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Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by J_Mac, Dec 7, 2018.
What height do you guys aim for at the 1st fret when cutting nuts?
Depends on the gauge of string, but I tend to shoot for .010 - .012" for the thinnest, and taper up to about .030 - .035" for my low six/seven/eight strings. I suppose in mm that is a spread of .25 - .80 mm. I based this off the SM guide and went a little taller for bigger strings/less tension for ERG's.
Hold the string down at the 3rd fret. If the string just clears the first fret, good to go.
This always seems to work.
I'd go the same height as your frets. There is enough clearance when you fret the string on one of them so there should be the right amount for the nut too.
I never really set out with a particular spacing in mind. I cut and shape the nut, slot it to the proper radius, leaving plenty of extra material, then test fit it with strings. From there I remove material from the base for overall correction and make fine adjustments with gauged files in the slots.
Honing it in with the final setup always seems to work out best in my experience, then again I'm mostly replacing existing nuts so I usually have that to go off of.
I heard zero fret is the "high end" thing to do? Never tried it. Are we talking 6,7,8,9 , 10 stringer?
zero fret is great if you don't know how to set a nut properly.
Yeah, a proper nut set is surely an invaluable luthiery tool to hone. Zero seems like the way to go if there is no need to adjust each individual string slot height and get perfect height off zero...
I wouldn't say "high end", it's just a different way to do it with a different outcome. There's pros and cons.
Really, it's mostly about preference.
It's not like it totally negates the string nut, that still needs to be cut properly for minimal friction, it's just more forgiving as far as individual string depth.
That's why I use them
I just use a pre slotted graphtech nut, and make a few small adjustments. Done!
That's smart talk! I need to try that and save some time.
Same here. Much easier to use a nice Graph Tech and remove material from the base. Big fan of the fret 3 rule, too.
There is a real art to handcrafting a nut and I respect anyone who makes them from scratch. Just make sure you wear a good mask if you're carving inorganic matter like bone. Or any material for that matter.
Ah ok yeah, this makes a lot of sense to my OCD brain. Are you saying maybe capo fret 3 and measure clearance above the 4th?
I guess I would say fret it on the fourth and it should JUST touch the first-third. But the easiest way to do it is to use a zero fret. That's what I do
I use a feeler gauge and have .018" clearance, I like measurable repeatable
Or if you like open strings to sound like fretted strings ...
Or if you want your action as low as possible ...
The only reason zero frets get a bad rap is because it was a choice of cheap manufacturers a while back. Just as bolt-ons are associated with cheapness.
Zero frets can be 'set' and can be adjusted for per-string heights, by abrading the top surface.
I like to use a stainless steel fret higher than the other frets then abrade the top as far as is necessary.
I hand crafted nuts and done the Tusq nuts and I'll take the Tusq anytime. Spacing is always correct, they're usually slotted just a touch on the high side so that you can really fine tune how deep to finish the slot for the setup needs of the player, and because it's less labor intensive, I can turn around a job for a customer in a quicker amount of time with a bit less labor cost.