Fretting directly onto a guitar neck is a great option to showcase the natural beauty of the wood you have chosen for your neck, rather than using a fretboard. However, this does make using a traditional nut a bit more challenging.
This article shows you one way you can install a bone (or hardwood) nut blank onto your fretted cigar box guitar neck.
Tools you will need:
Handsaw or File
Square or ruler
Determine the Location for the Nut
The first step is to determine where the nut is going to sit on the neck. This is determined by the scale-length of your instrument but it is usually placed right at the end of the head stock.
If you are using one of, the nut has already been marked out, making this step of the installation a breeze.
If you plan on fretting the neck after the installation of the nut, you will likely already have the correct spot placed for your nut relative to the scale-length that you have chosen for your guitar.
Draw an outline
Once you have determined the location and have drawn a line across your piece, place your bone nut blank so that it is flush with your position mark for the nut and trace a line on the other side.
Now using your square, mark a line about ⅛” down on both sides from the top of the neck. A little over or under is okay, as we are going to cut short of this mark. Connect your lines so that you have a basic outline of the channel that will house your nut.
Creating the Slot
Now, using your file, carefully start creating the cavity where your nut will sit. It is recommended that the dimensions of this slot be slightly smaller than your desired nut. It is easier to remove material than it is to correct too much taken out.
If you are using a saw, you will need to make several small cuts to the top of your 1/8″ line, one just inside each of the lines and then spaced regularly throughout the slot. The thinner you can make these pieces, the easier it will be in the future. This is easily done with a thin saw. From there, if you got the pieces small enough, you can break them and clean out with a file.
Check the Fit
Keep in mind that you will want a snug fit, so that the nut does not move around during playing, which will affect your intonation.
When the slot gets wide enough, check the fit often, making sure that your cut remains level, and that the channel doesn’t get too wide. If it does end up a little wider than you want, you can always use glue when installing the nut, to help snug it back up.
Thank you for reading this how-to article on installing a nut blank into a pre-fretted neck.
Have you used a bone nut with one of C. B. Gitty’s pre-fretted necks? How would you go about installing one? Let us know in the comments below!
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