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Nut files, best choice?

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by backalleyblues, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's

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    Howdy All!

    I’m looking at getting a set of nut files to have around the house for the occasional nut issue that we have with our guitars (between myself and my wife we have over 20!) Looking at the Stew-Mac files, they look good, but kinda spendy-is there a set out there that will work well for fewer dollars, or should I be applying the “cry once” theory here and get the really good files? I’m not a total amateur with tools and working on guitars, but I’m no old pro either. Any and all advice appreciated!

    thanks,
    Franc Robert
     
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  2. SparkleFart

    SparkleFart Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    here's an alternative: Hiroshima file, UO-CHIK YU. you can get from various merchants on Amazon -- at least last year, but I don't recall the cost. they have different sized sets. These have worked just fine for me.

    files.jpg
     
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  3. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    I've used Hosco files and they work just fine.
     
  4. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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  5. DavidV

    DavidV Tele-Meister

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  6. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    If you have 20 guitars I'd just get the Stewmac ones... they aren't THAT expensive. You're talking the price of one decent pedal to get a comprehensive set that covers everything from 9-42 out to 13-56. And they can pay for themselves in 1-2 setups. With 20 guitars that won't take long unless all your guitars are already perfect.

    Just don't get the pre-made sets. If you do that and you're not careful you'll spend a lot more.

    What you want to do is get one premade set and then calculate where the missing ones are and just order a few more.

    When I got my Stewmac files I didn't get this and ended up with some duplicates.. having any duplicates erases all the cost savings of ordering a set.

    The thinnest gauges are the ones that seem the most important to have good quality.. they're so thin they're almost fragile and could be bent if used without care.
     
  7. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I am not a professional, but have a couple dozen guitars - acoustic and electric. I get by with 3 StewMac nut files. You certainly don't need one of every possible size as @beninma notes above.
     
  8. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I have some older Stew-Mac files and two sets of Hosco double-edge nut files, one of the "electric" sets and one of the "bass" sets. Both brands work really well but the Stew-Mac files outshine the Hosco's with fine work and on the narrower files.

    I learned how to do nuts with the Stew-Mac files that were borrowed from a friend. I bought the Hosco's when I returned his files and other luthier tools, and then later the friend sold me his entire toolbox full of tools, parts, and building materials for about a third of its value so I got the Stew-Mac files back. The two sets of Hosco files cost me about $100 total. The Stew-Mac's are slightly larger-than-normal sizes, and they fill in gaps between my 10-46 gauged Hosco's.

    Looking at the Hosco set of 10 files that someone posted here earlier, I would probably get those if I had no nut files and was looking to stock up. That set should cover all your guitars, provided none of them are basses.

    With 20 guitars, a full set of nut files will pay for itself quickly. You won't regret "crying once".
     
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  9. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Might depend on use of Tremolos... I'd agree until I got my guitar with a Tremolo.. I want everything as close to perfect on that guitar as possible to try and get it to stay in tune as perfectly as possible.

    This is still a weird thing to me though.. $100 or even $200 for files is pocket change relative to what people spend on their guitars + amps + effects. It's a weird thing that files are constantly cried about.

    It doesn't really matter to me that my files are mostly sitting in the cabinet 99% of the time and I'm not actively filing nuts. Every single time I pick up either of my guitars I have deep appreciation for the fact I got the nut as close to perfect as I could. I appreciate that even more than my amp, cause I don't always use my amp, and I don't plug in when I use my acoustic guitar. Every time anyone I know hands me a guitar and the nut is bad I immediately appreciate my files & my guitars. It's literally the first thing I notice as soon as I touch a guitar. Realistically in my circle of friends no one I know has a properly setup nut on any of the guitars they've ever had when we played together and they asked me to checkout their sweet new guitar. They keep buying more guitars as if the next guitar they buy that pushes into a higher price bracket will suddenly be well setup without them taking ownership of the setup. Guitars cost a whole lot more than even an extravagant set of files.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  10. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    I tried every DIY method to file string slots -- except a 'real' set of nut files. Eventually, I did admit to myself that all the 'hackarounds' didn't cut it and picked up a set of StewMac. They are spendy, but very good. Well worth the expense.
     
  11. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    With my trem guitars (the majority) I have switched to Tusq or Tusq XL. I rarely need to adjust the slots after installation. Never had a binding issue with them from the factory, but I don't usually install strings heavier than 10s or 11s.
     
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  12. WalthamMoosical

    WalthamMoosical Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    Nearing the end of my first "assembly" and I did spring for a lot of the tools on the expensive end, quite possibly unnecessarily. But I don't regret the getting the "medium" set of StewMac nut files, and I will likely get some of the other sizes too. If you decide to go that route, you may wish to choose sizes a la cart from their selection, rather than buying one of their sets.

    I read somewhere in a recent thread here that getting the nut slots to the correct depth is one of the best ways to improve your guitar and my experience bears this out 100%. And deepening the slots that came with the nut on the neck turned out not to be scary or difficult at all.
     
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  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I bought a set of StewMac files when I built my first guitar 15 years ago. Since then I have built at total of 27 (all which required nuts) and at least twice that of just nuts for other guitars. In fact I used them again over the weekend to make a nut for a friend's classical. You can buy cheap files and be frustrated or good ones and be happy. I'm happy
     
  14. Laren

    Laren Tele-Meister

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    Hosco.
     
  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    How often are you adjusting nuts? If you only do one guitar every week or month or two, just tweaking nut slots, you don't need to spend the big cash.

    Get the welding tip cleaner wire file set ($6) and there you go. They produce round bottom nut slots, some of the other options out there give square (those flat hack-saw style) or v-groove (some file-style sets) slot bottoms. The welding tip set also cuts slower so a newbie can't make a mistake as fast -- which is an important feature.

    Only after I started flipping more guitars which included both tweaking slots and multiple complete nut installs did I get the fancier files for speed.

    The trick with any of the files you end up with ... make sure the fretboard side of your slot is the highest with faster fall-away toward the headstock side than the string goes to its tuner -- otherwise you'll get the sitar sound. Then set the slot low enough so fretting the cowboy chords doesn't make your guitar go out of tune.

    .
     
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  16. ThermionicScott

    ThermionicScott Poster Extraordinaire

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    I haven't regretted the $ I spent on StewMac files once. Always a joy to get a guitar playing nicer. :)
     
  17. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Hosco are great.
    I just use nut files periodically.

    I'm shimming the nut on a cheap acoustic and I might have to file one or two strings down when I'm done
     
  18. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's

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  19. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    If you just need to touch-up your nuts ;), or cut the occasional nut, the Hosco set of three double-edged files work great.

    The thinner gauges of the double-edged files are quite a bit stouter in the mid section which makes them a lot less prone to breaking.

    .
     
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