2022-10-25

how to make a bone nut for guitar

By admin

how to make a bone nut for guitar插图

How do you put a nut on a guitar?

Make sure the nut sits nice and flush at the bottom. Once the basic fit in the slot is good, I move on to marking out the edges of the nut. Use a very sharp pencil to mark the neck’s profile along the face and bottom of each end of the nut. The next step is to transfer my fret height to the face of the nut.

How do I use bone nut blanks?

We like Bone Nut Blanks for most situations, except when used with a tremolo. Tremolos work well with slippery nut materials like Tusq and Black Tusq XL made by GraphTech. Carefully square up the blank to fit the nut slot by using sandpaper on a flat surface (use double-stick tape or self-adhesive sandpaper ).

Is making a guitar nut an art or science?

Making a guitar nut from scratch separates the men from the boys – it’s probably the most difficult thing to learn and perform consistently. Most of my other guitar work is rooted in science, and every aspect can be measured and defined – but making a nut is closer to an art than a science.

How do you mark a nut on a neck?

Make sure the nut sits nice and flush at the bottom. Once the basic fit in the slot is good, I move on to marking out the edges of the nut. Use a very sharp pencil to mark the neck’s profile along the face and bottom of each end of the nut.

Step 1

Out with the old: score around every edge of the old nut to cut through the lacquer. Most Fender and Gibson nuts are glued in before the paint job, if you tap out the nut without cleanly cutting the lacquer, you may chip it. Use a brand new Stanley blade.

Step 2

Time to see how well secured this old nut is… Use a thin chisel to drive out the old nut. We’re attacking from the ends with the chisel; it’s angled so the nut will lift up out of the slot it’s in. Tap gently with a light hammer on each end and you should get some movement. Be very careful!

Step 3

With the nut slot out, you may find some old glue that needs cleaning up. Measure the length and width of the nut. You want to use a piece of bone that’s too tight then sand it back to be a nice, snug fit. Sand the edges of the bone blank to leave a nice finish at the edges of the nut.

Step 4

With the nut dry-fitted into its nut slot we’re going to use half a pencil to mark a rough top profile. Use a pencil sanded in half so its cross section is a semicircle. Lay this on the frets and draw up against the nut. This is a rough indication of where the string slots depth will end up.

Step 5

We’ve made this vice specifically as the workshop, it allows great access around the nut with files for shaping purposes. Take off the bulk of the top profile of the nut with a file. You should leave 1.5mm above the sixth string’s pencil line and 1mm above the first’s pencil line as a guide. We like to put a slight round-over on the top too.

Step 6

Glue in the nut with two small blobs of superglue only. Install the sixth and first strings only and eyeball their placement; you can play with a wider string spacing. Check that the strings stay on the fretboard properly all the way up the neck, (this can be due to other problems). Mark on your desired placement for the two string slots.

Step 7

We’re making a direct copy here in spacing terms, so use the old nut as a guide – but a guide only. Never trust that an old nut has equal spacing. Even from a factory there are plenty of terribly spaced nuts! StewMac sell a graduated ‘string spacing rule’ for this purpose, that accounts for the strings getting thicker. Very clever!

Why do we adjust the slot spacing between the strings?

Before we get to that, though, we have to mention something important regarding string-spacing at the nut. Those gaps between the string slots are not all exactly the same size. Because each string’s diameter increases as they move from treble to bass side, we adjust the slot spacing between them to compensate. Otherwise, the fatter, wound strings would feel cramped.

How to use half pencil on fretboard?

This makes a mark on the nut that’s the equivalent to the fret height. Later on, I’ll use this line as a guide while roughing in nut slots. Not everyone does this half-pencil trick, but I find it speeds things up.

What is the purpose of using a half pencil on a guitar?

using the half-pencil to transfer the fret height to the nut.

What is the bottom line on a guitar?

You can see the top line in the image above. Bottom line is my half-pencil fret-height and the top line is my (rough) nut top. You can see it gets a little higher as it moves from the 1st to 6th string. I’ve marked this one relatively close to the final size. If you’re following along, I’d recommend you leave the temporary top mark a little higher.

What is a half pencil?

The half-pencil is an old carpenter’s trick. Take a pencil and sand or plane it until it’s essentially split along the graphite core. The exposed flat plane rides along a surface and accurately transfers the height of that surface to something else.

How to string an instrument loosely?

You can string up an instrument loosely and layout the strings by eye. This is actually a perfectly sound way to do it and will usually give good results. Just get them where they look right and mark their positions. Actually, laying out by eye like this tends to automatically add that slight increment in gap-size. This is because you’re visually compensating for the fact that the strings are getting thicker.

Do fender nut slots have radiused bottoms?

Thickness sorted out, now you need to get the rest of the slot-fitting sorted. If you’ve a Fender, there’s a good chance your nut slot will have a radiused bottom (higher in the middle). I’ve covered this before when talking about fitting pre-cut nuts so you can recap on shaping a radius on the bottom of a Fender nut if you want. Getting the bottom cut to shape will allow your blank to sit perfectly in the slot and is important before proceeding.

What happens if you cut a guitar nut too high?

If the nut slots are cut too high, the guitar will play stiff and run sharp in the lower registers; if they’re too low the open strings will buzz. These things have to be EXACT. Here’s the nut that the guitar came in with: While not terrible, it’s not perfect either.

Why are my guitar strings not tuning?

The guitar’s nut is one of the most important, and most overlooked, aspect of the instrument. It’s the root cause of most tuning problems: if not cut correctly , the strings will bind and catch in the nut slots, and the strings won’t stay in tune (if you’ve ever heard that high pitched pinging sound when you’re tuning your guitar, it’s most likely the string catching in the nut). If the nut slots are cut too high, the guitar will play stiff and run sharp in the lower registers; if they’re too low the open strings will buzz. These things have to be EXACT.

Is the D slot on a guitar perfect?

While not terrible, it’s not perfect either. The D and G slots are slightly angled away from the strings trajectory to the tuner, and the walls of the nut slots are too high, the spacing isn’t perfect, and it’s not perfectly seated in the nut slot.

Is it hard to make a guitar nut?

Making a guitar nut from scratch separates the men from the boys – it’s probably the most difficult thing to learn and perform consistently. Most of my other guitar work is rooted in science, and every aspect can be measured and defined – but making a nut is closer to an art than a science.

Can you buy a guitar nut off the shelf?

It’s essentially sculpture, and as every guitar is different, every nut is different. This is why you can’t just buy a nut off the shelf and expect it to be any good – it has to fit the nut slot exactly, be shaped to follow the contours of the neck, each slot has to be precisely cut, and it has to look fantastic.

Why do I use bone for guitar nuts?

Bone is my first choice of nut material because its super dense, long lasting and beautiful. I think it’s an unbeaten part of the recipe for solid resonance and long sustain on an instrument. That’s a fractional part of the formula for great tone. Here is a short step by step pictorial of how I fabricate my guitar nuts from a solid piece of bone.

How to make a nut?

The first step of making a nut (after milling the blank) is to size the thickness of the nut to the nut slot. Once that is completed I mark out the general shape of the nut (the dark pencil line). The red line is made with a flat sided pencil that lays level against the first and second frets.

How does the depth of the slots in a nut affect the frets?

The depth of the slots in the nut determine how closely the string comes to the frets, particularly the first fret. It is important that the string have enough room to vibrate without hitting the first fret or you’ll have string buzz. Nut slots that have not been cut properly can leave the strings higher than necessary above the first fret. This creates discomfort and higher action. A minor adjustment (say .020) can make a very noticeable difference.

What happens if you don’t cut the nut slots?

Nut slots that have not been cut properly can leave the strings higher than necessary above the first fret. This creates discomfort and higher action. A minor adjustment (say .020) can make a very noticeable difference. The nut is removed and filed to its final shape.

Do we dye nut black?

Although we do occasionally fabricate our nuts from pieces of raw bone our standard method is to use a standard bone blanks that we get from our trusted suppliers. We do still dye many of our nuts black on builds where the aesthetics will benefit from it. Everything else about cutting a nut is still just as we have always done it.

How to angle a Fender nut?

On a Fender nut, angle the file very slightly towards the headstock or keep it almost parallel with the fretboard. On a Gibson-style nut, you can angle the file back a little more towards the headstock (I once heard someone recommend halving the headstock angle and that’s a reasonable rule of thumb). View fullsize.

What does straightening the neck do?

Straightening the neck alters the distance between fret-tops and strings. This alteration is greatest towards the middle of the neck but the first fret is affected too and, with the very close tolerances nuts are cut to, straightening a neck can leave you with a low nut and buzzy open strings.

Can you make a guitar nut from scratch?

The other, vitally important, must-be-mentioned elephant in the room is nut files. There’s no other reasonable way to make a nut from scratch without a set of properly gauged nut files.

How to fix a nut on a guitar?

If you’re happy, loosen the strings and glue the nut in lightly with 2 or 3 small drops of Titebond glue. Replace the strings quickly, tune back to pitch, and slide the nut from side-to-side to align it while the glue is wet and slippery. Leave the strings on, to provide clamping pressure.

How to get a guitar nut out?

To do this, cut it lengthwise (across the string slots), stopping when you’re almost down to the bottom. Now you can collapse the nut inward on itself and remove the pieces.

What nut blanks work with tremolo?

We like Bone Nut Blanks for most situations, except when used with a tremolo. Tremolos work well with slippery nut materials like Tusq and Black Tusq XL made by GraphTech.

How to avoid marring guitar strings?

To avoid marring the guitar, consider shaping the slots with the nut blank held in the Nut and Saddle Vise. File down the excess nut material from the top as the slots get deeper, so there’s room for your file to cut. Frequently check the slot locations with the String Spacing Rule, and move the slots from side to side if needed. When the slots are well defined, but not to final depth, put the nut back in the slot and string up.

What saw is best for starting slots?

Now you’re ready to cut small "starter" slots. Be careful not to cut too deep. The .010" Gauged Saw is excellent for starting slots. The Gauged Saws are best at "moving" the slots from side-to-side if they stray from your marks, but they do lower the slots fast. (Besides, you shouldn’t rush this!)

What is a good template for drawing a nut?

A Radius Gauge is a good template for drawing this curved line for top of the nut. File the nut to the shape you’ve drawn. Don’t try to final-shape it yet — at this point, you want to leave yourself enough material to work with when you’re fine-shaping later.

How to dislodge a guitar nut?

By tapping the side of the old nut, you can dislodge it. Before you do, use a sharp blade to score a line on the finish around the nut. This way, the nut will break out of the finish on your scored lines, and chipping the finish will be kept to a minimum. Nuts tap out easily on old guitars, but not on new heavily-finished ones;

How to use a feeler gauge?

Lay your stack of feeler gauges on the fretboard against the nut, bending them to match the fretboard radius. With a sharp pencil, draw a line on the nut that follows this curve. This line indicates where the bottom of the string slots should be. Draw one more line to mark the top of the nut: this distance should be one-half the diameter of the thi ckest string. This leaves enough bone for a slot that holds the strings without being too deep. It’s best to leave a little too much height; later, you’ll fine-tune the string heights by lowering one string slot at a time. (A radius gauge is also a good tool for drawing these curved lines on the face of the nut.)

How to smooth a nut?

Start with 120-150 grit for flattening, and switch to 220 grit just before the nut fits the slot. Then 320-grit will add just enough smoothing to let the blank drop into the slot. Any sandpaper will work for this, although my favorite is the Mylar/adhesive-backed Stikit gold sandpaper. In my shop we say that we like to "hear the nut click into the slot" (don’t expect that to happen first time around, but it might). A series of sandpapers fastened to a flat sanding board is handy. Each grit you need is right there every time.

How to find fret height on a fretboard?

Use your feeler gauges to find the fret height by laying a straightedge across two frets and combining the gauges in a stack until they barely slide under the straightedge. Add the .030" gauge to this stack (if you’re already using the .030" gauge, recombine the feeler gauges so you have a stack that’s .030" higher than the fret height).

How to stop at string height?

As you get close, use your feeler gauges as an accurate way to stop at the string height you’re after. Our frets in this example are .040" tall, so when we add .030" for string clearance we get a slot depth of .070". Stack the feeler gauges to this combined measurement, or close to it. File the slots until the file just nicks the feeler gauges and then stop.

How to measure for a guitar fret?

A good measurement is about 1/16" in from each end of the first fret (measuring from the top of the beveled fret ends). Put the two outside E strings on the guitar and, looking straight down on the top of the nut, move these strings together or apart until their spacing is correct for you. With a very sharp pencil, mark the nut on each side of both strings (four marks total). Loosen the strings and slide them aside. Mark a thin centerline between the two marks for each string.

How to check if a string is too high?

TIP: With the strings out of the way, lay the side of your head on the fretboard and, with back-lighting, look through each nut slot; you’ll see the shape of the slot bottoms, and you may see a small uneven area that’s holding a string up too high. Just removing that little obstruction alone can cause the string to settle into the slot, and there’s no need to barge in with a file, taking material away where you’ll wish you hadn’t. (This kind of closeup is more than my eyes can do without a magnifier—that’s why I’m wearing an Optivisor in so many pictures taken around my shop.)

How to see the depth of a saw cut?

TIP: By placing a small mirror on the opposite side of the nut, you can watch the depth of your saw cut from both sides at once. Mirrors are handy in lots of ways — like looking at both ends of a fret as you work on it. (You’ll probably be doing this after you learn to make a nut, because you’ll get hooked on setup work just like I did!)

How to expose graphite center of carpenter’s pencil?

Sand your carpenter’s pencil halfway down the length to expose the graphite center.

How to make an E string?

1. Use a ruler to mark 1/8″ in from the left and right sides at the top of the new nut – these are the locations for both of the E strings. 2. Use your string spacing rule to match the end marks up, then draw the lines for the rest of the strings in-between. 3.

How to remove a guitar nut?

1. Remove the guitar’s strings – don’t throw them out, we’ll need them soon. 2. Use a razor to make a clean score around the nut to separate it from any lacquer. 3. Dislodge the nut by placing a small block of wood against the back of the nut (bridge side) and tapping it lightly with a mallet.

How to make bone blanks?

1. Place your bone blank in the slot and make sure it fits snugly – if you’re using a thicker blank, use the belt sander to bring the thickness down in small increments until it fits.

Why do guitar companies use plastic nuts?

It’s also the reason why guitar companies promote plastic nuts as being just as good as bone, when the evidence is clearly against them. Chips and breaks, cheap plastic material, dirty / improperly seated & slotted, poor action – these are a few reasons to replace a nut.

Why replace a guitar nut?

There’s also another purpose to replacing your guitar’s nut, besides for the purpose of getting the action perfect: the material. Most production factories can’t feasibly spend the time and effort in making custom bone nuts for each instrument they build, nor do they want to go through the process of trying buy and stock cow bone in bulk – hence the reason for the market being flooded with cheap plastic nuts on stock models. It’s also the reason why guitar companies promote plastic nuts as being just as good as bone, when the evidence is clearly against them.