Monday, March 14, 2011

Starting the Nut

The frets are finished on Ward's guitar and it's time to mount the neck and see if I need to install a new nut. No matter how much I hope we don't have to do this, you can always bet after a complete re-fret your gonna need a new nut. When the frets wear down you usually adjust the nut to match the fret height. So when the frets are new... they are too high for the nut slots.
In this case, the only guitarist who could or would play this would have been Malmsteen.

So I started off by putting the old strings back on and tuning her up so I can get a good idea of how much action was lost. You can't really tell by my blurry pic. but the action is so low you can barely squeeze a .012 spacer between the string and the new fret. Way to low... Nut time.

I popped out the old nut using a flat head screw driver and an extra light hammer tap. It came out so smooth it left the finish wave on the fret side. This is good because there's nothing worse than polishing up a neck just to screw it up by knocking out some finish. Next I used a special nut file, that was designed specifically just for this task, to clean out the old glue from the nut slot. I chose myself a nice clean piece of bone and began shaping.

You can see from the pics. that the first thing I needed to do was shape the bottom of the nut to match the nut slot. Fenders have this annoying curved slot, so I need to match the curve of the slot using a power sander and slow methodical passes. Next is the curve of the top. Stenciling the top of the existing nut helps me to find the curve there. I used the same power sander to size the width and then I glued it in place using slow set gap filling glue. I let this sit over night so It doesn't get bounced around during the slot cutting. I like the slow set gap filling glue because it's easier to remove the next time. The thin fast setting glue actually works it's way into the grain of the wood making removal later a very messy task. Slow set will just fill the gap and set in place.

The next step, nut slot cutting 101.

No comments: