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Nov 15, 2019 - 3:35:32 PM
11 posts since 9/18/2019

I have what appears to be a 1920's possibly Lange built banjo, similar to a Supertone, but not marked as such. The nut slots are cut so close together that it's difficult to play cleanly, and I'm thinking if I could move them apart it would greatly increase the playability of this banjo. I'm attaching a few pictures to illustrate. The existing slots are cut really deep as well, and the banjo has a higher than normal action, which doesn't necessarily bother me. I'm using red Nylgut strings and it feels and sounds good other than the strings being too close together. I'm trying to decide whether to try the baking soda and super glue trick and recut the slots, or try to take the nut out and replace it. Not sure if it's glued in but it wouldn't surprise me if it was. So what should I do?

Thank you for any tips or advice.




 

Nov 15, 2019 - 3:56:59 PM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14627 posts since 3/27/2004

That's just wrong!  wink

Bone is easy to work, I'd replace it.  It's usually pretty easy to break the glue bond by placing a block of wood against the nut face and giving it a few light taps.

I recently posted a pdf that works to set spacing equally and position the outer strings 1/8" from the fretboard edges.  A quick search should turn that up if you have need.  It removes any need for ciphering.  wink

I've also posted a guide for proper slot depth that also makes it easy to adjust the slot depth as low as possible without risking buzzing.

Edited by - rudy on 11/15/2019 15:58:25

Nov 15, 2019 - 3:59:54 PM

11 posts since 9/18/2019

Thanks Rudy I'll go look for it---

Jim

Nov 15, 2019 - 4:03:37 PM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14627 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Jimbo Banjo

Thanks Rudy I'll go look for it---

Jim


You can get bone nut blanks (and guitar saddle blanks) inexpensively from ebay.  The last time I got bone blank material it was something like $10 for a dozen nut blanks.

Here's the spacing guide...


Edited by - rudy on 11/15/2019 16:07:25

Nov 15, 2019 - 4:12:42 PM

11 posts since 9/18/2019

Thanks again, Rudy---

Nov 15, 2019 - 4:38:08 PM

SBPARK

USA

327 posts since 2/25/2011

Pay a luthier the $60-$75 to have a new nut cut and when you get it back it will be perfect. The Baking soda and glue technique is ok for an on the fly repair, or if you accidentally filed a nut slot a little too deep, but I wouldn't explore it to fill all four nut slots and start over. I'd just replace the nut and do it right.

Nov 15, 2019 - 4:40:17 PM

11 posts since 9/18/2019

I could do that but I don't know a good luthier here locally anymore (DC area) that works on banjos.

Nov 15, 2019 - 5:03:33 PM

6326 posts since 8/28/2013

I, too, would go with replacement. It's pretty difficult to fill nut slots without having the super glue run all over the things you don't wish to be glued, so you'd probably have to remove the old nut, anyway. Just tap it, as Rudy suggests, but you'll have to push it out from one end, as it sits in a groove on this particular banjo. Still pretty easy to do, though.

Nov 15, 2019 - 5:58:28 PM
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Alec Cramsie

Canada

296 posts since 2/4/2015

don't forget to go around the old nut with a sharp knife or exacto knife so the wood won't split on you!

Nov 15, 2019 - 6:29:45 PM

275 posts since 5/29/2015

You're banjo nut is set into a slot. To get these loose you often have to take a back saw and cut long ways down the middle of the nut. Then collapse the 2 sides together to pull the the nut out.

Nov 15, 2019 - 7:08:16 PM

11 posts since 9/18/2019

Great information, thank you all! I may start out getting a new nut about the right size and go from there. Don't want to remove the old one until I've got something to replace it with. I'm famous for destroying things I'm trying to fix, so I like to proceed with caution.

Nov 15, 2019 - 7:25:09 PM
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SBPARK

USA

327 posts since 2/25/2011

As others have said, if you're going to make the nut yourself cut it down the middle lengthwise, then squeeze it to collapse the nut inward. Also score along the edges first with an X-acto knife so you don't take a chunk of wood/finish with it. And whatever you do, don't try to knock out the nut going up and down, remove it going side to side.

It's great to learn and teach yourself how to make your own nuts, but be warned. For what I paid for the tools needed and all of the bone blanks I messed up during the learning process, I could have just had a luthier make me a new nut probably 10 times over!

Edited by - SBPARK on 11/15/2019 19:26:55

Nov 17, 2019 - 1:14:01 PM

Fathand

Canada

11514 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by SBPARK

It's great to learn and teach yourself how to make your own nuts, but be warned. For what I paid for the tools needed and all of the bone blanks I messed up during the learning process, I could have just had a luthier make me a new nut probably 10 times over!


I use a hacksaw and a $3 set of needle files. The needle files can be replaced by torch tip cleaners or feeler gauges with teeth filed into them. A belt sander also helps but you can use a sanding block. 

At about $1 per bone nut blank you can make a lot of practice nuts.

Nov 20, 2019 - 7:36:32 AM
Players Union Member

wizofos

USA

5267 posts since 8/19/2012

Jim, I suggest you consider a zero fret nut. Here is a link that discusses some of the various options. Know that Ken LeVan makes what he calls a Zipnut and he might be willing to cut the slots to your specific requests (I am not committing Ken to this, contact him).
There are several places you can purchase these so you only have to cut the slots to your specifications.

https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/335043

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