Grober nut files... Confused & can't find any! :(

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by marytakesadrag, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. marytakesadrag

    marytakesadrag Member

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    After much research for guitar nut files, seems like Grober is the way to go. However, on Google, Amazon, or eBay, they only come in one size, like 1/4" or something confusing like 1406.

    Does anyone know where I can find some Grober files? Also, I play 12-60 gauge strings; if I buy a gauge that's 10, how far up can it go? Can I have it file up to a 12? 16? etc...

    I'm also confused about what "pattern" to get, if that's relevant. I understand #2 cut and joint round edge is what I want.

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    Back story: I need to widen the slots on my nut because Warmoth didn't know that I play 12-60 gauge strings. Since there's already cuts in the nut, I figured it'd be easy to finish the job. Quotes from local techs are $70 or call for price (too late for that). EVERY time I've gone to a tech, they do a mediocre job and I end up having to do it myself. Don't trust strangers w/ my labor of love.

    When researching, some suggested feeler gauges and wielding tip cleaners but after seeing this review, I decided against it. Even the StewMac files were a little disappointing...
     
  2. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    I believe this is what you're looking for:

    http://www.ottofrei.com/Store/Glard...Round-Edge-Precision-Files-LP1170-LP1171.html

    They are spendy, but they're probably the best needle files you can buy at the moment.

    But the entire set is only $285. :)

    http://www.ottofrei.com/Store/Needl...sion-Joint-Round-Edge-Files-Complete-Kit.html

    Honestly, for a quality file that's not a bad price, and I may pick some up. The difference between good files and bad files is like the difference between a plastic toy guitar and a Martin.

    Personally, I would get the basic Stewmac ones. They're half the price and have been getting it done for many years. I think they've recently changed their basic files and they're even better now. I forget where I read that. My old ones are just fine too. I like to start the slots with the doubles sided V shaped files, but I always finish them off with the old fashioned ones. The V shaped ones just make the job go quicker when you're in a rush. If I could only have one, it would be the standard ones hands down.
     
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  3. Jack Daniels

    Jack Daniels Supporting Member

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    I don't know.... There are thousands of us pro luthiers using the stew Mac single and double sided files for almost a half century now. I've heard not one complaint except price. I've probably cut and shaped 350-400 nuts with my Stew Mac files. Unless you're going to use them full time day in and day out, I doubt you would ever need anything more than the Stew Mac versions. Especially if it's for working on your collection.
     
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  4. Jack Daniels

    Jack Daniels Supporting Member

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    Seriously?
     
  5. whoismarykelly

    whoismarykelly Oh look! This is a thing I can change!

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    I use the stewmac individual gauged files and they work perfectly fine for me. Sure there could probably be a better quality file but it would be much more expensive and probably only marginally different. Chances are good you might not be able to tell the difference if you hadn't spent time working on multiple guitars with each brand of file.
     
  6. whoismarykelly

    whoismarykelly Oh look! This is a thing I can change!

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    Of course. But you had the experience I'm talking about to notice the difference. Working on one or two guitars a couple times with each set probably wouldn't give you the experience to know that. I'll totally agree there is a quality difference between files from various brands, but it seems silly for the OP to buy $120 in files to widen one set of nut slots when he was already balking at the $70 quote from a local tech.
     
  7. whoismarykelly

    whoismarykelly Oh look! This is a thing I can change!

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    The wrong people for sure. The thing I come back to every time I buy a tool to work on guitars is one that has been mentioned here before and one that is backed up by your statement about close tolerances: good tools are an investment, cheap tools are a cost. If you think Harbor Freight should be the price standard for tools because they happen to sell a needle file set that you could use in a pinch to widen a slot or slot a bridge, you are sorely mistaken. A high quality tool that is what it says it is in terms of design, tolerances, and materials, is expensive. But you likely wont have to replace it. You just have to spend $100 on some set of things every few months until you have everything you need to not worry about the local tech that cant perform a simple task like widening nut slots.
     
  8. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Grobet doesn't make those anymore, BTW. I'm not sure they actually made them. I think they're just a distributor.

    Matt, how many years ago did you try the StewMac files? Which ones? They're current straight files are nice. Their V shaped double sided ones are nice too, but not as nice as the straight ones. The V shaped ones are great for starting and roughing nuts. Makes for quick work of getting close, and then finish off with the regular ones.

    The old Grobets (ones I linked to) are designed for metal work. They will last forever in bone and brass. These guys may be the last ones that make quality needle files. A friend, George Wilson (fantastic luthier, machinist, tool maker...you name it, he's mastered it) sent me a box of NOS needle files. They are so beautifully made that I only use them for the finest work. They're miles away from anything you'd find anywhere else, and may actually even be nicer than the ones I've linked to. I don't know because I've not seen the ones in the link. The set I have would be worth the mega prices you see there.
     
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  9. marytakesadrag

    marytakesadrag Member

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    Hey everyone, thank you for the responses; very helpful especially dropping other brands that I can scope out.

    I guess its unfair of me to judge techs because I recently moved to Sacramento and have only been to 1 tech so far. He worked on an acoustic which isn't very familiar to my hands so most likely I misjudged his work. I think the only time I would go to a tech is for a re-fret or dressing, and filing a new nut. I'm just afraid to go to a lazy and/or apathetic tech with worn down tools that'll end up doing a lousy job, figuring that I wouldn't know better... I've been there a few times... I really need to find a good tech...

    But anyway, I would be afraid to start the nut because string spacing and seating depth seems extremely essential to the playability and intonation, both things I want absolute perfection because I'm obsessive like that haha. Too much pressure for me haha. But since I'm just widening the slots, and after I saw a video of someone filing a nut, I got cocky and thought, "That doens't look hard!" haha. Plus, I have a Tusq nut which I heard is easier to work with.

    And I read that you only need 3-4 files because a file can do a few sizes up by rocking em side-to-side (not sure how many sizes up which was another part of my question). Is this accurate? StewMac files cost $15 a piece; figured Grober would be $25. 4 Grober files for $100 or 4 StewMac for $60. Though $30 more is quite a step up from $70 (to pay a tech), generally $30 isn't gonna bust the bank. Then I could always sell the files, and if I did have difficulty, I could sell them for cheap yet still manage to save money. Or I could keep them and they'll be lifetime tools (since I wouldn't regularly wear them down; I'm not a tech); that in itself is worth the extra $30. I'm sure widening nut slots will eventually come around again.

    But I'll Google and Yelp and see if I can find a good tech in the area only because I may be overestimating my abilities. Anyone know of a good tech in Northern California?
     
  10. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Like Frank Ford at Gryphon in Palo Alto, for example. :) You can do a lot worse than have Frank work on your guitar.
     
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  11. whoismarykelly

    whoismarykelly Oh look! This is a thing I can change!

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    Using a smaller file to make a slot more than a few thousanths bigger takes a lot more skill than just using the correct size file in the first place.

    Files are valuable tools to keep on hand. No sense in a half measure of buying them to do work once and then trying to sell them. Just keep them for the next job. If you play heavy strings you'll be doing this for every new guitar you buy.
     
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  12. larry1096

    larry1096 Member

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    Understatement of the year, John!


    Larry
     
  13. frankencat

    frankencat Guitarded Gold Supporting Member

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  14. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Harrison Phipps in Davis is an excellent tech - acoustic and electric as well as bowed instruments.

    Website: http://www.frettedstrings.com/

    Contact:
    Email: repair@frettedstrings.com

    Phone: (530) 304-1886

    Frank Ford is a fantastic tech too, but he's way down in Palo Alto. Give Harrison a shout - he's close by, he does fantastic work, and he's a pleasure to work with.

    Hope this helps, Dana O.
     
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  15. marytakesadrag

    marytakesadrag Member

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    Thank you!
     
  16. marytakesadrag

    marytakesadrag Member

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    His prices are much more reasonable than the other guy I was talking about and I'm actually going to do a full setup rather than specifically nut work because of this. And I checked out his website; looks legit as French Fries (my replacement phrase for a different word that starts with an F). Thanks again!
     
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