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Nut Files


Tej
 Tej
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@rocknroller912 You answered a previous question around nut files but I couldn’t find it. Do you know what tolerance is generally acceptable for nut files, as in if I want a slot for an .008 gauge string would you use a 0.016 file etc, that kind of thing? Ultimately I want to get the nut slots spot on and I have guitars which I use sets of 8-38, 9-42 and 10-46 sets of strings on. All standard varieties of Ernie ball slinky’s, extra, super and regular.

Nut files are crazy expensive so wondering if I could get away with buying one set, specifically there is a set of Hosco ones with these sizes 016"/.042", .026"/.050", .036"/.055"

Any thoughts and advice appreciated!?

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Rocknroller912
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@tej

I can’t remember my previous comment but you have thrown me a bit as I always work in mm, however I’ve got my head around inches after some thinking. 

The set I use is 0.4, 0.6, 0.8 and 1.0 mm. I use these for everything from violins up to the thickest guitar strings. Lots of people think that you have to have the exact size for the gauge of string you are fitting, but it’s possible to use a smaller gauge of file to make a wider slot.

Start with making a mark at 90 deg and then turn the file 45 deg either side to make it wider. Rub some soft pencil in the slot and slide a string backwards and forwards. When all the pencil rubs away evenly then the slot will fit the string. I keep old sets of strings for this.

The smallest Hosco size of .016 looks a bit big for your .008 string but I don’t use anything as small as that as I only play acoustic. Think you should get some more opinions from electric players before making a purchase but perhaps you could get this set and add an individual smaller size.

Some people call me a tool, others are less complimentary. Tools being useful things.


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Tej
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@rocknroller912 thanks, for what it’s worth the use of imperial measurement was solely down to the strings and files being measured that way!

Thinking about it the .008 set is on a guitar with a floating bridge and lock nut so it’s utterly irrelevant! So smallest I would need is for a 0.009. I’ll see what others have to say too. Appreciate your advice and good to know that I don’t “need” a specific file per gauge string.

…on an elaborate journey to turn trees into music.


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Rocknroller912
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@tej 

There is a site in Portugal that sells individual Hosco nut files and there is a .009”” one at €19.50. Still pricey but none of these tools are cheap.

They should sell without the VAT or collect and pass on to UK Govt, but you might be lucky and get away with none. I did from Germany earlier in the year.

https://guitarsandwoods.com/index.php?route=product/search&search=Hosco&sub_category=true&description=true

This post was modified 1 month ago by Rocknroller912

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Tej
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@rocknroller912 thanks, I’ve also found a different set, still from hosco but sizes 010"/.026", .013"/.036", .017"/.046" which are probably a better selection! I’m presuming here that there’s really no issue using a 0.010” file for a 0.009” string!!

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Koendb
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Posted by: @tej

I’m presuming here that there’s really no issue using a 0.010” file for a 0.009” string!!

Not at all! @tej. you can use any nut file that is roughly in the same ballpark. you just need a slot that keeps the string in the slot and leaves just enough back and forth wiggle room.

Unfortunately nut files are rather expensive. I do think they are quite indispensable.
Luckily , its a one time investment.


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mark bailey
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Posted by: @tej

@rocknroller912 thanks, I’ve also found a different set, still from hosco but sizes 010"/.026", .013"/.036", .017"/.046" which are probably a better selection! I’m presuming here that there’s really no issue using a 0.010” file for a 0.009” string!!

This set is for electric guitars - the previous set you mentioned looked like the acoustic set.

It is very handy to have both eventually...

You can use a file that is slightly too small by rotating the file as you work to widen the slot.

Make sure the string is not too tight and binding in the slot...

Measure twice, cut once...


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Tej
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Thanks all, went with the .010 set, not likely to get to building an acoustic for a long while yet so certainly no point in the larger ones.

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Rocknroller912
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Tej

Glad you are sorted now

Some people call me a tool, others are less complimentary. Tools being useful things.


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mattbeels
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Nut files are funny things @tej

I like the double edge files. Two sizes each with a handle and they have a V shape which helps to open up the top of the string slot, they suck for a PRS nut though.

Keep in mind that these types of files are not perfectly straight nor are they exactly the size stated. I would love to see a double edge nut file that actually measures 0.10”!

With regards to size, the slot needs to be a bit wider than the string or it will bind. This isn’t much of a problem as we are filing the slots by hand so when using a 0.36” for example you’ll end up with a slot that’s probably 0.40” and it will be just fine. 

The double edge files are thinner at the tip and get a bit wider towards the handle so they are pretty versatile.

The single sized files come in many more sizes and have their place, a PRS nut for example. With this type you can get a 10 (even 8 and 9) but these small sizes are very flexible and break quite easily so you need to either file with a pull stroke or make or buy a file backer.

I have several of both styles and that’s what I get for being a repair guy. You get to go broke buying all the tools needed for every application!

Pratice on scrap...


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mattbeels
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Boo
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Posted by: @mattbeels

I like the double edge files. Two sizes each with a handle and they have a V shape which helps to open up the top of the string slot, they suck for a PRS nut though.

Keep in mind that these types of files are not perfectly straight nor are they exactly the size stated. I would love to see a double edge nut file that actually measures 0.10”!

With regards to size, the slot needs to be a bit wider than the string or it will bind. This isn’t much of a problem as we are filing the slots by hand so when using a 0.36” for example you’ll end up with a slot that’s probably 0.40” and it will be just fine. 

The double edge files are thinner at the tip and get a bit wider towards the handle so they are pretty versatile.

The single sized files come in many more sizes and have their place, a PRS nut for example. With this type you can get a 10 (even 8 and 9) but these small sizes are very flexible and break quite easily so you need to either file with a pull stroke or make or buy a file backer.

@mattbeels Wow, you really know your nuts. This is an area I am lacking in practice and knowledge. It’s probably for the reason you stated in that nut files are so expensive and you need so many different sizes. Being a guitar builder, most of the time I’m fitting brand new nuts and hoping for the best. I don’t think I’ve done the perfect setup yet, it’s an area I need to improve on for sure. Thanks for the info. 👍

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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Boo
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I think @markbailey should do a “nut making, setup and maintenance course”. I think making a nut from a blank is an art in itself and should be explored further. 

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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