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Thread: nut not level

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    中国天津
    Posts
    30

    Default nut not level

    Okay, I just got this one new 'uke, only had it about 3 weeks. It was ordered online from Maui Music - shipped to Arizona, and then hand carried (carry-on, in a hard case) the next week to me here in China.

    Once I got 'em I setup one Herco humidifier in the case. Anyways, I posted one thread last week showing it off. In that thread I mentioned the thing gets choke buzz. someone mentioned it may be the nut.

    So today I was playing and then I noticed that the nut is not parallel to the fretboard. On the G string side the nut is about 6mm tall - 2mm above the fretboard. On the A string side the nut is about 5mm tall - 1mm above the fretboard.

    I don't have any fancy tools to check it thoroughly (I'll go buy them if necessary) but I'm fairly certain it's the nut and not the fretboard, because the bridge is parallel with the fretboard and the whole uke "feels" tilted if I level the nut by rotating it in my hand.

    Since I live in China and I cannot go back to Hawai'i until August 2013, I think I need to fix this myself.

    I guess my question is this: can one unlevel nut make the uke more prone to buzz? If so, how can I fix it?
    Big Island Solid Koa Soprano Traditional [BI-K-SPS]
    Luna Tattoo Concert
    Mozart Soprano

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Posts
    2,464

    Default

    It's very difficult to tell exactly what you mean. The real issue is the depth of the nut slots...or rather the relationship between the bottom of the slots and the first fret. The top of the nut is irrelevant.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    818 kama'aina
    Posts
    257

    Default

    was it like that to begin with?

    but Rick (above poster) is right, it might bother you aesthetically, but the top of the nut isn't as important to the sound as the level of the strings coming off of it. so even if the top of the nut was perfectly level, if the nut slots are not right, it would still be a problem.

    Now, if your nut used to be perfectly level and the slot depths were proper, and then somehow (i cant imagine how) became not level, then I can see how that could cause a buzz... I just cant see how that could happen...

    is the wood where the nut is attached to, compressed? maybe the nut got impacted and pressed into the wood below it? again, never seen such a thing, so I don't know if that's reasonable.

    if there is no other damage and you find that the buzzing string is too low, you can always build up the nut slot in question with the superglue method (search for a how-to). you may eventually want to replace the nut, but the superglue technique can get you a semi-permanent fix for you.


    good luck!
    It's not the size that is important, it's how you use it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Near Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    775

    Default

    Some pictures would help understand the problem.

    An automotive "feeler gauge" is inexpensive and useful to measure string height, if you know how to use it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    中国天津
    Posts
    30

    Default

    I guess a picture's worth a thousand words. So here's 4 or 5. I'll take my uke to work tomorrow and bug the science department for some good measurement tools.
    AString.jpg
    frombridge.jpg
    fromnut.jpg
    GString.jpg
    Big Island Solid Koa Soprano Traditional [BI-K-SPS]
    Luna Tattoo Concert
    Mozart Soprano

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Posts
    2,464

    Default

    The only important issue is how well it plays. Stop looking at it and start playing it. Your fingers and ears will give you more important information than your eyes.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    中国天津
    Posts
    30

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Turner View Post
    The only important issue is how well it plays. Stop looking at it and start playing it. Your fingers and ears will give you more important information than your eyes.
    Oh I'm still playing it every day. Just trying to work out the source of all this buzz. Thanks anyways.
    Big Island Solid Koa Soprano Traditional [BI-K-SPS]
    Luna Tattoo Concert
    Mozart Soprano

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    243

    Default

    If the nut sit tight in its own slot, and the G side is higher than the A side by 1mm, you can always file the top side of the nut so it is parallel with the fretboard (just to make it look nice and it won't bother your eyes).
    It is important that the strings level out with the fretboard and also the saddle to be parallel with the fretboard.
    They may not be parallel with the top sound board (because the neck banks to one side !!!). This is rare and it does not cause playing issues.
    Buzzing could be caused by all sort of reasons, the common one is un-even frets.
    You can look up at FRETS.COM on this buzzing topic and how to check and fix un-even frets. Lots of good details there.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Herts, UK
    Posts
    3,072

    Default

    If the nut slots aren't correctly cut then the nut can cause buzzing. The slots should ramp back and down at a shallow angle towards the headstock. That gives a clean break point where the strings leave the slots. If the slots don't have that clean exit point then they can buzz. Also, slots that are wider than necessary may buzz under certain circumstances.

    Fret across all strings at the first fret and strum. If you have fretted the strings cleanly and the buzz is still present the the problem is not the nut (or at least not just the nut). If the buzz is gone then the problem may well be the nut slots - profile, depth or angle.

    Of course, it may be worth trying a change of strings first.
    Rick

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