Final slot height If you make it more of a blade edge, the string will tear through the bone and make a notch, and the windings tend to hang up as well. Dan Erlewine, of Stewart-MacDonald's R&D Team, walks you through one of the key skills in any repair shop. Check out out Ordering / Sizing Guide. String it up! File the nut to the shape you've drawn. A Radius Gauge is a good template for drawing this curved line for top of the nut. Turn the screw clockwise to raise the saddle; turn it counter-clockwise to lower the saddle. Use a scribe or very sharp pencil to mark their locations. Looking straight down on the top of the nut, use the String Spacing Rule to find the proper spacing for the remaining four strings. Cut starter slots Leave the strings on, to provide clamping pressure. By tapping the side of the old nut, you can dislodge it. Dan Erlewine, of Stewart-MacDonald's R&D Team, walks you through making and installing a new nut. Choose nut slotting files that are the same size or no more that a few thousands larger than your individual string gauges. Take your time — it's easy to "blow a nut" at this stage! (Good tools for this are Micro Chisels and Nut Seating Files.) Take your time — it's easy to "blow a nut" at this stage! To carve those nice curves for each end of the saddle, I use a small spindle sander attached to my drill press (Fig. 7). File down the excess nut material from the top as the slots get deeper, so there's room for your file to cut. Don't make a new nut just to fix a low slot—fill it! Final-sand and contour the nut's shape using ever-finer sandpaper (220-, 320-, 400-, and all the way up to 1200 if you wish). Looking straight down on the top of the nut, use the String Spacing Rule to find the proper spacing for the remaining four strings. Saddle slabs: Saddle slabs are simply a block of material that can be used to make the entire saddle (or anything else) from scratch. Know your guitar's make & model? We like Bone Nut Blanks for most situations, except when used with a tremolo. Double-edge Nut Files are good for this job. To avoid marring the guitar, consider shaping the slots with the nut blank held in the Nut and Saddle Vise. A good measurement is .050", or about 1/16", in from the top of the beveled ends of the first fret. The Gauged Saws are best at "moving" the slots from side-to-side if they stray from your marks, but they do lower the slots fast. When the slots are well defined, but not to final depth, put the nut back in the slot and string up. Work carefully up to your scribed lines with the smooth side of the Nut Shaping File. If the saddle has two hex screws, be sure to turn them the same amount so that the saddle stays level. Both nut height and the straightness of the neck of the guitar will affect the action at the saddle (note that when I say “action at the saddle” that this is usually measured at the 12th fret). The improved version of the classic Fender Strat Bridge, The most consistent, top quality Strat® replacement body on the market today. (Besides, you shouldn't rush this!) You can also use the saddles to adjust the intonation of your guitar. Save on Over 900 Items, Learn About Guitar Nut + Saddle Setup + Repair, Find the proper fret position with the official Stewart-MacDonald Fret Calculator, Stewart-MacDonald is PCI compliant and validated for secure e-commerce. I think the best part is shaping the top, and carving in a compensated angle to allow the strings to intonate properly. After explaining that I don’t sell off the shelf saddles, I offered to make one out of bone instead of the original synthetic (plastic) material. Another way to do this is with a Dremel rotary tool. Mark all around the overhanging nut edges with a scribe or knife, then put it back in the vise to trim off the excess nut material. If the saddle has two hex screws, be sure to turn them the same amount so that the saddle stays level. The following figure shows the location of the hex screws. Nuts tap out easily on old guitars, but not on new heavily-finished ones; sometimes you'll need to saw through the nut to get it out. Work carefully up to your scribed lines with the smooth side of the Nut Shaping File. Frequently check the slot locations with the String Spacing Rule, and move the slots from side to side if needed. To do this, cut it lengthwise (across the string slots), stopping when you're almost down to the bottom. Determine the spacing you want between the outside E-strings. Be careful not to cut too deep. Nuts tap out easily on old guitars, but not on new heavily-finished ones; sometimes you'll need to saw through the nut to get it out. As a starting point, place the blank in the slot and trace the shape of the fretboard onto it. Mark all around the overhanging nut edges with a scribe or knife, then put it back in the vise to trim off the excess nut material. Frequently check the slot locations with the String Spacing Rule, and move the … The height and shape of the bridge bone, or saddle, The adjustment of the nut, The type and tension of the strings, The player's style. As a starting point, place the blank in the slot and trace the shape of the fretboard onto it. This will give you a good starting point; later you'll fine-tune string heights, bringing them down just a little. Fender's most popular pick shape in different materials. Clean the nut slot A good measurement is .050", or about 1/16", in from the top of the beveled ends of the first fret. Stack the feeler gauges to this combined measurement, and file the slots until the file just nicks the feeler gauges. Compensated saddles improve the playability by correctly setting each strings intonation to help produce the best tone and performance possible. I recently was brought a Taylor acoustic guitar with a missing saddle, which must have fallen out while it was being restrung. To avoid marring the guitar, consider shaping the slots with the nut blank held in the Nut and Saddle Vise. (Our frets in this example are .040" tall, so when we add .030" for string clearance we get a slot height of .070".) To do this, cut it lengthwise (across the string slots), stopping when you're almost down to the bottom. Remove the nut to protect the guitar String the guitar to pitch, and final-check the nut shape and string heights with a String Action Gauge. The top of the nut will be shaped to follow the radius of the fretboard. DON'T MISS A BEAT, sign up for StewMac news, Black Friday Sale! If you're happy, loosen the strings and glue the nut in lightly with 2 or 3 small drops of Titebond glue. File down the excess nut material from the top as the slots get deeper, so there's room for your file to cut. The starting shape of a saddle under a wound E should have a bearing surface with a radius that's greater than the windings of the string, at the very least. Now you can collapse the nut inward on itself and remove the pieces. What files do I need? Now you've got a good general string height, and you're ready to fine-tune it if you like: leaving the heavier strings a bit high, while the treble strings get lowered, following the radius of the fretboard. Determine the spacing you want between the outside E-strings. Calipers are a big help in accurately sizing the nut. Now you've got a good general string height, and you're ready to fine-tune it if you like: leaving the heavier strings a bit high, while the treble strings get lowered, following the radius of the fretboard. As you get close, use stacked feeler gauges as an accurate way to stop at the string height you're after. This quick and simple upgrade will have an amazing affect on your instruments tone, harmonic content, and playability. Scrape out old glue residue, and make the slot square and clean without removing wood. Before you do, use a sharp blade to score a line on the finish around the nut. Turn the screw clockwise to raise the saddle; turn it counter-clockwise to lower the saddle. We like Bone Nut Blanks for most situations, except when used with a tremolo. Now you can collapse the nut inward on itself and remove the pieces. The following figure shows the location of the hex screws.