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Nov 16, 2019 - 4:42:18 PM
248 posts since 3/28/2013

I have a Recording King O-25 that I've been playing with Nylguts for over a year. I love the sound and the way it plays, but... I've never widened the slots on the nut.

The strings have never seemed to give me a problem because of that, but I've been wondering if I should file the nut slots, particularly the 4th string slot. The (unwound) string seems to almost sit up on top of the nut, not cradled within the groove, and I didn't know if that was maybe affecting the sound or playability in a negative way. I mean heck, even when things are good, they can always (well sometimes) get better, right? The action is good right now and I don't want to take a chance on bringing it down too low and getting buzz.

Any thoughts out there?

Edited by - RevSpyder on 11/16/2019 16:45:51

Nov 16, 2019 - 6:07:09 PM

10475 posts since 10/27/2006

Nylguts will tear if nicked — similar to cutting glass by scratching it first.

If you use nut slotting files or have it done, the rounded bottom will accommodate narrower metal strings without buzzing.

Nov 16, 2019 - 6:12:11 PM

3724 posts since 10/13/2005
Online Now

Since I have more time than either brains or money, I just use folded sandpaper.... Do use the "Q" to the left of this page and type in how to file nuts/bridges correctly. banjered

Nov 17, 2019 - 2:34:39 PM
Players Union Member



1262 posts since 2/3/2012

Acetylene torch tip cleaners are low cost and come in lots of sizes.  I have one that's .042 that would work for the thick 4th string.

When I went back to Aquila's, I took R.D. Lunceford's advice and used a wound Pro Arte nylon core J4604 D 4th hard tension silverplated wound string (.030") for the fourth string on two banjos and that's worked well. 

Nov 17, 2019 - 3:08:18 PM
like this

4752 posts since 5/14/2007

Well, my thinking is, if it ain't broke, why fix it? If it has worked for you for over a year as is, I'd leave it alone.

Nov 17, 2019 - 3:11:08 PM
like this

9105 posts since 2/22/2007

I recently switched one from steel to Nylgut and had a string or two jumping out of the bridge if I got too enthusiastic, so gave a few light passes with a set of torch cleaners on both the bridge and the nut and that helped the situation. But you said---" I love the sound and the way it plays"----- two things come to mind. One is "don't go looking for trouble" and the other starts "If it's not broke-----"

Nov 17, 2019 - 3:57:46 PM

248 posts since 3/28/2013

John, Banjo Bill-e -- love it. I was just putting it out there to see if maybe things could be even better. And I've never had a problem with any of the strings jumping off their slot, so I guess I'm good to go! And thanks to everyone else with the helpful technical details. I appreciate y'all!

Nov 18, 2019 - 10:22:18 AM

70409 posts since 5/9/2007

I always precisely fit the notches in the nut and bridge with StewMac slotting saws.
I make the slot at least .002" wider than the strings.

Nov 19, 2019 - 12:19:14 PM

1896 posts since 2/7/2008

Originally posted by RV6

Acetylene torch tip cleaners are low cost and come in lots of sizes.  I have one that's .042 that would work for the thick 4th string.



This great suggestion is an amazingly inexpensive solution to widening existing slots.

Nov 20, 2019 - 8:03:27 AM

794 posts since 3/23/2006

Here's another vote for torch tip cleaners. Cheap and effective. I have one banjo on which I switch between nylgut and steel, and for that banjo I have two sets of nuts and bridges, one with wider slots for nylgut and another with narrower slots for steel.

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