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Thread: Wide Nut Question

  1. #1

    Default Wide Nut Question

    This may be a no brainer, but being an extreme novice mandolin builder, I thought I'd ask anyway.

    I have a mandolin with a wide nut (3/16) that I like. Is there anything more to it than just cutting the neck and fretboard wider?

    Is there any other consideration I need to know about?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Wide Nut Question

    If it's a flat fretboard, you just make it wider. If it's a radiused board, it's a little more complicated. Not much, though, especially if you sand the radius in after assembly as some folks do.
    The fretboard surface and angle + bridge height and location are the most geometrically critical parts of any stringed instrument (without those four things being right it won't function), so you'll be checking regularly to verify centerline, angle, and height as you go. It kind of all works out if you're paying attention and have planned ahead.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wide Nut Question

    My opinion:

    What is a "no brainer" is why all nut widths aren't 1 3/16ths as standard and "wide" is , wider.

    Anything less than 1 3/16ths ( in my world ) is absurdly narrow and unplayable.

    The effort to make a wider fingerboard over a 1 1/16th" (unplayable) as Eastman uses, or 1 1/8th", a Gibson standard, is inconsequential.

    Note that Radim plays 1 1/4 " and wider. And a few other pros play wider ( over 1 3/16ths)

    YMMV

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Wide Nut Question

    [QUOTE=Marty Jacobson;1705765]If it's a flat fretboard, you just make it wider. If it's a radiused board, it's a little more complicated. Not much, though, especially if you sand the radius in after assembly as some folks do.
    The fretboard surface and angle + bridge height and location are the most geometrically critical parts of any stringed instrument (without those four things being right it won't function), so you'll be checking regularly to verify centerline, angle, and height as you go. It kind of all works out if you're paying attention and have planned ahead.[/QUOTE

    I am addressing just the width right now. I've got a radiused fretboard from Stewmac. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that I should find centerline, measure out from there on each side equally to achieve 1- 3/16, and parallel the edges to the fretboard blank. Does that sound right?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Wide Nut Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Rdeane View Post

    I am addressing just the width right now. I've got a radiused fretboard from Stewmac. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that I should find centerline, measure out from there on each side equally to achieve 1- 3/16, and parallel the edges to the fretboard blank. Does that sound right?
    Theoretically correct. But I would leave the board [and possibly the neck] a millimeter or two wide. Let the board overlap the neck slightly on either side until after you glue them together. This will allow for any inaccuracy in the alignment in the gluing process. Scrape or sand to final width after the glue has set. If you don't do this and something is a little bit off, you might end up with a neck and board that's narrower than you intended.

    Sometimes things slide slightly out of line during the gluing process, even if you use alignment pins. Glue is slippery.
    The final sanding will also narrow the neck slightly.

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  8. #6
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    Default Re: Wide Nut Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    My opinion:

    What is a "no brainer" is why all nut widths aren't 1 3/16ths as standard and "wide" is , wider.

    Anything less than 1 3/16ths ( in my world ) is absurdly narrow and unplayable.

    The effort to make a wider fingerboard over a 1 1/16th" (unplayable) as Eastman uses, or 1 1/8th", a Gibson standard, is inconsequential.

    Note that Radim plays 1 1/4 " and wider. And a few other pros play wider ( over 1 3/16ths)

    YMMV
    I have a mandolin with a 1 1/4" nut, but I prefer narrower. If the neck is very shallow and small I can do 1 3/16's, but I prefer 1 1/8". Not everyone has hands that are large, and not all of us are large people.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  9. #7

    Default Re: Wide Nut Question

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Theoretically correct. But I would leave the board [and possibly the neck] a millimeter or two wide. Let the board overlap the neck slightly on either side until after you glue them together. This will allow for any inaccuracy in the alignment in the gluing process. Scrape or sand to final width after the glue has set. If you don't do this and something is a little bit off, you might end up with a neck and board that's narrower than you intended.

    Sometimes things slide slightly out of line during the gluing process, even if you use alignment pins. Glue is slippery.
    The final sanding will also narrow the neck slightly.
    Personally, I like to make the fretboard as precisely as possible, then trim the neck to fit the fretboard. This is what you have to do if using a bound fretboard, which I don't do, but it's many less variables to control than trying to make the neck precisely. Also, I like to install frets before attaching the fretboard, and so that's a factor as well. I want to keep all the risk away from the main instrument until as late in the process as possible.

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  11. #8
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    Default Re: Wide Nut Question

    Marty has a good point. My experience is as a repairman rather than building from scratch, so my perspective was from replacing a fretboard on an existing neck. I'd go with Marty's advice on this one.

  12. #9

    Default Re: Wide Nut Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    My opinion:.........
    Anything less than 1 3/16ths ( in my world ) is absurdly narrow and unplayable.
    YMMV
    It’s a bigger world than that. The last 150 years shows that.
    Play it like you mean it.

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