General tech questions

Bone nut blanks?

26

Hey guys, so this project is coming along great. On my first attempt, all is going well so far. No errors and it's starting to look like a real nut.

I have shaved down the nut (by hand using sandpaper, which sucks) to size, have the radius drawn on the bone, and started the slots tonight. I'm building this nut for my cheap acoustic as a test run. Quick question: my acoustic guitar strings have the A string at .42 gauge. The closest file I have is .46. Will that work, or should I buy a smaller file?

Also, what is the best way (I only have hand tools) to make sure the bottom of the nut sits perfectly flush in the slot? I have been sanding and trying to keep it even. It looks good but I'm not sure it's perfect.

27

That file will work.

Use self stick sandpaper on a flat surface and if you don’t have any then attach the paper to a sanding block and pass the nut over the paper.

28

Thanks, Curt. I'm not sure I have a perfectly flat surface because I'm doing this in a 1br apartment instead of a work shop. I used my counter top in the apartment, thinking it was flat, and held down the sandpaper with my hand as I ran the nut over it. When I sight the nut it looks pretty good, but a few spots look slightly uneven. I'm not sure if it's an illusion or it's a little off. I think what is happening is my hand is putting uneven pressure on the nut when sanding it. So, I turned it every so often thinking it would even out. I'm just not sure it is.

It does seem to sit fine in the slot, even though it doesn't look perfectly flat.

29

Hey guys. So it's basically done. I'm really happy with how it turned out. I still need to shape it the back side of it and round the edges, but the rest feels right.

Here are some photos: https://imgur.com/a/vB475

I'm proud to just get something functional on my first try. The only issue is the treble strings are kind of deep in their slots. Can I just use a file to take away material on that side so they're not buried?

The B string is a hair sharp intonation-wise. I'll have to check that slot, too. If anyone has recommendations on that I'd love to hear them.

30

Looks good. As for your files...you want the slot a little wider than the string to avoid binding. Depending on strings and my files, I often go .006" larger with no problem. You can take some off the top of the nut if you like. A really good job on a guitar with an angled headstock, often leaves about 1/2 the diameter of the string sitting proud of the nut. I think the difference can be heard on the open strings. Don't try this on a Fender. Make sure you angle the slots back toward the headstock a little to be sure the fretboard-side edge of the slot is truly the last thing the string touches. I look at the angle of the headstock and eyeball splitting the difference between that and horizontal.

31

Thanks, Charlie. Why do you say not to try that on a Fender?

32

Might I add a suggestion to the advice of Charlie's post. When you cut the nut, to also ensure that the front edge of the nut is truly the last thing the string touches, angle the slots slightly towards their respective tuning posts. This ensures the break point is the front edge of the nut and not the back edge.

Depending on the shape of the headstock, this exercise may involve angling all 6 slots, or only the inside 4. For instance, on my Super Chet, both E strings line up directly with their posts so the slots are straight. My '98 6120 - pre-FMIC shape - requires angling all 6 slots.

33

When you cut the nut, to also ensure that the front edge of the nut is truly the last thing the string touches, angle the slots slightly towards their respective tuning posts. This ensures the break point is the front edge of the nut and not the back edge

Thanks, yeah, I read that and tried to do it. What is the best method to ensure that? I filed it straight downward until I hit the penciled radius line, and then I started to back file at that point. Is there a better method to ensure it?


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