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Nut slotting


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For the thinnest strings (.008-.013") I use regular Grobet nut-slotting files and a Japanese "feather-edge" file. For bigger strings, I have been getting better results than the Grobet files, by using a system of fine sandpaper, feeler gauges and clamping the sandpaper tightly around the feeler-gauges by using a hinge that clamps the whole deal tightly together with wing-nuts. With the heaviest strings, and especially bass nuts, I use different sized metal rods and also use the hinge-clamp to hold fine sandpaper tightly over those.

Just for fun recently, I wanted to see how basic one can go with home-made nut files. I took a nail and "abused it" pretty bad with a file, to make it a little rough. By looking at it, I didn't think it had what it takes to work as a file, but then I clamped a piece of 1/8" plexiglas in my vise and used the nail the same way I do a nut-slotting file. It cut really fast and left a perfectly round slot. The Grobet files often don't give a perfectly round slot, they often create a U shaped slot where the bottom is a little more flat than perfectly round.

I've had arguments before on the internet about me saying home-made nut-slotting files are worth making. I hope I don't get that **** here. ( there's some guys who are just " oh, no, you must buy what stew-mac makes, there's no other way, bla bla bla")

For the thinnest strings, I have yet to come up with a good home-made alternative (that lasts long), but for the thicker strings, I've surpased the "store bought" ones.

Some claim V shaped slots are best, plus they usually still work if you change string gauges. They claim this way is the best because the string always has two even contact points to bear against. But the strings are more likely to "bind" with this method. You can use a couple triangle files for this method.

The flattish bottom U shaped slots that happen with a lot of the Grobet files can actually cause a string to buzz sometimes. Just depends on the particular Grobet file you get. They vary in the way they are made.

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:D reading my mind as well huh, you guy's B) That's probably going to be the focus in March's contest (budjet tools)

Anyway getting back on topic I have several file set's but tonight I just whipped out the diamond tip dremel set since I'm modifying a 7 string locking nut from right handed to left.

One other thing thats very important to have unless your superman is a good old fashioned headband magnifier or some other way of magnifiying your work since were talking fine details here. One little burr can go a long way to ruining your day when it comes time to play.

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Going on a sideline here, I needed a tool the other day to show me where to make my cuts in the nut. I was shown a plastic ruler type template, and told that StewMac sells it. They don't. They got it from Schatten Designs (www.schattendesigns.com), but decided to make their own, and have yet to do so. But Schatten still has a few left. So I got one of them.

The template will fit various nuts, including other instruments.

Enjoy the insanity,

Guitar Ed

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