Nut slots filed into fretboard...

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Shadoof, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. Shadoof


    Mar 9, 2014
    So, I purchased my first fretless bass on Craigslist and clearly didn't go over it as closely as I should have...first time I change the strings I see this:

    DSC00098.JPG DSC00096.JPG

    I'm really just confused as to why someone would do this... At first I thought it was cut all the way down like a zero fret, but there's still some height to the nut at the fretboard side as you can see in the second photo, so it's only ground away on the headstock side. So why not leave the nut even rather than angle the slots down towards the headstock like this? Trying to increase the break angle?

    Admittedly, I don't have much of a reference for fretless bass playability but it seems fine. A bit of work on the truss rod and I have the neck nearly straight, low action with "mwah" but no buzz and no fret-outs (fretboard outs?). I'm thinking about replacing the nut but I'd still have those grooves in the rosewood.

    So, anyone seen this before? Should I replace the nut or not even bother since it doesn't seem to be harming anything?
  2. it is above the nut, so it is just clearing away some fretboard extension to allow for proper break angle. If it was a fretted neck, the nut would be cut higher and not need the extra clearance.
  3. Shadoof


    Mar 9, 2014
    Thanks for the quick reply. So this is normal on fretless basses? Would it have come from the factory like this?
  4. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Typically a fretless is set up for minimum action at the first position. It looks like it needed a bit of clearance on the tuner side to get a better angle over the nut. If it plays and sounds OK, it's OK.
  5. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    That is common on fretless basses, especially if they are simply fretless versions of fretted models, using the same fretboard and nut. As mentioned, it is necessary due to the lower nut slot height. It may have been done at the factory, or done after when someone lowered the slots. (some are way too high from the factory)

    Also, the slots should be angled down towards the headstock. So that would be correct. It guarantees that the string has solid contact on the fretboard side of the slot.

  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yep, looks good.
    Geri O likes this.
  7. Shadoof


    Mar 9, 2014
    Thanks for the replies, everyone. My mind is at ease and I can just worry about learning to play this thing in tune!
  8. Rich Terry

    Rich Terry BassOmatic

    Sep 14, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I think you have a huge problem!!
    Send it to me and I'll fix it and send it back in a year or two.
  9. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Not likely. In most cases, fretless basses leave the factory with the nut cut way too high.

    Yes. Almost all fretless basses need to have the nut cut down to the right height (see above) and, in order to get the nut cut low enough and at the proper angle, as megafiddle, Rustyaxe and others mentioned, the slots need to break back at an angle that cuts into the headstock side of the board. Fingerboards like this one were designed with fretted basses in mind, where the slots would not be cut so deep and it would never be an issue, but bass manufacturers are not about to completely redesign their necks and/or retool their production lines just to accommodate the small percentage of us who like to play between the lines!