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String angle from nut to tuner: does it matter?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Cyril_YU, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. Cyril_YU


    Sep 13, 2016
    Paris, France
    Actually this question has bothered me for a while. I've noticed quite a few basses made by different luthiers that have this issue. The strings between the nut and the tuner are not parallel to each other, or are not symmetrical (some guitars too). It seems that the string(s) with issue is "bent" by the nut, instead of landing on it. Is this a severe problem, or it's fine (expect that it still looks annoying)?

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  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Looks like style over function. IME, as long as it holds a tune, really doesn't matter.
    Doctor J and JRA like this.
  3. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    It can make up to a .00001% change to the sound and feel of your bass.
    Doctor J and JRA like this.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I've never noticed an audible difference, I just prefer a stright string pull, preferably at a downward angle. It looks like the builder put some actual thought into the headstock.
    Cyril_YU and Bob_Ross like this.
  5. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Yeah, while I could guess about some potential problems or inefficiencies from having the string angle away from the nut in a non-perpendicular fashion, I have no idea whether there's any truth to that conjecture...and I certainly never noticed any issues empirically. But from a purely aesthetic point of view I think instruments where the string takes a perfect straight shot from fingerboard across the nut to the tuner look infinitely more attractive than those with any angle.
  6. Ghastly


    Oct 18, 2015
    Mill Valley
    Well, as long as you have a "witness point" created by the string going over the nut, it shouldn't make any difference in sound which angle the string goes… I think?
    Coolhandjjl, JRA and Zooberwerx like this.
  7. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    The biggest issue, IMO, is friction of the string over the nut while tuning. Obviously a straight shot over the nut to the tuning peg yields the least amount of friction. But I guess depending on nut material, this may or may not be a moot point...
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    it's a musical instrument: symmetry is not the primary function nor the end goal. if tuning is not an issue = you're good to go!
  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The more left/right angle the string takes between the nut and tuning post the greater chance there is for it to have issues with binding and tuning stability.
    Lubricating the slots helps, as well as having them cut correctly.

  10. Coolhandjjl


    Oct 13, 2010
    Yup. Some strings such as TI Flats are extremely sensitive to having an adequate downward angle over both the bridge saddle AND the nut. If it's not enough, you can get buzzing. This can be achieved at the nut end by the use of string tees, a tilted back headstock, and/or adequate windings on the tuning peg.

    But when you get to severe sideways angles like the old Kramers, then it look like that might create issues, and some nuts needed to be pinned in to stay in place.

    But slight sideways angles are pretty common and don't have any ill effect.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
    Ghastly likes this.
  11. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    Angle matters a LOT if you use a bass with a Kahler trem. You pretty much need a balance between no angle and just enough minimum angle to prevent string rattle in the nut. On "P" type basses, the string tree(or button) is removed from the headstock to lessen friction.
    Examples here with a Kahler bass in front(string tree removed, set up with tricks from Eric Haven's basstremfanatics forum), and basses with other angles.
    Five Fours.JPG

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