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Worth learning to make nuts?

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  • Worth learning to make nuts?

    Much of a guitar's setup relies on a properly cut nut. So what does it take - and how many screwups - to become proficient at doing this yourself? Is it worth it for a non-professional?

    Insert clever joke about nut jobs here.
    Originally posted by crusty philtrum
    Anyone who *sings* at me through their teeth deserves to have a bus drive through their face
    http://www.youtube.com/alexiansounds

  • #2
    Took me awhile to get good at it. I still run across stuff I made 40 years ago and it looks like crap compared to the beauts I fabricate these days.

    The right tools make all the difference once you've developed some finesse and trained your eyes.

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    • #3
      Learning a skill is always a good idea. It helps to either watch a lot of videos, or have someone you trust teach you.
      Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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      • #4
        If there is a market for the service in your area
        you may recoup the cost of the tools

        If not
        It would be a labor of love

        Once yours are done
        It's done.

        Doing one every 10 yrs isn't going to give you enough practice to get expert "I'd pay 50 bucks just have him file my nuts" good at it

        So there's that
        EHD
        Just here surfing Guitar Pron
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        • #5
          The benefit is you'd be able to make your own nuts out of materials that you can't find pre-made such as brass or wood. It takes practice, but isn't so advanced that's it's really hard to get like tuning a piano or something. All it is is sanding the thing to the correct shape and then getting the slots the correct spacing, depth, and angle. I've made a few out of different materials and the reason I don't do it is that my ocd bugs me about being able to tell that that string spacings don't end up exact like on a pre fabbed nut.

          It's absolutely helpful to be skilled at cutting the slots to the right depth to create the action at the nut on your setup for an existing nut or swapping in a pre slotted one, so that's an invaluable thing to practice.
          Last edited by Clint 55; 01-01-2021, 07:06 PM.
          The things that you wanted
          I bought them for you

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          • #6
            Nutting is a very fulfilling pastime.
            ---------------------------
            The most popular thread I've ever made was 1) a joke and 2) based around literally the most inane/mundane question I could think of. That says something about me, or all of you, or both.

            https://forum.seymourduncan.com/show...or-for-a-Strat

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            • #7
              Clint - I've tuned pianos for decades. It's NOT hard at all. If your ear is good, and you have relative pitch - you can tune a piano. Of course - if you are impatient, forget it. As for tools - literally a wrench for the tuning pin, a little felt or rubber wedge for muting strings, and a pitchpipe. You can have it all for $20.

              Making a good nut - I've got hundreds of dollars in tools, mostly files of one kind or another, a good disc sander for roughing, and some sandpaper and scotchbrite to make them pretty. Various polishes for the high quality nuts.

              Some of my bone nut blanks are decades old (I'm always buying more). I like bone that "tinks" when you drop it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ICTGoober View Post
                Clint - I've tuned pianos for decades. It's NOT hard at all.
                I'm happy for you that you're skilled enough to do that, but that's simply not an accurate statement. Tuning pianos is extremely hard. There are like 200 strings and to get them all right down to the cent so the instrument sounds mint to play requires enormous dedication and skill. Think of how many people will be able to tune their guitar by ear and then have every string be 100% correct when checked with a tuner, then magnify that job by 100. Adjusting your set up is not hard at all. Tuning pianos is somewhere between quite challenging but plenty do-able for a seasoned pro to impossible.
                The things that you wanted
                I bought them for you

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ICTGoober View Post
                  Some of my bone nut blanks are decades old (I'm always buying more). I like bone that "tinks" when you drop it.
                  I like bone too. But I'm biased because that's what my luthier friend likes. But . . . it works for me.

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                  • #10
                    I don't think cutting a good nut is very hard -but it does take making many to finally get the great one and learn enough from your mistakes to be consistent.

                    A good luthier can make one in 30 minutes thats perfect. -whereas an amateur like me will spend 2-3 hours on one for a similar result.

                    Also, since you won't be cutting them often like a luthier -you won't exactly be dialed in every time like a pro either.

                    ​​​​​​So what is your time, money, personal satisfaction and having a new skill worth to you?


                    If you do -start by making a replica of your old nut and then one from scratch with reference or vice versa.
                    “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Yvonne Chouinard

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                    • #11
                      I'm happy for you that you're skilled enough to do that, but that's simply not an accurate statement. Tuning pianos is extremely hard. There are like 200 strings and to get them all right down to the cent so the instrument sounds mint to play requires enormous dedication and skill.
                      Now I'm going to make a fool out of you. Piano tuners DO NOT use machines or tuners to set the tuning. I was trained by a guy in town who was regarded as the best in Kansas for 50 years. Every piano store in town and the surrounding area used DUKE. He taught me that the piano HAD to be tuned by ear, because the human ear doesn't like pianos tuned to perfect pitches of electronic tuners. The super trebles and sub basses need to be pitched RELATIVE (not exactly) to all other strings. You start at middle C and work out towards the last keys. Some strings sound better sharp, and some sound better flat to a human ear. It takes awhile to learn, and awhile to do the actual tuning. If it's been a long time since the piano was tuned - it will take a longer time to do. You'd have to do it 2 or 3 times to get right because of the immense tension on the soundboard. It's got to adjust.

                      I'll say it again - pianos tuned to exact pitches do NOT sound right to the human ear. Duke taught me to "tune it to the beating of the strings". That's relative tuning.
                      Last edited by ICTGoober; 01-01-2021, 10:48 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I have to say that every piano tuner I have met did it by ear, with no help other than some tools to do the actual turning of the pegs.
                        Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ICTGoober View Post
                          I'll say it again - pianos tuned to exact pitches do NOT sound right to the human ear. Duke taught me to "tune it to the beating of the strings". That's relative tuning.
                          That's what I've heard too. I know that the guy who tuned my parents piano, years ago, only brought a little T-handle square drive, (to fit the string posts), and his ears. Did a great job.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ICTGoober View Post

                            Now I'm going to make a fool out of you. Piano tuners DO NOT use machines or tuners to set the tuning. I was trained by a guy in town who was regarded as the best in Kansas for 50 years. Every piano store in town and the surrounding area used DUKE. He taught me that the piano HAD to be tuned by ear, because the human ear doesn't like pianos tuned to perfect pitches of electronic tuners. The super trebles and sub basses need to be pitched RELATIVE (not exactly) to all other strings. You start at middle C and work out towards the last keys. Some strings sound better sharp, and some sound better flat to a human ear. It takes awhile to learn, and awhile to do the actual tuning. If it's been a long time since the piano was tuned - it will take a longer time to do. You'd have to do it 2 or 3 times to get right because of the immense tension on the soundboard. It's got to adjust.

                            I'll say it again - pianos tuned to exact pitches do NOT sound right to the human ear. Duke taught me to "tune it to the beating of the strings". That's relative tuning.
                            Yeah, i have really really sensitive ear to pitch and couldn't get it right doing a piano by myself -I tried to make it perfectly relative and it sounded un"full" and lifeless because I wasn't compensating with flattening and sharpening certain notes as you mentioned -natural 3rds are usually trouble strings in any key.

                            although I only tried once enough to know it was worth paying someone and got worried with a soundboard 140 years old. I have a guy whose been doing it 50 years that comes and does mine every year and yeah all by ear.

                            Last year I had it re-felted and the action redone. 1882 Steinway plays like a dream right now.
                            “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Yvonne Chouinard

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                            • #15
                              For piano tuning, compared to "perfect" equal temperament tuning, aren't the bass and treble string typically tuned slightly flat and sharp respectively to compensate/compromise for the nasty overtones when tuned to "normal" equal temperament? The whole point of equal tempered tuning is that it's literally mathematically impossible to have simple ratios (5/4, 3/2, etc) at all octaves in all keys, so the compromise was to have everything be slightly "out of tune" when compared to simple ratios. The only perfect intervals in equal temperament are the octaves (2/1).
                              Last edited by GreatOz; 01-02-2021, 08:36 AM.

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