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Author Topic: Nut slotting techniques  (Read 893 times)
George
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« 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...
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George
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« Reply #1 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.
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« Reply #2 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.
A photo might be nice, gotpics?
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« Reply #3 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.
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George
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« Reply #4 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?
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« Reply #5 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

It’s a long list and not the best organization.  Be sure to look through the whole list.

Ed
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« Reply #6 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

It’s a long list and not the best organization.  Be sure to look through the whole list.

Ed

thanks Ed.
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« Reply #7 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?
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« Reply #8 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 I’ve figured out is to do a little less than too much.

Ed
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« Reply #9 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).
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George
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« Reply #10 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?
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George
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« Reply #11 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.
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« Reply #12 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
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George
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« Reply #13 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...
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« Reply #14 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.
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« Reply #15 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...
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George
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« Reply #16 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
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« Reply #17 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.
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« Reply #18 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.
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« Reply #19 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!
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George
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