Nut Adjustment question

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by zaraflux, Feb 18, 2009.


  1. zaraflux

    zaraflux Member

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    I just bought a strat w/bone nut the action is very low and looks like someone shaved the bottom of the nut too much and had to put something under it to get the height back on it.The guitar has the great tone as is but is very boomy in the low end and I want to raise the action but am wondering if it is better to have someone cut a new nut at the right height or if I can follow the previous setup and simply stick something under the nut to jack it up a little more.This is the first time I have seen a nut rigged like this and am curious if anyone else has run into this how they adjusted string height.
     
  2. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Member

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    I'd just put a new nut on.
     
  3. reeced

    reeced Member

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    Putting a shim under the nut is not uncommon and if the open strings are not buzzing on the first fret then the nut is not the problem. If you raise the nut even higher all you'll do is make the fretted notes, particularly the first fret ones, go sharp.
    If the only problem you have is the "boominess" then I would first check the pickup height.
    If you want to raise/change the action then you first need to check the neck angle, then the bridge/saddle height, and also the neck bow i.e. truss rod adjustment.
     
  4. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Shimming the nut is a accepted technique and avoids the extra work of cutting a new nut. Does the guitar buzz? Are you planning on playing slide or need higher action to facilitate bending? Barring some sort of nut height related problem that isn't clear to me from your4 post, I'd go with leaving well enough alone and checking some of the above mentioned adjustment areas.
     
  5. dazco

    dazco Member

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    I would have a new bone but made. I recently made a new one to replace an old one who's slot had worn too low, and i had shimmed it. A new bone nut without a shim sounded noticably better. I should say not so much SOUNDED better, but what i notice about bone nuts in general is they have better dynamics and feel. And shimming kills some of that. we go thru so much and spend so much money trying to achieve our perfect sound and feel that it's foolish not to get the most out of your guitar. trust me on this and get a new bone nut made. Or better yet, buy a few blanks and learn to do it yourself so you dont have to pay someone $50 thruout your lifetime every time you need a new one. And on a side note, the nut DOES affect fretted string unlike what some will say. It affects the guitar's overall dynamics and resonance. It's not a question of whether it does....the only question is whether you can tell. not everyone is equally sensitive to tone/feel. hence the varied opinions. It's not a subjective thing, it either dios or doesn't. there is no in between. Don't shim !
     
  6. muddyshoes

    muddyshoes Member

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    quote ...learn to do it yourself so you dont have to pay someone $50 thruout your lifetime every time you need ...

    to make one from scratch is definitely worth the 50.
     
  7. Jan Folkson

    Jan Folkson Member

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    Shimming a nut is very common and the jury is still WAY out regarding nut vs tone. Some people hear it clear as day and others don't hear a difference at all. I'd take the nut out and examine the shim. The right way to do it is to adhere some material, I usually superglue a bit of 220 sandpaper, to the bottom of the nut keeping the radius and perfectly trimming to the contour of the nut. If it wasn't done properly I'd either redo it or replace the nut.

    Properly cutting a nut is one of the trickiest things a guitar tech can do... Easy to do, difficult to do well.
     
  8. dazco

    dazco Member

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    If you rarely ever do it and you can afford it, maybe so. But at $50 a pop on a somewhat regular basis IMO it's not. Especially considering that once you know how and are good at it you can knock one out in 20-30 minutes. I made one from a rough peice of raw unshaped bone a few days ago in about 45 min. That was the second one i made in a week or 2. Saved me about a 100 bucks. I'd say thats worth learning to do it for. Imagine what i saved in almost 40 years of playing and owning a total of probably over 100 guitars. Think about it. Now if $50 is nothing to you, even done many times over the years, then you are correct sir. But like i said, once you learn it's quite simple and quick and seems like a lot of money for a few minutes work. And a set of files has lasted me decades !
     
  9. Foster

    Foster Member

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    I usually go to the bathroom or try to stand behind something so nobody sees me doing it.
     
  10. Jan Folkson

    Jan Folkson Member

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    Discretion is the better part of valor :)
     
  11. zaraflux

    zaraflux Member

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    Forgot to add the guitar does buzz quite a bit near the nut 1st 2nd frets.I have played around with slotting my own even have a few blanks around here from my last attempt who sells files for this?
     
  12. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Check to make sure you don't have a backbow.
     
  13. dazco

    dazco Member

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    If it buzzes at the second fret too then it's not the nut thats the problem. Like was just said, check your neck for backbow. Do so by holding the high E string down at the first and very last frets. Then observe how much clearance there is between the string and the 10th fret. If there is none your neck is either dead straight or has a back bow. Loosen the truss rod adjusted a litlle at a time (maybe 1/10th turn) till you just start to see a tiny bit of clearance with the method i described. If with any amount of clearance the 1st fret still buzzes with open strings but the string fretted at the first does not buzz on the 2nd fret, then your nut is too low.

    fret files can be bought at stewmac.com. Expensive, but will last a lifetime. You don't need every size. i just have a .016, .025, .032, and .042. you can make the slots wider by rocking them as you file. i use the .016 for the E and B, the .025 for the G, the .032 for the D, and the .042 for the A and low E.
     
  14. zaraflux

    zaraflux Member

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    Yep backbow-now that thats gone still buzzes 1st fret got some saws on the way gonna see how many blanks I can destroy.Thanks for all the info even if someone was standing behind something
     

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