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  1. #1

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    Hello. How can I tell if my nut slots are not deep enough? I suspect that my action, at least on the bass side may be a little too high at the first fret. But to some degree, the relief and bridge height would affect this as well yes? So how can I know how low the slots should be? Guitar is a 1998 ES-165.

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  3. #2

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    The common method is, when you fret a string at the 3rd fret, it should clear the first fret by a hair. Let say 0.08 inches. This should be high enough for open strings not to buzz when strummed or picked reasonably hard. If you use very light gauge strings and strum hard then may be a bit more clearance needed.
    This can be done independently from bridge adjustment or even truss rod since you are fretting at the 3 fret.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    The common method is, when you fret a string at the 3rd fret, it should clear the first fret by a hair. Let say 0.08 inches. This should be high enough for open strings not to buzz when strummed or picked reasonably hard. If you use very light gauge strings and strum hard then may be a bit more clearance needed.
    This can be done independently from bridge adjustment or even truss rod since you are fretting at the 3 fret.
    Thank You, that's very helpful.

  5. #4

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    You are welcome. One small clarification. When I said that this can be done independently from bridge height adjustment, I meant you can adjust nut height without worrying about the bridge height but not the other way around. Obviously changing the nut height will affect the action and hence the required bridge adjustment. Truss rod adjustment on the other hand is less dependent on nut height. Though in some cases lowering the nut may require looser truss rod (more arch) for open string clearance, but that's debatable. So, nut height should be adjusted before these two.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-28-2018 at 10:27 PM.

  6. #5

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    Jay

    'boobadoobadoobaooababop!'

  7. #6

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    Excellent, many thanks. I don't have feelers handy. I'll get some, but I can tell it's too high already, especially on the bass side.

  8. #7

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    You probably do not need a feeler gauge for this. Just want to tell you that 0.08 inches is something I made up on the spot as my ballpark guess for "very small gap".

  9. #8

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    Ok. Based on the pics in the link posted above, I'm in the ballpark on the high E, then it gets gradually higher, until I'm at least double what's in the pic for the low E.

  10. #9

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    Almost every factory guitar I've ever played had the nut slots too high. It's cheaper and safer to ship them out that way. If you cut the slots just a tiny bit too deep, you've ruined the nut. It can be fixed, but it's time and money that a factory can't afford to spend often, so the common solution is to just cut the slots higher and ship them. On a high-end boutique guitar you may find perfect nut slots on delivery, but not from any large high-volume factory. I'm resigned to doing my own slots on anything I acquire. My method is to fret a string across both the first and second frets, use feeler gauges to measure the height of the frets, add a couple of thousandths to that, and then use the stacked gauges as a depth stop, across the fretboard up against the nut, and cut down to the gauges. It's pretty easy to tell when you hit the metal gauges. Then I usually file the top of the nut, taking it down to a level where half the wound strings are in the slots, half above the top of the nut. The two unwound strings should be just at the level of the top of the nut. Different people have different methods, but that's mine.

  11. #10

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    Also when filing the nut it's important to preserve the back angle of the slot.
    When measuring the height after filing, string has to be tuned to pitch, if it's not tight, it won't show the height accurately, I learned this the hard way
    If it's cut too deep, there is always the baking powder + super glue formula (see the previous sentence).

  12. #11

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    Non-technical method follows. Pluck the open string hard, letting it ring for a while and if there's no discernible buzz, figure you can take it down a tiny shade more. Repeat as necessary. Has worked for me.

  13. #12

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    Prior to any nut slot depth adjustment, you must get the neck relief figured out.
    By that, I mean there can be much more variation on relief that is just for player's preference, sort of like the wide range for string action height, as compared to the much tighter range of nut slot depth that can actually work.

    Get your truss rod adjustment done to where you have the neck relief where you want to keep it, then you can consider the nut slot condition. A bit extra neck relief puts enough bend in there to effectively raise the nut over the first fret, so if you were to optimize the slot depth and later tighten the truss rod a bit, the string height over the first fret (what the nut slot determines) may become insufficient and might buzz. Neck relief (truss rod adjustment) can have more influence over nut slot depth than does action height (bridge saddle height.)

    Tal's .080" was as he clarified, just a number he used for an example of "small", I think you could move the decimal over for some guitars that might be fine with .008" on the treble side at fret one.

    Often you read instructions that say to use a stack of feeler gauges as the "stop" for a nut file (you'd file down until you just nick the feeler gauge.) I do NOT want to ruin expensive files by hitting the steel, so I've found a spool of Mil-spec wire I had around, with PTFE insulation, was consistent diameter and the right size to use as a file depth stop. Never going to hurt my files, and I can see the wire roll as soon as the file reaches that depth. Pic below shows the white teflon insulation wire on a Wenge/Ebony neck getting GraphTech nut install.

    Getting the nut slot correct is really going to make a difference, the guitar can be transformed.
    Sometimes that $3 piece of bone blank IS worth investing $70 to have a luthier perform fit & finish !
    John

    Nut slot depth?-nut_file-jpg

  14. #13

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    If you're filing so hard that you'll ruin your files by hitting feeler gauges, you're doing it wrong. And if your expensive files will be ruined by touching feeler gauges, they aren't worth anything close to what you paid for them.

  15. #14

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    I personally wrap a high grid sand paper around appropriate size feeler gauge when I need to file a nut. Takes longer and requires more attention than using a perfectly matching expensive file per each slot but works like a charm.
    If you do this for a living then it's worth to invest on expensive files of various gauges. But if you just need to do it once a year or less like most people then extra time spend with the inefficient sand paper method makes sense.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-31-2018 at 03:10 PM.

  16. #15

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    I use my pic as my string guide for the first fret its a thin.38 if I can put my pic under the string and it stays then its low enough and I don't get Buzz it also stays in tune when fingering at the first fret. I try and keep the string spaceing to fret at the twelth at .40 or a little higher I use 11s nickel strings. good action and intoneation

  17. #16

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    .40" is really high action, almost half an inch. I assume you left out a zero between the decimal and the 4. Or perhaps you're using some other length unit, with which I'm not familiar. .04" is very, very low action, and I can't get that on any guitar I own. 4mm is more realistic, but I don't know what units you're using.

  18. #17

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    If you are only doing it once in a while, try the inexpensive welding tip cleaners. At least you'll be closer to making a round botton slot.
    I've seen people use a steak knife for this, so obviously there's a wide range of what people consider an acceptable job, but the slot fit to string is worth getting right.

    Nut files are the best tool for slotting, but like any fine edge cutting tool they do wear. I know how to file (cut in one direction, not drag back and forth) and I am not going to concede "I'm doing it wrong" just because I'd never advocate hitting them against steel regardless of how light that contact was. Just from working bone, even the best nut files lose edge fast enough and there's not much material on them to etch sharpen to extend use. It's a bit silly to say files are no good if they can't hold up to abuse, in response to a suggestion on how to avoid the abuse. If you treat these delicate tools well, they just perform better for a longer life. I think that applies to all fine quality nut files, which absolutely do wear fast enough already.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by john_a View Post
    If you are only doing it once in a while, try the inexpensive welding tip cleaners.
    Thanks. Good to know. I'll give these a try, they may work better than gauge plates.

  20. #19

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    They work, but very slowly. They are not sharp, not being designed to cut anything, and it takes a very long time to rub a slot into a bone nut with them. I have a set, and they're fine for final dressing of a slot, but I wouldn't consider them for cutting a new nut. They do work great for making slots in wooden bridge saddles, though. The wood is softer, and you don't need much depth, so they do the job quickly enough. Bone, OTOH, takes awhile. But if you already have the slots to approximate depth, they should do the job for a nut.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Though in some cases lowering the nut may require looser truss rod (more arch) for open string clearance, but that's debatable.
    Confirmed. There's no debate over this fact, but there are different schools of thought regarding which method is the better; A dead flat neck with a taller nut or a bowed neck with a lower nut.
    Personally I've reached the conclusion that this depends on the guitar model and the fretboard radius, the prefered string gauge and overall fret condition. And maybe most important when fine tuning the sound and the overall response; what bridge height and corresponding downforce on the bridge provides the best result. (Generally less relief means a higher bridge).

    Therefore I think this is correct:


    Quote Originally Posted by john_a View Post
    Prior to any nut slot depth adjustment, you must get the neck relief figured out.
    By that, I mean there can be much more variation on relief that is just for player's preference, sort of like the wide range for string action height, as compared to the much tighter range of nut slot depth that can actually work.

    Get your truss rod adjustment done to where you have the neck relief where you want to keep it, then you can consider the nut slot condition. A bit extra neck relief puts enough bend in there to effectively raise the nut over the first fret, so if you were to optimize the slot depth and later tighten the truss rod a bit, the string height over the first fret (what the nut slot determines) may become insufficient and might buzz. Neck relief (truss rod adjustment) can have more influence over nut slot depth than does action height (bridge saddle height.)

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Almost every factory guitar I've ever played had the nut slots too high. It's cheaper and safer to ship them out that way.
    Players have different preferences. Once upon a time, the dealer was supposed to do a setup according to the customer preference. The dealer was responsible to file the nut. The customers were happy.
    Then came internet, on-line sales and the PLEK machine and dealers were supposed not to touch the "perfect" factory setup.

    I've learned the hard way:

    Some guitar models that for the last 40 years were shipped from factory with 10-46 strings suddenly came with nuts slotted for 9-42. It was mentioned in the detailed specs, but the dealers didn't know and gave wrong information to the customers. Assuming that 75% of the customers went with 9-42 for this particular model, 25% of the customers got tuning problems.

    A PLEKed compund radius board needs to be set up much flatter than a regular board, hence the nut needs to be higher.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCat View Post
    Confirmed. There's no debate over this fact, but there are different schools of thought regarding which method is the better; A dead flat neck with a taller nut or a bowed neck with a lower nut.
    Personally I've reached the conclusion that this depends on the guitar model and the fretboard radius, the prefered string gauge and overall fret condition. And maybe most important when fine tuning the sound and the overall response; what bridge height and corresponding downforce on the bridge provides the best result. (Generally less relief means a higher bridge).

    Therefore I think this is correct:
    I think john_a's reasoning for adjusting the truss rod first and the reason you gave are completely different things. John_a believes you should adjust truss rod first because that can change the bow of the neck enough that the the standard "string clearance on the first fret while fretted on the 3rd fret" measurement can be effected. Unless we are talking about very extremes of truss rod adjustment, I don't believe that's necessary.
    "A dead flat neck with a taller nut" won't work unless one is only strumming open strings and never using the fretboard. Truss rod adjustment affects buzzing on all frets up to around the 12th fret. How high the nut is has no effect on buzzing as soon as you fret a string. Of course you can make the bridge higher too, that would make higher action guitar than needs to be. The idea of giving some bow to the neck by tightening the truss rod is to be able to set up the guitar with lower bridge and nut height, therefore action.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    I think john_a's reasoning for adjusting the truss rod first and the reason you gave are completely different things. John_a believes you should adjust truss rod first because that can change the bow of the neck enough that the the standard "string clearance on the first fret while fretted on the 3rd fret" measurement can be effected. Unless we are talking about very extremes of truss rod adjustment, I don't believe that's necessary.
    Rule of thumb; fret buzz near the nut - give the neck more relief. Fretbuzz in the middle of the neck, tighten the truss rod. If the nut is high (too high or not), fretbuzz near the nut won't occur even when the fretboard is flat (unless you hit it much harder than your regular touch)




    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    "A dead flat neck with a taller nut" won't work unless one is only strumming open strings and never using the fretboard.
    I used to think that, but I was proven wrong. It depends on a number of variables as I mentioned and it won't work on every guitar. (on a side note the open chord strummer should avoid a tall nut)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Truss rod adjustment affects buzzing on all frets up to around the 12th fret.
    It totally depends on design, the neckjoint and the heel. A 335 is affected to 17th fret. A Les Paul is rigid from 14th fret. My dreadnought is rigid from the 12th fret, and it's virtually flat. My 335 got about 1mm relief.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    How high the nut is has no effect on buzzing as soon as you fret a string. Of course you can make the bridge higher too, that would make higher action guitar than needs to be. The idea of giving some bow to the neck by tightening the truss rod is to be able to set up the guitar with lower bridge and nut height, therefore action.
    Actually this depends on the neck angle and the guitar model. Action and relief is related in more than one way. "Action" basically means how the guitar feels in your hands. String height can be measured on many spots on the fretboard. A guitar that's got only primary relief up to around 6th fret, may have low string height around 14th fret but too high strings in the centre due to excess relief, hence feel like it's got high action (especially if there's not enough neck angle).

  25. #24

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    I know of no good reason for having a tall nut. My setup method is to get the nut slots at or barely above the height of the frets, and then adjust the truss rod and bridge as necessary. This works for straight necks or necks with lots of relief. The relief depends on the player and how hard (s)he hits the strings. Personally, I want barely perceptible relief, but everyone has a different, and valid, opinion on how much is needed. But having nut slots that are high affects the intonation and playability at the lower frets, and in a bad way.

  26. #25

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    To me tall nut just means frets 1, 2, 3 being out of tune (sharp). That would really bother me even thought I typically dwell above the 5th fret.

  27. #26

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    It would bother me. Having the nut slots too high affects everything, all the way up the fretboard. I refuse to live with that. YMMV.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    I know of no good reason for having a tall nut. My setup method is to get the nut slots at or barely above the height of the frets, and then adjust the truss rod and bridge as necessary. This works for straight necks or necks with lots of relief. The relief depends on the player and how hard (s)he hits the strings. Personally, I want barely perceptible relief, but everyone has a different, and valid, opinion on how much is needed. But having nut slots that are high affects the intonation and playability at the lower frets, and in a bad way.
    john_a provided a good reason not to cut too low until relief is optimized

    Quote Originally Posted by john_a View Post
    if you were to optimize the slot depth and later tighten the truss rod a bit, the string height over the first fret (what the nut slot determines) may become insufficient and might buzz. Neck relief (truss rod adjustment) can have more influence over nut slot depth than does action height (bridge saddle height.)
    Another reason is when you like to bend strings near the nut. It depends on the purpose of the guitar as well as the string gauge. Lighter gauge may need a bit more air.

    But since this is the Jazz guitar forum I agree; I use heavy strings on my archtop and keep them low at the nut. This guitar wants very little relief. I can't tight it flat, because then I get buzz at the nut. It's perfect the way it is and I get a buzz indication if climate dictates a truss rod tweak.

    By the way, releif should be checked at different frets holding down the string at different positions, and ideally all strings should be checked. (Necks bend in different ways as mentioned.)

  29. #28

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    I do not agree with john_a's premise. IMO, the nut slots should not affect the relief, nor should the relief affect the nut slots. There is an optimum level for the slots regardless of the rest of the neck. At least that's my opinion.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCat View Post
    john_a provided a good reason not to cut too low until relief is optimized.
    When you fret the string at the 3rd fret, you're looking at about 2 inches of neck between the nut and the 3rd fret to make measurements for the nut adjustment. I find it hard to believe that a reasonable variance in truss rod adjustment (barring destructive extremes) will put or release enough arc on that 2'' section to make a measurable difference.

  31. #30

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    The amount of relief affects the string height and action. To maintain string height, the bridge has to be raised when the neck is tightened. The point where fretbuzz occurs is a matter of preferred action. When the nut is too low, it has to be compensated with either a high bridge or forward bow (excess relief).

    The whole point, which I support, is:
    First set relief and bridge height where you want it, for best overall response. Then adjust nut action (if needed).

    Whatever you do, don't file the nut on a guitar with forward bow or you may ruin the nut.

  32. #31

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    I disagree, but what do I know? The first thing I do with a setup is get the nut slots to the correct depth, and then adjust the trussrod, then the bridge last. I get the nut right first, then set the relief to what I want, then adjust the bridge to eliminate buzz. This assumes a good fret level, of course, because high or low frets cause all sorts of buzzes. But IMO the nut slots are independent of relief, fret condition, or anything else. But maybe I've been doing it wrong all these years, on setups and new builds. In any case, I'll keep on doing it the way I always have, because it works for me.

  33. #32

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    The truss rod adjustment for relief is typically done to a target spec., be that dead flat or a certain dimension bowed forward.
    That spec is useful to ensure repeatability and allow communication when you are performing work on a guitar for others.

    Of course you can wing it and not measure, and just stop when it feels right, but in the long term you gain more by having a fuller concept of what that specific relief was. It's like music theory, you can be a great player without any knowledge, but that does not discredit the idea that theory can often be key to building concepts of "why" stuff works.

    I'm not saying every guitar gets the same relief, or the same guitar would never needs a change, but in each case the direction and amount of adjustment is important (regardless if you measure with CMM machine or eyeball.) When I say "spec" that means what is right for the job, and if a customer and repairmen can come to an understanding of what that measurement is, all the better.

    Here's what I wanted to state clearly: Setting relief to a measured spec, even if using only your calibrated eyeball, can be (and most often would be) completely independent of string height at either the nut slot or bridge. You are taking them out of the equation when you fret the string at the first fret and an upper fret (your choice, usually between 12th and last.)
    That string is then just a straight edge, used to gauge the neck bow. String tension is important, nut height is not (for setting relief.)

    This is key: using the strings as a straight edge this way takes the nut slot height out of the equation.
    Same for the bridge, it's set height is not important to this unless it is so far off the string tension becomes too high when you fret that string at first and last fret. That would be an extreme, but mentioning it to cover the possibility.

    Given that the relief adjustment does not require a finished nut slot, and changing that neck relief can impact height over first fret, I can't see a rational argument for skipping the prescribed order (set relief prior to finalizing nut slot depth.) There is no risk to set the neck relief first, and if you don't see the potential harm in doing the nut slot first, you're probably convinced yourself based on anecdotal experience ("never saw it matter, so it can't matter".)

    I understand some people will not do this, either they've grown comfortable with habits or it seems expeditious, or they see little or no risk. But risk is important consideration when giving advice on a public forum, as you can't be sure there's no harm done with all the possible circumstances and skill levels. I'd advocate it's more responsible to err on the side of caution. Be a bit risk adverse when you share advice publicly, don't assume others will always avoid pitfalls the same way you might, or always share your luck.

    I just had a guitar in last week for a 1st fret buzz complaint that seemed like a too low nut slut on 6th string, and a new nut was expected. That guitar actually kept the same nut, with no need to build up the slot floor. The guitar neck was on the borderline between dead flat /back bow. As that had developed over time, the owner had adjusted the bridge up to approximate decent action, but the lack of proper relief pulled that 6th string too close to the first fret. What do you think would have happened had the new nut been fit without correcting the relief first?

  34. #33

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    I think we're mostly talking about the same thing, perhaps in different situations. I you get a guitar with buzzing issues, it's certainly reasonable to check the relief before doing anything else, and the fretted string is the quickest, easiest, and usually the most reliable way of doing that. I check the relief on mine fairly often, because I maintain very low action, and temperature and humidity changes can change the relief, causing buzz. Replacing or reworking the nut is certainly not the first thing to jump into if you're doing setups as a business. You can generate more income in the short run, but making the customer happy in a few minutes can generate more in the long run. I don't make a living doing setups, I do it for myself, thus may have a different perspective. When I buy a guitar, I do a setup, and almost always have to work on the nut to get it to my satisfaction. But once it's done, I still have to tweak the truss rod and the bridge every now and then, and those adjustments are easy. But a high nut is a high nut, and the truss rod doesn't affect that, nor will it affect a low nut. Improper relief can make it seem as if the nut is the problem, but I still believe that proper nut slot height is the same regardless of relief or lack of it. If the nut is correct, then there are only three possible problems - improper relief, bad frets, or improper bridge height, or some combination of any or all. Just picking up a guitar, it's impossible to tell, so I prefer getting one constant set, then working on the remaining variables. Relief is a moving target, depending on the player and the current conditions.

  35. #34

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    This is very interesting and informative stuff imo, and I appreciated everyone who posted.

  36. #35

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    It’s a bit late, since I haven’t seen it mentioned as a method here, I’m posting it for whatever its worth… I’ve done a more than a dozen nuts by now, all on my various guitars. Even the used 59 LP reissue (all original) did not have a properly adjusted nut, even though it was not too far. Not an expert, just my method that works for me. I tried initially the feeler gauges and pressing btw the #2-3 method, it works, but that ended up just a bit too tedious for me.

    I don't like to spend the extra effort of my fingers to suffer what feels like a higher action in the lower positions (with the bridge adjusted at the same height) when the nut "action" is high. What a relief and comfort playing the same guitar after only a nut action adjustment. The neck feels the same independent of the position… Try placing a capo on the first fret and play the guitar - that’s very close to how a neck with properly adjusted nut should feel IMHO.

    I prefer to first adjust the neck to be perfectly straight (it's a good test, especially when playing the guitar the first time), and set the bridge action minimum just to avoid buzzing when fretted at low positions. To set straight, I look along the neck from both ends with the guitar flat and also vertical (not like hanging on the wall, but like when played) towards a lighter place (window or some other light source) like aiming - it is amazing how the eye might get slightly different impressions. (I also check straightness using the 6th and 1st strings pressed at #1 and #15 method too).

    Now at the nut, I look through one of those illuminating 5" desk magnifiers as I press the string down at the #1st fret and observe it's clearance at fret #2. Let go, and look at the clearance under #1 to compare. If visibly higher, the nut slot can be lowered. So I release the string enough to pop it out of the slot, carefully file a bit, keeping the file parallel with the frets, using my finger tips that are holding the file as insurance against it touching the frets. File a little, check a lot... Pop the string back, do the press at #1, look at clearance at #2 again (reminder), release, compare at #1... For each check, no need to tension all the way to tune, just enough tension for the string to pluck clearly and be straight. The first couple of cycles gets you used to the file pressure / nut material so you know how much your filing down with a couple of strokes. In about 5-6 check cycles it's done. I go up to maybe just a tad bit higher #1 fret clearance when open than the string clearance under #2 when fretted at #1, but the difference is very tiny, probably on the order of 0.001-2”. Repeat same for all six strings. No need for feeler gauges either, just eyes.

    If it doesn’t buzz properly fretted at #1, it won’t buzz open either and won’t be higher than necessary - is the principle. Properly fretted means pressed enough to produce a clear sound, but not harder, which tends to raise the clearance at the next fret slightly. Since I prefer minimum reasonably low action generally, I also use: "if it doesn’t buzz more than it buzzes when fretted at any of the first few frets, it’s perfect…” One can always pick harder to make most strings buzz...

    Once the nut slot height is right, then I carefully file inside the slot down towards the headstock making sure the file is not touching the slot inner surface at the fretboard edge (and also not hitting the headstock :-), - short strokes only) and also round a bit that transition. This makes sure the string is supported at fretboard side of the nut only by a slot width of about 1/16” or a bit less and avoids “dead” or weird sounding strings.

    Sometimes, if all strings are high at the nut at the beginning (one feels that too when trying a bar-chord at #1), to avoid ending with deep slots, I first file down the bottom of the nut (on a flat sandpaper surface) to get close, before doing the above individual string slot adjustments.

    With the 3+3 tuners sometimes I have to adjust the angle of the slots for the #4th and #3rd strings to point towards their tuners so that the strings would have less binding tendency, especially with roundwound strings - sharp slot edges are not a good thing. That doesn’t involve the whole slot width, I just widen the slot towards the headstock half of the nut width with a wider file, so it gets kind of a small slot curve towards the tuner.



  37. #36

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    If you are using feeler gauges, you do not at all understand the concept.

    The effect of the truss rod adjustment on the nut height is all but ZERO. Read and re-read the frets.com article on nuts until you throw away the feeler gauges.

    And note that Frank Ford recommends pressing down on the new string to set the bend at the front edge of the nut.

    Skipping this step has significant downsides.

    And yes the old Stewmac advice about nut “action” and feeler gauges is a total pant-load.

  38. #37

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    Relieve the back end of the slot as blujazman does it if you want to really nail the job.

  39. #38

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    If I don't have excessive fret buzz, and no "pingy pingy" when I tune up, I don't mess with them.

  40. #39

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    My two cents (ha-ha, little pun there).

    1. String tension affects neck bow. So first put on a proper set of strings.
    2. Proper neck bow adjustment is unaffected by bridge height or nut height. So do that second.
    3. Bridge height has more over-all effect than nut height, so do that third.
    4. Then adjust nut height.

    Interesting thread.

  41. #40

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    I adjust nut action just by feel... physically it should be as comfortable as with capo on 1st fret (considering the frets are even, the truss ros is adjusted, and the bridge action is set)... but today I do not even compare it.. I just feel immidiately that it is the nut action.