Fender Radiused Nut Slot Issue

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by glabbe, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. glabbe

    glabbe TDPRI Member

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    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I ordered an aftermarket neck (7.25” to 9.5” compound radius) and went for the radiused nut slot. I was fitting a pre-slotted Tusq nut for it this evening, and once I got the nut to fit in the slot, I noticed the bass end was sitting noticeably closer to the fretboard. According to my handy digital calipers, the slot is about 2.5mm deep on the bass end and 1.5mm deep on the treble end.

    Can anyone tell me the standard depth of a Fender nut slot? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s too low on the bass end of the nut, as the bottom of the string slots look pretty close to the fretboard on that end.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    Press each string at the third fret and see how much clearance you have on the first fret. You should only be able to get a sheet of paper between the string and the fret. No need for measurements when you do that.
     
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  3. glabbe

    glabbe TDPRI Member

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    I failed to mention that the Tusq nut I'm installing is radiused along the bottom and is a consistent height along its length.
     
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  4. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    Are you saying the Tusq nut had a flat bottom, but you sanded it to the radius of the slot? You may need to buy a nut that is already radiused on the bottom.
    However, The top can also be shaped any way you want it.
    Seems the main concern is the string slot depths.
    Check with the method I described above, if the strings are too low you'll get fret buzz.
     
  5. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Meister

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    The string slot depth is key as mentioned above so ultimately that will determine whether or not everything is fine.

    If you look at the way Fender cuts their nuts the bass E string doesn't sit fully into the slot. It's like 50-ish% (fully dependant on string pressure to stay slotted). I believe this is to prevent binding. Then each string after is progressively deeper into the slot and the treble E slot would be roughly twice the depth (or more) of the string. When I say deeper into the slot what's actually happening is the top of the nut is getting higher, the bottom of each slot is relatively the same for each string.

    So in theory if your nut is an even thickness from bass to treble it would appear they've cut the nut slot to achieve the same result as Fender. But of course this would only work if the string slot depths are also already cut with that plan in mind.

    If you ordered the nut from the same manufacturer as the neck you're likely golden.

    The best thing to do is as bullfrogblues said string it up & check your clearances. Too high will throw out your intonation and action, too low will buzz.

    There is no such thing as a fully pre-slotted ready to rock out the box nut. All nut jobs need a little elbow grease.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  6. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Meister

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    I should also say I've never seen a nut slot that wasn't even end to end. I suppose with more things being cut with CNCs there are more fancy options than just making a slot that is uniformly deep.
     
  7. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    have a look at this:
     
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  8. glabbe

    glabbe TDPRI Member

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    No, the nut had a radius along its bottom when purchased. The issue is that the slot in the neck that the nut sits in is deeper on one end than the other. When I seat the nut the treble end is noticeably higher. I was wondering what the depth of this slot is typically.

    I was trying to get the nut somewhat fitted to the neck before swapping things out because I need the guitar tomorrow and don't want to install the neck just yet. I guess I'll just have to wait until I can put it on the guitar and string it up to see what's what, but I'd prefer to determine if the neck should be sent back before I get that far into it.

    In the picture below the nut is fully seated, but you can see the treble end is much higher. This is due to the difference in the depth of the slot from one end to the other.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Meister

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    On my 62 reissue Strat the nut slot is roughly 3.4mm, on my other Fenders around 2.5 both sides.

    It's possible the neck builder messed up or it's possible they did it on purpose to save time shaping an unslotted nut blank. Before returning the neck I would try to get in touch with them.

    This is the first I've heard of an uneven slot on purpose but the times are a changin & there are new ways to get things done.
     
  10. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Meister

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    The slot on that pre slotted nut bass E looks kind of low (though it could be ok. Hard tell without seeing it first hand) & the treble E very high.

    If I were a Luthier hand making nuts from an unslotted radiused nut I would appreciate the possible time savings of final nut shaping (I guess). However, I would think for that whole thing to work with a typical un slotted nut it would have to be 2.5 mm at the treble & more at the bass side.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  11. dkmw

    dkmw Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I'm looking at four tusq nuts in my allparts necks. Your pic shows a nut that needs to come down on treble side, but bass side is close or better. Those look like vintage small frets; if it had huge frets bass side might be a little low.

    I've had to take more off the bottom of treble side on every one I've fitted - all on 9.5 r allparts with curved bottom slot. Using the PQL 5000.
     
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  12. G.Rotten

    G.Rotten Tele-Meister

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    I went ahead and bought a file set from StewMac a while ago. I found I prefer doing string slot height adjusting & final shaping from the top leaving the nut bottoms as true/square as possible for best nut to board contact. I have used multiple pre-slotted tusk nuts in the past that installed quickly & with relative ease & accuracy. Most do still need some fine tuning (each string individually).

    These days I'm ok with the labor of love that is a handmade non pre-slotted bone nut. Brass is hard to work with but cool when finished.
     
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  13. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

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    I avoid radiused nut slots. I'm not sure what years Fender did that, but it's nothing but trouble! I doubt your slot is supposed to be different depth from end to end though...? Defect? Did you ask the maker? Just visually that nut looks very high on the treble end. You would think it would fit the radius of the nut.
     
  14. glabbe

    glabbe TDPRI Member

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    Thanks, all. This helps a lot. Hopefully the bass side is okay as G Rotten suggested it might be. If so, I may just work the nut a bit and see what I can make of it.
     
  15. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Since the nut bottom is already radiused, I would deepen the nut slots as needed, then lower/shape the top with sandpaper(s) to suit how deep you like the nut slots.

    Welding tip cleaning files work as nut slot files on a budget; I use small forceps as handles to draw the thin files across the nut. Of course real nut files are desirable but the welding tip files work in a pinch.

    Go slow and constantly check the string height/nutslot depth, using the method described by bullfrogblues:

    I've found that to be a pretty foolproof way to set the string height at the nut—an important detail for a good fretboard action.

    To avoid confusion between the six slots in the nut and the slot in the neck, I call the slot in the neck the "nut channel."

    Here's a pic of how I use the welding tip files:

    0 Mammoth NUT A - 15.jpg
     
  16. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    Sorry, I misread your original post and wasn't thinking nut slot in the neck.
    It does look like the treble side is too high, but as mentioned, it won't be a lot of work to get into shape. Install the nut with no glue and adjust the slots for each string. when those are where you want them shape the top of the nut to your liking. Then you can apply a dab of yellow glue or whatever your choice is, if it fits nice and tight in the slot no glue is necessary. IMO.
     
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  17. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I believe the radiused nut slot has its origin in manufacturing streamlining. I bet the same machine that cuts the (radiused) fret slots can also do the nut slot while the neck is jigged up. If this is so, the nut slot should be of uniform depth.
    I think it's a fault, but you should probably contact the manufacturer...maybe it's how they do it; but I doubt it.
     
  18. glabbe

    glabbe TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for all the replies, folks. I worked the bottom of the nut a little more, got out my fret files to get the slot depth where I wanted, then took a little off the top. The fret files are a recent purchase and nut making/finessing is new to me.

    I’m sure I’ll have to fine tune things a little, but the neck is installed and the guitar is set up and playable. If I ever need to replace this nut, I believe I’m going to flatten out the bottom of the slot and fashion one from a blank. Hopefully I’ll be halfway decent at nut making by then.
     
  19. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Best sticking with radiused nut. Putting a radius on a nut is much easier than squaring the slot unless you have woodworking tools and skills.
     
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