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Thread: nut compensation

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    New Hampshire USA
    Posts
    16

    Default nut compensation

    Hi everyone. I'm new to the forum, and working on my first ukulele build. I normally build classical guitars, and have a dear friend who is a ukulele player, and decided to build one for them. To get a better feel for the instrument I'm building, I picked up one, and have been teaching myself to play. Great fun. It also helps to have one on hand to take measurements from.

    I am more or less using the same guitar build methods, but scaled down to make a tenor thats like a mini version of a classical guitar. On guitars I compensate both the saddle and nut. I have seen a bit on this forum about saddle compensation, but not too much on nut compensation. On a guitar, I usually move the nut towards the bridge by about one mm, and then grind little shelves on the nut to allow different compensation for each string.

    I have a vague recollection of reading a ukulele luthier saying he compensates the nut by making the distance from the nut to the first fret the same as the distance from the first fret to the second fret. For a 17 inch scale I calculate this to be about a 1.3mm compensation applied to all strings. Is this a common practice? Can you share your methods?
    Thanks
    Scott

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Yakima, WA
    Posts
    1,625

    Default

    Is it common practice, no. Do what works for you. Welcome to the forum.

    QUOTE=DelSc;1812955]Hi everyone. I'm new to the forum, and working on my first ukulele build. I normally build classical guitars, and have a dear friend who is a ukulele player, and decided to build one for them. To get a better feel for the instrument I'm building, I picked up one, and have been teaching myself to play. Great fun. It also helps to have one on hand to take measurements from.

    I am more or less using the same guitar build methods, but scaled down to make a tenor thats like a mini version of a classical guitar. On guitars I compensate both the saddle and nut. I have seen a bit on this forum about saddle compensation, but not too much on nut compensation. On a guitar, I usually move the nut towards the bridge by about one mm, and then grind little shelves on the nut to allow different compensation for each string.

    I have a vague recollection of reading a ukulele luthier saying he compensates the nut by making the distance from the nut to the first fret the same as the distance from the first fret to the second fret. For a 17 inch scale I calculate this to be about a 1.3mm compensation applied to all strings. Is this a common practice? Can you share your methods?
    Thanks
    Scott[/QUOTE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.
    Posts
    1,746

    Default

    No its not common practice to compensate the nuts on ukuleles, yet I just corrected the intonation on many of my ukuleles by fitting a matchstick (2mm) up against the nut, correcting the intonation. So, nut compensation works so go right ahead and do what you do.

    I'm not a builder, but I will suggest to you that you need to build a ukulele light. VERY light. Something that bugs ukulele aficionados is that guitar builders make ukuleles far to heavy when they simply downsize their guitars. GO light.

    Anthony

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    29

    Default

    I'm not a builder, but I will suggest to you that you need to build a ukulele light. VERY light. Something that bugs ukulele aficionados is that guitar builders make ukuleles far to heavy when they simply downsize their guitars. GO light.

    Anthony
    In researching for my first build, I ran into this sentiment a lot. A ukulele is not simply a scaled down guitar. You don't need a truss system for one thing, and the bracing and soundboard should be much lighter.

    I'd be curious to find out if many uke builders actually plan for nut compensation. It sounds to me like some use it if they need to sharpen intonation and have run out of room to do so at the saddle.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    787

    Default

    I have played several ukuleles that could benefit from a compensated nut. The short scale length accentuates intonation issues in the first few frets.
    Thou Shalt Not.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    New Hampshire USA
    Posts
    16

    Default

    So I found the article with the comment on nut compensation. It was in the winter 2015 GAL journal "American Lutherie" and a builder named Michael DaSilva made the comment about making 0 to 1 the same distance as 1 to 2 to compensate. I was wondering if others used this method or had another method they used. I like the matchstick idea, that is ingenious.

    Thanks for all the comments on building lighter too. The string tension seems pretty low, so I wasn't going to bother with neck reinforcement, and used solid linings to save weight. I reduced thicknesses and bracing to try and account for the smaller size and lower tension, but it still seems a little stiff to my hands. Im using a cedar top thats .080" thick, which is thinner than what I would use on a nylon string guitar, but the soundboard still feels a little stiff. I may sand the lower bout a little

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Posts
    100

    Default

    I do use nut compensation on my steel string harp ukuleles, and it makes a big difference. Nylons don't need it so much, but it is still a small improvement.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    New Hampshire USA
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Thanks for all the comments. It sounds like its not as much of an issue as with guitars, so I may just shorten the 0 to 1 spacing a little and not worry about intonating individual strings at the nut.

  9. #9

    Default

    After binding the fretboard I take off the excess binding with a disk sander. This ends up taking a little off the nut end of the board giving some compensation.
    Michael Smith
    Goat Rock Ukulele
    www.goatrockukulele.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Posts
    2,605

    Default

    When you cut a fret board, the nut is actually already 0.0012" closer- which is half the width of the fret slot (which are usually about 0.0024")- this plus touching up on the disk sander is enough for me on any instrument, not that ive tried the other way which might be better and i just don't know it.

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