I am wondering if there is an accepted oversize dimension for nut slot withs on steel stringed instruments (i.e. banjo, guitar). To accommodate players that might use heavier stings (and to relieve the luthier from buying every slot file under the sun), is there an acceptable oversize criterion? For example, for a nominal .011 string, is a .013 slot OK? .015? .017? What about wound strings? This would be for new bone nut blanks. Any thoughts would be appreciated. ... Mark

Tags: fret, nut, slots, slotting.

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It’s not critical. Obviously if the slots are too narrow there will be tuning issues as the string binds. If they are too oversized it looks stupid. Within those limits the string will sit happily at the bottom of the slot.

Greg Mirken

Hi Mark, I do what Greg suggests, but also pay attention to correct slot depth to guard against sticking strings in the slots.


plenty of latitude on angled-back headstocks, like my .038" file for acoustic D strings and electric A strings will work fine on anything from .036" to .032"; the down angle will hold the string to the middle of the slot as long as said slot has a rounded bottom 

it's when you're dealing with fender's straight-out headstocks and their shallow angles that you might need to worry about the string slots not being too much bigger than the string size, otherwise the string can bounce around in the slot and create a weird "fuzzy" sound on the open notes


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