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Guitar Nuts


Guitar Nuts are Critical Replacement Parts. Cheap Electric Guitars and Vintage Guitars 

like the Telecaster will Play and Sound Better if the Correct Nut is Installed . . .




String nut at the top of the guitar neck is a critical part of the guitar's action, string spacing and sound.

Nuts are available in different materials, widths, heights and thickness. 

Materials range from Nylon, Resin (plastic), Graphite, Bone and more.

Each material has unique benefits.  Every once in a while a builder will defy
convention and use other materials, some successful, others not so much.


The biggest unconventional Guitar Nut success had to be on Danelectro guitars.  The company used Metal Nuts on most of their economy guitars.

Crudely finished with Predominantly huge gaping string slots.  The original Dano nuts were examples of what not to do building a guitar, but somehow it all worked marvelously.




Nut Measurements

Dimensions of the nut are critical for ease of playing and correct intonation. Using an acoustic guitar nut on an electric guitar is possible, but rarely ends in good results. Acoustic nuts are generally thicker, wider and taller.
  

The Nut thickness shouldn't be thicker or thinner than the Nut Slot.  Avoid adding or removing material in the Nut slot whenever possible.    

First, the width of the nut should be matched with the width of the neck / fingerboard.

Every guitar neck is not created equal. Telecasters alone had several incarnations of neck widths at the nut.  The width originally considered the "Standard" size is 1 5/8".  The modern preference is the 1 11/16".  Over the years  thin widths in the 1 1/2" range and wide at 1 3/4" can be found.

42mm width nuts are very popular because this size is between the 1 5/8" and 1 11/16" sizes




Another unique difference in Danelectro Guitar Nuts is the Width.  Dano Guitar Nuts were generally in the 44mm - 45mm range.  Massive compared to today's electric guitars.  But for someone buying their first electric guitar the feel of the neck seemed really natural and familiar.  That's because the neck width at the nut was the same as most Acoustic guitars of the time.







Here is the perfect example.  The Metal Nut on this neck was replaced with an acoustic guitar Nut.  Fit perfectly.




When trying to estimate measurement equivalents between Fractional Inches, Decimal Inches or Metric here is a Plumbing measurement comparison chart we use quite a bit.

For quickie measurement verification, this is our simple Go To Calculator for comparing Metric and U.S measurements

Input either the MM measurement to see the Inch equivalent and visa versa.






Nut Width 42mm vs. 43mm





42mm has become the standard size. Many modern guitars, especially Imports use this size.  Others use as low as 41mm ( A little Tight for medium to large hands).  The 42 is a great replacement or upgrade by spreading the strings slightly more on an existing 1 5/8" or 41mm neck.






Guitar Nut Availability

Interested in finding the best Guitar Nut for your next project?

Start the search at the Modern Vintage Guitar eBay Store.

43mm is negligibly wider than 1 11/16" and is the size on most claimed 1 11/16" necks. 
This size has become very popular and is the replacement on 43mm and 1 11/16" wide necks. 


But, a popular move has been replacing 42mm necks with this 43mm nut.  It spreads the string spacing comfortably at the nut side positions of the fret board.  the Caveat is the possibility of both "E" strings being too close to the edge for some players.  The nut ends usually have to be trimmed for a clean finish.

Comparing a 42mm and 43mm Guitar Nut side by side will show a slight difference in string spacing.  For those that are outraged by change, a millimeter is a tad over 1/32" spread across 6 strings.

Many players claim this slight difference increases playing comfort and execution,






Guitar Nut Radius

What is the NUT RADIUS?

This question comes up quite a bit.  MVG nuts are set up at approx. 12".  The final radius of strings going through a nut depends on a few  other factors. 

Flat Bottom vs. Curved Bottom: Our Nuts are All FLAT Bottom. So, be sure of the existing type before purchasing a replacement.

Note: Because of varying string gauges some acoustic and Jazz guitars use slanted bottom nuts to help compensate for string size variations and are usually thicker than most electric nuts.

String Gauge and slot depth are much bigger factors in radius at the nut than the physical top of the nut.

MVG nuts are slotted shallow and thin to allow for final depth and string thickness adjustments.  Nut material can always be taken away with a file, but putting it back is not an option


Example;

Using 9 gauge strings on a favorite 90's Strat with a 12" board, the 43mm nut went right in and played like nothing happened. (rather be lucky)  Odd string sets on other guitars using Skinny top / Heavy bottom strings required fret filing.

So, depending on the preferred setup (string height, string gauge) these nuts can be used on 12" radius down to 9 1/2", usually with some minor adjustment.

Be sure the Nut slot bottom on the neck is Flat, a curved slot will change everything.  Altering a flat bottom Nut to fit a curved slot would take a higher level of workmanship to match the curve.

MVG nuts are pre-slotted for optimum string performance and positive string contact.  The slots may need to be fine tuned depending on choice of string size. 






Nut Materials

We currently provide Nuts in three materials.  All have benefits to consider.  

The sound differences in nut material can mainly be heard on non-fretted open string tones.  When you fret a string, the nut material doesn't matter that much.

So then what is the big deal in choosing a new Nut?  It's in transition from fretted sound to the open string sound, that's where the difference can be heard.  

Materials like Brass and Wood used as Nuts can make the transition tone Very Bright (Brass) or Muted (wood).  

Optimum material hardness prevents the sound from being too Bright, yet has good wear quality. The materials chosen for our Nuts are known to be the best in transition tone 

Resin - These are the closest in hardness to the original Nylon Nuts used on the Early Gibson's and Fenders.  It has the least hardness of our three materials. Resin provides a warmer sound with nice sustaining quality making the open string tone slightly softer than fretted in transition.


Graphite - is the hardest of the 3 materials, which provides a desirable brighter sound in transition.  The real benefit is for Heavy Benders and on Tremolo guitars, because the Graphite actually lubricates the string slot allowing better return to tuning.
Note:  A Graphite compound is used for this nut


Bone - The optimum and most sought after materials are Ivory and Bone.  They are nearly identical in hardness, but elephants don't have to be killed for their Tusks when you use Bone.  

Bone's slippery feel provides a little less string snag when playing hard or tuning strings.  But the real plus is it's buttery smooth transition from fretted to open tone.  It is seamless and opens up a unique palette of transition tones.


Brass
- We've had numerous requests from builders to include Brass Guitar Nuts in our collection.  The claim is that this nut not only brightens up the sound, but also brings out shimmering harmonics.  As with other nuts, beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

Natural Brass Guitar Nuts             





So if you're looking for real Vintage tone.  Go with the Resin

Playing hard and power bending?  Graphite is the choice.

Seeking super bright harmonics? Possibly Brass will fit the bill.

Looking for the Holy Grail?  Can't help you.  But Bone will get you pretty close sonically.