Bad to have high nut?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by dablues, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    There is a range of correct action both at the nut and off of the bridge. Too low or too high at either end yields unsatisfactory intonation. Ifnthe regulation of the nut to the first fret is too high, the notes near the nut will be sharp. ''Tis is because the high AC creates higher tension. Tension is what determines pitch. I have exhibited this problem to people on guitars that have been intonated to fret accurately at the 12th fret. In one case, I told the young fellow that his note at the first fret on the G string wto use be quite sharp...even though that string was intonated correctly at the twelfth fret. I told him that that sharpness would incrementally decrease from fret to fret as one moved away from the nut until at some fret the tension would be correct and the intonation would reflect that. The first fret note was 13 cents sharp to a G#. The seventh fret D was the first position to yield accurate intonation. He was a double major....physics and music. He gained some insight into the physical aspects of the machine that he called a guitar...and perhaps his college education will continue to help him understand guitars....now that he has been exposed to that aspect of his musical instrument.
     
  2. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Interesting and again shows how weird these discussions can be without measurements.

    0.020-0.015 was mentioned as "low". That is pretty much fender spec, it's not low, the intonation will be pretty far out at the first fret with that spec.

    I have mine set at 0.005 above the height of the frets across all the strings (e.x. the frets are 0.041 above the fretboard, the nut slots are at 0.046 above the fretboard), and my first fret notes are still just a tad sharp. There is no buzz though and it makes the first position open/barre chords play like butter. I have seen some articles by luthiers saying you can go right down to fret height on the nut, but at some point it becomes a question of how precisely you think you can cut the nut. It's not that hard to control it with good files and a stack of feeler gauges placed against the nut as a guide but still...

    I think fear of buzz is highly exaggerated when cutting the nut. I have my acoustic guitar setup the same way (0.005 above the first fret) and it has no buzzing, and it obviously has much bigger strings. My Telecaster seems to be far more sensitive to saddle height with respect to buzz, I don't have my saddles particularly low. (But it's still super easy to play all the way up the neck)
     
  3. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If the string is down of the first fret when you fret at the third fret, the open string will buzz on the first fret....unless one changes the pick attack. I prefer a guitar that allows one to pick the strings in all positions while expecting the same results with equal pick attack. Ime, an open string which sits only .005" above the first fretbwill exhibit fret buzz with a medium pick attack....while fretting that string at the first fret will NOT buzz with that same pick attack.....if the rest of the set-up is correct. In other words, if you cannot hit the open string without incurring fret buzz in the same manner as a buzz-free first fret note is Struck, then the nut slot is cut too low.
     
  4. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Usually, when a guy has the condition, it's just one that's undescended.

    There was a funny bit about it on the finale of Everybody Loves Raymond.
     
  5. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    I respectfully disagree.

    I play a lot of slide...and I keep all my guitars set up with extremely low action.

    Originally, I had planned on setting up one of my guitars with a higher nut, heavy strings and extremely high action, just to play slide because that's the way "everybody knows that's how you do it..."

    But I started taking lessons from Rollo Smith (a great unknown Fort Worth blues player and contemporary of Buddy Whittington)...I mentioned my plans to set up a guitarist the aforementioned fashion, and he said, "Before you do that, play this...."

    He handed me his yellow mutt partscaster (Strat body but a modified Telecaster-style neck and only God knows what pickups were in there). The action was set extremely low and he was using fairly light-gauged strings, yet he extensively used this guitar for slide.

    I asked him why he did it this way,and he gave me four reasons:

    (1) Unless you're playing something in a lap steel fashion, you're going to fret some notes, chords, etc. in between slide licks, and there's no reason to wrestle the high action and heavy strings.

    (2) Playing slide on a guitar with lower action makes you develop a lighter touch, which makes for faster and more fluid playing.

    (3) If you show up somewhere and have to borrow a guitar, you can still play slide on something that isn't set up with the high nut/heavy strings that conventional wisdom says you have to use.

    (4) If you own and use other guitars (and we both did), there will come a time when you want to see what your slide playing sounds like on the other ones that aren't set up for slide, and it will be harder for you to do so.

    Also, he said he was too lazy to take two guitars, and he'd rather retune three strings (to go from standard to open G) a couple of times than drag a second guitar along with him.

    So I abandoned the idea of high nut/heavy strings and absorbed all the knowledge I could from him...he probably had more impact on my guitar playing (slide or otherwise) and any one individual ever has.

    I ended up developing that light touch, and I guess I'm not too horrible of a player, because people rarely tell me to turn it down to get off stage (usually it's just my wife).
     
  6. Tele wacker

    Tele wacker Tele-Holic

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    Cut the nut the way that is best for you and still plays in tune and intonate correctly. It is your guitar and you are the player.
     
  7. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

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    And that's all I care about. I'm just looking to see if it'll hurt the guitar. Thanks!
     
  8. dablues

    dablues Tele-Meister

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    That's a cool story and set of tips. Thanks!
     
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