General tech questions

Bone nut blanks?

1

Can someone point me in the direction of some good quality bone nut blanks that will fit a gretsch (pro line duo jet)? I want to practice carving my own at a reasonable price. I'm receiving some nut files for christmas, so I will have the proper tools soon.

The Gretsch nut appears to be 42.8. Most fenders I see are 42, so is it a little wider?

The hard part for me would be making it match the radius. I don't really understand how to do that, so if you know if any with a built in 12" radius that would be awesome. I'd like to try string spacing and cutting the slots myself, though.

Thanks!

2

These show the Fenders to be a little over 43. These could be trimmed, right?

3

Nuts are square. The radius is achieved through slotting. Stewmac have loads of videos etc on how to do it. If you are good with your hands it's actually not so difficult as long as you have a few decent tools. Bone is easy to work and you always want a blank which is bigger than you need. There is not enough room here to describe how to cut a nut. Stewmac will help.

4

Here's a video about shaping a nut. It's specific to Fender, but the rudiments are universal.

5

Jimmy, so the bottom of the nut doesn't have a radius, it's totally flat/square on the bottom? The radius of 12" is just the slots?

I'll check out the video tonight. Thanks for that.

6

I use different gauge strings on one guitar. If I go up to 12 or higher it might give me problems so I make the grooves bigger. Depending on the guitar I usually start with grooves for 10's. If I go to 9's no problem.

7

I suggest springing for the cost of having a top luthier who's an expert at installing and fine tuning the slots as he/she does this regularly, do this work for you; and exactly as you want it set up. I make this suggestion given you've never tried this finicky project before and that your line of thinking was that the bottom of the nut was radiused and not flat.

In your previous thread you asked for advice and all of us said the issue was with the nut and yet you didn't address that, and told us after all the other investigative work you did to seek a solution to the issues you described, maybe you'll look at the nut. With the nut being the most likely source of your tuning issues, why would you feel you can do a better job than an expert? You're almost certain to frustrate yourself with this exercise. Just sayin'......

8

Oh. Did not realize this was an ongoing “issues” infused situation.

Ignore my post above and do as Dave says.

9

I suggest springing for the cost of having a top luthier who's an expert at installing and fine tuning the slots as he/she does this regularly, do this work for you; and exactly as you want it set up. I make this suggestion given you've never tried this finicky project before and that your line of thinking was that the bottom of the nut was radiused and not flat.

In your previous thread you asked for advice and all of us said the issue was with the nut and yet you didn't address that, and told us after all the other investigative work you did to seek a solution to the issues you described, maybe you'll look at the nut. With the nut being the most likely source of your tuning issues, why would you feel you can do a better job than an expert? You're almost certain to frustrate yourself with this exercise. Just sayin'......

– Windsordave

I resolved the other issues, for the most part. I now want to learn how to make a nut because it seems like a useful skill. Why? Because I'm constantly trying to learn more.

10

Oh. Did not realize this was an ongoing “issues” infused situation.

Ignore my post above and do as Dave says.

– chrisp2

No, your advice is great, thanks.

11

Working on guitars is great and can be very satisfying if it turns out good. Before you take the nut off of your gretsch you might want to try to do this kind of work on a cheap (disposable if necessary) guitar. You really need to be handy and have steady hands, good eyes, good tools and some experience is very helpful. You might want to wear a respirator so you don't breath in the dust. I'm learning to do these things myself to rescue a vintage Anniversary, but I started on an old acoustic I had lying around the house to practice and develop my skills. See this thread link

It's still not finished because it's very time consuming. Good luck with your project!

12

I resolved the other issues, for the most part. I now want to learn how to make a nut because it seems like a useful skill. Why? Because I'm constantly trying to learn more.

– gmascis

Good for you! give it a try and don't let the naysayers dissuade you At worst you'll be out the cost of a nut blank or 2 and you'll have learned something.

Making nuts is NOT that difficult. In fact a fellow just gave you excellent step by step instructions. Also nut blanks are not that expensive. Have a look at this guy: http://www.japarts.ca/ He's just done the street from me and I buy nut and saddle blanks and binding and MOP, hardwood, and nut files etc etc all the time. He has Many different thicknesses and dimensions of nut and saddle blanks. He has natural bone, bleached bone (whiter) and I believe some synthetics. THere's also Stewart Macdonald and Luthiers Mercantile

I say go for it. Become your own luthier. at least for the small stuff. This is akin to changing out the peripherals on a car (alternator, battery, thermostat, wheels, brakes etc etc,). Get a mechanic/luthier if you want to pull the engine/reset the neck etc.

13

Oh and it wouldn't hurt. if you want to 'practice' getting a couple of cheaper ones to practice with. However none of them should be that expensive.

14

Hey thanks Mike and Taxo. Yeah, I'm just naturally curious and always like to learn more. I'd be practicing on a really old Yamaha acoustic that's a $40 guitar. I'd try making one for my Gretsch, but I'd keep the stock one as-is.

When I go to buy nuts online, most say "for classical guitar" or "for acoustic guitar" -- these blanks will be fine for electric, too, correct? Can't I just cut them to dimensions? I'm not sure why they say they're for specific instruments.

Do you guys recommend a certain dimension to start with if I'm going to make one for a cheap acoustic first and then a duo jet after that?

15

Yeah! a little alarming A nut is a nut is a nut A blank is a small block of bone that you shape to fit whatever instrument it is going on. It's usually the thickness of the blank that you can order to be basically exact. The other dimensions(height and width )you want a little long so you can shape it your guitar.

It won't be sized to a particular make or type of guitar until you make it so

There isn't really 'acoustic' pieces of bone vs electric pieces of bone

Have a go at it on your cheap acoustic and discover if it's something yopu want to do.

16

There isn't really 'acoustic' pieces of bone vs electric pieces of bone

Thanks, Taxo. That's what I figured and needed to confirm. I didn't understand why they were being advertised as "classical guitar blank" or "acoustic guitar blanks" on all the listings I found.

17

You ask remarkable questions considering the task you contemplate.

Well, if you tried to do my profession, you'd be the same way.

This is how learning something new works. I always encourage questions, but you're taking jabs. It says more about you. But thanks for the tips and anecdotes.

18

I don't think think the fellow was trying to take a jab. He was concerned Sometimes someone asks you about something and if you don't have the whole picture it can sound worrisome. I think he was trying to help actually.

As far as the classical guitar blanks and acoustic guitar blanks I could see why they sell them that way as it might be easier to understand. However they are referring to dimensions. Your average classical guitar has a much wider neck (as you likely know) than your average steel string acoustic.

BTW 'TOXOphilite ..meaning archery enthusiast!..not Taxophilite, which either sounds like a TAX enthusiast (aiiieee) or a taxidermist enthusiast!..????

Best of luck and have fun, and expect to maybe screw up. Bowyers say begin your first bow with determination and persistence but with little hope! (Happily Building bows is a lot more fraught with disaster than making a simple guitar nut!!!!)

19

Haha, sorry TOXO! My mentor in my field was a huge archery guy. Won the NY archery competition.

I bought 6 bone nuts from amazon for 7.99. That seems like a good, cheap deal to practice on. I bought a few saddles, too, to try to replace that on my acoustic. 7.99 for 6 as well. It should be fun. I can't do it until Xmas because the lady got me some files as a gift. I'll read up on it until then. Thanks for the support.

20

I just ordered a few from Philadelphia Luthier supply...should be here in a day or 2. I've always been satisfied with what I get from them. I still have a couple I cut from soup bones. I no longer have access to a band saw, but if you do, you can get a cow bone at most pet stores that will give you a lifetime supply of nut blanks. You can even get smoked ones for that authentic BBQ mojo ;)

21

I just ordered a few from Philadelphia Luthier supply...should be here in a day or 2. I've always been satisfied with what I get from them. I still have a couple I cut from soup bones. I no longer have access to a band saw, but if you do, you can get a cow bone at most pet stores that will give you a lifetime supply of nut blanks. You can even get smoked ones for that authentic BBQ mojo ;)

– charlie chitlins

Excellent!

22

I canceled my amazon order and went with Philadelphia Luthier supply. Their prices were good, and I'd rather support a smaller U.S. shop. Good rec! Thanks.

23

Philly Luthier is my go-to. Just got my nut blanks. 10 Fender, 10 Gibson/Gretsch. I got unbleached. Color is not totally uniform (duh) and the thicknesses vary a little, but certainly none are to small to use...some will just have to take a little more or less filing.

24

Did you consider the nut with the zero fret? Much more forgiving of string gauge changes. Seems like it would be easier. Good luck.


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