Do I have a nut problem?

UkingViking

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I wondered if there was anything to do to rase the playing of my Cort ukulele, which rather small frets, and so I decided to look at the action at the nut. Not something I have ever done before.

Does this look off to you guys?
DSC_1124.jpg

Also, a lot of people suggest that you should not see day light between the first fret and the string when held at the third fret. Which I can see. But when pressing near the third fret, should the second fret prevent the string from reaching the first?

Just a setup noob asking for guidance.
 

eclipsme

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I don't think you can tell anything from the photo. As a rough guide, you can slip a credit card under the strings. the strings should just touch the card at the 0 fret. If significantly higher than yes, the action at the nut is too high.
I have always thought that when pressing on the 3rd fret, there should still be some clearance in the 1st. Not a lot, but some. Others may want to comment as well...
 

anthonyg

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Yes the photo isn't telling us much.
Do the strings feel too high above the frets?
 

warndt

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I suggest you see a doctor if it is painful, or if it is enlarged. Good luck!
 

Graham Greenbag

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I wondered if there was anything to do to rase the playing of my Cort ukulele, which rather small frets, and so I decided to look at the action at the nut. Not something I have ever done before.

Does this look off to you guys?

Also, a lot of people suggest that you should not see day light between the first fret and the string when held at the third fret. Which I can see. But when pressing near the third fret, should the second fret prevent the string from reaching the first?

Just a setup noob asking for guidance.

I’ve set up maybe two dozen Ukes and the the whole lot looks wrong to me. The slots are too big and I would like to measure the strings to just check that they are installed in the correct order. The nut doesn’t appear to be level, it might still function but it’s meant to be level and it might not be properly seated in its slot.

I set my string heights by measuring them above the first fret, I aim to be just over 0.5 mm above the first fret. Other people might use the string depressed method. Yes, in that method, the the second fret should prevent the string from reaching the first fret.

I can’t recommend that a totally unskilled person tackles this work on a Cort (they are a bit too pricey for that). Either have someone who does know what to do sort this out for you - which could be expensive - or buy a cheap second hand instrument to learn on (an old painted Mahalo U30 can often be had for very little and is a great Uke to learn such skills on, typically they still have their original clear nylon strings on them and have never been set-up.). You might well still need further skills before starting on the Cort, but every journey has to start somewhere. The Cort has some similarities to my Ohana, I couldn’t have tacked that without learning on other stuff first.

Good luck.
 
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badhabits

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Like GG says, that nut looks wonky, crooked. That's the first thing I noticed, but what matters is string height. The headstock almost looks a little twisted slightly left to my eye, but that is probably distortion from the angle, camera/lens and whatever is on the other side of the nut on the right. Was the uke ever set up? Has it been exposed to low/high humidity?
 

UkingViking

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I don't think you can tell anything from the photo. As a rough guide, you can slip a credit card under the strings. the strings should just touch the card at the 0 fret. If significantly higher than yes, the action at the nut is too high.
I have always thought that when pressing on the 3rd fret, there should still be some clearance in the 1st. Not a lot, but some. Others may want to comment as well...

You can only tell that the nut looks wonky. A credit card without indentions doesnt quite touch the strings at the nut (no zero fret), but will be held in place between strings and first fret.

Yes the photo isn't telling us much.
Do the strings feel too high above the frets?

Not sure how high they should feel, but I suspect it might be the case. About 1 mm at the first fret.

I suggest you see a doctor if it is painful, or if it is enlarged. Good luck!

The squirrel who lives nearby has a third kind of nut problem. He keeps telling himself that he can stop any time, but he cant...

I’ve set up maybe two dozen Ukes and the the whole lot looks wrong to me. The slots are too big and I would like to measure the strings to just check that they are installed in the correct order. The nut doesn’t appear to be level, it might still function but it’s meant to be level and it might not be properly seated in its slot.

I set my string heights by measuring them above the first fret, I aim to be just over 0.5 mm above the first fret. Other people might use the string depressed method. Yes, in that method, the the second fret should prevent the string from reaching the first fret.

I can’t recommend that a totally unskilled person tackles this work on a Cort (they are a bit too pricey for that). Either have someone who does know what to do sort this out for you - which could be expensive - or buy a cheap second hand instrument to learn on (an old painted Mahalo U30 can often be had for very little and is a great Uke to learn such skills on, typically they still have their original clear nylon strings on them and have never been set-up.). You might well still need further skills before starting on the Cort, but every journey has to start somewhere. The Cort has some similarities to my Ohana, I couldn’t have tacked that without learning on other stuff first.

Good luck.

The nut is indeed not level, that is why I posted the photo. The slots in the high end are deeper though, so it can still function. There is no gap between the nut and the neck.
I believe I stringed in the correct order, but I am about to change the strings anyway. They are starting to have what looks like shavings come off by the frets.
If 0.5 mm above the first fret is the way to go, taking 0.2-0.3 mm off might ease the playability. I think it is 0.9 mm now, hard to see with a ruler.

So to the dilemma - spend as much as the instrument cost to see a luthier, buy some expensive nutfiles and risk ruining the instrument, let is be as it is, or something third.
I doubt I am going to modify enough nuts for it to make sense to buy practice parts.
 

UkingViking

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Like GG says, that nut looks wonky, crooked. That's the first thing I noticed, but what matters is string height. The headstock almost looks a little twisted slightly left to my eye, but that is probably distortion from the angle, camera/lens and whatever is on the other side of the nut on the right. Was the uke ever set up? Has it been exposed to low/high humidity?

The headstock is rather even, its the groove for the nut that is not the same depth in the two sides. You see the leather string form the strap to the right.
I have never set it up myself/seen it set up. It is from the Southern Ukulele Store, I am not sure how much they do.
I dont recall any extreme humidities, I live in a clima where that is rarely a problem.

Now I look at it, it seems that the action of the g string is at least 3 mm at the 12th fret, perhaps I should begin by looking at that while restringing.
 

Graham Greenbag

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As it is from the reputable and specialist dealer that you mention then I’d be inclined to contact them and express dissatisfaction. They used to (IIRC) claim to set-up every instrument before despatch and in my opinion yours fails both set-up inspection and basic QU observation (by even just a semi-skilled eye). It’s been as it is now since new and IMHO it is not fit for purpose and not to the standards of their reputation. To be fair stuff slips past even the best of suppliers and that might just be the case here - unintended stuff happens but good companies put their errors right.

The above is just my perspective or opinion. Why not supply them with photos and talk to them? Obviously (well I hope that it is) do not restring the Uke until after the nut issue is resolved.
 
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UkingViking

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As it is from the reputable and specialist dealer that you mention then I’d be inclined to contact them and express dissatisfaction. They used to (IIRC) claim to set-up every instrument before despatch and in my opinion yours fails both set-up inspection and basic QU observation (by even just a semi-skilled eye). It’s been as it is now since new and IMHO it is not fit for purpose and not to the standards of their reputation. To be fair stuff slips past even the best of suppliers and that might just be the case here - unintended stuff happens but good companies put their errors right.

The above is just my perspective or opinion. Why not supply them with photos and talk to them? Obviously (well I hope that it is) do not restring the Uke until after the nut issue is resolved.

Well, the things is that I had this uke for 4 years and changed strings several times without ever noticing the non-level nut.
I only scrutinized the nut now because I read that action at the nut has something to say about playability when the frets are rather low.
I really just thought that I didnt have the dexterity for low frets.
Not sure how low action I want on it after all, since I intend to use for some clawhammer inspired playing.
 

Graham Greenbag

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Well, the things is that I had this uke for 4 years and changed strings several times without ever noticing the non-level nut.
I only scrutinized the nut now because I read that action at the nut has something to say about playability when the frets are rather low.
I really just thought that I didnt have the dexterity for low frets.
Not sure how low action I want on it after all, since I intend to use for some clawhammer inspired playing.

At the end of the day it’s your instrument and your choices. Four years is a long time after purchase and I’m inclined to think that you’re well out of any guarantee period, but you might choose to contact the supplier anyway. If you’ve lived with the situation this long then ‘as is’ arguably meets your needs. I wouldn’t be happy and would alter things but, as they say, YMMV.
 
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UkingViking

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I am inclined to mail order extra nut and saddle, and a set of cheap nut files, to experiment.
To get a level nut I will need to either cut in the neck or file the back side of a nut to compensate for the uneven groove. I am more inclined to do the latter.
Perhaps Ill start out lovering the bridge and filing a bit on the highest nut slot, keeping the new set as backup.
 
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badhabits

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I think that nut was likely created "level" or even, so before you cut or file anything you might make sure it is seated properly (no glob of glue underneath) and that the "slot" or "groove" for it was cut level. on the topside, if the slots for strings are too deep you can fill with a ca/superglue mix are reslot.
 

UkingViking

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I am shopping for spare parts, and notice that the spare nuts I can find only are alle 5mm wide, while the nuts on my Cort (and my vintage Kamaka for that case) er both 3mm wide.

Are 3 mm wide nuts just saddles that have been sawn to the right with and sanded into shape?
 

Graham Greenbag

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I am shopping for spare parts, and notice that the spare nuts I can find only are alle 5mm wide, while the nuts on my Cort (and my vintage Kamaka for that case) er both 3mm wide.

Are 3 mm wide nuts just saddles that have been sawn to the right with and sanded into shape?
I wouldn’t like to say for sure but on one of my Ukes I used a bone saddle blank to make a replacement nut, it slotted into the neck/headstock just fine.
 

rustydusty

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As someone else has mentioned, it looks like the grooves in the nut are level. I would be tempted to just file the top of the nut until the grooves look even... I would also measure the depth of the nut at both ends to see if the slot was machined at an angle...