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Thread: Measurements for a bowlback nut?

  1. #1
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    Default Measurements for a bowlback nut?

    I'm restoring a Washburn "New Model" 1890s bowlback Mandolin. Its gone well, and I could use your suggestions about the nut. Not a luthier, but am able to do precision work.

    The G# D# A# and F notes on the first fret don't fret cleanly, but all other frets do. [The fretboard and frets were in bad shape and I had a curved fretboard with large frets installed.] The nut on the instrument looks like ivory with badly measured & badly cut string grooves. I'd like to sand the top of the nut down to the bottom of the string grooves.

    Here are various approximate measurements. The distance from the fingerboard to the bottom of the E string groove is ~.065". The distance from the fingerboard to the bottom of the G string groove is ~.085". The frets are .043" high. What is the optimum height of the nut and depth of the string grooves? An E string tuned to pitch is .055" above the .043" 12th fret. I know this is low, but arthritis is an issue for the person who will play this instrument. Will use ultra-light strings on it.

    Thanks for reading this essay :^) and I'm grateful for any suggestions you'd have.
    -- Thanks, Joel Glassman

  2. #2
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Measurements for a bowlback nut?

    The optimal height for any nut is "dead level with the frets", but in practice we leave a little extra in order to avoid going too low. As ever frets.com explains things perfectly: http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Musi...nutaction.html

    BTW if you're unable to fret the 1st fret cleanly that is usually a result of a overly high nut.

  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Measurements for a bowlback nut?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Glassman View Post
    The fretboard and frets were in bad shape and I had a curved fretboard with large frets installed.
    Hmmmm... I wonder how large the frets. My bowlbacks generally have very thin frets. See how you do on your own but otherwise bring it back to the person who made the fretboard to set up the nut properly. I assume by "curved" you mean radiused? That might also affect the nut as well.

    As for ultralight strings: you should always use lights at most and ultralights are preferred in general for vintage bowlbacks.
    Jim

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