Friday, April 15, 2011

Finished Fret Job

Finishing up Ward's guitar I needed to put a new nut on. In the last episode of "Ward's re-fret" we had cut the nut and fit it to the neck. Now you can see how I finish it. Basing the string spacing on the old original nut I mark the new nut and begin the process of cutting the notches.

I'll start with a slightly over sized nut file to nail down the location of the strings. I will then use corresponding nut files for each string thickness to cut to the proper depth. For example for a high E string thats from a set of 9-42's, the string width is .09 or 9 hundredths of an inch. I have a nut file that measures .10 which is 1 hundredth of an inch larger than the string. Just large enough that the string will be held tight but wide enough for the string to move in the nut during tuning and wammies without hanging up.

Based on the string height measurements I took before I removed the nut. I will cut the depth of the nut to just above the height of the first fret. In this case the height of the fret is .05 or 5 hundredths of an inch. Using my thickness gauge, I will cut the nut to a depth of .065 or 6.5 hundredths of an inch. That's .015 or 1.5 hundredths of an inch higher than the first fret. For the thicker strings I'll go as far as .02 or 2 hundredths of an inch higher because they need more room to vibrate. I'm basing these numbers on the original measurements I took before I removed the frets and began the process. The idea is to give Ward as close to the action he had when he entrusted me with his baby.

When all is said and done the action was low but not too low so Ward could whip out his slide and get bluesy.

Fret jobs are a tough thing for a guitar player to go through. If you play a guitar for many years, you begin to feel that the neck was custom made just for you. It wears in just the right spots for your hand and you become comfortable with it. After a fret job it's like a brand new guitar. All those comfort spots are gone and it's like starting over. I try very hard to give my clients their comfort zones back. Sometimes that's not possible. Sometimes you can get decently close.

Ward came by to pick up his baby last night and seemed very pleased.

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