Why not file nut slots to fret height?

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by Bearitone, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    I was watching nut slotting tutorial videos and no one ever slots the nut to fret height. They always leave a few extra thousandths (And NEVER explain how they got the number or why they're doing it)

    Why leave extra material? They spent hours getting all 22 frets level to each other just to make the nut (which is the 0th fret) higher than the rest? this doesn't make sense to me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
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  2. Soya

    Soya Poor person Contributor

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    What? If the nut is the same height as all the frets, you essentially wouldn't have a fretted instrument anymore.
     
  3. failsafe

    failsafe SS.org Regular

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    Think about the physics of what you’re asking.
     
  4. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    Not following
     
  5. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    I have and it still doesn’t make sense. That’s why I’m asking.

    You have the saddle holding the string above the other frets and a slight forward bow from neck relief. You’ve already accounted for fret buzz there. There’s no reason to leave that extra material that i can see.

    If you DO have to leave it, then why are you able to use a capo? You aren’t adding more material to the fret in front of the capo, yet you can play open notes without fret buzz.

    From a geometry standpoint leaving extra material, rather than just slotting to fret height, doesn’t make sense to me
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
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  6. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    If the nut is the same height as your frets then... wouldn't the string just sit on the frets? Either that or you'd have a really uneven action.
     
  7. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    No, what he's saying is why aren't nuts cut to the same height as a fret, such that the nut would be as high as a zero fret. It's a valid question, as nearly every guitar I buy needs the nut lowered. It's the single biggest factor in preventing the average person from getting great action.

    @Bearitone, the nuts SHOULD be at the same height as the frets. But, I suspect that companies/techs are generally too nervous about accidentally going TOO low, and then needing to start over - or having a customer complain about the buzzing. Really good luthiers do put the nut at the fret level. Speaking for the guitars of my own. It makes a huge difference, IMO.
     
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  8. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Nuts wear out over time. Every time you tune, bend, use a trem, etc. it wears the string slots. Adding a fraction of a millimeter will negate a lot of that wear for a considerable amount of time.

    Outside of that, all setups are a little different. Without knowing the exact geometry of the neck joint, nut and strings it's impossible to say why a given guitar has certain setup quirks.

    I will say, having clearance over the first fret isn't a bad thing. It'll let you get away with a little more neck relief. It's helpful for folks who beat the crap out of thier strings and want a little more room before string rattle comes through the amp. Remember, the neck is curved (relief) not straight, and a slightly raised nut is a continuation of that curve.
     
  9. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    Yes! Hallelujah, someone understands me! And as I suspected, from a geometric standpoint it makes sense to have the slots at fret height. I'm going to try this myself!

    You make a good point about nut wear being the reason for leaving material. This really makes me think it would just be better for all guitars to have a stainless steel zero fret and a low friction string retainer (Vigier guitars make more and more sense every day).

    Anyway, thank you both of you for your input. Its actually really helpful
     
  10. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

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    Gitar manufacturers buy pre-shaped nuts that sometimes don't even precisely match the fretboard radius. Leaving the nut higher than necessary compensates for this and saves the time/money for per string adjustments.
     
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  11. silverabyss

    silverabyss

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    Bro right???
     
  12. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    My second build had a zero fret and the action was just ... Correct right out of the gate. So this definitely seems like the way to go. Fret height or zero fret.
     
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  13. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Yep, I love me a SS zero fret! I prefer a nut as string alignment behind the zero fret, but you can’t beat it for correct height.
     
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  14. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Yes nut height at fret height makes sense geometrically and is the correct continuation of the neck curvature.
    But due to the wearing of a typically softer nut due to tuning and significant downforce, some extra height avoids the nut becoming lower than the frets after a short while.

    Even a zero fret will wear more than other frets due to tuning and downforce, it certainly needs to be stainless steel.
    I just learnt this after fretting a guitar and using a zero fret identical to the other frets (EVO gold fretwire). After very little use grooves have appeared and the nut is nearly too low. WIll replace with a higher SS fret and then file it down to create a wider flat surface (less wearing).

    But also, consider that having the strings as low as possible means that muting open strings becomes more difficult, as the slightest muting pressure now frets a string. Having the open strings high off the frets creates some resistence to muting pressure and makes string muting easier.

    However, i think all guitars should actually have per-string height adjustable nuts, and per-string nut intonation adjustment too. I think Toone and Townsend have a headless nut that does this.
    Essentially i'm thinking about having individual adjustable saddles at both ends of the string.
     
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