Replacing a nut with a curve

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by sagan, Apr 6, 2018.

  1. sagan


    Apr 6, 2018
    Hey guys. Few weeks ago I bought a bass guitar. It was an almost unused Yamaha RBX 170. This is my first bass guitar that I wanted to play every now and then alongside my other guitars.

    While it was in almost pristine condition after first tuning and playing the bass for roughly 10 minutes the nut cracked under a string slot and was immediatelly pulled back. Mind you, this guitar has got a nut at the end of the fretboard and doesn't have a nut slot.

    The original nut was made out of cheap plastic and had (I think) slots slightly too narrow for the strings, which might have been the cause of damage.

    I decided to replace the nut as I was able to get my hands on a precut NuBone nut that fit the specs of the old nut. Almost.

    I sanded the new nut to proper height leaving it a bit higher, for fine tuning, but after fitting it in the guitar I noticed that there was extreme tension on the contact point between the strings and the nut causing the strings to pull it towards the headstock.

    Took another look at the old nut just to find that the slots in it curve down towards the headstock. The new one accomodates the strings much better, however from what I've heard it should rest in place after tuning, without putting any glue on and it simply does not as the strings are pulling it out of it's place and even lifting it slightly.

    Is there a fix for this? Should I file the slots the way they are in the original? Could I use the strings wrapped in 1000/600 grit sand paper to achieve the curve?

    There is no luthier, music shop, guitar tech in my area, so I'm on my own, only with access to basic DIY tools. :(

  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    You want the height of the bottom of each slot from the bottom of the nut to be same height on the new one as the old one. The lack of the tuner-side "bevel curve" on the new nut should be irrelevant, I think. But the angle of the nut slot bottoms down towards the headstock might be important.
  3. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    You heard wrong. BIG. It requires glue to hold it in place; nuts are not supposed to sit loose brcause they might slide around as you play. A couple of dots of Superglue applied to the bottom and side and set it in place. String up after the glue has set.

    THE slots should ANGLE down toward the tuners but at a steeper angle so only the fret side of the nut contacts the strings.
    Bassbeater, mech and Matt Liebenau like this.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I'd use a small dab of Elmer's or carpenter glue, so you can get the nut out again later - superglue is likely to take some wood with it.
  5. sagan


    Apr 6, 2018
    Thanks for the replies.

    I meant just for fitting the nut, the strings should hold it in place, right? I felt like it shouldn't lean back whenever I put strings on it. I can imagine tuning the instrument and just that snapping even a glued nut away. I am going to glue it before actually playing it and setting it up.

    So it is important that I reproduce the angle from the original nut? Is that only a thing with the nuts that don't go into a nut slot? Pardon the questions, I have replaced a bunch of nuts in the past but it was only on electric/acoustic guitars and they didn't require that kind of shaping, just refining for the most part.

    Sorry for being imprecise, I figured the bevel curve on top of the nut wouldn't really do much, the question was all about the actual string slots in the nut. Is there a recommended method of achieving that if I only have access to DIY tools? Could the string method work?
  6. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    You have to glue a nut on. I use white glue, and put a capo over the nut until well set.
    Bassbeater likes this.
  7. As 96Tbird said, the slots should angle down towards the headstock and tuners so the front edge of the nut is the contact point for the string. I do this on guitars as well as basses.

    You should be able to open up the slots a little if you are very careful with needle files.
    Bassbeater and Paulabass like this.
  8. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    For fitting the nut, as you indicate, its not necessary to tune the strings to pitch, just enough to hold the nut there. That'll keep it from capsizing on you. Final nut slot adjustment you can do once its glued in place. Tune it to pitch and work on one slot at a time once its glued in.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
  9. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Has that ever actually happened to anybody? I don't glue my nuts in. If the bass is tuned to pitch, the nut is not easy to move. Yes, it can be done with some force but I wouldn't expect it to happen without somebody trying to do so.

    That being said, I don't think it is a bad idea to use a little white glue to hold a nut in place. Don't go overboard though. I had a student who decided to learn nut work. He also decided to super glue the crap out of the nut... which he then proceeded to cut too low.
  10. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    you can also draw the profile height on front and back before you start filing. It's easier when you have both on a table to take measurements and make graphite or grease pencil markings so you know how much to file.