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Relationship between the nut and string/body resonating

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by wisconsindead, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. I have been experiencing an issue with my guitar (67 Guild Starfire II), specifically with the output in the lower register of the A string (open A through fretted D, 5th fret).

    Its not a string, pickup, amplifier, cabinet or pole height, issue.

    I seem to recall the nut on my bass having a small crack on it where the A string goes, but Im not near it right now. Either way I am curious as to whether or not the nut can have an impact on how the strings resonate with the body. This issue can be heard acoustically. Its not as noticeable on my guitar (bedroom/practice) amp but its very noticeable on my bass amp. Ultimately I believe the issue is that the vibration of the string doesn't make the body resonate like other positions either on the A string or other strings and therefore the output is not how it should be. I should also mention that I have a repaired headstock using the previously broken parts. However, I know of another person using the same bass with a perfect headstock, different pickups, amp, strings etc and they have experienced this as well. However others have said they've never experienced this before.

  2. bassinflorida

    bassinflorida turn that dang thing down

    Jan 27, 2014
    Tampa, FL
    Ok. This particular topic 'title' just screams for comments.
    But seriously, considering my amateurish skill level, I believe you may have identified the issue.
  3. Thanks.

    You can see the small missing chip on the A string, and it looks like theres an even smaller chip for the D string.

    starfire nut. starfire nut2.JPG
  4. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    The nut should have no affect on fretted notes.

    Exactly what problem with the sound are you hearing?

  5. Its just dead on frets 1-5, its progressive towards the nut. The notes lose their bass/boom in that region so when I play around there its tough to hear myself. This problem doesn't occur on the other strings.
  6. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    How old are the strings?
  7. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    Maybe you have a deadspot in that area.
  8. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Looking at the shadows from the strings in the 2nd photo, maybe the nut slot is too low?
    Have you measured the clearance there on the A, or done tapping test? Try a temp shim of folded aluminum foil in the A string slot to see it that helps.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Replace the nut. It may not fix your issue but the A string is so chipped that the witness point of the nut is further back than the others and intonation will be off. The string MUST contact the nut at its edge, not an eighth inch behind the edge.

    You can't bend physics to your will and string vibration length is critical on an instrument. Your length is messed up by that broken nut.

    Then again it may fix the issue. Since the A slot is contacting back too far, intonation is off and that means the harmonic nodes are not directly above the frets as they should be ,so when you fret the note you are actually killing the natural harmonics produced at the fifth, seventh, twelfth frets. =dead dull notes with no natural overtones.

    Still that nut is part of your problem. Replace it.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2014
    josiah goldfish and 202dy like this.
  10. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Just looked at it again-
    There may be a functional issue with the nut (or not),
    but even if there is, it will not affect fretted notes (unless intonation is set incorrectly, re: '96tbird' post above).
    I would slack the A string, see if the bottom of the slot looks damaged, try a temp shim to see if that helps,
    and if the slot bottom is damaged or the shim helps, replace the nut.
  11. Thanks for the help guys. I'll look into getting this fixed.

    Part of me is beginning to think that the broken headstock has produced the dead spots. One variable at a time...
  12. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The intonation cannot be set correctly unless a witness point can be established at the front edge of the nut. The images seem to indicate that this is not the case at the A and D slots.
    96tbird likes this.
  13. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    As other's have said that nut needs to go, but in regards to the dead spot/s a simple test can be done by attaching a clamp to the headstock as it is often the case that when you mess with the mass of the neck those spots will move.
    So being that it's easy to try, after you get the nut fixed see what that does for it.
    If you like the results you can live with a clamp on your headstock:laugh: or explore adding some more discrete wights (hidden underneath the tuners is a good spot.
  14. I worry that getting the nut fixed may be difficult due to the broken head stock. And im not sure if Im ready to send my bass away for god knows how long to get the headstock completely repaired. Sigh.

    Thanks again
  15. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Milwaukee hmm? You saying there's nobody in your town that can cut a nut? Betcha a coffee there is!
  16. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Replacing a nut shouldn't be effected by any prior breaks in the headstock, even if someone glued it down like mad it's still not too big a deal to remove it.
    If you can find a luthier without a back log this sort of job shouldn't have your bass there more the a couple days
  17. lundborg


    Apr 8, 2008
    The nut would not be the problem here IMO. Chip is not in a bad place.

    The problem you describe indicates too low tension over the nut.

    According to the picture, the A string is almost flat over the nut, which supports this symptom.

    Try adding tension over the nut, and see if it improves. A permanent fix can be to simply add a few more winds on the peg.
  18. lundborg


    Apr 8, 2008
    And you can use baking soda with superglue to fix the nut of you care. Google it.
  19. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Like bass guitar OMG!

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    That might hold for a little while but on an edge like that with the string pressure on it it'll come loose eventually, most likely when putting the strings back on for the first time lol.
    Also although I've done this as a quick fix for a few folks in order to raise a nut slot that was too deep I wouldn't recommend it long term as there can be a tonal variance between the filled slot and the non filled slots.
    Plus for 50/100 bucks a new nut looks better and will most likely last much longer then you or I.
    96tbird likes this.
  20. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    Harmonics will always be in tune if the string is good.
    They will always be where they should be on the string, which is all that matters, eg, the 2nd harmonic will
    always be at the midpoint of the string's speaking length, whatever that lenth may be.

    So The 2nd harmonic will always be in tune and strong regardless of whether it is above the 12th fret or not.
    That's why we are able to use the 12th fret harmonic to intonate a string that is not yet intonated.


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