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The Nut

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Jack Lemon, Jun 19, 2017 at 2:44 PM.


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  1. Jack Lemon

    Jack Lemon

    Mar 8, 2015
    Hello experienced TB'ers, I'm trying to file down the nut on my DB and I'm looking for the proper size files. The strings I'm using are:

    D'Addario Helicore Pizzicatos, 3/4 Scale, Medium Tension
    E-68.0
    A-67.0
    D-66.0
    G-62.0
    (I don't know how to go about getting the size or sort of file I'm supposed to be lookin for)

    The reason for the job is my high action. It's tough to play, and I could fit several business cards under the first note position without them holding. Should I take off the glued-in nut and file the bottom flat?


    Thanks in advance, and any advice for going about this would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Jack Lemon

    Jack Lemon

    Mar 8, 2015
    I will be back with accurate measurements of my action, if needed.
     
  3. misterbadger

    misterbadger Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Northern California
    A cheap digital micrometer is your best friend for checking string diameter. Nut slotting files (Stew-Mac has them from .010 to .125) will do a more accurate job than needle files. Typically the nut slot isn't cut flat but dives a bit to mimic the string angle as it meets the tuning machine post. Single business card thickness is your goal between the string and fingerboard; ebony dust and cyano glue will build up the slot if you cut too far and get buzzing.
     
    Jack Lemon likes this.
  4. Jack Lemon

    Jack Lemon

    Mar 8, 2015

    misterbadger, thanks for your reply and tip. I just went on the site, and I couldn't find the correct measurements. They indeed have a span from .010 - .125, but not everything in between. I need the sizes listed for my gauge strings (I think). Do you have experience with doing this sorta job? Is it imperative that I get the exact gauge per string? Slightly smaller and force the string in? The only size in the ballpark was .065, which none of my strings are measured at.
     
  5. Always rather larger than smaller.
     
    Jack Lemon likes this.
  6. misterbadger

    misterbadger Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Northern California
    Exact file size isn't important - enlarge the slot side-to-side if your file's undersized. Ultimately you want the string to glide smoothly in the slot, so net or slightly wider on the slot.
     
    Jack Lemon likes this.
  7. Jack Lemon

    Jack Lemon

    Mar 8, 2015
    Word.

    I will try this in the upcoming days and update y'all.
    Thanks for the tips!
     
  8. I use a needle (rat-tail) file for the top three strings and a larger round file for the E. Use a soft lead pencil (graphite id a dry lubricant) in each groove before refitting the strings. It can also be used in the bridge grooves.

    Also check out to see if the bass neck is developing a forward bend (doing a "banana"). Stand behind the bass and step back, leaning it towards you until you can sight down the line formed by the black fingerboard and the paler neck.
    This is another cause for a very high action.
     
    Jack Lemon likes this.
  9. Jack Lemon

    Jack Lemon

    Mar 8, 2015
    Thanks, David! My fingerboard definitely has the banana camber to it, I'm gonna have to plane the fb as well as file the nut for this project.
     
  10. The fingerboard needs some camber to avoid rattling of the strings.
    The question is rather has the neck and fingerboard bent (underside of the fingerboard is not straight) or is there some space between fingerboard and neck? That would need repair and can cause a high action that will go down automatically after the repair.
     
    Jack Lemon likes this.
  11. Sorry, Jack, I was not quite as clear as DoubleMIDI.
     
    Jack Lemon likes this.
  12. Jack Lemon

    Jack Lemon

    Mar 8, 2015
    The neck seems straight, I lowered my bridge all the way and it has brought the action down to a playable tension. I believe I still need to plane the fingerboard some....
    I might file down the E and A still.
     
  13. Jack Lemon

    Jack Lemon

    Mar 8, 2015
    Ok, so is it possible just to plane some off of the fingerboard just under the E and A strings, or would this cause another issue? My action is fine on the upper strings, but I can't rid my bass of the horrible buzz when fingered at the G of the E string, and the D of the A string. Please and thanks for your help!
     
  14. Jack Lemon

    Jack Lemon

    Mar 8, 2015
    Just bumping, I'm not super sure how these forums work still..
     
  15. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    If you press the E or A down to the finberboard at both ends simultaneously, how much clearance is under the strings? I shoot for approximately one string diameter of scoop under each individual string, which, obviously, means more clearance under the thicker strings. If it isn't there, then yes, rattling is likely to result. And, unfortunately, some strings need more than others.
     
  16. In case Jack Lemon has not much experience in double bass setup work (which I guess is the case), I can only recommend going to a luthier, let him do the work, watch it and let him explain why he does what. A lot of luthiers like when players are interested in their work and you can learn a lot.

    It is easy to ruin a fingerboard if you scape a bit too much or a bit at the wrong place. A new fingerboard is a lot more expensive AND needs a lot more planing than yours, so better invest the money for a professional work, learn and maybe try it yourself next time when you got a cheap instrument that hardly could be ruined more than it already is.

    I did some planing myself, but only after I watched professional work, talked to the luthier about what he does and what to watch out for and what to avoid and did it very slowly and a lot of checking. But it needs a lot of time if you are inexperienced and get inpatient, you will do something wrong and may ruin your instrument, but surely make the work harder than it was before.
     
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  17. notabene

    notabene

    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    "It is easy to ruin a fingerboard if you scape a bit too much or a bit at the wrong place. A new fingerboard is a lot more expensive AND needs a lot more planing than yours, so better invest the money for a professional work, learn and maybe try it yourself next time when you got a cheap instrument that hardly could be ruined more than it already is."

    I would be scared to plane a fingerboard. A scraper (best bass tool you'll ever buy) will do the same work, and not risk taking out a chunk of ebony, which can happen with a plane.

    Steven