Setup Nut slot question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Unburst, Jun 23, 2006.

  1. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    I took my Tele in because it needed a fret dress and the nut seemed a little high, low position chords were out of tune.

    I get it back and it seems like they cut the nut too low, notes below the 7th fret are thin and plinky sounding.

    What's more the open strings now sound dull and constricted, before I took it in the open strings always rang loud and bright.

    If I look closely at the nut slots they are noticeably wider towards the headstock end, they fan out in width, is this normal?

    None of my other guitars do this and I've never noticed it before.
     
  2. suhr_rodney

    suhr_rodney Supporting Member

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    If the guitar sounds 'plunky' in any position other than open, then you can rule out the nut. Sounds like your truss rod may be too tight, or perhaps the saddles are too low. Regarding the nut slots... ideally you want the break point to be on the front edge of the nut, closest to the frets. From that point the string should follow a straight line to the tuning key post. I've seen folks fan the back edge of the nut slots for cosmetic reasons or as an attempt to reduce string binding in the nut. In general it's not the way a nut is carved though. I would suggest taking it to a qualified tech for evaluation.
     
  3. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    The nut slot widening thing is explained in Dan Erlewine's books. Basically the idea is that the strings are free to be angled towards the tuners (if the guitar doesn't have straight string paths) without binding in the edges of the nut. I do this on my guitars.

    The nut is only too low if the strings are buzzing on the first few frets. Do the test: hold the strings down at the 3rd fret and tap on the first fret (directly on top of the fret). If the strings have a little space between the 1st fret then the nut height is right. If they are resting against the 1st fret then the nut is too low and will most likely buzz.

    Was the excess material on top of the nut trimmed away? If it wasn't, the slots could be in deep "canyons" and that could cause the muted sound. Pictures for comparison:

    Deep slots:
    [​IMG]

    Good slots:
    [​IMG]

    As you can see in the second pic the strings look like they are gliding over a nut with no slots. The slots are about half the diameter of the string (a bit more on the plain strings because it'd be impossible to see how big the slots are).
     
  4. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I see your point about the fanned slot, but since this is a Tele the strings go in a straight line to the tuner, so no need for a fan.

    Looking closely at the G-string slot, it doesn't look straight or even, it's lop sided, which I guess is causing the deadness, it's not even subtle it sounds totally different from the way it did before.

    Added to this the top two strings are pretty buzzy below the 7th fret.
    I'm less than satisfied with this setup, I'll take it back and see what they have to say.
     
  5. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Actually that is a complete myth... sorry.

    Think about it: the material higher than halfway up the string cannot be touching the string at all, unless the groove actually closed in above the string, which it can't or you'd never get the string into the slot.

    It makes no difference how high the nut is above the halfway point of the string except as a good thing to prevent the strings jumping out of the groove under really hard playing.

    Poorly-cut nut grooves can definitely kill the tone, but not for that reason.
     
  6. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    I'm just going by what was mentioned in one of Dan Erlewine's books, I didn't think it made much sense either. Still, nuts on electrics are made like **** in general and I'd rather see a well cut nut with no excess material.
     
  7. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I agree about the well-cut bit, but I think 'no excess' is very open to interpretation... I prefer the nut to come up to at least the top of the string. Any higher is probably unnecessary, but I've had problems in the past with strings jumping out of the grooves when they're not as deep as that, especially on Gibson-style nuts - where the grooves are rarely deep enough, and there's a lot of sideways tension on already, even before you hit the string.

    I normally agree totally with Dan Erlewine (his books taught me most of what I know, that I didn't just teach myself), but that's one recommendation that does puzzle me since I know from practical experience that it doesn't work the best and doesn't have any real truth to it.
     
  8. bettiefan

    bettiefan Member

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    This sounds like part of the culprit. If the slot is not parallel to the string, it can grab and/ or mute the string. Likewise, the nut slot should slope slightly toward the headstock. It sounds like the tech was a little sloppy.

    If the strings buzz near the 7th fret, either you have a high/low fret or not enough relief in the neck. Again, the tech should have been able to diagnose these the first time around.
     

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