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christofloffer

guitar nut problem

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apologies if this is in the wrong section, there isnt a technical bit for the guitar section and i figured this is more applicable.
i replaced the strings on my electric guitar today and found an issue. the nut fell off when i had the strings off. this is an issue i have had for about 6 years now as a friend (not much of a friend now) was carrying my guitar and despite my carefully telling him to carry it properly he was swinging it around by the strap and dropped it. after a lot of shouting and a quick exit from the friend i picked up the pieces to find that the nut had been snapped and the selector switch bent. other than a few scrapes that was the worst of it but it has plagued me ever since. i got a new one and glued it down and it was ok for a while but the glue fatigued and came away. then after another repair it was flexing a little when tuning, something which manifested in rapid wear of the nut slots and poor tuning stability. now the current nut has worn the same again and the glue has failed again.
so i am thinking of replacing it with something a little more substantial. i am thinking along the lines of a roller nut or a height adjustable locking nut. these would both be screwed in and therefore more reliable and less problematic.
my concern with the roller nut is if it would be high enough as the dimensions given in descriptions seem to refer to the overall height and not the height that the string would sit. also i dont know if they are worth it as its two strings to a roller so it would still scrub during tuning.
the locking nut is currently my favourite. namely for the sturdy construction and the added adjustment at that end. some people say that they are supposed to be used as well as a normal nut though, so i dont know if it would work.
it has only had plastic ones before but they sit at the end of the neck rather than in a slot which is why the glue doesnt work. it has no support at the back it just struggles to stay in place now so a screwed in one would be a better permanent fix.
the only issue with the screwed ones is that they would cover a portion of the access to the truss rod. that too has its own issues and seems stuck but i will investigate that as i guess it cant be removed without lifting the fretboard. at which point i may as well get a new neck.

thoughts and advice are very appreciated as i am a little stuck without having any experience of either type or anything more than replacing like for like. i am fairly handy so have no fears of the work involved, i just want to do the right job once and not mess about.

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Ideally, much more detail about the guitar make and model, as nuts vary widely. If there's not already a locking nut, don't fit one. Roller nut definitely a possibility depending on type of guitar. As said, more details!

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Here's a good video on fitting a nut.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmUAuRs3Og0

I don't know what glue you're using, but I use PVA glue; that normally holds it in place.

I hope this helps

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It's not uncommon to use a couple of tiny spots of superglue to hold a nut in place. You don't need much at all and a sharp whack on the side of the nut should dislodge it if needed in the future.

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All this ^^^ dependent upon which type of nut. Slot type like a Fender, couple of spots of superglue. Gibson-style, a little more, but not much. PVA never, particularly if you're ever going to hand it off to someone professional to repair, because he's unlikely to thank you!

Edited by Telebass

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Remeber to clean any previously glued surfaces up with a file. Also when fitting a nut (no matter the nut material) key up (roughen) the mating surfaces of the nut so the glue gets a good bond.

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[quote name='Twincam' timestamp='1478809914' post='3171885']
Remeber to clean any previously glued surfaces up with a file. Also when fitting a nut (no matter the nut material) key up (roughen) the mating surfaces of the nut so the glue gets a good bond.
[/quote]

This is likely your issue - an uneven surface consisting of old glue, meaning your new nut is not making proper contact so the glue is not either.

You don't need a different type of nut, but I would advise you to get a luthier or tech to fit the new nut. A well cut and fitted nut makes a dramatic difference to how the bass plays.

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this is the guitar in question:





you can see in the picture (not that the quality helps but the flash on the camera was too strong) the gap at the bottom between the nut and fretboard. its not glued in place right now, i just wanted to show how it acts.
its a westone but i dont know what model, i cant find another one to check against either. i like the guitar and i would like to get it back onto top form as its my recording one. it seems like cheap design to be honest as if i was to make one i would at least have a slot to secure it into or a mechanical lock.
every time the nut was glued back on i made sure to clean the area up pretty thoroughly and scuff the surface of the nut too. much as i would like to be able to hand it over to a luthier to fix i just dont have the money for it and its a job that shouldnt be that much of an issue. i have rebuilt a car gearbox a few times so this should not be such a hassle. besides i am not worried about the work, i just need to figure out what i should do to get it done right. i like to be hands on with things like this.
i have used pva before but that failed fast. i used wood glue too and that was better but still failed. i have not tried superglue as i am a little worried that the timber would soak it and draw it away from the nut. i have used evostick-528 on things before and that is great glue but messy and i wouldnt like to say it would stay even as it starts drying insanely fast. i also have epoxy-resin glues to hand which i have a lot of faith in and wouldnt be adverse to shoring up a little behind it with that.

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If you can get the two surfaces mating perfectly, super glue will hold the nut in place, just a couple of drops is all you'll need. Woodglue is usually PVA based and it does not stick to non porous materials (such as a nut) very well at all.

Edit: you also want to get rid of the gap between the fb and nut, it's leaning.

Edited by Manton Customs

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As others have said clean the surfaces so there is 'face to face' contact between the nut and the wood underneath. Your side on photo demonstrates that the glue is just to stop side to side movement- just look at the downward tension of the strings on the nut.

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I would be happy to take a look at it for you. If it is a case of just a clean up and glueing back in, happy to do it. I'm in Herts.

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When fitting a new nut it's comon to have to sand off the bottom to reduce the height. My guess is they didn't sand it off square. So if they don't keep the bottom and the edge against the FB a true right angle, the lean happens.

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