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Proper Nut-Slot Heights

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by NoisemakerD-Lux, Feb 7, 2005.


  1. NoisemakerD-Lux

    NoisemakerD-Lux

    Oct 12, 2004
    Hi guys,

    I'd like some info on slot heights in a nut on a fretless bass. It's something I was always curious about and something I may actually need to use to replace/redo a nut on a Fender.

    In general, should these slots be cut lower than on a fretted?

    What's the recommended height for each slot on a 5-string (in mm., please) [should these be even height and just follow the fretboard radius or should the low-string ones be somewhat higher than the high ones)? Super low action, being my preference. Stringing it E to C.

    Also, can anyone recommend a cheap little file I can use that I can purchase online? I found a few big sets for this stuff, but they were not really what I was looking for. A single file I can use once and throw away later.

    ND :help:
     
  2. the preferred nut slot depth is where the string just barely touches the fingerboard, that way the tone will be consistent between opened and 'fingered' notes.
     
  3. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Technically you can go down to the figerboard. I tend to leave mine a little off though. I dont' have an exact figure, but I think hambone has mentioned going down to .04". (I'm not 100% so don't quote me on that)
     
  4. Bassic83

    Bassic83

    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I got a set of needle files at a hardware store, and use them for many things. If you're careful and go slow, they work well. There is about 15-18 different files in the pack, some are needle files, some are flat, some half-round, and even an offset file. I use the offset for getting the rough ends of individual frets, then use a diamond nail file for the fine work. Also use a nail buffer stick (foam, with really fine abrasive) to shine the brass nut on a couple basses. Once shined up, hit it with a little clear nail polish that has been thinned just a tad with acetone. Be careful with this- it can melt some finishes!
     
  5. schuyler

    schuyler

    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    i like the slots ever so slightly above the board... about the thickness of a 3 x 5 card, which is around .03-.04. the danger of going too low is that the strings will mute or rattle against the board. too high and your open notes have a noticeably different timbre than fingered notes.
     
  6. NoisemakerD-Lux

    NoisemakerD-Lux

    Oct 12, 2004
    Alright, guys. It seems that I'll be doing some filing. The slots on this nut are quiet a bit high. I got the action super low at the bridge end, but it's just too high at the nut and on the lower "frets". Thanks a lot for all the replies.

    One more question. Can anyone recommend a cheap-but-usable file? I really don't want to buy a whole set, if I can avoid it. I'm never going to touch the thing after I do this.

    Also, where do I look for one? Music shops or a store like Home Depot? Any good stores online that I can check out?

    Bassic83 - Speaking of a brass nut... one of the basses I have is a Warwick with the original brass nut. Love the thing for it's "individual string" height adjustment, but it (along with the brass frets that Warwick seems to use) has already turned orange. Thanks for the tip!

    Thanks again to all of you,

    ND
     
  7. Bassic83

    Bassic83

    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I got my set for really cheap a few years back. I think I paid about $5 for mine. I don't recall where I got it, I think maybe at Wally World.
    Be careful on the brass "Just-a-nut" on your Warwick- it has individually adjustable "saddles" and you have to be certain you don't get any nail polish stuck down in the mechanism. That said, if you can keep it out of the spaces, you'll be impressed with the results. Good luck, and keep us posted.
     
  8. NoisemakerD-Lux

    NoisemakerD-Lux

    Oct 12, 2004
    Weird. The big sets I found earlier cost up to $100. I did some surfin' last night and realized that these things can be bought for about a dollar (individually) and like 5 bucks for a whole set. I guess I wasn't looking specifically at "needle files" before, but rather big professional files. Pretty funny. :D

    Well, I guess I need to use a "round" one.

    One final thing..... is there anything I should know about LUBRICATION after I'm done? A few years ago someone on either this board or at Harmony Central was talking about using a piece of chalk. Anything I should know about this? We are talking a regular nut that Fenders come with - not brass or bone or anything. I assume that the filing may leave the surface a little rough...?

    ND
     
  9. Bassic83

    Bassic83

    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I used a piece of crocus cloth wrapped around the needle file to polish up the inside of my string slots. Not glass-smooth, but very acceptable.
     
  10. NoisemakerD-Lux

    NoisemakerD-Lux

    Oct 12, 2004
    Okie dokie. I guess I have all the info I need. I'll get to it in the next few days.

    If I screw something up, I'll be back here asking for help on replacing the whole nut. :D

    Thanks a lot.
     
  11. Luke Sheridan

    Luke Sheridan Commercial User

    Dec 30, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    I build guitars and sell them. Strings, too
    One final question on nuts: Would it be the preferred method to do the filing while the nut is not attached to the bass? Should I mark the lines on the bass and then place the nut in a vise?
     
  12. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I mark mine on the bass and then make the slots, just for the sake of ease. Then after I attach it i do final tunining.