Making a nut and distance of 1st and 6th string from fret edge

Seal

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
625
I have an early 80s Kramer Aluminum neck guitar. It has a roller nut which I don't care for as the string spacing isn't proportioned well.

I'd like to make a new nut (out of aluminum) but wanted to know if there is a general...guide, rule, and about how far the string should be from the fret edge on the High and Low strings.

I'd basically be creating the string spacing. Is there a guide on how to do that? A formula based on the overall width of the neck at the nut?
 

blondestrat

Member
Messages
490
You go off the fret bevel, so the e strings don’t roll off the fret edges.
Usually something like 1/16-5/64 away from the fret bevel, I’m going off memory. You can position the e strings and hammer/dent them on the nut so you know where to file/place them.
As for the other strings I’d go for the Standard Stratocaster string spacing. Or you can use a math formula.
The math formulas are after determining the e strings.
Off memory, it’s like you add the diameter of the strings then add them then devide by 5. Something like that. I can look at my notebook if you want.
Edit you can make em 3/32” apart too. Like 5/64 on one e string and 3/32 on the other, measuring the edge if the string to the edge of the fret bevel.
You can string and tune the es to pitch and test it out. I like plenty of room for the high e and a medium amount of room for the low E. Remember the low E is thicker so measure the edge if the string.
 
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galibier_un

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,677
There are two approaches to string spacing, and some guitarists prefer one over the other. Me? I'm too ham-fisted to tell the difference :eek:

Method 1 has equal distance between the centerlines of the strings, so the bass strings have less space between them than the thinner strings.

Method 2 results in equal spacing between the strings, meaning the centerline distance between adjacent strings decreases as you work your way toward the thinner strings.

Stewmac's string spacing ruler embraces method-1.

As far as spacing to the edge of the fretboard, player preference as well as bevel angle of the frets come in to play. It seems as if a rule of thumb ends up with there being about .125" clearance to the edge of the fretboard.

I'd work off the original spacing and make minor changes as your technique dictates.

... Thom
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,003
I'd like to make a new nut (out of aluminum) but wanted to know if there is a general...guide, rule, and about how far the string should be from the fret edge on the High and Low strings.
most aluminum is not a great bearing surface, it would probably be kind of grabby and not wear well. if you gotta have metal then brass would be better.

as for string spread, yeah it's about how angled the fret end bevels are, you need room for the E strings to not slop over the sides. if you're not sure, it's OK to cheat towards having them a little closer together, the problems come when they're too far apart.

the easiest way is to use something like the stewmac proportional rule thing, it has marks that gradually widen from one end to the other so you just slide it along the nut blank until you find six marks that fit with some room on the ends. this will automatically do a sort of proportional spacing thing, the wound strings will be farther apart than the plain strings.

myself i've gone away from that, i prefer truly equal-spaced strings; just because the fatter strings look closer together doesn't mean the centers actually are, and our fingers land on the centers of the string when we play.

(real world there's probably no perceptible playing difference either way, i've certainly never noticed while playing)
 
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frankencat

Guitarded
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,070
i like equal spacing and use the graduating string spacing rule made famous by Stewmac. I like my strings closer to the ends but it depends on the fret bevel as someone already mentioned. I go for 2mm-4mm from the edge generally.
 

Jack Daniels

Member
Messages
1,963
There are two approaches to string spacing, and some guitarists prefer one over the other. Me? I'm too ham-fisted to tell the difference :eek:

Method 1 has equal distance between the centerlines of the strings, so the bass strings have less space between them than the thinner strings.

Method 2 results in equal spacing between the strings, meaning the centerline distance between adjacent strings decreases as you work your way toward the thinner strings.

Stewmac's string spacing ruler embraces method-1.

As far as spacing to the edge of the fretboard, player preference as well as bevel angle of the frets come in to play. It seems as if a rule of thumb ends up with there being about .125" clearance to the edge of the fretboard.

I'd work off the original spacing and make minor changes as your technique dictates.

... Thom
The StewMac ruler uses method two in your post. It gradually gets wider on every notch. The strings appear to the the same distance between them ( and they are) but the spacing gets wider to compensate for the diameter of the strings.
 

Wag

Member
Messages
458
There's a pretty good tutorial at this website:

http://www.bryankimsey.com/

It has the math formula for figuring an equal distance between strings (re: method 2) that I like to reference from time to time.

--------------------------------------

And oddly enough, speaking of aluminum nuts, I just happened to run across a msg in another "nut making" thread where the poster had touched on that subject. Here's an excerpt from his post:

".....Also, I used Aluminum quite a bit on my first few nuts just to learn the process. Aluminum is easy to work (and comes in 1/8" thicknesses) so that helped me focus on the shaping of the top and filing the slots. Aluminum is super cheap too and ends up being quite good as a nut material. I like it better than brass and as much as bone. For practice, or for long term use, it's great stuff."

lol

As a general rule of thumb you can't go wrong when Walter offers advice but I thought that might be fun to pass along. :)
 
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walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,003
lol

As a general rule of thumb you can't go wrong when Walter offers advice but I thought that might be fun to pass along. :)
ha!

i'm mostly going by my experience with things like '60s danelectros and '70s peaveys, that aluminum material is just kinda grabby even after filing the slots out properly.

i'm given to understand different aluminum alloys might act differently, but in general you don't find aluminum as a sliding bearing material for metal the way you do brass.
 

Wag

Member
Messages
458
Yea, Walter. I gotta go along with you. I spent 30 yrs overhauling aircraft and have pilfered many different types of aluminum in my time for all kinds of projects. But not once did I ever consider using it to make a guitar nut. Slides, pickguards, picks, pedal boards, etc, etc....sure. But never a nut. lol

However, I really feel that Seal should pursue the idea a bit further yet. Having a vintage axe with an aluminum neck I can see the appeal for wanting a "matching" nut on it. Like the man said....the material is cheap enough. Time is apt to be his biggest investment (tools not withstanding) and it would likely be time well spent even if the project ultimately fails. If it were my guitar I'm sure I would give it a shot.

(Disclaimer: I am a NOT a luthier by any stretch of the imagination. What few skills I do possess I have learned from the many PROS, like Walter, that call TGP home. I've got about 6 or 7 guitars with bone nuts on them that I have successfully made. I also wrecked about 6 or 7 nuts in the process that all ended up in the garbage. Just wanted to be very honest here in regards as to what MY advice may, or may not, be worth. lol)

Good luck Seal.



Wouldn't you want the string to be (almost perfectly) parallel to the fretboard edge?
I'm not sure that's necessarily true. Once the two E strings are set at the nut the position of the saddles will determine where the strings lie in spite of the width of the neck . I think. lol
 
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walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,003
Wouldn't you want the string to be (almost perfectly) parallel to the fretboard edge?
the problem happens with things like vintage fenders with the overly wide bridges; keeping the outer strings perfectly parallel to the entire neck edge might leave the E strings barely clearing the sides.

a nut slot spacing that pulls them in a little can be a good idea.
 




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