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  1. #1

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    Your advice welcome on questions regarding the guitar nut.

    a) Would you use baking soda or bone dust to fill nut slots that are to big? Is baking powder as good as bone?

    b) Which type of superglue is preferred?

    c) If you were cutting the string slots would you use the same clearance of the strings on the first fret say for a Stratocaster (Light gauge .09---.046) or an Archtop (Heavy gauge .013----.056)? More string clearance on the heavy gauge?

    d) Is it cheap economy to buy cheap nut files? What nut files do you use? 'You get what you pay for'?

    Many thanks.

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  3. #2

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    a) Yes. I use baking soda, and I believe it's as good as bone, perhaps better, because of the chemical reaction. It's more trouble to make bone dust than I'm willing to invest.
    b) Water-thin if you can find it, if not as thin as you can get.
    c) I like about .002" wider than the string, but I don't believe the exact amount is critical. People change string gauge all the time, and the slots have to be wide enough to accommodate any reasonable gauges.
    d) I use a fine Japanese pull saw, needle files, feeler gauges with the edges made into sort of saws, and orifice cleaners. Nut files are very expensive, and I don't do enough nut work to justify them. If I were doing that for a living, I would certainly have a set, but for maybe a couple of nuts a year I just refuse to pay that much money. YMMV.

  4. #3

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    Many thanks for your good answers to my 'Nut' question.

    Like yourself I do not cut enough nuts--only for myself--to warrant spending the expensive price for nut files. Although I did buy a few many years ago--but the slots I require now require different sizes, due to trying out different gauge strings. The method you mention of making your own I have read about in the past, so I will now give it ago. Thanks for reminding me.

  5. #4

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    I use real bone...taken from the skulls of mine enemies....muahahaha....

    Kidding. 2nd post is spot on. As an addendum to #4, oxyaceteline torch tip cleaning files work in a pinch, if you've no access to actual nut files.

    Cheers

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    1948 Gibson L-7N
    1981 Epi Emperor T (MIJ Matsumoku)
    1998 Epi Zephyr Regent (Peerless)
    1992 Gibson Les Paul Studio
    2004 Gibson SG Special Faded
    2006 Epi G-1275 (MIK, Unsung)
    2013 Squier Affinity Telecaster, BSB
    (among others)

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian B View Post
    As an addendum to #4, oxyaceteline torch tip cleaning files work in a pinch, if you've no access to actual nut files.

    I've done that in the past. But it's really tough to get a good clean slot with a proper break angle. I finally just said screw it and bought a set of nut slot files.
    The disgusting stink of a too-loud electric guitar; now that's my idea of a good time - Frank Zappa

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian B View Post
    I use real bone...taken from the skulls of mine enemies....muahahaha....

    Kidding. 2nd post is spot on. As an addendum to #4, oxyaceteline torch tip cleaning files work in a pinch, if you've no access to actual nut files.

    Cheers

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    I like that idea of using bone dust from the skulls of my enemies... making them make my music, bwahahaha
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  8. #7

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    The tip cleaners work fairly well for a final size and polish, but far too slow for me to use for cutting an initial slot.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    The tip cleaners work fairly well for a final size and polish, but far too slow for me to use for cutting an initial slot.
    True, but if it's the only game in town...

    I actually bought a set of feeler gauges with the express intent of making cutting edges on them. It's just another of the things I've never gotten around to (yet).
    1948 Gibson L-7N
    1981 Epi Emperor T (MIJ Matsumoku)
    1998 Epi Zephyr Regent (Peerless)
    1992 Gibson Les Paul Studio
    2004 Gibson SG Special Faded
    2006 Epi G-1275 (MIK, Unsung)
    2013 Squier Affinity Telecaster, BSB
    (among others)

  10. #9

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    If your nut is not to difficult to remove there is the option of shimming the nut from below and cutting the slots a bit deeper if needed. A shim can be made from a strip or two of paper and some super glue. It is a long lasting repair for slots that are too deep.

  11. #10

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    If you decide to try gauged nut files it is posible to get 2 sizes from 1 file by grinding or filing down 1 side of the file by a few thousandths. You still need a few sizes for most string sets but it is a handy way to get 2 sizes from one file.

  12. #11

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    I use baking soda and super glue. I have a set of nut files but in some situations i have been known to use different styles of files to get it correct. You do not want to “capture” the string so need nice smooth shape that conforms to the string.

    I just hate it when the nut looks bad or all beat up even if it works fine for playing. Sometimes I tell customers to simply have me do a new nut because in the end a fix is a fix. A nice smooth nut that allows the best action at the
    first fret is a thing of beauty.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  13. #12

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    I just hate it when the nut looks bad or all beat up even if it works fine for playing. Sometimes I tell customers to simply have me do a new nut because in the end a fix is a fix. A nice smooth nut that allows the best action at the
    first fret is a thing of beauty.

    deacon Mark--Yep! Good answer.

  14. #13

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    I'm not a repair person, just someone who tries to fix his own stuff (within limits). I've done this repair twice, both times with baking soda and super glue. The most recent time, I did it with "gel" Krazy glue, because that's what I happened to have in the house. It worked. I have a set of cheap needle files I got from a local hardware store, and used those. The repairs I did were both on lower strings, and the the nut files were OK for that, but would probably not be slim enough for the high E/B/G strings. I did the filing by eye, using the adjacent slots a guide and it worked out fine. I went slowly, using a light touch with the files. This is not to suggest that doing it correctly with the right tools and careful measurements aren't better, but if you go slowly and carefully it's a relatively fault tolerant repair. If you file the slot wrong, you can always fill it in again and re-do it.

    John

  15. #14

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    I'm pretty much the same way. I only do this stuff for myself, and so won't buy the proper tools because I wouldn't use them enough to make it economically viable. One suggestion I would make is to use stacked feeler gauges to get the slots to the proper depth. I stack however many it takes to get to the same height as the first fret (I put them between the 1st & 2nd frets, and use a straightedge to get the proper stack) and then add a couple of thousandths. The gauges are flexible, and will follow the fingerboard radius. I can go quickly down to near the final depth for a slot, then carefully finish. I want to just barely touch the top gauge.

  16. #15

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    those cheap pipe cleaners, dont produce a clean nut finish they CANT get the correct break angle,

    if you cant hear read no further, the intonation will be slightly out.

    as is it cant be altered/adjusted like you can at some bridges

  17. #16

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    How much baking soda to super glue? And wha t it a good method of mixing and applying?

    Thanks in advance! And Merry Christmas!

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toddep View Post
    How much baking soda to super glue? And wha t it a good method of mixing and applying?

    Thanks in advance! And Merry Christmas!

    You don't mix it. As fast as super glue dries, by the time you tried to mix it you'd have a lump of hard glue with some baking soda in it and your mixing utensil sticking out of it.

    You want to dump a measure of baking soda into the slot then apply a drop of glue to the soda. You might have to do multiple applications depending on the slot.

    The disgusting stink of a too-loud electric guitar; now that's my idea of a good time - Frank Zappa

  19. #18

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    No mixing, and exact proportions aren't important. Enough soda to get to the height you want, maybe more, and a drop or two of cyanoacrylate. Any viscosity will work, but the thicker varieties make more of a mess. I prefer very thin, because it gets down into the soda better and quicker. You don't want a rock-hard ball over the top, with soda and no glue at the bottom. Not likely but possible. Done properly, the result is at least as hard as bone. The slot does need to be very clean.

  20. #19

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    What sizes of files would you recommend for the following string gauges:

    .013
    .014
    .017
    .018
    .021 (flatwound)
    .028 (flatwound)
    .039 (flatwound)
    .053 (flatwound)

    .022 (roundwound)
    .032 (roundwound)
    .040 (roundwound)
    .055 (roundwound)

    Thanks
    _________
    JazzNote

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNote View Post
    What sizes of files would you recommend for the following string gauges:

    .013
    .014
    .017
    .018
    .021 (flatwound)
    .028 (flatwound)
    .039 (flatwound)
    .053 (flatwound)

    .022 (roundwound)
    .032 (roundwound)
    .040 (roundwound)
    .055 (roundwound)

    Thanks
    You should select files of the same gauge as the string or no more than a few thousandths of an inch larger than the string gauge you are going to use.
    A smaller file can be used by rocking the file a bit back and forth to widen the slot to the desired size if needed. For example, you can widen a .054 slot
    to .055 by moving it a bit side to side while cutting the slot. There is no doubt gauged files make the best fitting slots. Making a mistake on new nut is very time consuming as often times the only good repair is to replace the nut with a new one.