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Hey everyone,

EDIT: I started this thread asking about nuts for classical guitars but I now need some more general setup advice.

I'm setting up one of those Yamaha Guitaleles. It's a nylon string with a super short scale. My question is about the bridge and its adjustment. The fretboard radius is totally flat...so shouldn't my saddle be flat as well? I'm asking because the stock saddle had a raised bass end that sloped downward towards the treble end. I'm going for super low action here though.

Thanks guys, and here's my original post if anyone wants to chime in...


I'm upgrading the nut on one of my guitars. It's actually a Guitalele...a nylon string instrument. On most of the classical nylon string guitars I've seen, the nut tends to look a little different than normal nuts on steel string instruments. The main difference I've noticed is the string slots...they have a deep appearance with much more material on both sides of the string, causing the majority of the string to sit within the slot.

The general design that I use, and most others seem to use as well, has the string slots cut at a height so that 50% of the string is in the slot and 50% is out on top, clear of the slot walls.

Is there any reason not to follow this same design for a nylon string situation?

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Classical nuts are nuts and I make mine the very same way that I would a steel string.

Some of what this includes is an obsession with getting that absolutely flush fit on the sides as if the nut was finished (and sanded) in place on the neck even though it's not.  I avoid the appearance of being "chunky" which is harder with more massive classical nuts.  Often we don't have much choice though in that the nut slot (fret board end not the individual string slots) are deeper.

We've often talked about the 50% proud thing and I would be interested in hearing Frank's take on this but so far we can trace it back to Dan E.  We don't subscribe to it though for a couple of reasons.  First it's more important to us to have the nut slots in terms of depth absolutely optimized for super easy playing and less impact on intonation because the strings don't have to be stretched as much if they are lower and fretted.

On existing instruments, repair jobs, if we went for 50% nut slot depth we would have to remove the nut every time and reshape it to get that 50% thing.  We also believe and know a player or two that can unseat a string because of how heavy handed they play if there is not more depth than 50%.  It's rare but it happens.

You can most certainly follow the design if you wish and it makes a great looking and performing nut.  Classical players are less likely to be jamming away Townshend style to Pinball Wizard and knock a string out of a slot than the steel string crowd.  You could cut yourself some slack though and go deeper than 50%.  So long as the slots are cut well, no sitar sound, wide enough to not bind but not too wide, and shaped as need be, not a fan of V shaped slots, that's more important in my view than the 50% thing.

Frank do you know who started the 50% proud nut slot thing?  Dave and I would really like to know if it was Dan.  Don't get us wrong Dan's a great friend we just are wondering where this started AND it does make a great nut in our opinion as well.

Yes, the top of the saddle should be straight rather than arched. Since the bass strings have a greater excursion when they vibrate, they need a little more space (higher action). This is why typically classical guitars and ukes have slanted saddles- taller on the bass side.
I should have said some ukes. I have set ukes up for players who use a low 4th string, and a little more height is useful there.

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