Bone nut(Experts) cut spacing

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Standard 64, Jan 13, 2008.


  1. Standard 64

    Standard 64 Member

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    I had a bone nut(from a blank) put on my les paul standard,by a tech,and I dont know if its my imagination but when I play a D chord it seems the high E string pops over the edge of the fretboard sometimes.Everything looks straight and kosher.Does anyone know exactly how much space their is supposed to be between the high E string and the exact edge of the flat fretwire(before the fretwire tapers down)or included.Thanks.
     
  2. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    There's no hard rule or distance the E should be from the edge. It depends mostly on how poorly the fret ends were beveled, and how bad they were rolled when dressed or polished. It's a chronic problem with both manufacturers and repair shops, but few seem able to leave even a reasonably distinct breaking point from top surface to the beveled end. Most just tend to slowly and sloppily roll off the top toward the ends, effectively eliminating a good bit of the fret surface as useful.

    So getting a measurement from the edge is very subjective. Measuring form the top of the bevel is what most people think of, but when you look closer you have to really measure from where the top starts to depart from the normal radius. This can be a significant amount inboard of the bevel in some cases.

    If spacing really is too wide and slipping off for you, bring it up to your tech. I've made the mistake before, and would never hesitate to make another new nut if it ended up being too wide for the customer. The ultimate cause may be the fret surface, but unless you're redoing the frets the nut spacing really needs to be made around that.
     
  3. Standard 64

    Standard 64 Member

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    Thanks.I think I am going to measure the old nut and compare it to the new one.Thanks.
     
  4. doublee

    doublee Member

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    I know just what you mean about sloppy fret work, my re fret is too bevelled at ends, both E's slide off way too easy. I compared mine to new Fenders, and, they seem to do it the same way unfortunately. I ended up getting a new neck from USAGC because its cheaper than a 2nd refret job. They leave generous fret ends...
     
  5. Steve Foley

    Steve Foley Member

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    I seem to recall Dan Erlewine recommending about 1/8-inch from the edge of the fretboard to each of the E strings. I use a string spacing ruler from Stewart McDonalds, from there, to proportionately space the strings. I've had pretty good luck with those guidelines.
    El Steve-0
     
  6. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    David's spot on, as always.

    There is a tendency to space the strings as wide as one can at the nut so as not to 'cramp' your fingers, but one can go too far with that. It's sorta trying to make a 1 11/16 spacing out of a 1 5/8 nut width, but as I said, folks regularly go too far with this concept.

    Sounds to me like the symptoms you're experiencing are the same as the symptoms caused by spacing the nut slots too wide. I think you have good reason to go back to the person who did the work and show them the problem. As David Collins wrote, no repair person wants bad examples of their work out there for others to see - I bet they'll offer to make it right for you. It's a subtle difference, but the Devil's in the details, and more so in guitar setup than in many places.

    Hope this helps, Good Luck, Dana O.
     
  7. Standard 64

    Standard 64 Member

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    I compared the old nut with the new nut and it seems they are the same.But once in a while I slip off the high E.I measured on the 2nd fret on the high E from the string to the edge of the fret before the fret starts to bevel down and its slightly less than 1/16ths,or approx 2/32nds.
     
  8. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    My stock PRS CU-24 is 3/32" at the same spot. My '56 Tele is about 2/32" at the second fret, but it has other issues ....

    Bottom line: If the high "E" string is falling off the fret on that guitar, and it doesn't fall off on your other guitars, it's too close to the edge for you, and it might be too close to the edge for anybody.

    Explain the problem to the guy who did the work, and go from there. 'Mos 'def a fixable prob. I use .095's on both the PRS and the Tele. What strings are you using? Obviously, skinny ones bend easier, so they fall off the edge easier too. Still, overall it sounds to me like you had a tech make you a new bone nut, and all things being 'equal', now the string spacing is too wide for the neck so the high "E" falls off the edge.

    They'll fix it for you.

    Good Luck, Dana O.
     
  9. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    I'd like to post this thought too. This nut slot stuff is very deep detail - it's not easy to even see the tiny increments involved in string spacing at the nut, and mostly you're looking at the top of the slot as you're cutting the slots, where the bottom of the slots is actually the business end of the deal.

    Nobody bats 1.000, and nobody makes a nut with perfect spacing every time. Again, these are miniscule distances we're talking about here, and the tools we use for this very detailed job are virtually all hand tools.

    Share your pain with your tech, feel his pain at having made a nut that's almost, but not quite, perfect. He probably played it for a minute when he was done, didn't play a lot in first position, and just missed it.

    Hey, it might just have slipped a tiny fraction to the treble side as the glue was drying.

    I still bet he'd like another chance to do it right.

    Thanks, Dana O.
     
  10. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    My experience with 2 projects is 1/8" as a minimum. Any less and the strings could slide off the fretboard. Also take into account that overly rounded fret ends and slippery stainless frets may require a slightly greater distamce. After establishing the E strings, I use the StewMac fret ruler. Such a useful tool for low $$$.
     
  11. Standard 64

    Standard 64 Member

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    Thanks people for the input.I called my tech and told him about it and he says bring it in and he will check it out.He says it wont cost anything to replace it if he sees something wrong.I told him tho other nut and this nut look like they where cut the same,but once in a while I slip off the high E.I think he said he might charge me for a new"custom" nut job if everything looks good to him,which would suck.Thanks.
     
  12. Standard 64

    Standard 64 Member

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    Well my tech said he will make a new nut and cut the high E a little over more.Free of charge.
     

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