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 Post subject: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:47 am 
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Walnut
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I am wondering, is it possible for me to cut the nut slots with normal tools found around the house or in a big box store? Or do I have to get gauged saws like the ones on Stewmac? Some advice would be appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:22 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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You will find folks who will say that needle files are fine or even a three corner file but I would respectfully disagree.

My answer to your question is sure, you can cut the nut slots with a number of more common tools that are not made for cutting nut slots. Sharpened feeler gauges (you ruin them to do this....) can be used as well.

If on the other hand you want to do great work or learn how the pros do it proper nut files are important and not something that other files can do the work of.

We've argued on the forum before about this very question and you will find differing points of view. I personally am paid to cut the nut slots on around 600 guitars annually and I would never attempt to do this without my nut files (Stew-Mac, gauged files). For a hobbyist perhaps building one kit alternatives can work but you won't be getting things as close to perfect as is possible.....

Lastly the single most important part of the set-ups that I do and people rave about if you read our reviews are the nut slots. No single element of a great set-up in my view is as important as very well cut, very low nut slots. Everything else builds off this.

Well cut nut slots also go a very long way to keeping the intonation as close to perfect as imperfect temperament instruments such as guitars can be. It's also something that folks notice immediately when the F bar chord that they have been struggling with is now easy to do.

I know no one tells us with that first kit that we also need a couple thousand in tools.... and I've been there. With this said if there are any plans to build more or learn to do great set-ups proper nut files are a must and well worth $100 or less to do most things that you will need to do.



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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:25 pm 
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Koa
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What Hesh said about making the investment in tools to build a kit - however there is a good chance you will build another and another and... And maybe do some setup work on your other guitars or friends. The proper tools will pay off in the long run.

Along with the nut files, most people will buy a fret crowning file, some special bits for routing binding channels (and a router if they don't already have it), maybe a bridge pin reamer and a few measuring tools for doing the setup.

You will hear people say that you can buy a set of welding tip cleaners for cutting nut slots - I thought I would try and got some from Home Depot for five bucks or so (they look like this)

https://www.zoro.com/value-brand-spiral ... fgodMeQB5w

They are calibrated in the tip size which means you either need to print out the conversion chart or measure them with a caliper each time you want to work on a slot. Frankly I have never used them once I realized what a hassle it would be - I had bought a set of StewMac files 11 years ago when I built my first kit, they have probably made 50 or more nuts since then and the tip cleaners are somewhere in a box.

I'm going to add that in my opinion a well made nut makes a guitar a pleasure to play, a poorly made one make it a pain. Take the time to do it right.



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: Hesh (Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:26 am)
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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:07 pm 
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Walnut
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Thank you both for the good advice. I had a big smile when you mentioned the F chord that can be hard to do on a guitar where the strings are too high! I see now I have two choices. I can either buy the set of nut files, or I can go to a local music shop where the owner does this all the time. He told me he would do it for $60. By the time I buy everything it would be about the same. But...but, I would be outsourcing the last piece of work to someone else. I kind of want to do it on my own! So.....decisions decisions.

I will have to look into the fret crowning file. These are some of the "fine tuning" I would like to do before I string her up. I'll have to admit, I don't know a single thing about nuts, saddles, crowned frets, intonation, etc. I always just changed my strings and once and a while brought my guitars into shops to have the intonation worked on. I never cared to tackle it myself.

Also guys, the saddle in the bridge, is that supposed to be glued into the slot? Thanks.



These users thanked the author Dharper for the post: Hesh (Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:29 am)
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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:58 pm 
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I do much more repair than I do actual building, but I can tell you this - doesn't matter how pretty you made the box, or how nicely you finished it - the player lives and dies on the neck. If you can't make a nut, and do good fretwork - you wasted your time. It's like a PGA player who works only on his 300 yard shots, and never practices his putting. Nuts and putters are where the money is.

Despite what Hesh says, you can do very well with a quality set of needle files for nut slots (I have several sets). I don't think you can find any of the old Ibanez fret slotting files anymore (3 files, 6 different edges), but they are workhorses (I've got 2 sets of them, too). While you're at it, get a couple Exacto razor saws for the plain strings. I measured mine with a micrometer and marked them, .010, .012, .014, and so on. All these tools have served me well for 40 years.

And as for gluing, a dot or two of glue is sufficient to hold the nut down. Just like the old Brylcreem ads said, "A little dab will do ya!". Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:08 pm 
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Koa
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Lets start with the last one, no do not glue the saddle into the slot (there are few vintage Martins that were glued but modern guitars do not). Th saddle should be a snug but not tight fit, it shouldn't rock but you should be able to slip it in and out fairly easily. Sometimes I'll use a pair of small diagonal cutters to gently lift one end if it seems tight, but then I'll take a couple of swipes on 220 sand paper to loosen it slightly.

You do want to very lightly glue the nut in place after you have shaped it, cut the slots and polished it. I use two tiny drops of CA on the bottom (or sometimes the side that touches the fretboard). You want to be able to tap it with a hammer and block of wood in the future to remove it.

Also, I do three things while making a nut from scratch. First after fitting it to the slot and width of the neck I take a wood pencil that I've sanded in half and laying it on the first couple of frets, draw a line. That is a "zero fret" line, and would be the theoretical lowest the slots could be. Approach it slowly. I also have target values for the clearance at the first fret for each string. Usually that ranges from about 0.014 on the high E and B, 0.016 on the G and D and going up to 0.018 on the bottom two (or averaging between the strings so they gradually rise across the neck). Those are low side, again, work your way down testing as you go. The last check I use is that if I fret a string at the 3rd fret I want a tiny bit of clearance at the first - maybe only a couple of thousands but I want some. If all those things click then I've usually got the lowest fret action that won't buzz. The secret to all of this is to go slowly, its much easier to take a little more off the nut, hard to put it back on.

Your questions pose some of the dilemmas of first time guitar building. I have kind of a standing offer to local folks who want to build a guitar or learn to do setup work - I'll help with those really hard parts or the parts that need special tools (side bending, binding routing, neck setting, and yes, nuts and setups). I'll work with you, you can use my tools with the understanding that if you continue you'll end up with your own. I make a point of not "helping you build a guitar" - there are enough resources for that - but I also understand the expense and commitment in buying all the tools. A big distinction here is that Hesh and your music store are professionals and have to make money doing this, I am a hobbiest, retired and just do it for the love of it.

Too bad we live at opposite ends of the country but maybe there is someone local who feels the way I do.

ps - I also tell folks not to build a kit thinking they will get a cheap guitar, but to savor the experience, learn a tiny bit about the traditions and techniques, and to be genuinely proud when you play it.



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post (total 2): Dharper (Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:35 pm) • Hesh (Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:29 am)
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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:37 pm 
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Well, I screwed that up! I already glued the nut in place with titebond. And I didn't use a couple of drops! Doh. I will not glue the saddle in.

So if I buy these two products that should be enough for me to shape an accurate nut?
http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Ty ... d_Saw.html
http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/To ... auges.html


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:17 pm 
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Koa
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Dharper wrote:
Well, I screwed that up! I already glued the nut in place with titebond. And I didn't use a couple of drops! Doh. I will not glue the saddle in.

So if I buy these two products that should be enough for me to shape an accurate nut?
http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Ty ... d_Saw.html
http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/To ... auges.html


I have the 0.010 and 0.020 pull saws and mainly use the 0.010 to start my slots.

Then I use either the first four of these which pretty much covers the required sizes

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Ty ... Files.html

or these, which are probably a better choice and are cheaper

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/To ... uitar.html

For a acoustic the light/medium set will work fine and be close enough to the gauges of strings that you will use. Being one or two thousands oversize is OK.

For feeler gauges go to your local auto parts or hardware store and try to find one that goes down to 0.002, 0.004, 0.005 or 6, and up to maybe 0.020 or 0.030. You'll use the leaves between 0.002 and 0.010 to measure relief, 0.014 to 0.020 to measure the nut slots.

You will also need a "machinists rule" calibrated in 64's which you can get at the hardware/auto parts store but I pretty much stopped using them when I bought this

http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Ty ... Gauge.html

It makes measuring the action at the 12 fret so much simplier - just slide it back and forth until the bottom of the string lines up with a line. I also like working completely in thousands of an inch rather than 64's and 32's - however you will frequently find setup information given in fractional inches. If you are working on a classical or in those parts of the world that use metric, get all your tools calibrated in mm.

You need some way to space the string on your nut - that could be a machinists rule, calipers, or the handy little rule that StewMac makes for that purpose. You can space the strings two different ways - either put them on equal centers or to put an equal amount of space between each string (which means the centers gets bigger as you go across the nut). Most people prefer the latter spacing - it either involves some math, a good eye or the SM gauge.

I've been looking back thru some of my build threads trying to find a good illustration of making a nut. This is the best I could find - its an electric guitar (which doesn't matter) and the steps are more or less show here

http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/for ... 33-/page16

Hope that helps, please feel free to ask any questions



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: Dharper (Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:32 am)
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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:46 pm 
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Walnut
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Ok, I received my $160 worth of tools today. I used the spacer rule to lay out the slots, marked them, scored them. Then I measured the height of the first fret, it was at .040. Just to be on the safe side I added .020 to that number and used the .020 and .040 as a guide for my slot cuts. For now I cut everything to that height then I stringed my guitar. Once strung I used the Stew Mac String Action Gauge to measure the 1st and 12th frets. As of now this is what I have on the Bass E string:
1st fret: .040
12th fret: .120

On the String Action Gauge instructions it says I should be at:
Bass E 1st fret: .023; 12th fret: .090
Treble E 1st fret: .013; Treble E .070

Obviously I cut it waaaayyy higher than I should have. That was by design. Now I am ready to bring everything down to where it should be, but I have a question about the saddle and its involvement.
The saddle that came with the kit seemed to already be formed. So I simply sanded it and put it in its slot. I am curious to know if I need to also be forming and "tweaking" the saddle at the same time I am adjusting the nut slot heights?
Here's what it looks like from the front and back. This is the way it came. All I did is stick it in the slot and string it.

Attachment:
IMG_1493.JPG

Attachment:
IMG_1494.JPG


To achieve the optimal action as described with the gauge (Bass E 1st fret: .023; 12th fret: .090), do I need to work on both the nut and the saddle at the same time?

Also, the D string buzzes like a Sitar when you strum it. If you work your way down the frets the buzzing disappears. But when struck in an open position it buzzes like crazy. Is this because of the saddle? The pins aren't sitting far enough down? Some other builder error?

Thanks guys!


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:13 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Forget about the saddle for now.

Press/fret and hold each string between the 2nd and 3rd fret. Over the first fret tap the string observing the height/space over the first fret crown. This is how you cut the nut slots, gauges, measuring tools are all useless for getting the nut slots as low as they should be. By fretting and holding between the 2nd and third while tapping the string over the first fret crown and observing the space/gap/distance we take the saddle completely out of play for now. The guitar should be tuned to pitch and the truss rod adjusted AFTER the guitar is tuned to pitch before cutting nut slots. Strings are lifted out of the slot to make the cuts, not detuned and then replaced while repeating the above again to see what you have. String lifters are very useful.

For the low e the gap that I want to see is perhaps sub .001"..... As you can imaging this takes some great light and decent eyes.... For the b very similar distance with the gap/space increasing for each respective string. The low e might be only a .006" gap when fretting and holding between the 2nd and 3rd.

It can be said that cutting nut slots well is an art and requires practice. If you cut too low that's expected and it's also said at one of the best Lutherie schools there is that making about 100 nuts before you really start to understand this stuff is par for the course.

Be aware that after cutting deeper the slot may not be wide enough and you need to work the string down to the bottom of the slot each time you make cuts.

I cut nut slots every day, many of them and I tend to scrape the side of the slot on each side on the down stroke to be sure that my .013" slot is actually that or slightly wider. Measure with a mic your files too and remark them, they are always a little bit off.

If you go too low the nut slot will have to be raised because it will buzz/rattle open. We use light cured composite dental fillings when we screw up. Others use CA and bone dust (which does not last very long.... IME).

Also the Stew-Mac slot spacing rule is a great tool. I use mine every time I make a nut. Highly recommended.

BTW rarely have we met a guitar even if it has been set-up by a pro that the nut slots are not too high.... One of the major justifications for nut compensation is the sharpness that high nut slots cause. Cut them low enough and the sharpness goes away and as such we are not fans of nut compensation.... Classicals with nylon strings may do better with compensation again because of the higher nut slots.

Lastly when the nut slots have all been cut well, truss rod adjusted then and only then do you measure action at the 12th and adjust saddle height accordingly. For a Dred with 12's 4/64th" for the high e and 6/64" for the low e are Martin/Industry specs. For 13's add one 64th" to each measurement.

There was a thread about a week ago that our friend Mike O started about a revelation that he had. I put my step-by-step set-up routine in that thread. You should check it out.

Good luck.


Last edited by Hesh on Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:15 pm 
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Oh the sitar sound is a flat nut slot or, in other words not enough angle or a hump in the middle of the slot. Try to hold the files at about seven degrees of back angle relative to the fret board plane when cutting slots. I know it sounds like it is coming from the saddle but it's not. What we are hearing is the vibrating wave breaching the face of the nut slot for lack of enough break angle.


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:38 pm 
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For the pins use a 5 degree reamer and fit each one. That's how it's done.

We prefer 3 degree pins and unslotted pins too but that's another discussion.


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 5:01 pm 
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Hesh wrote:
I cut nut slots every day, many of them and I tend to scrape the side of the slot on each side on the down stroke to be sure that my .013" slot is actually that or slightly wider. Measure with a mic your files too and remark them, they are always a little bit off.
.

This! bliss
The only way to get a feel for how much material you are removing from the bottom of the slot is if your file can slide completely freely during the stroke. If you just file straight down like a saw, it will bind and lurch and you will need a death-grip on the file. This will get in the way of the perception you need.
Every slot, I start with the file at the top of the slot on each side at a 45 degree angle and take a stroke sliding down the side, ending up with the file vertical at the bottom.
This is so key I'll just say it again. If you can't feel the teeth cutting the bottom of the slot with a light touch, perfect nut slot heights will elude you.

If you have new strings on, don't forget to fret hard at the first fret at pitch before filing the slots. New strings will arch artificially high after the forward face of the nut.

The best "half pencil" is a long scarf on a carpenters pencil.
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These users thanked the author david farmer for the post (total 2): Dharper (Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:01 am) • Hesh (Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:34 am)
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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:37 pm 
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My favorite string lifter: 3/4"x 3" suede leather w/ a little pencil rubbed in the fold.
Wrap the string at the soundhole, slide it up to the nut, pinch and lift the string, then set it down safe somewhere.
If you try it, make sure the leather is thin and floppy enough to lay folded over with the string in it. If it's stiff, it flips open and gets in your way.

I like to file slots without a vice in the way and I never got the hang of holding a string up while I file. There's no way I'm detuning each time. I like to get my body oriented square to the nut and my forearm and shoulder lined up parallel to the fingerboard.

That's just my way. Just throwing it out there in case works for someone else.

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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:52 pm 
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^^^^^ 'Tis a thing of beauty! ^^^^^

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post: david farmer (Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:59 am)
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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:46 am 
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david farmer wrote:
Hesh wrote:
I cut nut slots every day, many of them and I tend to scrape the side of the slot on each side on the down stroke to be sure that my .013" slot is actually that or slightly wider. Measure with a mic your files too and remark them, they are always a little bit off.
.

This! bliss
The only way to get a feel for how much material you are removing from the bottom of the slot is if your file can slide completely freely during the stroke. If you just file straight down like a saw, it will bind and lurch and you will need a death-grip on the file. This will get in the way of the perception you need.
Every slot, I start with the file at the top of the slot on each side at a 45 degree angle and take a stroke sliding down the side, ending up with the file vertical at the bottom.
This is so key I'll just say it again. If you can't feel the teeth cutting the bottom of the slot with a light touch, perfect nut slot heights will elude you.

If you have new strings on, don't forget to fret hard at the first fret at pitch before filing the slots. New strings will arch artificially high after the forward face of the nut.

The best "half pencil" is a long scarf on a carpenters pencil.
Attachment:
WIN_20170708_15_09_37_Pro.jpg

Attachment:
WIN_20170708_15_10_13_Pro.jpg


Hey David! [:Y:] Completely agree.

I wanted to add that in the repair world some nut materials tend to be for the lack of a better word... elastic. For example PRS South Korean "SE" models have a black nut material that is rubbery. Your files will only serve to temporarily part the nut material often not even cutting and then when we remove the file the slot closes back in.... Or you file and file and nothing happens and then all at once the file grabs and you cut the slot too low and your business partner has to hear language that he hasn't heard since he last did the same thing.... :D

Scraping the slot side to free up the file is important as David said.

I'll also add that if you have a Dr*ad with say 12's cut the sucker for 13's for the sake of eliminating binding (that tink sound heard along with the tuner display jumping...) and in case the client/customer wants to use 13's. Visiting a professional Luthier should not be an excuse to create dependencies on our trade and instead we should try to straighten things out for our clients to the degree that they won't need us again any time soon. Did I actually say that.... [uncle] :D This is why I would have not made a good psychotherapist..... :?

One last tip regarding David's file binding warning. That half pencil that he spoke of above and pictured is also key to removing excess material above the string that will also contribute to the file binding.

When we make a nut we mark with the half pencil and then with the slots cut to nearly full depth we file the nut top material down until we wreck the sacrificial set of strings that we use to make the nut (often the strings that the instrument came in with so as to not waste resources). The 1/2 string proud thing is not necessary and not even advisable for some players who can rip a string out of a 1/2 height slot.

Thanks for the great pics too David. The last shot is fretting and holding between the 2nd and 3rd I believe and observing the distance over the 1st crown.



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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:59 am 
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So hesh, you're pretty much saying you use your eyes when it comes to slotting the nut? You really must do this every day! If I press down between the 2nd and 3rd frets I still have quite a bit of space between the string and the fret. Did I understand you correctly when you said you like to get the high E all the way down to .001? And the each string in succession going up just a little higher finishing with the low E string at around .006 when you suppress the strings between the 2nd and 3rd frets? That's practically touching the frets!

Good advice David on filing the slots. I found my files were binding as I was going back and forth. I will use your advice as I lower them.


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:09 pm 
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Hesh wrote:
Oh the sitar sound is a flat nut slot or, in other words not enough angle or a hump in the middle of the slot. Try to hold the files at about seven degrees of back angle relative to the fret board plane when cutting slots. I know it sounds like it is coming from the saddle but it's not. What we are hearing is the vibrating wave breaching the face of the nut slot for lack of enough break angle.



This was brilliant! It took care of it right away. Man I was scared there for a second.


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:39 pm 
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Dharper wrote:
So hesh, you're pretty much saying you use your eyes when it comes to slotting the nut? You really must do this every day! If I press down between the 2nd and 3rd frets I still have quite a bit of space between the string and the fret. Did I understand you correctly when you said you like to get the high E all the way down to .001? And the each string in succession going up just a little higher finishing with the low E string at around .006 when you suppress the strings between the 2nd and 3rd frets? That's practically touching the frets!

Good advice David on filing the slots. I found my files were binding as I was going back and forth. I will use your advice as I lower them.


Yep I'm using my eyes AND my ears. If the string is still not in physical contact with the first fret crown an audible "tink" is heard when pressing it onto the fret crown. If I've cut too far...... no tink....

If you press and hold (fret) between the 2nd and 3rd fret and observe the space over the first fret crown and the space is more than say .001" your nut slot is too high for the high e and possibly b. Other more massive strings have slightly more clearance so yes I am saying that this distance is minimal and at times only discernible if viewed at the right angle looking for a sliver of light. The tink noise helps me know that I've not gone too far.

It is practically touching the frets but not quite.

It's important to note why our Starrett gauges or Stew-Mac gauges are useless for this and why we can't seek or glean empirical data through actual physical measurements as well. Or, in other words why for folks who do this frequently where time is money AND as close to absolute perfection is the goal why our eyes, ears and experience beats actual measurements.

Metal strings bend differently depending on many things. String stiffness, diameter, composition AND even the angles that the strings are presented to the nut slots at. For example a slot head guitar will have far more break angle over the nut slot face than say a Fender bolt-on neck G string with nearly not enough break angle. One will bend much more than the other. Being tuned to pitch is also a function of how much and how soon the string will conform to the fret plane after leaving the nut face.

If we attempt to cut nut slots independent of strings, tunings and relief the precision will never match what we can do with taking the saddle and action out of play entirely AND simply cutting the slot as low as possible never giving a rat's arse what the measurement is.

We have a tool that Dave Collins my business partner made that measures the exact depth relative to the frets of a nut slot. You would then think that a reading of .000" would be a low nut slot but it's not because the string bends over the nut slot as indicated. In fact for some more massive strings a nut slot cut .005" below the fret plane is still fine and even desirable....

If we draw a line on the nut face with David F's half pencil (a must to make and use by the way) it's possible and likely... to at times cut the nut slot below that line and still not have it be too low. This is again because of how the strings bend out of the nut slots.

This is what I mean. If measurements got us where we wanted to go I'd be the first to be evangelizing the use of specific, precision measurements.

Most of all though it's easy for what I write to sound complicated. This forum has well over 20 members who have spent a couple days with us in our shop and learned the techniques that I speak of here. I suspect that they might agree that I'm making this sound more complicated than it has to be and I also suspect that they would be correct...;) Simply fret between the 2nd and 3rd and hold and observe the space of the first. It's really that simple then cut the slot and repeat the process knowing in advance that the space observed and desired increases with the string diameter.

When you learn to do this and you will it's likely that you will be capable of improving all the guitars, mandos banjos and others in your life. They will also play more in tune as well in so much as high nut slots mess with intonation in a nasty way....


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:51 pm 
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Dharper wrote:
Hesh wrote:
Oh the sitar sound is a flat nut slot or, in other words not enough angle or a hump in the middle of the slot. Try to hold the files at about seven degrees of back angle relative to the fret board plane when cutting slots. I know it sounds like it is coming from the saddle but it's not. What we are hearing is the vibrating wave breaching the face of the nut slot for lack of enough break angle.



This was brilliant! It took care of it right away. Man I was scared there for a second.


We all encounter that sitar sound and for me it sounded like it was coming from the saddle..... :? [headinwall] :D BTW the saddle can do it too it's just much more rare to have a string wear a flat on the saddle than for us to cut a nut slot angle too shallow.

Personally I really struggled with holding the nut files at the proper angles. Two things helped me more than a decade ago now:

First I read on Frank Ford's FRETS.Net to cut slots at approx. half the head stock set back angle. 14 - 15 degrees was the set back angle so I used around 7 degrees and that took care of the sitar sound. Thanks again Frank!!!

Second Dave Collins suggested that when holding the nut slot files I keep my fingers under the back of the handle and in contact with the frets, kind of like training wheels on a bike if you will. I've done this ever since so thanks to Dave C. for this one.

If you enjoyed the solutions to flat nut slots wait until you get to wolf notes and back buzz.... [headinwall] :D


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:32 pm 
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I can't thank you guys enough for your input in this thread. Hesh's recommendations were very helpful and actually pretty easy and straightforward. I really took my time on each string, going feeler gauge by feeler gauge down till I came to the correct height. I am really happy with the end product. My action is .020 higher at the 12th fret than what they recommended though. But at the nut and 1st fret I'm very satisfied with the results! Thanks so much guys!



These users thanked the author Dharper for the post: Hesh (Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:30 am)
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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:33 am 
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Hey Devery, you are very welcome!

Now action is not set by cutting nut slots and that's a related operation but different topic. If you want me to walk you through that I'm happy to do so, just indicate here that you ware interested.

The nuts slots are a function of the truss rod adjustment but independent of action setting. One of the beauties of how I and many people set-up guitars is we sequentially eliminate variables until we are left with one. We address that one and then bill the client. ;) Next.


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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:37 am 
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I place a thin feeler gauge leaf into the nut slot and rest it on fret 2.
It's pretty easy to see the gap at the first fret.
I leave a gap of about .005" minimum.
With a smaller gap, I had a couple of guitars that buzzed on fret 1 after the guitars set for a few weeks without playing.
I reckon humidity change or something else caused movement.
Any ideas of what could cause this?

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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:55 pm 
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A couple of Idea's.

A steep filing angle, especially combined with a steep string angle, can can concentrate the string pressure on a small spot on the front edge of the nut. Man made materials tend to let the strings sink in over time and bone can either chip or wear quickly there.
I tend to file flatter than instruments I typically see so the string bears on the full width of the nut. It's a pet peeve of mine. I suspect many manufacturers use a steep nut back angle as a quick and dirty way of getting them out the door without a nut buzz. I often lower the slots dramatically and still the bearing is just on the front 1/3rd of the nut.

If you set the nut height with fresh strings, not fretted hard at the first fret yet, they may have been arching higher over nut face than after sitting for a while or getting just fretted once at the first.
The beauty of using the string itself (fretting at the 3rd checking at the first) is it accounts for the different arch of each particular string.

If a change in moisture content caused a decrease in neck relief, that would do it too. If you file the slots with the neck relief set at, or even slightly below, what it will ultimately be played with, you will always be good.



These users thanked the author david farmer for the post: Hesh (Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:20 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: The nut slots
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:14 pm 
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david farmer wrote:
A couple of Idea's.

A steep filing angle, especially combined with a steep string angle, can can concentrate the string pressure on a small spot on the front edge of the nut. Man made materials tend to let the strings sink in over time and bone can either chip or wear quickly there.
I tend to file flatter than instruments I typically see so the string bears on the full width of the nut. It's a pet peeve of mine. I suspect many manufacturers use a steep nut back angle as a quick and dirty way of getting them out the door without a nut buzz. I often lower the slots dramatically and still the bearing is just on the front 1/3rd of the nut.

If you set the nut height with fresh strings, not fretted hard at the first fret yet, they may have been arching higher over nut face than after sitting for a while or getting just fretted once at the first.
The beauty of using the string itself (fretting at the 3rd checking at the first) is it accounts for the different arch of each particular string.

If a change in moisture content caused a decrease in neck relief, that would do it too. If you file the slots with the neck relief set at, or even slightly below, what it will ultimately be played with, you will always be good.


Thanks David, yes my slots are cut at a steep angle. Makes sense there could be just a sliver left at the face. I'll give that a try. Good point about setting depth with an actual string.
Appreciate the help!
Dan

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