ago, my memory isn't serving me.

    You want that so very small gap between the top of the first fret and the bottom of the string when you fret above it.

    I just can't remember if you fret the 2nd or 3rd fret to do the "tap and click" test.
    >>>>>>>>>("You know What I'm Talkin' About")
    >>>>>> >>> download (1).jpg


    Thanks :thumbsup:
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  2. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    A "click" is pretty subjective. I use a feeler gauge, .022" at the first fret, which takes my judgement out of it. I suppose after having set it, you can memorize what it feels like, but set it with something quantifiable first. Some people use a business card, which average around .020" .
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  3. dregsfan

    dregsfan *Spay And Neuter*

    Sep 13, 2006

    That's good advice.
    I probably should have added in addition to eye balling and using feeler gauges to cut slots.

    So you measure .022" when your fingering which fret above it ? Doesn't really matter which fret I guess.

    Many Thanks
  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    To answer your specific question, pressing the string down at either the 2nd or 3rd fret will work. It doesn't really matter much.

    Do have one of those small thin 6" steel rulers? Those also work great for checking nut slot depth. Hold the ruler up on edge, resting it in the slot and on the frets. Look at the gap at the 1st; check it with feeler gauges or the business card. You'll get a better measurement against the rigid ruler than against the flexible string.
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  5. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Watch this whole 4 part series on setup, it's the best I've found. He measures .022" between top of first fret and bottom of string. That's a decent conservative number, you might be able to go a hair lower. The part on nut slotting is Part 3 of 4 , but do it all in sequence. I've used this on all my basses, and it's a good starting point. I like my relief and string height a little lower than he suggests, but that depends on how well your frets are leveled, your playing style, etc.
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  6. dregsfan

    dregsfan *Spay And Neuter*

    Sep 13, 2006
    I like that idea. Thanks.
  7. dregsfan

    dregsfan *Spay And Neuter*

    Sep 13, 2006
    Thanks Gilmourisgod.

    I sent my '66 Fender Duo-Sonic II body to John Carruthers many years ago for a refinish job. He's good.

    Thanks again.
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  8. Fender4Me

    Fender4Me The Undertaker

    Be sure that your neck is dead flat before setting your nut slots too. Also, be sure that your 12th fret action is where you want it. I like to fret at the 3rd position and look for a slight gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the 1st fret since fret height varies so much.
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  9. dregsfan

    dregsfan *Spay And Neuter*

    Sep 13, 2006
    Fender4Me, Thanks for that. :thumbsup:
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I do the "ping" test as a qualitative (yes / no) method of determining the presence of string gap. Methods vary but I depress at the 3rd fret then quickly percuss the string directly above the first fret. You should hear a distinctive ping ring-out. You can further finesse things by sliding a feeler gauge between the string and 1st fret...we're looking for .003-.005". I prefer this method as it is independent of the balance of the string path.

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  11. dregsfan

    dregsfan *Spay And Neuter*

    Sep 13, 2006
    Yes! Nicely put, and Thank You. :thumbsup:
  12. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    I do the same. It's also a quick to tell when there's way more than necessary.

    - John
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  13. RoketRdr


    Nov 7, 2019
    Actually no. You must set your relief how you like it before tweaking the nut slots or anything else for that matter. Without doing that first everything else is off. Your 12th fret action can’t be where you want it without the relief first being set.
  14. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    Um, no. Relief, nut height, action, intonation. Always in that order.

    - John
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  15. dregsfan

    dregsfan *Spay And Neuter*

    Sep 13, 2006
    The videos by John Carruthers are good and correct. There are 4 videos on bass setup and they are to be watched/executed in sequence.
    Good Stuff. Thanks again for sending those to me.
  16. MasterG


    Dec 21, 2018
    The video says relief,bridge,nut,intonation.
  17. Engle

    Engle Supporting Member

    FWIW that’s the order I do. I use the tap method.
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  18. Fender4Me

    Fender4Me The Undertaker

    John, I do it this way as a safety net in case I cut one of the slots too deep. If I hear string buzz in the open position after cutting the slots, usually by setting the relief and then re-adjusting the action, the buzz goes away. Everyone has their own method.
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Supporting Member

    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Measure the slots a hair above fret crown height to get them correct. Theoretically, they should be at crown height exactly...but practically, you start them a hair higher, realizing that the slots will "settle in" over time.
  20. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    .022” off the first fret is about where I set the nut slot depth for the “A” or “D” strings, depending on the bass and string gauge / relief I set on that bass. I set the B & E slightly higher and the G slightly lower.

    Many luthiers set acoustic guitar nut slot depth to gradually decrease string height off first fret from the low E to high E, something like this;

    E - .018”
    A - .016 / .017
    D - .016
    G - .015 / .016
    B - .015
    E - .014

    This helps make the pressure to push the strings to the fret feel a little more balanced and to me, the same principle applies to an electric bass.

    This may be a little bit of an apples & oranges comparison, but the percent difference in diameter between two adjacent bass strings is pretty close to the percent difference between acoustic guitar strings.

    Bass example: .080 A is 25% larger than a .060 D

    Acoustic guitar example: .042 A is ~24% larger than a .032 D

    A bass doesn’t feel balanced at all to me if all strings are the same height off the first fret. If a .130” B string on a 5 string bass feels good if the nut slot depth has the string .025” off the first fret, a .045” G string will feel way too high with the nut slot depth holding it .025” off the first fret. On a bass with the B set to .025” off the 1st fret, I would likely set the G string around .020” or less off the first fret.
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