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Can I file nut with needle files or sandpaper?


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Hi. I've got a replacement neck and need to file the nut for the strings. This is something I'm not likely to do again so I'm reluctant to pay for a specialist set of files, but I do have needle files. Could I cut the grooves with those? Or some fine sandpaper folded over, say, the edge of a credit card? It's just a cheap plastic nut. 

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4 minutes ago, Waddo Soqable said:

If I were doing it I'd probably try the needle files tbh...

Yeah, I think that'd work for the heavier gauge strings, but I don't want the first string rattling about. One of the needle files has a nice oval shape so it ought to make a good groove, still, it's just a cheap plastic nut so if I mess it up it won't be the end of the world.

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I've used sandpaper and needle files to open up nut slots. I'm still alive and the basses didn't explode.

Go slow, check often and be careful not to file off a bit of you, or more importantly, the headstock, that doesn't need filing off.

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Wrap (one layer) some very fine grit sandpaper paper around each different string and use it as a perfect file. Go slowly.

It's a very old trick used by so many players.

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4 hours ago, Hellzero said:

Wrap (one layer) some very fine grit sandpaper paper around each different string and use it as a perfect file. Go slowly.

It's a very old trick used by so many players.

Hmm, I tried that once and found it very very difficult to get the right see- saw motion with string while keeping a grip on the sandpaper.  I then used needle files and found them pretty good if you're really careful. It may just be easier and not that expensive to get a pro to do.  Or do what i did on the my fourth project and that's buy some proper files and then sell them for not much less than I paid.

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1 hour ago, lownote12 said:

Hmm, I tried that once and found it very very difficult to get the right see- saw motion with string while keeping a grip on the sandpaper.  I then used needle files and found them pretty good if you're really careful. It may just be easier and not that expensive to get a pro to do.  Or do what i did on the my fourth project and that's buy some proper files and then sell them for not much less than I paid.

Right, yes. I followed the link above and got a set through amazon. I'd been looking on eBay but the amazon set seems fine and for £8 or whatever I'll stick with them. A little project for the weekend! 

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1 hour ago, 6feet7 said:

Don't buy them. I did I couldn't even complete two grooves before the kit had fallen apart and the files were smooth. You pay for what you get.

Ah... just saw this. Well, I'll give it a go and I'll be very gentle and if they don't work I'll just get a refund. That's the good thing about amazon.

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Cheap nut files are a complete waste of money. The set I tried were made of cheese and were absolutely nowhere near their "nominal" sizes. They went straight in the bin.

Hosco ones are a bit more expensive, but are precision made

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I did a very tidy job with my needle files, never went near the ones from Amazon so they're going back. However, I'm hot happy with the end results and rather than go too low I'm gonna take the bass for a setup. I've shimmed the neck and I'm convinced in more experienced hands the action can be taken lower but I'm reluctant to mess too much with the truss rod. 

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It's pretty important to get the neck relief right before doing anything else, probably before shimming the neck? It's not that hard but it helps to have the feeler guages. I found this series really helpful:

Or there is no shame taking it to a tech! Some people can set up a bass like butter!

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44 minutes ago, bloke_zero said:

It's pretty important to get the neck relief right before doing anything else, probably before shimming the neck? It's not that hard but it helps to have the feeler guages. I found this series really helpful:

Or there is no shame taking it to a tech! Some people can set up a bass like butter!

Yeah, I'm going to take it to a luthier for a proper setup. I'm going over to The Bass Gallery on Friday.

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4 hours ago, kwmlondon said:

Yeah, I'm going to take it to a luthier for a proper setup. I'm going over to The Bass Gallery on Friday.

Their work is absolutely top drawer, you won't be disappointed. While you're there, you can browse their rather wonderful stock - it'd be rude not to.

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36 minutes ago, ezbass said:

Their work is absolutely top drawer, you won't be disappointed. While you're there, you can browse their rather wonderful stock - it'd be rude not to.

They're not bad, very nice team in there. My local dude is Graham Park, he's very good but rather pricey and too busy at the moment. I'll certainly let you know the outcome.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 23/06/2021 at 13:15, bloke_zero said:

Good call - let us know how it comes out!

I. Am. In. Shock. I don't know the name of their luthier but he's a sodding miracle worker - my bits-jazz is just amazing! It plays so, so nicely. The cheap Squier body is LIGHT and the neck and body combo is perfect. It has a very slight dead spot but nothing like the USA Pro I used to have. Thank you Bass Gallery! £45 well spent indeed....

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6 minutes ago, kwmlondon said:

I. Am. In. Shock. I don't know the name of their luthier but he's a sodding miracle worker - my bits-jazz is just amazing! It plays so, so nicely. The cheap Squier body is LIGHT and the neck and body combo is perfect. It has a very slight dead spot but nothing like the USA Pro I used to have. Thank you Bass Gallery! £45 well spent indeed....

There is nothing like a really good set up.

And we all love it when a bitsa comes togther! There is something magic about when the bits of wood work together.

Glad you got a good result!

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32 minutes ago, bloke_zero said:

There is nothing like a really good set up.

And we all love it when a bitsa comes togther! There is something magic about when the bits of wood work together.

Glad you got a good result!

By someone who knows what they're doing! I'm fine tweaking, I can sort the intonation or make an adjustment, but it's such a pleasure to start from a good setup in the first place.

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