Nut slot question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Sully772, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. Sully772


    Mar 11, 2014
    Hey y'all,

    After hearing really good things about the Squier VM and CV basses, just picked up a Squier Chris Aiken Sig P Bass.

    I'm a new player that wants to learn to work on my own gear. There's something about working on your own instrument that helps develop that bond I think.
    Anyway, I'm running into a couple issues that I think may be related to the nut. I'm new to the whole DIY setup thing, but I'm really comfortable with your basic truss rod and bridge adjustments.

    Here's what I'm running into:

    1) The open G is sharp
    2) The strings "snap" into the nut slot. They don't just rest in the slot like other basses I've played - they a actually require some downward pressure to snap into place. Also, when removing the string from the nutt, you have to really pull it out of the slot - it does lift out easily.
    3) The action does appear to be a bit high at the nut

    I'm wondering if the nut slots are too small and need to be filed out a bit. However, all the strings are like this at the nut - only the G is off for tuning.

    So far the bass feels great outside of the current issue.

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. I just started doing my own set ups and I'm with you on how cool it is to work on my own instruments - really nice feeling. Not sure what you mean about the G#. As for the nut - file away!
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Your nut slots are definitely too small for the strings you're using. There should be no pressure required to get them in or out of the slots.
  4. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    This. I'd say you have an intonation problem on the G, but you said sharp on the OPEN G? Not sure what that means. Maybe the string is binding at the nut making it hard to tune? File carefully to make the slots wider (sneak up on it...don't overdo). If the action is good do NOT cut them any deeper, unless you like fret buzz. Might you have a spare G string in a lighter gauge to test the tuning?
  5. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Strings should not be binding in the nut. That needs to be fixed.

    You are saying that you think the nut slots are too high. What is your basis for this opinion? Have you measured the clearance? You may be right, but it's important for us to know the exact details before being able to advise. Otherwise we're just guessing with no real basis for that guesswork.
  6. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Yes, they do. Or you need to use lighter gauge strings, which will have smaller diameters.
  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Open G sharp. That's a new one

    By chance are you tuning by the 12th fret and then when you play open it's sharp?

    If that's it, you need to tune the open G and then intonate the G string so the 12th isn't flat (which it will be if the open is at pitch).
  8. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    One small note, IF, in fact, the nut slots are too high, my advice would be to widen the slots (as it sounds like this is necessary), but sand a bit off the bottom of the nut to lower it, rather than file the slots deeper. Unless, of course, the nut is glued in.
  9. Sully772


    Mar 11, 2014
    Thanks for all the responses. This is what makes learning this stuff fun. I'll attempt to answer a few of the questions.

    1) Yes, when playing the open G it shows G# on both my Korg Pitchblack and my Snark clip on. I'm not good enough yo tune by ear....but you can tell notes played on the G are slightly off in relation to other notes.

    2) According to the Fender/Squier website, the strings are the 7250ML .040 - .100

    3) In measuring the gap between the E string and the 1st fret with a feeler guage it is showing approximately .018

    I think I may need to file the nut a little because even the lighter-gauge strings that are installed seem to have too tight of a fit.

    Ideally, I was hoping to use heavier flats on this like the Rotosounds, so I would probably would have to file down anyway.

    Am I just asking for trouble here? Would the heavier gauge string be just too much tension for this bass?
  10. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Heavier strings will not be a problem but you have to be set up for them: you will need to sand the nut slots wider. adjust the truss rod. Set action, intonation.

    If you are going to a bigger gauge, use the current strings, get some very fine emery (black) sandpaper, wrap it around the stick string and sand the slots to widen from the top down. Test the new strings to see if it's wide enough.

    It's easier to just get it done and pay for it if you think it's out of your scope of ability.

    Now the G string. It reads G# open? Then tune it! ... I don't get what you are saying. If it's sharp open, tune it down.

    Play it open, look at Tuner, turn machine in reverse until it's flat, and turn it back up to read G.
  11. Sully772


    Mar 11, 2014
    That's a great idea about the sand paper.

    For the open G, that's a great point. To clarify what I mean - I know it sounds wierd.....but both of my tuners work similarly.
    For the other strings.....I play the open note (E for example) and it will show "E" in the primary display and give an arrow indicator to the left and right of the E to show if it's dead-on, sharp, or flat. This alllows me to tune until it's dead-on. Both tuners work like this.

    What I'm running into is that in the primary display, it reads the open note as G# instead of G. When I turn the tuners themselves, it still stays reading G# and then the arrow shows G# being tuned flat or sharp. ...almost like its showing G##

    I know it sounds really weird. I thought at first maybe there was something wrong with my tuner or that somehow I had messed up a setting. That's why I got out my little Snark tuner just to compare. It too shows G permanently sharp, and then shows G# to be more sharp or flat as I turn the tuner on the bass.

    I thought it might have to do with the nut issue because that G string is really held tightly in the nut. After detuning to loosen the string, it takes a bit of force to pull the string up.

    Hope this description makes sense. Thanks again for all the help so far.
  12. rogerb


    Aug 31, 2010
    So like your tight nut slot is binding the string so that it always reads G#? It can't be permanently sharp, a couple of turns down and you switch from G# going flatter to a natural G really sharp and then just keep going down to a G.

    Maybe, slack it off a couple turns and pull it out of the nut slot, to let the string go flat of G, then put it back in and tune it 'up' to pitch. Unless of course you can't even tune it up to pitch the nut slot is so tight.

    Or just get a smaller gauge string and try it.

    I wonder if loosening a string 'in the slot' actually makes the string circumference a little larger, enough to bind the string so tuning down is not possible 'in the slot'. Like pulling an elastic band, know what I mean?
  13. Matthijs


    Jul 3, 2006
    A neat trick I learned from tb is that you can file the nut slot with an old roundwound string. It's more subtle than a file and is the exact size. Take care not to use to much downforce though, because you'll run the risk of creating a curve in the bottom of the slot.
  14. If you plan on doing your own work I would highly suggest this book:,_...r,_electric/Guitar_Player_Repair_Guide.htmlis
    You can also get it in PDF format.

    I am in no way affiliated with Stew Mac or Dan Erlewine, but I picked this book up a few years ago and found the information in it to be valid and valuable for set ups and a whole host of other repairs I have successfully performed on turning "beater" instruments around over the past few years.
  15. Tune the G by matching the harmonic on the 7th fret to the harmonic on the D string's 5th fret or play the G on the D string (5th fret) and tune it to the open G.
  16. Rusty G String

    Rusty G String

    Mar 19, 2013
    I filed my nut slots down by rubbing drill bits that fit the slot in the nut slot. I filed them down so that when I depress the string at the 3rd fret, it just touches or almost touches the first fret. Then I set relief then action. The fender website has a good setup instruction. Feeler gauges for an auto parts store help also.
  17. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Drill bits. I forgot about drill bits. Bloody great trick. Cool.
  18. I would advise against that. In theory sounds like a nice solution if all the slots are uniformly too high,but in practice slots are at different heights. Sanding the bottom could cause some of the slots to be too low
  19. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    This is correct. The big question is "where are we now?" in terms of nut slot depth and shape. IOW, I would do nothing until a handful of measurements are made, specifically: distance between strings and 1st fret while fretted at the third. Should be .003-.005" via feeler gauge(s).

    When it comes to tool selection and the correct ones are not available, I pick & choose on the basis of what is likely to do the least amount of damage. No nut files? Not a problem. Emery cloth (not creases) wrapped around an undersized drill bit will remove a small amount of material with each swipe. The process can be tedious but balanced with frequent re-checks, the results can be positive.