bone nut eroding...?!

captcrunch55

Member
Messages
130
i play a thineline tele with a bone nut installed.

as i remember correctly when i had it first cut by a guitar tech, it was at a pretty decent height.

now it is 8 months down the line and i feel that the grooves are being eroded down such that i am having buzz on open strings.
it may be that i mainly use 11s.

i have a feeling that bone erodes faster over a period of time especially when you use heavier strings and are constantly changing strings week on week.

a luthier friend of mine said that is why most of the boutique strat makers prefer tusq as the nut tends to stay and doesnt erode like how bone does due to the brittleness of the material.

oipnions?
 

mc5nrg

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,220
If you notice this on several strings I think its more likely you have a backbow in the neck.
 

daddyo

Guest
Messages
11,797
I doubt if it is the nut slots wearing down. I just recently refiled the bone saddle on my classical guitar and I file for a good 10 minutes (stopping to check of course) to take of about a small 1/16". I was using a new single cut mill file. A nut is twice as thick as a saddle. There is just no way guitar strings will do that. I'm going with the back bow. Tighten your truss rod 1/8 turn a day till it is good.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,968
Yea, i agree with the backbow theory. I've used bone for years and i've never had any of them wear out. And i use strats which due to the trem would be more likely to cause that due to the back and fourth action of the strings in the slot as you wahammy. It would take many years for what you describe to happen.
 

empty71

Member
Messages
1,293
Alright guys, just so you have a clearer picture of what's happening here.

captcrunch55's tele has an almost .025" relief, the strings are barely clearing the 1st fret when depressed at the 2nd fret. His neck is definitely not back bowed unless he'd twead the truss rod after I'd taken a look at the guitar some weeks ago.

About the bone nut, it's not so much corroding than wearing out at the slot. I've replaced countless bone nuts and find that they wear out faster than synthetic nuts. Everytime you change strings on a bone nut, you'll notice bone particles and that's from the wound strings grinding in the nut slot. Depending on how dense the bone is and how high or low the nut slot was files, it will eventually wear out given it will take a few years.

Bone is actually quite porous and the density varies quite a bit. I prefer synthetic material for nut especially for trem equipped electric guitars. Corian is another material that I find wears out pretty fast too.

My guess is the tech had slotted the nut a tad too low for comfort when he'd replaced the nut.

daddyo, the tele nut is almost the same width as your classical saddle. Even if the nut's twice as thick as the saddle, the strings contact point on the nut is about less than half the nut thickness.

BTW, I'm the luthier friend captcruch55's talking about:D I wasn't the one who'd replaced the bone nut.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,968
Hmmm.......i found that odd since i've used bone for a long time and never had one wear out, yet i cut my slots VERY low ! i cut them so that the clearance over the 1st fret is the same as the clearance over the 2nd when fretted at the first. In other words, just as it would be woith a zero fret. So if anyone should be seeing thier bone nut wearing too low it would be me because the slightest wear would be too much, and i use a ulra low action so it would buzz badly.

However, i always keep the slots lubed with graphite ! I gotta think thats why. These are strats i'm talking about, so they need to be lubed for tuning stability, but it looks like theres more reason than that to do it !
 

empty71

Member
Messages
1,293
dazco, your nut slots are quite high for the "clearance over the 1st fret is the same as the clearance over the 2nd when fretted at the first".

captcrunch55 guitar's barely clearing the 1st fret when the strings are depressed at the 2nd fret and that's way too low IMHO.

From my experience, bone and corian wears out faster then synthetic materials.
 

wetordry

Member
Messages
4,867
If the nut was cut at some steep angle, the strings could have been on a near knife edge, which might wear away faster than it should.
Just a guess, or maybe it was some chicken bone.:confused:
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,968
I use only bone nuts and have made my own for years. And yes, I believe this can happen. It seems not all bone is created equal. I'm not sure how or even if you can tell how hard i is before you install it, but my experience seems to indicate some bone is softer than others and wears way quicker. I have had nuts wear down in the slots crazy fast before. A matter of months, and i can only assume it's that i was a soft piece. It's not something thats real common but it's happened to me probably 3 or 4 times at least. I can't think of any other reason than variance in the hardness factor. I have been using unbleached bone for several years now and i think it's better. Bleaching removes the natural oils so it make sense the strings would "saw" the slots down quicker with bleached bone than with bone thats got more natural lubricating qualities.
 

gtrplyr1

Member
Messages
835
It's also possible that whoever made the nut cut the slots too deep and rather than remaking the nut he may have filled the slots with baking soda and super glue which definitely will wear prematurely. I used to see this come into my shop regularly as we have a hack repair guy locally who was fond of doing this when making a new nut.
 

sonofiam

Member
Messages
1,104
Not all bone is equal. Just because it's a bone nut doesn't automatically make it high quality. Granted, bone is typically durable but you're dealing with an organic material that is susceptible to deterioration.
 




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