Nylon nut

archey

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2010
Messages
1,529
Reaction score
2,188
I was thinking about using nylon as nut material for a guitar that I'm working on. It isn't a les paul, so I'm not worried about doing it for the sake of vintage accuracy. I've been reading about how hard it is. The guitar in question has a tremolo, so I'd like to use a hard and slick material that is wear resistant. In your experience is nylon better than other materials, or is the extra work not worth the payoff?
 

Roxy13

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
9,458
Reaction score
25,523
I haven't done a nut yet, but dang just notching some nylon bridge saddles kind of shocked me! You wouldn't think it would be harder to do than various metals lol, but it was!
 

cmjohnson

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
2,237
Reaction score
1,713
Just don't do it. Nylon is too soft. The strings will embed in it, particularly the wound strings will, causing sticking and tuning problems.

Use Tusq nuts. You'll be glad you did.
 

LtDave32

Desert Star Guitars
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
43,001
Reaction score
142,236
I was thinking about using nylon as nut material for a guitar that I'm working on. It isn't a les paul, so I'm not worried about doing it for the sake of vintage accuracy. I've been reading about how hard it is. The guitar in question has a tremolo, so I'd like to use a hard and slick material that is wear resistant. In your experience is nylon better than other materials, or is the extra work not worth the payoff?
Nylon is self-lubricating. Great stuff.

You can get bars of it 3/16" by 1" (perfect for nut making) on Amazon. Not that expensive.

Know this about Nylon 6/6 nut making; it does NOT file well. Not at all. It just laughs at nut files.

But it does cut with saws.

I have a gauged set of saws from Stew Mac. They are actually a good deal there.

Nylon 6/6 will cut like butter with saws. Then you use abrasive pull cord and some nut files to clean up the slots.

It will sand, and it will polish well.

But it does not file. Don't even waste your time trying to slot it with files.
 

LtDave32

Desert Star Guitars
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
43,001
Reaction score
142,236
Just don't do it. Nylon is too soft. The strings will embed in it, particularly the wound strings will, causing sticking and tuning problems.

Use Tusq nuts. You'll be glad you did.

No, the strings do not imbed in it. I use Nylon 6/6 on all my builds as standard, and it works perfectly well. The strings will not stick to it, and it causes no tuning problems.
 

valvetoneman

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
1,627
Reaction score
1,326
I agree with Dave, i make more nylon nuts than anything else but i use a belt sander to get it as close as possible before cutting slots, I've got toothed nut files, normal nut files are useless
 

cmjohnson

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
2,237
Reaction score
1,713
I've certainly seen guitars with nylon nuts that had definitely had embedding problems. Look in the wound string grooves and you can see the winding impressions.

I wouldn't say it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.
 

strayedstrater

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2014
Messages
156
Reaction score
207
I've certainly seen guitars with nylon nuts that had definitely had embedding problems. Look in the wound string grooves and you can see the winding impressions.

I wouldn't say it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.
I bought an old guitar with a bone nut. First string change I noticed deep winding impressions in the low E slot. Was surprised that it didn't have tuning problems.

Inspired me to stick my tongue on it to check if it was really bone or plastic.

I've seen shallow winding impressions in a couple of brass nuts, that also didn't have tuning problems.

So I'm thinking that if you've encountered nylon slots with impressions that were causing tuning problems that went away after you cleaned up the slots (or replaced the nut), maybe the slots were pinching or angled wrong and that's what you actually fixed.
 

LtDave32

Desert Star Guitars
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
43,001
Reaction score
142,236
I've had nothing but success with my Nylon 6/6 nuts. I also offer the service of people sending me their existing guitar nuts made from other material, and I will cut, fit and polish a Nylon 6/6 nut to match their existing one.

Never had a problem nor a comeback. I fail to see how a guitar string can do any damage to something which a file won't even cut.

Gibson uses Nylon 4/6 for years and years as a nut material, but the manufacturing process of the chemicals that make it up had issues regarding health and safety so the material is no longer manufactured. They would injection-mold the nuts with the slots already in them, then polish the slots for the final fit. Nylon 6/6 is only slightly softer, but that makes it even tougher and more wear-resistant.
 

cmjohnson

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
2,237
Reaction score
1,713
I'll just note that there are many formulations of nylon and I'm sure that at some point, softer formulations have been used for nuts, even though it isn't a good idea.

I prefer Tusq in any event. If I put a nut on a guitar, it's Tusq.
 

NotScott

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
3,254
Reaction score
7,920
Amy tips on final finishing and polishing a nylon nut? I had a nylon blank reluctantly installed on my 335 after my former tech tried to convince me to use some other material. When I got it back, it was cut well but he didn't really spend any time on a final polish. He just kept complaining about how much work it was for him to install it and that he should have charged me double. :laugh2:
 

archey

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2010
Messages
1,529
Reaction score
2,188
I've had nothing but success with my Nylon 6/6 nuts. I also offer the service of people sending me their existing guitar nuts made from other material, and I will cut, fit and polish a Nylon 6/6 nut to match their existing one.

Never had a problem nor a comeback. I fail to see how a guitar string can do any damage to something which a file won't even cut.

Gibson uses Nylon 4/6 for years and years as a nut material, but the manufacturing process of the chemicals that make it up had issues regarding health and safety so the material is no longer manufactured. They would injection-mold the nuts with the slots already in them, then polish the slots for the final fit. Nylon 6/6 is only slightly softer, but that makes it even tougher and more wear-resistant.
Do you feel like there is any difference in tone between nylon and bone?
 
  • Like
Reactions: E.X

LtDave32

Desert Star Guitars
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
43,001
Reaction score
142,236
Amy tips on final finishing and polishing a nylon nut? I had a nylon blank reluctantly installed on my 335 after my former tech tried to convince me to use some other material. When I got it back, it was cut well but he didn't really spend any time on a final polish. He just kept complaining about how much work it was for him to install it and that he should have charged me double. :laugh2:
Simple. Go through the sandpaper grits; 400, 600, 800, dry.

You'll wind up with this:

20191203_130330.jpg


"He just kept complaining about how much work it was for him to install it and that he should have charged me double. :laugh2:"

Hahaa, yeah.. it's tough stuff. Cutting a bone or Corian nut is a dream by comparison.

But they don't last nearly as long. I had to replace the factory bone nut on my J-185 acoustic that had worn down due to so many string changes over 15 years. I used bone on that to keep it original.
 

NotScott

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
3,254
Reaction score
7,920
Simple. Go through the sandpaper grits; 400, 600, 800, dry.

You'll wind up with this:

View attachment 495987

"He just kept complaining about how much work it was for him to install it and that he should have charged me double. :laugh2:"

Hahaa, yeah.. it's tough stuff. Cutting a bone or Corian nut is a dream by comparison.

But they don't last nearly as long. I had to replace the factory bone nut on my J-185 acoustic that had worn down due to so many string changes over 15 years. I used bone on that to keep it original.
Thank you sir. That is exactly how I want it to look.
 

LtDave32

Desert Star Guitars
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
43,001
Reaction score
142,236
Do you feel like there is any difference in tone between nylon and bone?
On an electric? No. 1959 Les Pauls sounded pretty damn good with them.

On an acoustic, bone saddle is more of a factor than a nut.

I remember when a brass nut was all the rage. Soon as you fret a string, that brass doesn't matter. People seem to forget that as soon as a string is fretted, the nut is out of play. No longer a significant factor.

However, a bridge saddle is constantly a factor with regards to tone.
 

LtDave32

Desert Star Guitars
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
43,001
Reaction score
142,236
Thank you sir. That is exactly how I want it to look.
Bear in mind that is before I took the abrasive pull-cord to it. the slots are still a bit "hairy".

That's the part that the Nylon just laughs at with a file. However if you get in there with some abrasive paper or abrasive cord, it will smooth right up and remove the "hairs".

It polishes up well. It gives a sort of pearl-like soft shine.
 

archey

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2010
Messages
1,529
Reaction score
2,188
On an electric? No. 1959 Les Pauls sounded pretty damn good with them.

On an acoustic, bone saddle is more of a factor than a nut.

I remember when a brass nut was all the rage. Soon as you fret a string, that brass doesn't matter. People seem to forget that as soon as a string is fretted, the nut is out of play. No longer a significant factor.

However, a bridge saddle is constantly a factor with regards to tone.
I like brass nuts myself. I think the goal is to find a nut material that mimics the tone of the string hit open to the string fretted.
 

NotScott

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
3,254
Reaction score
7,920
Bear in mind that is before I took the abrasive pull-cord to it. the slots are still a bit "hairy".

That's the part that the Nylon just laughs at with a file. However if you get in there with some abrasive paper or abrasive cord, it will smooth right up and remove the "hairs".

It polishes up well. It gives a sort of pearl-like soft shine.
Understood.

The slots are fine. He did a good job with the spacing and depth. I just had to touch up the G and D slots for a bit of grabbing. No biggie though.

I have seen how they polish up on vintage guitars and on my Historic Makeovers, which is why I was disappointed with the final finish on this guitar.
 

LtDave32

Desert Star Guitars
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
43,001
Reaction score
142,236
Funny he wouldn't hit the nut with some fine papers. I polishes up in a matter of a few minutes.

For me, clearly the easiest part of the job it the final polishing.

Nylon 6/6 will cut like butter with a saw. You have to watch it, because you can go too low in a fraction of a second.

Nut files work to clean up the slot "somewhat". You'll be there all day trying to deepen the slot with the common Hosco - style nut file. Really odd that it cleans right up with abrasives and not files. Like I said; it just laughs at files.

So I draw a "do not cross" line. You can draw on Nylon 6/6 by scuffing the face of it with sandpaper and then using a pencil.

After I get the saw as close as I can (wearing magnifying glasses) to the line drawn, I finish up with abrasives.
 


Latest Threads



Top