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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 2:14 pm 
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Hi all, thought I might try my first post to this forum. Haven't scored an Electra yet, but recently got a sibling to it, a 1983 Vantage Entertainer VE-550. I've been trying to salvage the nut that came on it, but now want to get a new nut. I found two on eBay that I think might work, but the measurements are off a little bit, and I'm wondering if the collected wisdom here could tell me if it's within tolerance so worth the effort to try:

The nut on the guitar now measures:
- Length: 1 11/16 inches,
- E to E length: 1 5/16 inches,
- Height: 5/16 inches,
- Width: 1/4 inches

One new nut I'm considering buying, and installing myself, is a Graphtech Slotted Trem Nut (for Gison 6010), but here are the measurement differences:
- 1/32 inch longer than mine,
- 1/64 less wide than mine,
- 1/32 more height than mine,
and perhaps most important:
- 3/64 more E to E length than mine

The other new nut is a Tusq Epiphone Slotted nut with siimilar measurements, the big difference being even 1/64 more E to E length than the Trem nut, E to E 1 3/8

So my basic questions are:
1.Will 3/64 inch more E to E length pose a problem? If no, is 4/64 inch more E to E still acceptable (the Tusq nut looks like ivory, while the Trem nut is black, so aesthetically I prefer the Tusq nut look if will work spec wise)
2.Is the 1/32 more height of the new nut a concern?
3.Perhaps I could reduce the height with sandpaper maybe 600 grit, laid flat, then slowly rubbing nut bottom back and forth to remove material and thereby reduce height?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 3:34 pm 
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You are absolutely right about sanding it down- that's the way to do it.

All the measurements you mention are a concern- the closer you can get, the better.

What's wrong with the old nut? Cracked/ corners broken, that sort of thing?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 7:21 pm 
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The nut did have a cracked off corner when I got the guitar, which I did a fairly successful job of filling in with glue and baking powder. But what lingers is how worn down the string grooves are, particularly the top E and B, and today I decided the G is too low as well.

Strings aren't so low that they touch the fretwire, but are so much lower than on my other guitars that they feel a little strange when fingering at the first and second frets. I tried getting used to it for a few sessions, but it just kept feeling like there wasn't enough tension response when fingering especially the top E and B. So, I did the quick fix of putting a small folded piece of paper under the top E and B strings, and that kept me happy for a few playings. But today I noticed that B string is a little higher than the G, coming off the nut, and the B string feels sort of right on at its current height. So, I thought, I either need to put some folded paper under the G as well at the nut, or finally give up on this nut and put a new one on.

And actually my thought was to do the E and B over again as well, if and when I do the G, and use thicker paper stock to start with, like card stock, rather than the small square of printer paper I used the first time, and work the small card stock piece in there with tweezers rather than just fingers and string pressure. But I got disheartened when I thought that any sort of paper in there might be robbing the string of some vibration sound?

I sent my question off to one of the eBay sellers of those nuts I mentioned above. He was nice enough to write back today to tell me that the extra 3/64 of an inch on the E to E length measurement would likely cause a problem. So, I guess my next moves are somthing like stiffer under the G, as well as top E and B, OR, call my favorite guitar tech and see if he'll make a nut and install for me. I've seen that the nut files needed to make my own nut are a bit pricey, so if getting a nut made is less than that, I'll likely choose that route, since the nuts on my other guitars are all fine.

But I'm open to any and all suggestions, or even just thoughts on this topic.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 8:28 pm 
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have you tried adjusting the truss rod?

a little relief in the neck (i.e. a little bow) will raise the action on the lower frets. if the neck is too straight, you may get buzz there.

try loosening the truss rod an eighth of a turn at a time and see if it helps. You'll likely have to adjust the bridge height after doing so.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:54 pm 
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Thanks for the advice X189. I've never adjusted a truss rod before, but it would be interesting to take the truss rod cover off, and see if any of my current tools would allow me to try that 1/8 inch turn, counter-clockwise I assume to loosen it. I will read up in it online before attempting it.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:05 am 
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exactly. It's not hard to do. the two mistakes people make are overtightening it and trying to tighten it while the strings are under full tension (risk of stripping the threads). Loosening is pretty safe.

Before I'd adjust the truss rod I'd definitely sight along the neck to see it's straight or has a slight relief.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:53 am 
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Location: Iowa, USA
You can use the strings as a basic guide to neck relief as well. Hold down the low E at the first fret and the fret where the neck meets the body, and check for a gap at around the 7th fret or so - basically where the gap is at it's most. That'll give a decent idea how much relief you have. Hopefully, you don't see the string touching the frets (reverse bow), although, that's usually easily fixed with a truss rod adjustment as well....

http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/trussrods.htm


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:31 pm 
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Very cool advice Redeye, and X189. 'Bout time I got more familiar with determining neck relief, and possible need for corrective truss rod adjustments. Will look into that, and report back what I find.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:26 pm 
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I tried the bottom E string test, fretted at the first fret and at the fret where the neck joins the body. I sighted at the 7th fret, and saw that the E string was not touching the fret wire. There seemed to be an ever so slight amount of light inbetween E string and the fretwire, I'd guessing it to be like 1 mm. Does that test indicate that the neck relief on that VE-550 is pretty good as is, and so don't try adjusting the neck relief?

I did check into the price for having my local luthier make a new nut for me. Corian would be around $45, and bone or Trem nut would be around $50. Any experienced opinions on what material might make the best nut for a VE-550?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:14 pm 
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Are you trying to match the original? (what was the original?)

or are you trying to get the best nut for your custom preference, which means- how do you play? clean or distorted? bright or dark? Supposedly different nut materials conduct sound differently. Brass for example is very hard, so it gives a very bright jazzy tone.

But... what I would like someone to explain to me is, ok, I understand how the nut affects tone for an open string. But how doe it matter when the string is being fretted? wouldn't the material of the fets- steel, nickel, brass- take over?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:40 pm 
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X189, per your comment, I have to agree with where you're going with the question. Per nut material having any effect on the sound being produced by the string, it seems correct to me to say that the string must be played open, because once you finger that string at any fret, it could only be from that fret on to bridge that the string is vibrating. Of course the one exception would be those guitarists who actually pluck at strings *above* the fretted area, but those notes die so quickly that any nut material benefit might be too small to notice. I think Little Wing must have some notes played like that?

It just occured to me that I could try a different tack. Since my main concern is raising the action a little bit for the top E, B, and G strings, I could try removing the current nut and putting a small strip of paper underneath the nut itself, more towards the top of the nut. Hypothetically I think it would work, but the reality is I don't know if that nut would survive another removal, as it looks like it was knocked off once already (by the damaged corner) and turned around to suit a lefty (by the strap lock hole on the lower bout), and then at some point the nut got turned back around again to make it righty, as I got her. Anyhow, just a thought...


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 Post subject: spacers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 1:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:45 am
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Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Spacers are used by alot of luthiers but getting a new bone from stew-mac and fitting to your necks is not that hard go slow and tape off other areas, I can not explain it but a good bone nut makes a big difference ???


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