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Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

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Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:45 am

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I recently replaced the plastic nut and saddle on my round back Ovation type guitar.The Tusq parts fit but I did not modify them.I think I may have to cut down the saddle and wonder if a razor saw will suffice.Regarding the pre cut nut,do you think the G,B and E slots are too deep?
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:47 am

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How much should I cut off the bottom of the saddle?
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Rodger Knox » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:13 pm

Do those strings buzz? If they do, then the slots may be too deep. If they don't, they're fine.
What's the action at the 12th fret, and what do you want it to be? You need to take off twice that distance from the bottom of the saddle.
Looks like you can take off maybe 1/8", so you can lower the action by about 1/16", more or less. It's difficult to judge from a photo.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Freeman Keller » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:09 pm

Nut slot depth, saddle height, relief (and intonation) all work together. They can be affected by the condition of frets and structural issues with the guitar (including humidity). I get the guitar stable and deal with structural issues, then get the frets perfect before starting anything else. I'll set the relief close to my target value (usually 0.004-5" but it might depend on the guitar), then I work the nut slots down close to their target (most of the time somewhere around 0.014 on the high E tapering up to 0.018 on the low). Then I work the saddle down to that target - often about 0.060 on the high E tapering to 0.090 on the low, but again, it depends on guitar and player. Remember that it is always easier to take either end down a little more, its darn hard to take it back up.

Phillip Rowe wrote:How much should I cut off the bottom of the saddle?


The basic answer is that if you want to lower the action at 12 by X, you remove 2X from the saddle. That is slightly complicated by the height at the nut and by relief, I find it better to remove that amount in several sandings. And sanding the bottom of the saddle with 180 or 220 grit is the best way to lower it.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:42 pm

Yes the G,B And E strings are slightly muted but the strings do not buzz.The action is pretty high at the 12th fret so I will take off about 1/8th.Thanks for the replies and advice!
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Peter Wilcox » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:31 pm

Phillip Rowe wrote:Yes the G,B And E strings are slightly muted but the strings do not buzz.


Looking at your photo, I'd say the slots for those strings (particularly the unwound ones) are too wide (and also too deep), which may be causing the loss of volume/sustain. The nut slot should only be as wide as the gauge of its string.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:56 am

Can you use the super glue and baking soda trick or should I get a nut blank and cut it myself and forego the pre cut nuts?I have never done that is it tricky?
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:06 am

Yes it is tricky. You need the right tools and lots of knowledge and practice. There is an surprising amount of specific details and techniques involved in making nuts and saddles. Probably more so that any other part of a guitar. You may want to consider having a skilled luthier do this for you instead of attempting this yourself, unless you plan on getting started in guitar building or repair as a serious past-time or profession.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:16 pm

Phillip Rowe wrote:....The action is pretty high at the 12th fret so I will take off about 1/8th.Thanks for the replies and advice!


Phillip Rowe wrote:Can you use the super glue and baking soda trick or should I get a nut blank and cut it myself and forego the pre cut nuts?I have never done that is it tricky?


Phillip, I just got done telling you that a setup involves a number of different things which are all interrelated. And typically they are measured in thousands of an inch. Don't "take off about 1/8th", take careful measurements and approach your target in a series of very small steps. I'll repeat the steps

- get the guitar stable with respect to humidity and resolve any structural issues
- get the frets perfect (might involve some special tools)
- adjust the relief close to your target value
- make or modify a nut lowering the slots with gauged files close to your target value
- make or modify a saddle, lowering it close to your target value
- check intonation and compensate as required
- refine relief, nut slots and action
- shape the top of the nut and saddle and polish
- open a nice cold adult beverage and enjoy your perfectly set up guitar...

The normal tools needed to do this are feeler gauges and some good way to measure the action, either a machinists rule or one of the special action gauges (StewMac sells a good one). You'll need a set of gauged nut files (there are cheap ways to get around this, but good tools make the job easy), a razor saw is handy for cutting bone and starting the slots. I like the StewMac string spacing rule but you can do the math and space with your machinist rule (or by eye). Something to rock frets to at least know if they need work (the StewMac action gauge works). Good tools are expensive and if you are only going to do it once, probably a bad investment. But I doubt that you'll only do it once LOL

edit to add - the superglue and bone/baking soda trick works for a nut that is cut too deep but I prefer to start over, taking measurements off that nut. However until you've actually measured your nut action you don't know if its needed
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:29 pm

Clearly I have a lot to learn ,I have been playing for many years but never really had the issues this guitar has.I thought that the pre cut nut would work but clearly the last 3 slots were cut way too deep.I am no stranger to scratch building but it looks like it Wil require a substantial investment in tools.Must ponder.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Steven Smith » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:54 pm

If you can scratch-build a model like that (nice!) then you have the skills needed make satisfactory nuts and saddles. The issue is, as said by others, it requires a knowledge of the setup process and techniques so you know what to do when and how to determine the proper measurements of the associated components. A good setup is necessary to make an instrument play and sound it's best.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:57 pm

Well it sounds like I need a good illustrated book on how to do a set up as well as a list o tools required to cut a nut.Nice to be able yo do it myself.Any recommendations?
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:32 pm

Stew-Mac has the tools, books and videos for this work.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:36 pm

Thanks!I will check it out!
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:39 pm

Barry Daniels wrote:Stew-Mac has the tools, books and videos for this work.

And free instructions: http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Re ... Setup.html

http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Online_Re ... and_Setup/
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:22 pm

Cool!
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Mark McLean » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:39 pm

When it comes to adjusting the height of your saddle, don't try to cut it with a saw. The best approach is to sand material off the bottom using sandpaper (I usually go with 240 grit, but if there is a lot to remove you could start with coarser). Measure the height of the action at the 12th fret on the 6th and 1st string. Subtract what action you would like to have, so that you calculate the difference either in thousandths of an inch, or in milimetres. The amount you need to remove from the bottom of the saddle is double this. Measure and mark these measurements on the bass and treble sides of the saddle - measuring up from the bottom. Draw a line between the marks (a digital calliper and a really sharp pencil are a help here). Then sand material off the bottom of the saddle by placing your sandpaper on a flat, hard surface (like a thick glass sheet, a ceramic tile, stone benchtop) and rub the bottom of the saddle on this, being careful to keep it perfectly upright. You will therefore get a dead flat bottom on the saddle and can slowly work up to your line. You don't want to round off the edges. You need to be sure that there will still be enough saddle height to achieve a good string break angle over the saddle, but your photo suggests that this probably won't be a problem for this guitar. That is a plenty high saddle at the moment.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:20 pm

Yes I can still play it but the action. Is noticeably higher and I have to adjust my technique to prevent note flubbing that was not an issue before I changed the nut and saddle.
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Re: Questions about replacement nut and saddle.

Postby Phillip Rowe » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:07 am

Ok guys,I shimmed the saddle and I think it cured the sitar like buzzing and string muting I noticed before.Now it is louder and rings better.I used a depth gauge to measure the saddle height on my Eli Dread which sounds great as a reference and sanded it down.I plugged it in and the piezoelectric pick up works fine.I am pretty happy and did it myself!
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