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Telecaster String Action At The Nut???

Kenni

Member
Messages
196
Hi there!

I've started some work on my Telecaster, it needs a fret level, re-crown, polish and a thorough setup afterwards. The only thing I really need for the thorough setup is to know the String Action at the nut for a Telecaster - can't find much on it anywhere...

Any suggestions or personal preference??

I know people tend to say "the string height at the nut only needs to be a hair or two above the 1st fret" but it would be nice to see some numbers ;)

I've heard that some go for something like .024 on the low E-string and .012" on the high e-string, and from there they kind of experiments with the remaining strings...

Thanks - Cheers! :cool:
 

KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,243
The general rule of thumb is .012" on the high E, then that + half the diameter of the string for the balance of them. Personally, I don't care for that progression - the low E ends up ~.034" up with a set of 10s, which feels too high. I start at .012" and end around .020" and never have any problems.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,352
I've heard that some go for something like .024 on the low E-string and .012" on the high e-string
??

measured from where to where?

the only useful measurements are ones that take the rest of the setup out of the equation, which means holding down the string at the third fret (so holding it down in front of the second fret) and checking the gap the string creates over the first fret. if that gap is larger than like a sheet of notebook paper then the nut slots are too high.

you're not measuring that kind of gap with a ruler, which is why the correct spec for nut slot height usually doesn't include numbers.
 

Mr. Duque

Member
Messages
219
Setting up string height at the nut is somewhat mystical. The distance from the top of the 1st fret to the bottom of the string should be just a hair, for sure. What I do is put a business card between the 1st fret and the string, it should be tight. I find this is too small to me measured. I usually cut pieces of a soda tin and use it as a limiter for sanding the nut slots, piling them close to the nut, a little bit higher than a fret.

Hope I could make myself clear... :(
 

jay42

Member
Messages
7,083
I have some frets without tangs that I can shove against the nut, but mostly, I press between 2 and 3 and look at that gap over and over. I have an acoustic with A, D, and G too high, but most of the trouble is at the bridge.
 

Mr. Duque

Member
Messages
219
I think the bridge is OK once you have the relief on the neck and the nut set up. Any specific issue?
 

buddyboy69

Member
Messages
5,054
Hold down string at 3nd fret. A piece of printer paper should just barely drag through string and 1st fret. .01. Which is the paper thickness. Thats what i do.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
34,656
Hold down string at 3nd fret. A piece of printer paper should just barely drag through string and 1st fret. .01. Which is the paper thickness. Thats what i do.
If we're getting fussy 20lb paper usually measures about .0035".
It may well compress a little under the string and be quite useful in this application, though.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,352
either way, the point is our proper measurement is done via holding the string down in front of the second fret and checking over the first fret, and that measurement is vanishingly small.
 

swiveltung

Senior Member
Messages
14,485
The High E for me will be probably .005" max and may be less/ barely perceptible. The low E probably not more than .015 and also could be much less.
 

zztomato

Senior Member
Messages
11,391
You can go with the basic tap test. Press the string down between the 2nd and 3rd fret and tap the string over the 1st fret. You should hear a "tink" with very little pressure when tapping. That's the old school way of checking. If you have a gauge then just go with 2/1000 for the plain strings and 3-4/1000 for the wound.
 

Kenni

Member
Messages
196
Hi guys! :)

Once again, thanks for your comments!

I've now done the fret level, re-crown and polish. Boy, it turned out fantastic! The guitar feels so much smoother and easier to play now!
Feels just like butter, to be honest!

I've done a setup on the guitar too and everything is right on the money - pickup height, action and relief!
Though, I still suspect the nut slots being too high on some strings..
This time I've recorded some measurements, and I would like to share them with you guys, and hear what you think/have to say.

Using different Feeler Gauges, stacking them together and sliding them under the string - fret top to bottom of string - I've measured the following:
E - .020"
A - .022"
D - .026"
G - .030"
B - .028"
e - .028-.030"

I think the low E is where it needs to be, but the other strings is obviously not cut correct.
Using a digital caliper, set to 2/64 for the E & A, 1,5/64 for the D & G and 1/64 for the B & e, I can actually see the strings being higher than the measuremt of the caliper.
Guess that's also a pretty good indicator, right?

I'm thinking of taking the nut slots down and get them right, but would it be something like:
E - .020"
A - .018"
D - .016"
G - .014"
B - .012"
e - .010

THANKS! :cool:
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,352
Using different Feeler Gauges, stacking them together and sliding them under the string - fret top to bottom of string - I've measured the following:
E - .020"
A - .022"
D - .026"
G - .030"
B - .028"
e - .028-.030"
still not a useful measurement! nudge the truss rod a little and all those numbers change.

the best you can do there is to also fret or gently capo the first fret, then look at your height over the second fret; this second measurement is your theoretical limit, you can get close to but not the same as or closer than this gap when checking the open string over the first fret.

your only reliable measurements are done with the string held down in front of the second fret (or a straightedge resting only on that second fret and stacked-up feeler gauges by the nut), with the gap over the first fret as the thing you're checking.
 

Axis29

Member
Messages
3,595
I know I'm a little late to the party... But, I don't worry about measurements when cutting nut slots. I do it with a tuner.

I will get the string tuned to pitch and fret it at the second fret. Then test the tuning. If it's sharp, I take a little bit off, then tune to pitch and fret the second fret again. Then, I will check again at the first fret. I use my more accurate Boss Tu-12 needle tuner, not a clip on or pedal board tuner.

There is nothing that drives me crazier than doing open position chords and hearing notes go sharp....
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,352
I don't worry about measurements when cutting nut slots. I do it with a tuner.

I will get the string tuned to pitch and fret it at the second fret. Then test the tuning. If it's sharp, I take a little bit off, then tune to pitch and fret the second fret again.
yeah, that's a dodgy method.

you're essentially "looking through the wrong end of the telescope", where a big change in the thing you're cutting makes a slight change in the perceived measurement. that's the opposite of how measuring instruments are supposed to work.

you can quickly go from "intonates sharp" to "buzzes on the open string" without the tuner telling you anything has changed. literally one file swipe can be the difference between "too high", "perfect" and "buzzing".

besides, the old needle tuner TU-12 is pretty crude compared to actual strobe tuners like the turbo tuner, and i'd still never rely on something like that to gauge nut slot height.
 

jcs

Member
Messages
8,093
either way, the point is our proper measurement is done via holding the string down in front of the second fret and checking over the first fret, and that measurement is vanishingly small.
Plus this is such an easy thing to do!

I just bought this minty MIM J bass, the nut slots from the factory were unbelievably high using this method that took seconds to check.

Also, I determined that this cheapie Korean Les Paul copy (I bought for practically nothing) had a tendency to always sound very good intonation wise...quick check revealed the nut was cut almost perfect when I bought the guitar.

You never know for sure trying to look at numbers.
 

jcs

Member
Messages
8,093
walterw, what should the gap on a bass be compared to guitar?

Slightly thicker paper than a notebook sheet?

I still have a bit of gap on my MIM J bass...right around .012 on the ones that are still a bit high....though the G string seems a bit higher than a notebook paper but not much (I think its the right height).
 

Axis29

Member
Messages
3,595
yeah, that's a dodgy method.

you're essentially "looking through the wrong end of the telescope", where a big change in the thing you're cutting makes a slight change in the perceived measurement. that's the opposite of how measuring instruments are supposed to work.

you can quickly go from "intonates sharp" to "buzzes on the open string" without the tuner telling you anything has changed. literally one file swipe can be the difference between "too high", "perfect" and "buzzing".

besides, the old needle tuner TU-12 is pretty crude compared to actual strobe tuners like the turbo tuner, and i'd still never rely on something like that to gauge nut slot height.
You're probably right. But, I've been doing it this way for a number of years and had nothing but success. Realistically, a swipe too much with a file when measuring could be just as bad. I measure to get close, I use the half pencil and all that, but fine tuning I always do by ear. I do sneak up on it... I mean just a whisper with the file sometimes.

I do need a better bench tuner though... I struggle with strobe tuners, always have. But, I've never owned one and spent a lot of time with them either. Maybe it's time?
 






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