Custom strat neck nut compensation

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by buddastrat, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I'm having a neck made for me, and wondering if I should have the nut in the standard place or move it towards the first fret. I've read the Feiten deal moves it .030" closer, but then they have their special offsets. I've also read where lots of guys use the Feiten but intonate with the traditional open/12th fret way of fine tuning the guitar.

    I did play my friend's custom shop strat which he had Feitenized with the shelf nut and I didn't like the sound of the guitar after that mod. It did improve the tuning, but made the sound of the guitar different. He put it back stock and the magic was back. But that was with that funky shelf nut.

    I'm just wondering if it would be a good idea to have the nut closer and intonate normally, if that would improve the intonation issues like open chords sometimes not sounding as sweet as they could.

    Also how well would these different ways work when playing with another guitarist who has no compensated nut?
     
  2. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    If the nut height is good, .030" is way too excessive in my opinion (one of my many opposition points to the BFTS :rolleyes:). Maybe for a real heavy handed player who actually prefers high action at the nut, but too much more most players. I think compensated nuts are fine, but .010"-.015" is as far as I would go if the slots are set to a reasonable height.

    Even then, I think it depends on the player. Real heavy, tight fisted player, maybe .020". Eric Johnson or Stanley Jordan style, I'd say none at all.
     
  3. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Thanks David. I've worked at fretting as light as possible, but do vary picking attacks sometimes heavy some lighter depending on what I'm playing. But no matter what, it still will go a little sharp down at the low frets, even with the lightest touch possible. Especially the first and second frets. Super low nut height helps, but then the tone sounds plinkier to me.

    I've learned to bend certain notes in chords and sometimes avoid a third here or there because it will drive me nuts. I know it can't ever be perfect. I've learned to tolerate it as long as it's setup well. So should I just stay with what I know? I'd hate to experiment and have something be worse. There has to be a compromise here somewhere that I'm missing. If just moving the nut forward would improve intonation issues on a common strat for most folk, why wouldn't Fender or whoever do it? Simply moving the nut can't be patented, so they wouldn't have to pay for licensing. I read PRS and Hamer do it.

    What about intonating? Would something get screwed up if just going with the standard 12th fret way?
     
  4. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I'm with David, .010" TO .015" should be more than enough. Builders have been doing this for years, really nothing new.
     
  5. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Another thing to consider is having the frets compensated rather than the nut. If you compensate the nut .030" for example, that would account for about 2 cents compensation at the first fret. Then of course the saddles have to be moved forward by about the same amount to keep intonation proper at the 12th fret. The unintended by-product of this setup though, is that when you get to the very upper frets you end up getting progressively sharper. If you had a 24th fret for example, that compensation could end up throwing it about 8 cents sharp. Not many spend much time up there, but the effect can still become noticeable by the time you hit around the 17th.

    By compensating the first few frets, you take care of the nut issue without effecting how the rest of the board works. I've made some necks compensating the first few frets rather arbitrarily (1st ~.012"-.015", 2nd ~.007"-.010", 3rd ~0.0"-.005"), and been happy with the results. I have also occasionally compensated some upper frets moving them a few thousandths toward the nut as you approach the end, as they can usually end up relatively sharper than the 12th region even without a compensated nut.

    Lots of ways to do it, and lots of different ways work for different players. Overcompensation at the nut can come with some strings attached though, so just don't bring it in too much.
     
  6. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Thanks again. It's crazy as I thought there'd be more of a formula or exact amount. Even factoring specific string gauge/brand to get it the closest.

    A thing that struck me by the Feitenized strat my buddy had was that it had changed the guitar's tone to a very plain, or generic type sound. The chords did ring truer down by the nut but the tone sounded less full somehow. It very much reminded me of every PRS guitar I play. those sound very in tune when I play them, yet seem to lack something that I can never put my finger on. Like some of the fullness of the instrument is missing. I've read that PRS has the nut compensated from the normal formula for a particular scale. Anyhow I found it odd that's what happened to my friend's strat when he had it Feitenized. When he had the shelf nut removed, the fuller tone came right back. I wonder if there's something to that or it was just coincidence.
     
  7. Nick Rundall

    Nick Rundall Member

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    I use the Eavana nut on my strats and I'm very happy with it. I recommend.
     

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