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Thinking of shaving my nut

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Johnny5, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. Johnny5


    Mar 5, 2006
    Calgary, Canada
    Pun intended.

    I've got Jazz Bass that I want to restring with the top 4 thickest strings of a 5-set (so B-E-A-D instead of E-A-D-G). I currently play an entry level Yamaha with the same setup and I didn't think to file down the nut to account for the added width, it seems to have held up perfect, no shifting or ill effects on the guitar otherwise and I've been playing it like that for almost 2 years.

    Should I worry about filing down the nut on my new Jazz? I want to keep the setup permanent.
  2. ldervish


    May 22, 2005
    Johnson City, TN
    No personal experience on this, but the danger (as I understand it) is that the nut could split, requiring replacement. Although that would not be an expensive repair, why go through it when having your shop widen the slots slightly would take care of it? It's a one-time fix, and no worries for your Jazz.
  3. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'm with Idervish on this one. I broke a nut once doing the same thing you're wanting to do.
  4. arbitrary

    arbitrary Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Boston, MA
    DO IT!!!
    It'll look bigger!!!

    I'm sorry; I just had too....prbly will itch though.
    just weight the pros and cons.
  5. lyle

    lyle Guest

    Jan 10, 2004
    Vernon, B.C. Canada
  6. I was waiting for this response.
  7. 5bassman


    May 4, 2005
    I did this same setup on both of my Sadowskys and I widen the string slots using the strings themselves, no file needed. That way you just go wider and not deeper into the nut. Do it yourself. It takes no time at all.
  8. Johnny5


    Mar 5, 2006
    Calgary, Canada
    Now that's what I wanted to hear, a do it yourself tip.
    So just move the strings back and forth until they eat into the nut (thus creating the proper width)?
  9. Be careful doing that. One of my former careers was working in the Gibson Custon Shop, and I handbuilt nuts for many, many guitars.

    Before messing with the nut slots, make sure your truss rod is adjusted properly. The neck needs to have a slight downward bow in the middle to allow room for string vibration. Bass necks need more bow than guitar necks, and bigger strings vibrate in bigger circles, so with heavier gauge strings you will need slightly more bow.

    You can probably wear down the slots with the string, but I would recommend a round file, or wrapping a piece of sandpaper around a slightly smaller string. Then carefully work the slot a bit wider, checking it with the actual string until it sits in the slot just right. Make sure you widen both sides of slot evenly, so the centerline of the string remains in the same spot.

    Also, file or sand it at a very slight downward angle so that the highest point of the nut slot is at the front edge, next to the fingerboard. You want the string to ride firm at the front of the nut, otherwise you will mess up your intonation.

    IF the nut is bone or white plastic, color the inside of the slot with a pencil first, and then you can see what you are doing. If it is black, (graphite or plastic), then use white chalk or something.

    Be very careful not to make the slot too deep, or you will have fret buzz at the first fret and then you'll need a whole new nut. You can take the slot down until the low B string rides about 4 business card thicknesses above the first fret. The higher strings can get progressively lower until the D string, which should be about 2 business card thicknesses above the fret. Adjusting the action at the nut will make you bass play much easier, and makes a tremendous difference to the overall feel.

    If you take your time and work it slowly, you can do this yourself with great results.
  10. 5bassman


    May 4, 2005
    Yep, it worked perfect. I never got down to the bottom of the nut so changing what Sadowsky did at the shop wasn't affected as far as I can tell. I just widend it alittle and there's no fear of going too wide. I checked with Sadowsky on changing it to BEAD and Roger himself emailed back and said it would be no problem. I then adjusted the neck, saddle and intonation and they both sound great!
  11. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    OH god, you cut yourself?
  12. Can someone confirm this height? Assuming this is a converted fretless neck, would this be the height from the fretboard?

  13. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    I have done the "string eating away" trick to string a right handed acoustic guitar left-handed... I made that low E fit into a high e slot no problem so you can make a bass B fit into a bass E slot. I did it to a plastic nut though, I don't know if it will work with bone or graphite. If it doesn't work, you can always get an exactoknife and shaved pieces off (yes, I've done this, but take EXTREME caution with this and pay attention at all times).
  14. I was referring to the card height. If it's a fretless neck, the string height at the "first fret" is what I'm curious about.

  15. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    With a fretless neck, I measure the height at the nut and it can be very low. Between .015 and .020 inches is a good safe height.
  16. Is that for all the strings? I like this, it is a more exact measurment.
  17. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    Yeah, I set them all the same. Once you get down to about .010 one little slip of the file could take it down to nothing. So you have to be careful. But if you have feeler gauges, or just use your dial caliper to find something the right thickness, you can take it down under .020 and see how you like it. If you feel it should be lower, then take it lower. Theoretically you should be able to go down to nothing. But practically, probably about .005 is as low as you'd want to go.