Bone nut.... too good for slide?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by 5F6-A, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    I have a great tele style guitar with buttery, super low action and sweet bone nut cut and installed by a fantastic local luthier. However, I want it primarily to play slide guitar in open tuning. With such low action I have to play slide with a lot more finesse that I'm used to / expected as the low nut kinds of make the guitar a bit vulnerable to rough-and-ready slide noises with the occasional choking of notes. :(

    This is the nut:
    [​IMG]

    Should I have a new nut installed or revise my technique? I know that some players get away with low action when playing slide but I guess I need to practice more.... BTW rising the action at the bridge makes very little difference, especially at the first 5 frets, whilst making it too high at the 'dusty end'.

    What do yo think?
     
  2. T00DEEPBLUE

    T00DEEPBLUE Senior Member

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    The reason you're having problems is because your guitar looks totally unplayable.

    It looks like your fantastic local luthier majorly botched the nut slots. They're all far too low. the low E string is literally resting on the frets, and all the other strings are not far behind it. How do you not get dead notes absolutely everywhere?

    How much neck relief is there? What is the action set to at the 12th fret?

    Either way, you need to take the guitar back to whoever put that nut in and tell them to do it again at no extra cost.
     
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  3. LeftyF2003

    LeftyF2003 Premium Member

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    Agreed - that's crazy low. I'd knock that nut out and install a new one. For slide the stock nut slots already cut into a replacement nut should work for you.
     
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  4. charlie chitlins

    charlie chitlins Senior Member

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  5. tzd

    tzd Senior Member

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  6. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    Actually, the guy is a genius. He is well-known for the custom bass guitars and regular guitars that he builds with terrific low action. Yes, granted, low action maybe not the best for slide playing but the guitar is totally playable and the action after a few tweaks is now 2/32” at the 12th / 17th fret. When he actually first handed it back to me, the action was below that mark and the guitar played perfectly in all positions.

    I have been trying to adapt my technique slightly for a few hours now, and if I’m careful, there is no buzzing or choking of strings and transition from fingering notes to sliding is fairly easy. I am tempted to leave it as it is, get one of those stewmac extension nuts just in case, but work on improving my technique. The luthier made clear that ultimately, it’s up to me how the guitar plays. If I find it too difficult, I would let him know and probably take it back for a new nut to be installed.
     
  7. LeftyF2003

    LeftyF2003 Premium Member

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    Personally I can't play a guitar with action that low. Trying to bend is awful.
     
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  8. T00DEEPBLUE

    T00DEEPBLUE Senior Member

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    I suggest raising your 12th fret action to at least 3/64".

    1/64" at the 12th fret is just far too low. Plucking the frets with anything but the teeniest, tiniest amount of force is going to cause a ton of fret buzz. Even if the frets were flawlessly level, the fretboard radius is going to wholly prevent you from bending to any degree without constantly fretting out on every single fret and kill all of your sustain. How you're supposed to play expressively like that is a headscratcher to me.

    You need to give the strings some degree of space to vibrate. It doesn't matter how brilliant the luthier is, he cannot defy the laws of physics.
     
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  9. hbucker

    hbucker Senior Member

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    You're original question has nothing to do with it being a bone nut or not. Any nut material can work with slide as long as the action is set high enough.

    I'm glad you like your guitar for conventional playing, but you touched on the issue here, slide requires slightly higher action. I might recommend using one of your other guitars that is set up specifically for slide with a little conventional playing on the side.
     
  10. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    Thanks for your reply. Maybe I didn't make myself clear. The current action at 12th fret is 2/32" (ie 0.062 inches) not 1/64" ( 0.015 inches). Even your suggested minimum of 3/64" or 0.047 inches is lower that what I have now.
     
  11. T00DEEPBLUE

    T00DEEPBLUE Senior Member

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    2/32" is 4/64", which is a little higher than what I consider a minimum. But okay.
     
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  12. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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  13. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    I found this...

     
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  14. moreles

    moreles Senior Member

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    Ignore the numbers. If it plays well and doesn't fret out, you have a guitar that has been set up to incredible tolerances and some players -- those who love low action -- would kill for that. As long as the nut is cut so the strings don't buzz on the first fret, it's fine. Period. The rest of the action is a product of bridge/saddle height and neck relief. But -- big but -- few to no slide players want super low, fast action. So either jack up the bridge/saddles and perhaps install one of those slide guitar nuts that simply slip over the present nut. However, if you mix slide with regular picking, as many do, then you may well want a slightly higher nut and sacrifice the "shred" setup for cleaner sliding with no fret-banging.
     
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