Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hofner Colorama II restoration project (part 15) - making a new nut

The old nut on our Hofner Colorama II was in a terrible state. It was too shallow and had a piece of card underneath it in order to raise it up. Additionally the bottom was not flat.

Here it is:

I have no reason to trust this nut at all, so I'm not going to use it as a template for the new one.

So here I am sanding a new piece of bone down to the right thickness using a piece of coarse sandpaper set on a flat surface:

Then cutting the bone to length:

Here I’m checking it fits nicely into the nut slot:

Before I can continue, I need to make up a new half pencil, since I appear to have misplaced my old one.

So we take a normal pencil:

Slice it down the middle (watch your fingers):

Superglue the lead into place (optional, but I find it a good idea, since there’s nothing really holding the lead in place at this stage):

Remove superglued finger from pencil (again, optional):

Sand pencil flat:

And then I usually put some Sellotape (Scotch tape) along the bottom of the pencil to stop from getting carbon all over everything.

Next I draw a line along the new nut, using the frets as a guide:

I like to then draw a second line a little higher as a kind of secondary guide, so I fit something nice and slim under the pencil and draw another line, as follows:

Then I sand the nut down to very close to the higher line:

Mark the position of the slots using my nut slot guide template thingy:

Then file the nut slots using nut files. I file down to somewhere between the two lines, trying to make sure I end up with the same distance from the BOTTOM of the slots to the lower line. Also I file at a slight downward angle so that the slots will be lower at the end closer to the tuners. This ensures that the strings make contact at the very front of the nut.

The idea is to get them as close as possible to the lower line without going over. Once you do that, you’ve gone too far. I prefer a little bit of a buffer, since I can always remove more material from the bottom of the nut if it’s too high, but once I go too low, it’s time to make a new nut.

I then round off the back of the nut a little and polish it up using various grades of sandpaper. And here’s the final result:

Compared to the old nut, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a bit of an improvement:


Jon said...

This is incredible, I love following projects like this. I think I read through your entire blog while at the office today. I just bought a Squier Strat replica from a friend for $20 and I was looking for tips on how to care for and tune up a neglected guitar. This was much more interesting than what I expected to come across. Again, nice work.

stu said...

Thanks, Jon. Your comments mean a lot.

Steve Vegas said...

Stu, I'm spellbound I've just read through the first 15 posts without stopping. Really truly amazing work you've done on this guitar.

Anonymous said...

See here you are again saving me time and money. Do you think this would work with brass. Thanks again

stu said...

Yes, absolutely! In fact, I've been meaning to do a post about making a brass nut for some time now.

Anonymous said...

This is very good work on that old Hofner. Lots of good info, thanks!

Chris said...

Great tutorial, thanks. Found this post while searching for a nut slotting template - is yours commonly available? Download link?

stu said...

Hey Chris, thanks. Mine came with the nut files. Search through Google for "string spacing template" or something like that. Email me on if you're having difficulties.