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Nut Slot Routing

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if you are going to veneer the headstock, do you need to route a nut slot, or can you leave a gap between the fingerboard and the veneer for the nut to sit in?

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It really depends on the type of neck involved. Fender type necks have a route in the fretboard itself but generally on Gibson type necks the nut does go at the end of the fretboard instead.

You'd still obviously have to have a flat seating for the nut to be glued to. If you have a look at a Gibson from side-on you can see how it's done. The flat surface of the neck-wood that the fretboard is glued to extends further than the end of the fretboard and the nut sits straight onto that.

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