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Changing nut and saddle   You are logged in as Guest
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flyeogh

Posts: 666
Joined: Oct. 13 2004
 

Changing nut and saddle 

Just looking for any tips or guidance from you constructors/tuners/experts when I try and change a saddle and nut, and tidy up a fret board.

Why? Well I have 3 flamenco guitars between 15 and 20 years of age. I get a bit of buzzing especially on the bass strings (nothing that concerns me with flamenco but classical/other stuff it is more noticeable and I little ugly). I’m trying with my classical stuff to get a nice clean sound (but I still want the easy low action playing I get with all my flamencas - doesn't want much does he

So, I thought I’d treat my Valeriano Bernal 1999 to a clean-up, new bone saddle and nut, and try a few adjustments and a little higher action.

I thought I’d gently polish the frets and check they are all level. Then use guitar cleaner from my mates at StewMac to clean the fret board.

Next I’d replace the saddle and nut trying differing heights. Until I got something I liked.

But:

At the moment the saddle is just plain. Is it worth creating little indentions (rather than lowering the overall saddle height) – especially with fat D’Adarrio 3rd strings?

Equally should I try and adjust the slots on the nut so I get variance between high E and Low E? (something like 3.2 and 2.7mm, low e and high e respectively)? Or is this a saddle adjustment, or both.

And at what point might I screw it up and end up running to my luthier

Any thoughts most welcome

_____________________________

nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 7:54:51
 
JasonM

Posts: 1163
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to flyeogh

While we wait for the professionals to chime in, I would personally make a new higher saddle or even a shim under the existing one to see where you might like the height. But leave the nut out of the picture unless you are getting buzzing on the first couple frets. It’s not necessary to put indentations on the top of the saddle slot. Obviously the more you raise the saddle height the higher your action. unless you take more invasive measures with the fretboard geometry.

Frets, Clean fretboard grime and frets with super fine steel wool. Check with fret rocker if you are getting buzzing at specific frets/notes.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 15:36:16
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2083
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to flyeogh

quote:

And at what point might I screw it up and end up running to my luthier


All of the variables are experienced based work that will give you knowledge about what to do. I have done a lot of adjusting on the last guitar I made and finally got it right.

So this is all subjective to each individual player as to their own taste. Personally, you might start with the most simple adjustments first before getting into things that might cost you more time than it's worth.

_____________________________

Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 16:12:25
 
flyeogh

Posts: 666
Joined: Oct. 13 2004
 

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to JasonM

quote:

But leave the nut out of the picture unless you are getting buzzing on the first couple frets.


thanks Jason. The buzzing is more 4th fret onward but as always to some degree it could be my playing I'll take your advice on playing with the saddle first. I can have a play while my files and vise wizz their way from StewMac.

On StewMac I noticed ZerO_Glide_Nuts . I wondered if anyone had tried them? A little expensive at 32 USD but if they offer something I'd give them a go.

_____________________________

nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 16:20:30
 
flyeogh

Posts: 666
Joined: Oct. 13 2004
 

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to Tom Blackshear

quote:

Personally, you might start with the most simple adjustments first before getting into things that might cost you more time than it's worth.


Tom Thanks, Now retired one thing I have is time. I've even increased my playing to 3 hours a day, which for a fun player like me is a lot, but I can see results.

Luckily I can play with one guitar and with the other two sitting there even if I screw up I can still play as I like. And hopefully as you say I'll gain a little experience as I work on each one over time. For sure I've taken Jason's and your advise to start simple onboard.

Cheers

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nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 16:27:15
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1397
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to flyeogh

I think it's more complicated than you realize. Maybe before making a new nut or saddle, first shim up the old one and work on the top of it, such as increasing the depth of the nut slots. That way you'll get a feel for the work or you could just go with the result. The saddle should not have slots for the strings.

Regarding the fretbord: If there is relief in the frets or the fingerboard, the whole thing is not supposed to be level. You could lightly touch it up by using a short (4-5 inch) sanding block wrapped with 400-grit paper, in such a way that the edges of the paper don't lead, then recrown each fret.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 16:29:59
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2083
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to flyeogh

quote:

The buzzing is more 4th fret onward but as always to some degree it could be my playing


I seen many guitars with 4th strings that buzz, as compared to the other strings. I think much of this has to do with the way the top is tuned for certain articulation, etc.

I've been able to correct this with fan brace adjustments. However, playing some guitars too close to the sound-hole can really cause some buzzing; more so on the 4th string.

If this is persistent, no matter how you play, then you might try raising the action a little.

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Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 16:36:56
 
flyeogh

Posts: 666
Joined: Oct. 13 2004
 

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to constructordeguitarras

Ethan be assured warning heard, appreciated, and taken seriously. Thanks.

I'm thinking if I do no more than cleaning and polishing (minimum to clean them really) the frets with something finer than 600, and leave the wood otherwise untouched, I can always go back to square one. And my Argentine luthier is just up the road as a fall back

Tom interesting beyond the potential solution"fan brace adjustments" which would be way beyond me. I note also on the Bernal buzzing on the 6th string beyond the 6th fret.

I guess the first thing I need to do is check that all the frets are in good condition. If so I'll try no more than raising the saddle a little and see if I note a difference. If I don't there must be contact where the string sits on the saddle, or vibration of the string beyond the saddle. I remember a while back getting buzzing on the 5th string and it was fixed by simply restringing.

Anyway I'll report back.

_____________________________

nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 18:25:57
 
JasonM

Posts: 1163
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:

You could lightly touch it up by using a short (4-5 inch) sanding block wrapped with 400-grit paper, in such a way that the edges of the paper don't lead,



Ethan is this your method for fret leveling with relief? Do you start with a slight relief in the fretboard before fretting?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2019 23:48:54
 
mango

Posts: 99
Joined: Apr. 2 2019
 

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to flyeogh

Hi!
Here are some personal thoughts regarding guitar setup. I am a beginner in building guitars but I am very happy with the results I got since I started to do the setup of my guitars on my own a few years ago...

First check of the fretboard:

Hold down the first and last fret on the low E-String and look for the distance between the string and the frets in between. There should be a distance but only very very small. Check also with a straightedge... if the distance is too big you maybe need to do some levelling work on the frets. Watch some youtube tutorials to get an Idea what to do. But before you do that, check if your frets are high enough to get levelled and afterwards rounded with a fretfile. Also check with a fret-gauge if the buzzing is perhaps caused by just one fret which is too high...
In my opinion it works good to level the frets straight and only get a little relief from the string tension.

First check of the nut:

hold down the 3rd fret and check the distance between each string and the first fret. The strings should be as close as possible to the first fret while not touching them (check if the small part of the string can produce a tone. If not it touches the fret). I you want to avoid sizzling with capo keep the 5th and 6th string a tiny little bit higher. If you want to make adjustments do it with a good set of nut files and not by sanding down the whole nut from the bottom.

Saddle hight: A matter of taste if the nut and the fretboard have a good setup. Generally the high strings can be closer to the fretboard.

Intonation: Is done by shaping the saddle in a way that the touching point of the string is more close or more far from the nut. Before you do the intonation make the nut and the fretboard right.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 6 2019 12:42:40
 
flyeogh

Posts: 666
Joined: Oct. 13 2004
 

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to mango

Mango many thanks and incredibly useful.

I'm just ordering some stuff from StewMac: feeler gauges, set of files with differing profiles, sanding papers and fret masks, super glue brush on (for a ding or two).

[Yes I could buy many of those things cheaper but any supplier that replaces my tuning machine (300USD), which I broke, after 13 years of use, will always be my first port of call. ]

And another bit of luck. An Admira guitar that I first bought to try flamenco 20 years ago (for a classical it had low action), is in the hands of my niece in Madrid, and has a broken fret (not sure what her teacher means by that but we will see). So she'll bring it down over Christmas and I can keep myself occupied on a less than 200 GBP guitar. Screwing that up wouldn't be disastrous, although my parents raised me to always respect all books and musical instruments

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nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 6 2019 13:08:33
 
JasonM

Posts: 1163
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to flyeogh

For nut filing My maestro uses the method Mango described by fretting the 3rd and tapping the string at the first.

Just yesterday I made a nut and tried out the method with the feeler gauges, trying to be more accurate. Although I didn’t use the stewmac apparatus which looks handy. I set gauges up to stop the files at 0.5mm above the fret height. Yet somehow I came out with an extra half millimeter clearance Better than too low


Doesn’t Madinter carry StewMac stuff? Might be cheaper than ordering all the way from the States. They aren’t even far from where I live and shipping is still expensive - that’s how they force you to join the annual club.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 6 2019 15:31:43
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1397
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Changing nut and saddle (in reply to JasonM

quote:

Ethan is this your method for fret leveling with relief? Do you start with a slight relief in the fretboard before fretting?


Yes, after I glue on the fingerboard, I first plane/sand it level, then plane/sand a very small amount of relief in it. I used to use a small piece of paper as a feeler gauge. Next, I install the frets and carve the neck. Then after finishing the guitar, I do the process I mentioned above and dress the ends of the frets. Somehow between installing the frets and completing the finishing the frets often go out of wack a little.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 21 2019 19:24:26
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