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rodmbds 10-23-2017 02:32 PM

Nut shim up
Hi there, I've just posted a thread here about filling up a worn nut, but I've come across anitger of doing it, which is shimming up from the bottom of the nut.

I thought that's a great idea, less messy than super glue and baking soda or bone dust.

Thing is, now, what materials are good for shimming up a nut? I've read about using a business card, masking tape or acetate (from transparency stuff).

Initially I thought the acetate would be the most discreet one. I like the shimming idea but don't know if it would look kinda "scruffy" when seeing it from the sides.

What do you guys think? Thanks

fazool 10-23-2017 02:36 PM

I use matching wood such as mahogany and make thin shims. Then I flatten and level th nut slot and lightly glue the shim in to act as a solid base.

rodmbds 10-23-2017 03:27 PM

Neat. Sounds hard though, at least for my skills. Is it, say, noticeable?

srick 10-23-2017 05:57 PM

Frank Ford recommends a peel off white address label (or two). Stick it on the bottom of the nut and use an xacto knife to trim it. I have used this trick and cannot hear any changes in tone or volume. And, it's invisible.



rodmbds 10-23-2017 06:54 PM

Thanks rick, i did some more searching and also found this idea, which sound good and easy to do. Could you post a pic to see how it looks like?

Pardon me, I hope I'm not asking something like "who's Michael Jordan" but, who's Frank ford? Thanks

mirwa 10-23-2017 07:02 PM

Careful when removing a nut, most times they are glued down, you can damage the headstock finish, or neck finish if not removed carefully.


srick 10-23-2017 07:33 PM


Originally Posted by rodmbds (Post 5514795)
Thanks rick, i did some more searching and also found this idea, which sound good and easy to do. Could you post a pic to see how it looks like?

Pardon me, I hope I'm not asking something like "who's Michael Jordan" but, who's Frank ford? Thanks

I may not get a chance to post a picture, but rest assured, it can't be seen.

Frank is the co-founder of Gryphon Strings and the owner of the website. Mention his name to most any contemporary luthier and you will likely get a nice lttle ramble about how they met Frank and his wisdom. I've never met Frank, but I'll bet he would love being compared to Michael Jordan!

He checks into AGF regularly, especially this section.

Also, Rod, it's a very easy fix and easily reversible... Put on the label and see what you think!


Ps: I once asked Dana Bourgeois a fairly convoluted question about strings and string tension on my guitar. He looked slightly annoyed, but shared this bit of wisdom, "Why don't you experiment and see how it sounds?" Great advice!

rodmbds 10-24-2017 11:37 AM

Great, thanks for taking the time to write the reply. I'll definitely check him out and try the label thing. Thanks again

Frank Ford 10-24-2017 12:04 PM

Michael Jordan?
I do turn up here fairly often, and as a matter of fact yesterday I spent some time with a reply to this topic only to wake up this morning to see it gone. Musta forgot to "submit."

Anyhoo, as to who I am, well, I'm sometimes requested in the shop here as in, "I want to talk to the old guy with so many strong opinions," or some such.

Some 20 years ago I started FRETS.COM and one of the first articles I posted there was on shimming nuts with mailing labels, a technique I've used successfully for half a century (almost) Here it is with apology for the small photo from the days of dialup and sub megapixel cameras:

rodmbds 10-24-2017 04:29 PM

Frank, thanks a lot for taking the time to reply. And also thanks Rick for mentioning him!

The link you sent is just what I needed. I'm gonna give that a go for sure.

Frank, I'd also like you strong opinions (as you said :) ) about another thread, it'd be great if you could say something about it:

And I'll go through some more articles in meanwhile.


Hot Vibrato 10-28-2017 11:18 AM

I've just learned that I've been doing it the hard way for the 22 years I've been in the repair business. I've always used a matching wood veneer (with the grain the same direction as the neck) or bone - either of which I still believe is preferable to paper if the nut's more than just a little low.

It's not that I hadn't considered using some sort of paper to shim a nut, but I somehow assumed that it might be unprofessional to do so. But now that I have Frank Ford's permission, that changes everything!

And honestly, I hadn't ever considered gluing in a nut with thin CA with the strings still on (a tip from the article mentioned above). Thanks Frank!

StevenL 12-06-2017 11:50 PM

Just did the mailing label thing with the nut on my Guild. Luthier had cut it just a tad too low. I had read this thread a while back and found some labels. String change tonight. Nut off, label in, nut on, buzz free.

While I had the nut off, I sanded the top down so that the strings weren't buried in the slot like Luthier had it done and carefully widened the slots a hair and smoothed them out. Some were pretty jagged. Good grief. $40 for this.

Joy = well set up nut. :D

Thanks Frank for the tip and others for bringing it up here.

Moocheng 12-07-2017 03:29 PM

the way I've done it in the past is to glue a piece of veneer to the bottom of the nut then carefully trim round it with a sharp knife. If the nut turns out to be too high you can sand down the veneer on a flat surface.

Its less intrusive than gluing a veneer in the nut slot

redir 12-07-2017 07:31 PM

I normally just use mahogany shims that I get from edge binding for furniture making. It comes in huge rolls. I think I have 100ft of it. But I also use it to make purflings too. I'm not one to argue with Frank, and I'm not really, but I like wood. And when I tell customers that, 'It's the same wood the neck is made out of' they really like it. ;)

If the nut id finished in then definitively try filling the slots. I have one personal experiment going with a baking soda slot fill on one of my guitars going on ten years now with no problems. I like to use bone dust but I don't have a problem with the baking soda fill either.

Ned Milburn 12-08-2017 07:22 AM

Two options...

Use a bit of bone glued to bottom of nut w/ super glue. Then, thin and shape the extra piece of bone to match, and leave it so you know your nut slots will be too high. Then re-install and re-cut nut slots.

Second, this one I learned from J.Arnold on this forum (if memory serves...). Rather than super-glue/bone dust/baking soda mix, cut square slots deeper into the nut slots, glue some bone splints into these slots, then re-cut these slots.

Or just make a new nut... (3rd option)

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