Not something I’d recommend to everyone, but…
…as part of an ongoing series on mongrel/hybrid Strats, I’ve built a new Strat from parts to house all the cool little tricks and quirks I stumbled upon during the series. (Wait till you hear the “Obsessive/Compulsive Capacitance” tone control!) I’ll be doing a post on the guitar next week.
lazy slob perfectionist that I am, I usually take my instruments to my local guitar tech/genius Gary Brawer for setup work, especially for carving and fine-tuning the all-important nut. But feeling brave, I ordered a few blanks from Stewart MacDonald and tried making a nut from scratch.
Numerous times, actually.
The first attempt was, of course, an unmitigated disaster. The second one was a little better — I’d call it a mitigated disaster.
Only a poor craftsmen blames his tools, so I blamed my tools. I sprung for Stew-Mac’s Essential Nut Making Tool Kit, with all the proper files, saws, feeler gauges, and a nifty little vise. And it actually did help — thanks to some great instructions from the ever-reliable Dan Erlewine, which you can find here. (Understand that my workbench skills are a joke. I’m the kind of guy who grabs a screwdriver to pound a nail rather than take 30 seconds to fetch the…whatever the hell you’re supposed to use.)
Anyway, I saved a fortune! My new nut cost less than ten bucks — plus $200 in tools and about $2,000 in labor.
Am I bitter? No way! I learned a ton, and the next time I need a nut, whether it’s made by me or someone competent, I’ll have a much better idea what to go for. I kept comparing it to making one’s own shoes — not something most of us are dumb enough to try, but man, you’d sure learn a few things about the contours of your feet!
I’m not posting a pic of my work because it looks really nasty, and Gary Brawer might see it and laugh at me. But ugly as it looks, my third home-cut nut actually feels and sounds great. (BTW, I tried working with both real bone and the simulated stuff from Tusq. Both materials have their staunch advocates, but I can’t claim to perceive all that much difference in tone or workability.)
Anyone else tried this at home? (I’m not talking to you, pro luthiers — I mean regular people!)