Finessing that binding high E slot

Lou Tencodpees

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I've gotten functional at making my own nuts but keep running into the same issue with the high E slot. My nut files are gauged the same as my strings (i.e., .010 high E) and even after some tweaking with everything from welding tips, sandpaper and waxed dental floss still get binding on the string. I don't seem to have issues with pitch after a string bend but any minor bend behind the nut pitch is raised and doesn't return until I do a quick string bend. I'm guessing it is one of the following or a combination of them:

1) improper break angle on the cut (no buzzes, rattles and height is good. When string tension is unwound the string has to be tugged out of the slot).

2) need a wider file like a .011

3) faulty .010 file

Because I don't do behind the nut bends on the high E I just live with it. But in an effort to improve my skills doing this stuff would appreciate any tips. Thanks.
 

Chart72

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Try widening the slot a bit, esp the back. Also the slot may be too deep-on the high strings it should be shallower than the diameter of the string. (So the top of the nut may need to come down)
 

Chart72

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Also make sure you are “easing” the slot at the back
 

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Lou Tencodpees

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Thanks, and for reference I'm using the Stewmac gauged files so I don't think it's an issue of a vee cut. Would using a .013 file to open up the back of the slot be too aggressive?
 

Lou Tencodpees

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Visual (please don't laugh, I have more slotted blanks if this is irredeemable 😄)
 

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Boreas

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My steps would be:

1. Take more off of the top of the nut so there is a little string above the nut. High E is OK to be flush as long as it is a V shape.

2. Make sure the string tree isn't binding.

3. Splay the slot out slightly as it points toward the tuner. Be careful not to break the end of the nut off. (Don't ask...)

4. Round the slot downward toward the tuner.

5. Polish the slots with abrasive cord of the proper gauges.
 

Freeman Keller

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I use the next size file from whatever the largest string I know I would ever put in it - that means for an electric guitar I would use a 0.012 nut file with a rounded bottom. I also rock the file slightly to widen the top and as others have stated, I make the nut as low as I can get away with. The wound strings might be a hair out of the slot, the plain ones are close to the top of the nut.

IMG_5227.JPG
 
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Lou Tencodpees

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Thanks folks. While not buzzing or fretting out I think the high E and B are a little low. I might fill and recut those two slots (been there and done did that) before moving on. The abrasive cord is something I've yet to undertake, may just pick some up.
 

Davecam48

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You'll probably poo-hoo what I'm going to say but have you tried a zero fret arrangement??? That's all I do now where the nut is actually a fret and the thing that looks like a nut is a string spacer with the slots lower than the top of the first fret which is the nut.

You may think its not workable but believe me it is just as accurate in it's tuning and playing as the conventional layout, or even more so.

Every guitar I have built with a zero fret arrangement,(about ten so far!) tunes and has all the plucked string harmonics in exactly the correct places over the associated frets.

Give it a try, you will probably be like me and do nothing else after.

DC
 

RomanS

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I use a .12" nut file for the high E, and I play 11s. I also use a .17" towards the tuner end of the slot (making sure not to go as far as the fretboard end of the slot).
Works perfectly!
I generally use a file that's slightly larger than my string gauge (eg. .56" for my .50" low E), I think that prevents binding in the slot - of course it shouldn't be a MUCH larger file!
 

VintageSG

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If all else fails, if you're running out of clumps of hair of your own to pull, if the slot seems spot-on, but still gives issues, graphite is your ( messy ) friend.
A 'puffer' of graphite from a locksmiths, or eBay, cost very little, and very little is all that's needed. Use carefully, as it does go everywhere. A light dust or two can ease the final issues past the post of happiness to the grinners enclosure.
 

Boreas

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If all else fails, if you're running out of clumps of hair of your own to pull, if the slot seems spot-on, but still gives issues, graphite is your ( messy ) friend.
A 'puffer' of graphite from a locksmiths, or eBay, cost very little, and very little is all that's needed. Use carefully, as it does go everywhere. A light dust or two can ease the final issues past the post of happiness to the grinners enclosure.
Before I learned how to polish nut slots I was a fan of S/M Guitar Grease. Basically graphite in a waxy carrier. I still use it under string trees and on some saddles.
 
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AndrewG

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You'll probably poo-hoo what I'm going to say but have you tried a zero fret arrangement??? That's all I do now where the nut is actually a fret and the thing that looks like a nut is a string spacer with the slots lower than the top of the first fret which is the nut.

You may think its not workable but believe me it is just as accurate in it's tuning and playing as the conventional layout, or even more so.

Every guitar I have built with a zero fret arrangement,(about ten so far!) tunes and has all the plucked string harmonics in exactly the correct places over the associated frets.

Give it a try, you will probably be like me and do nothing else after.

DC
Yes, after owning a few Gretsch models the beauty of the zero fret became apparent. Perfect action at the first fret and more accurate overall intonation-and that's with uncompensated rocking bar bridges. My 6120-1960 was one of the most 'in-tune' of any guitar I have owned.
 

AndrewG

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I use a .12" nut file for the high E, and I play 11s. I also use a .17" towards the tuner end of the slot (making sure not to go as far as the fretboard end of the slot).
Works perfectly!
I generally use a file that's slightly larger than my string gauge (eg. .56" for my .50" low E), I think that prevents binding in the slot - of course it shouldn't be a MUCH larger file!
Good advice. There's already enough friction over the nut without adding to it by matching the file to the string gauge, resulting in a tighter fit than necessary. I also shave a little graphite from a pencil into the slots.
 




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