Modern Gretsch Guitars

Nut string spacing question (RHH)

1

Hey guys, Years ago I made the mistake of wanting to switch to a bone nut on my RHH. The luthier got the string spacing/alignment wrong so I tried again then kind of gave up. It's never really been right since. A bit off, a bit to the side.

And really I just never should have done anything to it at all, as the last gig I played before I switched the nut was the best gig ever.

Anyway, as it didn't quite feel right I ended up just not playing it that often, which is a shame as it's my dream guitar.

So I am going to try with a different guitar tech one last time. But maybe does anyone here know the exact spacing on their RHH (and distance from the sides of the fretboard?) I realize that they can all vary, but any guidelines would help. Ideally, if you can measure using the metric system, that would be great, but if not no worries.

Thanks,

Konrad

2

I can measure mine, check back later...in the early morning routine at the moment...

3

Twang, Much appreciated!

K

4

For me, you made the right choice in going with bone for your replacement. Shame the person who did the replacement was sloppy. Once you have the location for the outer E strings, the guides establish where the other 4 slots need to be cut for equal spacing. The trick is getting the depth even and the sides just wide enough the strings don't bind and ping. a competent luthier won't have any difficulty with this job.

5

I used a Vernier Caliper, several measurements...all in inches.

L = 1.70 H = .365 W = .200

E to E centerline = 1.41

High E centerline to edge = .155

Low E centerline to edge = .135

Slots cut centerline to centerline versus equi-spaced gaps between strings...

7

I recently discovered one of my guitars had a poorly cut nut. It was like a driving a car with some of the wheels aligned, and not all of the lug nuts. Hard to believe people want you pay for their sloppy work. Rant over.

8

Both E strings 1/8" from the edge and the rest divided up evenly. I have a Stew-Mac nut ruler, but sometimes I tweak a string or 2 by eye because the ruler is flawed, IMO.

10

I brought a digital caliper home last night, & also made some measurements for you, Konrad.

My measurements agree more with Charlie's suggestion, re: having the E/e strings about 1/8-inch (3.18 mm) from either side of the nut. Actually, my E/e string slots are centered about 0.13 inches (3.3 mm) in from either side of the nut.

The other string slots are also pretty close to equally spaced between the E/e strings. Adjacent strings are about 0.286 inches (7.26 mm) apart.

I'll try to include two photos that might help you explain to your repair guy what you want. Note that the headstock-side of the nut slots is chamfered, so that the strings are directed toward their respective tuners.

Also, the top of the nut is sloped downward on the headstock side of the nut. Chrisp or Curt would know better than me, but I think the nut slots should also be sloped down a bit on the headstock side of the nut.

I hope this helps.

11

Geoguy,

Thanks--but one thing, I know my strings were not angled to the tuners like that orginally. But the other--it looks like the low e is closer to the edge than the high e. Are you measuring from the center of the string or from the outside of the string?

Curious too about the slope.

This US luthier said he will do it exactly to spec if I can find the specs--you guys are helping a lot.

K

12

Twang, Charlie,

If you don't mind me asking, how do your nuts look like compared to Geoguys?

HA HA HA HA HA...

But seriously...

Pics?

HA HA HA HA...

But seriously--in the name of science...

HA HA HA HA HA...

No--but really. If you guys can have a look... help me out here, not matter how awkwardly I word this.

Sheesh. Dealing with this stuff...

Heh heh.

K

13

I measured from the edge of the nut to the center of each E/e string. So the low E string might look like it is closer to the edge just because it is thicker.

Final fitting of a nut needs to be done with the guitar in hand, in my opinion.

And I'm not touching your interest in Twangmeister & Charlie's nuts . . . nope, not going there!

14

Ah--that makes sense!

HA HA HA HA...

I wonder if their string slots are at an angle like that. I don't think mine was.

Very interesting.

K

15

You can see the little bit of favoring, High E versus Low E

16

I have a Tusq Nut that has the angled slots on my Epi Emperor...great idea if not more so for a Bigsby or Trem Arm guitar.

These slots are straight with Guitar Grease...

18

A previous thread dealt in depth with the issue of why the slots - usually only the 4 inboard slots - need be angled towards their respective tuners, but I don't have the link. This pic of my acoustic shows the angling as well as how close to the edge I have my low E string so I can grab it easily with my thumb. High E is closer to the edge than any factory cut nut as well. I like using the full width of the fingerboard, which includes the binding that the frets overlap as they should, so I get the maximum but equal string spacing. If later on you want to use a higher gauge string, the slots need to be carefully opened up. Slots need to be a custom fit, in particular for guitars without a zero fret.

With the slots cut properly - a job which can be tricky - I have no need for any form of lubricant on any of my guitars. I have my luthier do this work. With the exception of Chet's prototype Super Axe and my '41 Synchro, I've change out all the nuts to space them as I need and I only use bone, none of that bone wannabe plastic manufacturers have taken to using.

Edit: photo won't upload. What's up with that again??

19

I don't know which thread WindsorDave is referring to, but here is Billy Zoom's advice from one thread that was pretty nut-centric:

Front of the nut should be exactly one skosh higher than the first fret, and the depth should slope towards the headstock. The slots should be angled so the the string goes in a straight line to the tuner. Slot should be at least 1.25 the width of the string. On the wound string slots, pull a piece of string back and forth to polish the slot. Do this using copious amounts of graphite powder so that it gets worked into the nut material. In all these things, strive to keep the string contact area minimal. For the first year or so, add graphite powder whenever changing strings. BZ

20

What's the link to that thread, Geo?

21

I don't angle the slots toward the tuners, but the rear must be lower than the front to be sure the string has down pressure on the front edge of the nut, or intonation will suffer terribly. I angle the file a little less than the headstock angle. It's an eyeball thing. On angled headstock guitars, I ike to have as much as half the syring sitting proud of the nut. It makes filing quick and easy with no binding of the file and less chance of a crooked slot.

22

What's the link to that thread, Geo?

– Windsordave

Found it again, Dave:

Link

23

Thanks Geo!

Konrad, the reason the slots need to be angled towards their respective tuner is that this allows the 'break point' of the string to be at the front edge of the nut vs the back. This produces better intonation because the scale length needs to begin from the front edge of the nut, not at the back.

My [pre FMIC] '98 6120 has a slightly wider headstock than the original and both E string tuners are outboard of their nut slot and so their slots had to be angled along with the interior 4 strings. On my '72 Super Chet, the E strings runs straight so no angling required. Same for my '41 Synchro. On my '76 Super Axe, Chet's prototype, the E slots are angled just a tad, but not near as much as on the 6120.

The only time it doesn't matter really, is if there's a zero fret as that becomes the break poing, not the nut. The SC has a zero fret but I angle the nut on all my guitars, with one exception. I didn't have to and wouldn't have anyway to maintain its originality, on the Synchro as the original nut was angled and that was 77 years ago! Someone knew what they were doing, eh?

24

Sometimes you wonder how much has prolly been forgotten since the glory days of guitar making.


Register Sign in to join the conversation