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Main Forums => Technical Discussion => Topic started by: George on October 16, 2017, 10:42:04 PM



Title: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 16, 2017, 10:42:04 PM
I have read numerous online articles about the art of nut slotting, but none seem to delve into it deep enough to satisfy my yearn to learn to do it at the level of perfection that I seek.  I have the proper tools, but still need some guidance.  I never slot a nut until it is the last resort in the setup process.  I just cannot seem to always get it where none of the strings, especially the high E and B strings, do not ping, ring, etc. and they are not touching the fret, it is only open string and sometimes only the up stroke or down stroke of the string. No other problems up the fretboard.  Some of you make your own nuts and have lots of experience with slotting, so Please offer your thoughts and suggestions...


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Barefoot Rob on October 16, 2017, 10:55:14 PM
having done a few thousands in my life time and though I eye it now if you put 2 business cards together and place one side on the first fret the other against the nut should get you to the right spot.You will need to decide wheather if you want the tops of the strings even or the bottom of the stringsI like the top's even I also try to match the radious to match the fisrt fret.A little at a time with the strings on.Hopes this helps if I can help more please feel free to call or pm. :wave


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Rockysdad on October 17, 2017, 12:17:48 AM
having done a few thousands in my life time and though I eye it now if you put 2 business cards together and place one side on the first fret the other against the nut should get you to the right spot.You will need to decide wheather if you want the tops of the strings even or the bottom of the stringsI like the top's even I also try to match the radious to match the fisrt fret.A little at a time with the strings on.Hopes this helps if I can help more please feel free to call or pm. :wave
A photo might be nice, :gotpics:


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Barefoot Rob on October 17, 2017, 02:26:26 AM
Ask around here my photo taking skills are even worse then my typing skills.Plus I don't think I can hold the camera and slot a nut{GET YOUR MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER} at the same time.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 17, 2017, 02:11:47 PM
I seem to recall there may have already been a discussion on this very topic with some photos?  I have had no luck finding it.  There are some camps that recommend an angled down toward the tuning machines slot, but leave enough to properly support the string without touching the nut all the way down.  So how much angle is correct?  While others indicate that bell shaping the slot opening on the nut backside helps prevent interference from the nut itself.  I saw a Bourgeois nut that had the most interesting slot opening shapes and was likely the most highly polished nut I have ever seen.  Any references to self teaching articles would be good to.  I really appreciate your help on this.

I am wondering if nut angle being compared to string break on a saddle should be coming into play here?


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: eded on October 17, 2017, 04:05:39 PM
There are several pages with pics and info on this site...

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/pagelist.html

Itís a long list and not the best organization.  Be sure to look through the whole list.

Ed


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 17, 2017, 06:56:52 PM
There are several pages with pics and info on this site...

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/pagelist.html

Itís a long list and not the best organization.  Be sure to look through the whole list.

Ed

thanks Ed.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 18, 2017, 12:24:03 AM
Well for whatever its worth, I read every topic I could find on nuts...  I was able to fix one high E string problem and made another B string worse...  Go figure, I used every tip they gave and it should have worked?


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: eded on October 18, 2017, 01:11:46 AM
Well for whatever its worth, I read every topic I could find on nuts...  I was able to fix one high E string problem and made another B string worse...  Go figure, I used every tip they gave and it should have worked?

I tried.  Lol!

The only tip Iíve figured out is to do a little less than too much.

Ed


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on October 18, 2017, 05:53:54 AM
I've been following Dan Erlewine's methods for many years since his books and videos are what I first learned from.  Most of my efforts have been very successful.  StewMac has many good articles and videos specific to nuts and saddles.  Here is a link to the list.  http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Learn_About_Guitar_Nut_and_Saddle_Setup_and_Repair/.  I've made maybe 50 nuts this way and slotted another 100 or so as part of my setups.

- The slots should definitely slant backwards toward the peg head, but not so much that the string isn't in the slot along it's entire length.  A slight angle is all that is needed. The key here is that the highest point of the nut MUST be at the very front edge for proper intonation.  It's also nice to have the slots slightly "bell shaped" as mentioned.  This reduces binding of the string when tuning because it allows each string to start it's angle towards it's tuning peg before it exits the back of the slot instead of having a "pinch point" there.
- I set the individual string slots so that the height above the first fret is roughly .020 under the bass E down to about .012 under the treble e, graduated in equal increments.  This varies a bit depending on whether it's an electric or acoustic, how flat you can get the neck relief, etc.
-  I use feeler gauges to measure the string height as I file.  File a little at a time, measure with the feeler, file a bit more, measure again, etc.  The odd time I go too deep and create a buzz, I fill that slot with some bone dust and super glue and re-file it after an hour or two.
- If you are getting "pings" (as opposed to string buzz) then the string is likely being pinched in the slot.  It needs to fit snugly but must be able to slide easily through the slot.  There are several causes.  The slot may be too skinny, or too deep in relation to the top of the nut.  The slot may not be perpendicular to the front of the nut.  The slot may not be polished enough (polishing makes a big difference).


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 18, 2017, 12:15:46 PM
I've been following Dan Erlewine's methods for many years since his books and videos are what I first learned from.  Most of my efforts have been very successful.  StewMac has many good articles and videos specific to nuts and saddles.  Here is a link to the list.  http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Resources/Learn_About_Guitar_Nut_and_Saddle_Setup_and_Repair/.  I've made maybe 50 nuts this way and slotted another 100 or so as part of my setups.

- The slots should definitely slant backwards toward the peg head, but not so much that the string isn't in the slot along it's entire length.  A slight angle is all that is needed. The key here is that the highest point of the nut MUST be at the very front edge for proper intonation.  It's also nice to have the slots slightly "bell shaped" as mentioned.  This reduces binding of the string when tuning because it allows each string to start it's angle towards it's tuning peg before it exits the back of the slot instead of having a "pinch point" there.
- I set the individual string slots so that the height above the first fret is roughly .020 under the bass E down to about .012 under the treble e, graduated in equal increments.  This varies a bit depending on whether it's an electric or acoustic, how flat you can get the neck relief, etc.
-  I use feeler gauges to measure the string height as I file.  File a little at a time, measure with the feeler, file a bit more, measure again, etc.  The odd time I go too deep and create a buzz, I fill that slot with some bone dust and super glue and re-file it after an hour or two.
- If you are getting "pings" (as opposed to string buzz) then the string is likely being pinched in the slot.  It needs to fit snugly but must be able to slide easily through the slot.  There are several causes.  The slot may be too skinny, or too deep in relation to the top of the nut.  The slot may not be perpendicular to the front of the nut.  The slot may not be polished enough (polishing makes a big difference).

Thanks Kurt, I use the same first fret height criteria that you do.  What do you polish the nut slots with?


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Danny on October 18, 2017, 02:16:30 PM
A good set of Micro-mesh sanding/polishing pads or cloth backed, will make a bone nut shine.
   They also eliminate finish scratches on gloss, and you can polish unfinished wood to a deep shine.
    I have several sets of them. Pads and cloth backed.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: eded on October 18, 2017, 03:39:41 PM
A swipe or two with a pencil lead (graphite) and sliding the old string through the slot will usually polish the slots nicely and do away with any "ping".  Other than that, the welders torch tip cleaners work well (some folks were suggesting them for making nuts a while back...  I tried them with little luck).

Ed


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 18, 2017, 04:57:39 PM
Well I was able to fix the B string issue.  I used the bell shaping method on the back side of the nut and polished the slot sides with a thin strip of 1000 wet or dry folded in half.  I am wondering if the micromesh paper would be effective for this?  I already use the micromesh pads, they are great.

Thanks for all of your help with this, it is definitely an art that involves a lot more technical savvy than a saddle does...


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Danny on October 18, 2017, 05:35:42 PM
Well I was able to fix the B string issue.  I used the bell shaping method on the back side of the nut and polished the slot sides with a thin strip of 1000 wet or dry folded in half.  I am wondering if the micromesh paper would be effective for this?  I already use the micromesh pads, they are great.

Thanks for all of your help with this, it is definitely an art that involves a lot more technical savvy than a saddle does...
Yup, the nut is probably the cause of many ghost tones, intonation issues, squeaks, buzz and pings.
    Practice and a lot of blanks is the best way I know of to make a proper nut.

    Micromesh paper or cloth would work. I prefer cloth because it lasts for years.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 18, 2017, 10:59:00 PM
Yup, the nut is probably the cause of many ghost tones, intonation issues, squeaks, buzz and pings.
    Practice and a lot of blanks is the best way I know of to make a proper nut.

    Micromesh paper or cloth would work. I prefer cloth because it lasts for years.

Where do you get the cloth?  I have only seen the paper and the pads...


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Danny on October 18, 2017, 11:05:45 PM
     Woodcraft, they have lots of this stuff in stock. In fact I have not used paper micromesh. Only pads and cloth. They may not call it cloth, but it is some kind of durable fabric. Definitely not paper


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Danny on October 18, 2017, 11:15:55 PM
Rockler Woodworking and Hardware has it as well. Both Woodcraft and Rockler have stores in Texas. Woodcraft is in Austin. I've been to a few Rockler stores in Houston. I'm sure one or both are in DFW.
   AMAZON may have it as well.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Danny on October 18, 2017, 11:26:51 PM
Where do you get the cloth?  I have only seen the paper and the pads...
did a search on Amazon, they have all kinds of Micro-mesh. Including "clothed-backed latex", which is what I have as well as several pad sets.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 18, 2017, 11:38:02 PM
did a search on Amazon, they have all kinds of Micro-mesh. Including "clothed-backed latex", which is what I have as well as several pad sets.

I found the cloth on Ebay.  Thanks!


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on October 19, 2017, 05:57:41 AM
Thanks Kurt, I use the same first fret height criteria that you do.  What do you polish the nut slots with?

Hi George.  Once I file the slots with nut-slotting files, I next smooth them with folded 3M wet/dry super fine paper starting at about 800 and going through the grits to 2500.  A few strokes with each grit is all it takes.  As my final step, I run a piece of cotton or nylon string through a block of polishing/honing compound to saturate it with compound.  Then I run the string back and forth in the slot to polish it to a very smooth state.  Works great for me.

Something I should have mentioned before is that you don't want the nut slots to be too deep in relation to the top of the nut.  Once you get all the string heights set, you should sand down the top of the nut so that there is only about half a string diameter sitting in the slot on the bass E and no more than a string diameter on the unwound strings.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 19, 2017, 01:11:29 PM
Hi George.  Once I file the slots with nut-slotting files, I next smooth them with folded 3M wet/dry super fine paper starting at about 800 and going through the grits to 2500.  A few strokes with each grit is all it takes.  As my final step, I run a piece of cotton or nylon string through a block of polishing/honing compound to saturate it with compound.  Then I run the string back and forth in the slot to polish it to a very smooth state.  Works great for me.

Something I should have mentioned before is that you don't want the nut slots to be too deep in relation to the top of the nut.  Once you get all the string heights set, you should sand down the top of the nut so that there is only about half a string diameter sitting in the slot on the bass E and no more than a string diameter on the unwound strings.

Thanks Kurt, I appreciate that advice.  I had read about taking down the top of the nut in articles, but as long as they are wider than the string going up above it, does it really make that much difference?


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on October 20, 2017, 05:13:39 AM
Thanks Kurt, I appreciate that advice.  I had read about taking down the top of the nut in articles, but as long as they are wider than the string going up above it, does it really make that much difference?

My feeling is it might not matter if you made the slots wider than the string from immediately above it upwards till it meets the top of the nut.  But then again it might introduce some unwanted noises or buzzes from the string rattling around in the slot.  It is just as easy or easier to file down the entire nut top and polish it, than trying to finesse each slot just so it can be left deeper.  Then, any risk of introducing unwanted noise is minimized.  Plus less chance of the string binding where it changes angle at the back of the nut on its way to the tuner.  I suppose one could shape each (left deeper) slot perfectly to eliminate these problems, but why bother?

As one who does a lot of setups for paying customers, I think it looks better, and is more professional, if each string only projects above the slot the generally accepted amount.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 20, 2017, 12:41:56 PM
My feeling is it might not matter if you made the slots wider than the string from immediately above it upwards till it meets the top of the nut.  But then again it might introduce some unwanted noises or buzzes from the string rattling around in the slot.  It is just as easy or easier to file down the entire nut top and polish it, than trying to finesse each slot just so it can be left deeper.  Then, any risk of introducing unwanted noise is minimized.  Plus less chance of the string binding where it changes angle at the back of the nut on its way to the tuner.  I suppose one could shape each (left deeper) slot perfectly to eliminate these problems, but why bother?

As one who does a lot of setups for paying customers, I think it looks better, and is more professional, if each string only projects above the slot the generally accepted amount.

Thanks Kurt, I value you opinion.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Danny on October 20, 2017, 03:48:50 PM
 Kurt is spot on, and he is very good at writing detailed instructions. I know these things, but to put them out there like Kurt is not a talent of mine.
It's the same reason I don't teach air conditioning at local colleges. Just not a classroom teacher.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 20, 2017, 06:26:12 PM
I totally agree Danny, Kurt's ability to explain things in writing is superb.  This thread has been very helpful for me and I have learned a great deal that I did not know.  Everyone has been very helpful and all of the articles and links added to the success of the thread.  When I find the time I plan on creating a synopsis of the most crucial things to look for and how to correct them.  Meanwhile, here is an article that I found on my own that maybe some others might find interesting as well....   http://www.lutherie.net/nuts.html


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Danny on October 21, 2017, 01:30:22 AM
George, this book covers many of the issues we face with acoustics and electrics. Dan Erlewine is a name you may know, one of the best guitar techs out there.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Mikeymac on October 21, 2017, 04:40:22 AM
And if you're going to be working on the nuts, saddles or wiring of your guitars on a regular basis, get one of these (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YX72CZ2/ref=asc_df_B00YX72CZ25225803/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=395033&creativeASIN=B00YX72CZ2&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167124601101&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10348543243758909682&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9019929&hvtargid=pla-309737974496) to help you see what you're doing...even if you wear glasses, these help you really dial in your work.

Also, the graphite is great for eliminating pings...but if you don't want that messy black stuff on your nut (!), use a piece of waxed dental floss, running it back and forth through the nut slots a few times before you string up.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on October 21, 2017, 04:47:52 AM
George, this book covers many of the issues we face with acoustics and electrics. Dan Erlewine is a name you may know, one of the best guitar techs out there.

That book is my go-to reference.  Most of my "skills" began with using Erlewine's instructions and techniques about10 years ago.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on October 21, 2017, 04:54:01 AM
Kurt is spot on, and he is very good at writing detailed instructions. I know these things, but to put them out there like Kurt is not a talent of mine.
It's the same reason I don't teach air conditioning at local colleges. Just not a classroom teacher.

I totally agree Danny, Kurt's ability to explain things in writing is superb.  This thread has been very helpful for me and I have learned a great deal that I did not know.  Everyone has been very helpful and all of the articles and links added to the success of the thread.  When I find the time I plan on creating a synopsis of the most crucial things to look for and how to correct them.  Meanwhile, here is an article that I found on my own that maybe some others might find interesting as well....   http://www.lutherie.net/nuts.html


A shucks you guys.  Thanks for your compliments.  It gives me confidence and encouragement.  Much appreciated.

Now, where is the "swollen head" emoticon?


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on October 21, 2017, 06:25:22 AM
George, I just checked out your link.  Great article and the graphics really illustrate the principles well.  Thanks.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 23, 2017, 05:57:01 PM
I kept reading about filling a nut slot that was too low with bone dust and superglue.  For the life of me I could not visualize how you could do it in a .011 nut slot.  Then, a light bulb went off in my old brain and I figured it was less complicated than I was imagining.  A tiny diamond file will automatically fill the slot with bone dust just by taking down a minute portion of the top of the nut, then just add a drop of super glue.  Voila!  You can't even tell I filed on the nut now and the high E string has been reslotted to the perfect height...  Live and learn...


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: eded on October 23, 2017, 07:51:24 PM
I kept reading about filling a nut slot that was too low with bone dust and superglue.  For the life of me I could not visualize how you could do it in a .011 nut slot.  Then, a light bulb went off in my old brain and I figured it was less complicated than I was imagining.  A tiny diamond file will automatically fill the slot with bone dust just by taking down a minute portion of the top of the nut, then just add a drop of super glue.  Voila!  You can't even tell I filed on the nut now and the high E string has been reslotted to the perfect height...  Live and learn...

The hardest part of this (for me) was to learn to wait.  The first couple times I tried it, I figured...  it's superglue, it'll be ready in minutes.  Nope.

Ed


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: George on October 23, 2017, 10:57:53 PM
And if you're going to be working on the nuts, saddles or wiring of your guitars on a regular basis, get one of these (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YX72CZ2/ref=asc_df_B00YX72CZ25225803/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=395033&creativeASIN=B00YX72CZ2&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167124601101&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10348543243758909682&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9019929&hvtargid=pla-309737974496) to help you see what you're doing...even if you wear glasses, these help you really dial in your work.

Also, the graphite is great for eliminating pings...but if you don't want that messy black stuff on your nut (!), use a piece of waxed dental floss, running it back and forth through the nut slots a few times before you string up.

I found a pair of lighted reading glasses on Amazon that worked a lot better than my specs...  Thanks for the tips.


Title: Re: Nut slotting techniques
Post by: Danny on October 23, 2017, 11:10:50 PM
I found a pair of lighted reading glasses on Amazon that worked a lot better than my specs...  Thanks for the tips.
If you have time, can you post the Amazon link to those?