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 Post subject: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:15 am
Posts: 104
Hello all,

My first guitar, a triple O, can be tuned well when using a capo and for bar chords but not for open chords. Measuring the distance from the nut to the middle of the first fret puts it about 1.5 hundredths too long, even though the nut butts right up against the fret board. The distance between the 1st and 2nd fret is dead-on using the same caliper. The kit came with the fret board pre-slotted so I assumed that the distances were all correct while building. Lesson learned for distance to the first fret.

Now I need to decide how to correct the problem. One option is to remove the nut (which I have not glued in place yet because it has a tight fit) and sand off the excess on the ebony fret board (which of course is glued to the neck). Any suggestion regarding technique for that would be appreciated. One problem is that there would then be a gap between the edge of the head plate and the outside edge of the nut, though making a new wider nut would solve that.

An alternative would be to extend the existing nut, perhaps by gluing a piece of bone or buying a new nut designed with a shelf. There is an interesting case made for compensating the nut, by the way, here: http://www.setitupbetter.com

Any advise on this would be appreciated!
Tim


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 2:28 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 1:16 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Beuningen, the Netherlands
Tim, These things happen, but it is repairable. I would sand,file or chisel down the fretboard and make a new nut. Try to keep it straight! Out there are extra wide bonepieces (Ebay for example) that can fill the gap. Good moment to develop nutmaking.

I always make the nut-1st fret distance a bit shorter, like Buzz Feiten does. It helps with the intonation while fretting the first positions. Works for me.

Good luck
Herman


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:38 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:14 pm
Posts: 1405
Location: Creedmoor, NC
"though making a new wider nut would solve that."

That's the ticket. Remove the excess wood (wood rasp?), make a new and wider nut, no one will ever know the difference.

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Tim Benware


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:36 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:15 am
Posts: 104
Thanks guys. I will do as you suggest at some point. Meanwhile, just to experiment, I made a temporary nut shelf out of styrene as shown in the pic below. Amazingly, the individual strings don’t sound half bad with the styrene and I can now actually achieve better intonation for open chords than without it. With the shelf, the first fret distance is about .05” shorter than the default first fret distance for 25.4” scale length. I’m going to see if I can optimize it for open chords, gradually sanding it a bit thinner with each iteration, then use the result as a reference for the optimal first fret distance for the new bone nut. Seems like an interesting task and I’m learning a lot.

Herman, how much to do shorten the first fret distance for a 25.4” scale length?

Tim


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:26 pm
Posts: 794
Location: Williams Bay, Wi
Tim,
My last one had a straight compensated nut, 1.5mm (.059") on a 25.5" scale, the bridge was also located 1.5mm closer to the nut. As I understand you benefit from moving them both, although just shortening the 1st fret distance also helps. On that one, intonation is really good and the saddle/action has not been brought down to playing specs yet. You seem to be right on with your current 'shelf' dim of .05". If it were me I wouldn't try cut/sand the FB, I'd just glue up a nut with a shelf like yours that over hangs the FB. That's just me though.

You could also do one in black (tusq maybe?) like this,:
Image

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Darren


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:21 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 1:16 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Beuningen, the Netherlands
My goal is about half of what Darren nutpiece does. So 0.7 mm, that's about 0.027 inch. Did it on several guitars and the results are pleasing every time. Last week the guitarist of my neighbours band, came to borrow my jumbo for a recording because of its intonation. Yes, that was not bad for the ego.


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:59 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:15 am
Posts: 104
Thanks Darren and Herman. Darren, that nut shelf in the pic looks like a commercial product. Where did you buy it?

Tim


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:30 am
Posts: 396
Location: Seattle, WA
I also shorten the distance from the nut to the first fret, about .020" (.5mm). It does help with intonation in the lower positions. The overhanging nut with individual compensation may be a reasonable fix if the board is long -- I've never tried to shorten one once it was on the neck (and hope I don't have to!). Not sure if the different compensations make that much sense, but if a good tuner shows good results, I've learned something.

Remember that proper nut slot heights will make a HUGE difference in intonation at the first to third frets! I see many more guitars with insanely high action than with good action. Learn how to do a good set up and you'll likely find that many intonation issues are resolved without major surgery.

Rick


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:45 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:26 pm
Posts: 794
Location: Williams Bay, Wi
Tim: not mine, found it on a google search....

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Darren


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 Post subject: Re: First Fret Distance
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:14 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:15 am
Posts: 104
I found this guy who specializes in compensated nuts (sounds weird). I suspect this is where Darren's pic comes from.

http://web.mac.com/dennishook/www.guita ... /Home.html

According to some, nut compensation makes a big difference for open chords.

http://www.setitupbetter.com/

I believe it, as I have also thought that "beat free" tuning for all open chords at once with difficult at best. After learning to compensate the saddle I think I'll explore compensation of my nuts :)

Tim


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