Effects of a low nut.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by eoengineer, Aug 12, 2019 at 9:57 AM.

  1. eoengineer

    eoengineer Supporting Member

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    What types of issues can one run into when working with a guitar with insufficient nut height?

    Is it limited to open string buzzing or can others issues occur?
     
  2. larry1096

    larry1096 Member

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    Open nut buzz is the main one. Once you fret anywhere, the nut is essentially out of the picture, and is only holding the string in position across the width of the fretboard, like the 'nut' on a zero fret guitar.

    If it's so low the strings touch the headstock or fretboard where they shouldn't, that could probably cause all kinds of sitar-like buzzing and such.


    Larry
     
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  3. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    Open string buzz is the main issue with too low cut nut slots. However, for a temporary fix, to make the guitar playable, you could raise the string action to compensate, which would make for less than optimum playability across the board though, pun intended;)! But the proper fix is to repair the nut.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019 at 11:56 PM
  4. blondestrat

    blondestrat Supporting Member

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    It doesn’t mean you have to raise the action to compensate. I’ve never heard that one before.
    You’d be better off shimming the nit or doing a dust/baking soda and super glue fill to fill in the slots and file them again. Or make a new nut.
    I don’t think strings can touch a headstock, the tuners are higher.
    Time for a nut makin tutorial..?
     
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  5. Timtam

    Timtam Member

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    The amplitude of open string vibration is obviously very low near the nut. Strings don't need much 'room' to vibrate over the low frets. So there is an argument that nut slots can perhaps be cut lower than many people think. With the benefit that low-fret notes are easier on your fingers to fret, and also play a little truer. The problem of course is that when going lower with nut slot depth it doesn't take much to go too far, creating open string buzz, and it's hard to come back from that. Add to that the fact that slots will wear with time, going lower and perhaps starting to buzz on open strings. So it's easiest to be a little conservative when filing slot depth.
     
  6. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    only open-string buzz, if that's not happening then you're golden

    (Ok if you want to play slide then having the nut slots higher can help there, at the cost of regular playability)
     
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  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    well you'd be raising the action and loosening the truss rod in an attempt to make it playable if you weren't able to fix the nut itself like it needed
     
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  8. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    I meant to say that, without fixing the nut, you can compensate for open fret buzz by raising the action for a temporary fix. Definitely not a permanent solution...but and I probably should have been more clear.
     
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  9. blondestrat

    blondestrat Supporting Member

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    Ya adding relief can help. I actually debated this unsuccessfully with a bunch of acoustic guitar players, they refused to believe adding relief changes the first fret action. While it doesn’t physically raise the nut higher, it does add slightly more clearance, on say a strat.
    Apparently the truss rod effects the neck differently on acoustics. I had to throw in points like straight a neck can sometimes tame fretting out on certain notes. Hard to argue with the acoustic players though lol.
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    well, in the sense that limping can "help" with a sprained ankle.

    the actual fix is the actual fix, raising the relief and action just lets you get through the gig
     
  11. blondestrat

    blondestrat Supporting Member

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    Ya i did hint earlier either fill shim or make a nut from scratch.
    A lot of “tech” tips come from buddies who advice what to do if you break yer guitar mid performance. If you hired yer own personal guitar tech.
    Other than that ya any serious musician should have a luthier fabricate a bone nut. So instead of buying that distortion pedal.
    Overstretching a string? That’s what roadies do on floyd roses during mid performance. Take it to a shop or learn how to do it uer self.
     
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  12. aldridt11

    aldridt11 Supporting Member

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    intonation problems with notes at the first fret.
     
  13. Jack Daniels

    Jack Daniels Supporting Member

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    Truss rod and relief affects all necks the same. The acoustic guys just don’t want to believe it.
    Most people assume that loosening the truss rod affects the center of the fingerboard. That’s not actually correct. Because the neck is anchored (like a cantilever or diving board), loosing the truss rod actually pulls the headstock (and therefore the nut ) forward ( or upward depending on how you view it). While you will see it in the center of the board, due how it’s anchored, the movement is not there. Without changing the bridge or saddle height, the clearance improves at the nut.

    Therefore, adding relief will add more clearance over the first few frets. Strat, tele, LP or D28.
     
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  14. blondestrat

    blondestrat Supporting Member

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    Someone met the inventor of martin, asked him why they shipped em with over .015” relief, actually higher, he said he didn’t think people played the higher frets. This was back in the days.
    I inherited a vintage martin when i was 18. Someone compression refretted it with jumbos, I believe the nut is walrus tusk, perfect saddle even filed the appropriate angle on the brige plate. Action is stupid low, no buzzing. Straight neck. I’m lucky lol. The story goes that guitar came from a recording studio in L.A.
    Fast forward 10 years later I studied how the mystery luthier filed/smoothed the fret ends, and literally figured it out. Hint, they filed a shape into the fret end without hitting the top of the fret so no compromises. A true professional worked on that guitar.
     
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