View Full Version : Problem with nut at top of ukulele (photos included)

01-11-2009, 03:46 AM
I think I have a problem with the nut, the bit at the top of the fretboard, of my ukulele which is not flat against the fretboard but leaves a gap. can someone tell me if this is normal and if it is not, what should i do about it. i think it's messing with my tuning a little.
thanks for any help!


p.s. my uke is a pretty basic "Tanglewood" TU-4221. (i'm a beginner)





01-11-2009, 04:28 AM
If it's stuck tight and the intonation is good and it's not causing you any problems, while it's a bit unusual as far as my experience goes (which isn't that far), I wouldn't worry too much about it.

01-11-2009, 04:34 AM
I would think its more important from a sonic point of view that the nut be fully seated on the neck without gaps. Not too sure, but seated against the fretboard wouldnt hurt as well too.. more surface area of the nut contacting the neck/fretboard = good. Only, the gap shown can collect more dust and finger grime.. maybe you can crazy glue a thin hardwood shim in there to close up the gap?

01-11-2009, 04:54 AM
That's not normal. I would assume the intonation is off some. The nut may just have slipped back. Loosen your strings up and see if you can push it back against the fretboard.

You might have to get a small piece of cardboard to clean anything out of the gap if it doesn't seat. You can tell by the pics that bot the neck and fretbord are fitted for the nut. Nuts are Lightly glued. I mean like a tiny little dab of Elmers glue to keep it from slipping around.

Don't use superglue as it may make it difficult to remove the nut, if need be later, without damaging the nut, fretboard or neck.

01-11-2009, 05:10 AM
thanks for your replies.
the nut is slightly triangular so when i push it fully flush with the fretboard, the other side of the nut comes up. because the neck curves away slightly.
the photo shows what i mean more clearly. i was taken as my finger pushed the nut to be flush with the fretboard.
pretty weird isn't it? whats the best solution? if i were to glue it to be flush with fretboard i would need a triangular piece of wood to tuck under the nut..


01-11-2009, 05:28 AM
Shim the nut and you should be good.

E-Lo Roberts
01-11-2009, 05:31 AM
Twig, hate to say it, but judging from the last photo you posted, that is just poor workmanship. In my opinion, the fretboard was glued to close to the headstock leaving an insufficent amount of area for the nut to sit flat. The results is that the butt end of the nut is hanging over into the angled area of the headstock. OR, as some earlier photos show, the end of the fretboard is not cut at a 90 degree angle. Therefore it is not perpendicular to the top (or the nut). Perhaps this is the real problem and not that the fretboard was glued on wrong. If you were to cut the end of the fretboard to 90 degrees, perhaps it would be enough to allow the nut to sit flat. But this is a guess. You would have to see if it throws off the intonation and that this indeed was the correct factory mistake.

Hopefully when they glued the bridge on they did so from checking the distance from the nut to the bridge first. If they did then the intonation should be true up the fretboard (if the fretboard was indeed glued up wrong). If not, then they simply applied the bridge at a pre-choosen position on the body. This would throw the intonation off since the fretboard is glued slightly off.

Best you could hope for is that they just didn't get the 90 degree angle cut right and that everything else is where it's suppose to be. This would be an easy fix. You'll have to put your detective hat on for a while to find the correct solution...

PS. Those are some great close up shots. What camera are you using?? Thanks, e.lo..

...good luck...e.lo......

01-11-2009, 06:16 AM
Never heard of that manufacturer before but it wouldnt hurt to contact them to see what they can do for you...

01-11-2009, 06:39 AM
I wouldn't glue anything just yet.I'd ask the manufacturer for another nut and in the mean time see if you can sand/file the nut to make it fit flush.Check the intonation after doing this to be sure that wasn't affected.

01-11-2009, 09:19 AM

If you look in the last picture of your first post, the problem is not the nut, its the fretboard.

Personally, trash that instrument, and get a new one. Its issues like this that will cost more to PROPERLY repair, than the instrument is worth. But, since you asked. . .

If the intonation is correct, then you should replace the fretboard, cut with a proper angle at the end of course.
If your intonation is off, and gets correct when you push the nut up, then you should replace the fretboard. OR, you can replace the nut, cut with angles to match the neck and the end of the fretboard.

There are a number of guys that will tell you to shim, both nuts and saddles. Personally, shimming is the first part of the fix - its only to find out where you need to go, then you go and do the whole thing over from the beginning (meaning, shaping the nut from scratch).

BTW, your slots need to be addressed as well.

Caveat - I am talking about doing things that an upper end would have done (or shouldn't have to). In the end, its a cheap instrument, leave it, play it, and be happy (and see the Uke Minutes video on buying an instrument).


01-11-2009, 10:33 AM
thanks mucho for your comments everyone.
E-Lo Roberts: camera is a canon powershot sd700. i took the last photo with macro.

Kekani: i agree. i think it's the fretboard perhaps glued a little too high up.
i'll ask in the shop when i get a moment to go in there (duke of uke in london).
It is a beginner model so it's fair enough that something would suck about it, though it does have a pretty decent sound. i'll just keep with it for a year or so then get a better instrument. this one will be fine for travelling around and getting bumped/knocked.

thanks again for your help everyone!

01-11-2009, 10:51 AM
Actually, I didn't say your F/B is glued up too high - its cut at the wrong angle, for that instrument. Of course, MOST instruments are cut at 90 degrees.

01-12-2009, 09:01 PM
If this had been my post, it would have had a picture of me at the top of my ukulele, listening for the cellphone ringtone that I'm too old to hear... ;)