So my parts arrived today, which is really surprising since I only ordered them yesterday, but hey, I live in the same state as CBGitty so it isn't that weird.
I've open the box and spread it out on my workbench, read the printed instructions and Fear and Doubt set in. (No "Loathing" so I'm good here.)
I've got a nice Padauk fretted fretboard and I'm staring at it, thinking, what do I do now? I've just spent the last hour googling and reading and it seems that there are a million options. That's cool. I like building stuff so yeah, lets go.
But then I start overthinking it. The distance from the nut to the first fret is critical. My basic instructions just have a cool threaded rod for a nut and hey, measure from the nut to the other part and draw the lines where the frets should be.
But I have frets already! How am I going to make all the distances work out so that the intonation is correct?
I'm not sure what scale Gitty's kits are, but I think they are 25", if so, counting from the end where the frets are farthest apart, go to the 12th fret, from there measure back 12 1/2" , and that is where the string contact point for your nut should be. i've posted a link to a fret calculator, which should help you calculate if the scale is in fact 25" or not-------------https://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator
Oh man, that sounds easy!
Wow, I must seriously underthink it. I don't measure, I just put on strings, eyeball where the I think bridge should go, then tune up the strings with a chromatic tuner app on my phone. Then, using the tuner, I adjust the bridge for good intonation. I say good intonation because perfect intonation isn't really possible with a threaded rod but you can get really close.
To check and adjust intonation:
1) Tune up all your strings to your desired tuning.
2) Play your lowest (thickest) string open. It should be in tune, if not tune it up to pitch.
3) Play the same sting at the 12th fret. If it's in tune, then you've used up your luck for the day, don't bother buying a lottery ticket. Otherwise...
a) If the note on the 12th fret is too high (sharp), it means the length of the string is too short, so you need to lengthen the string by moving the bridge away from the nut.
b) If the note on the 12th fret is too low (flat), it means the length of the string is too long, so you need to shorten the string by moving the bridge towards the nut.
4) Repeat step 3 until the open note and fretted note are the same.
5) Now do the same for your highest (thinnest) string. Try to keep the end of the bridge that is under the thickest sting from moving while you move the end under the thinnest string.
6) Now go back and forth between the two stings getting the intonation as close as you can.
Your bridge will end up being slightly angled with the thicker strings slightly longer than the thinner strings. The intonation on your inner string(s), between the strings you used for adjusting the bridge, can't really be adjusted on a threaded rod but it should be really close.
And that's a great way to adjust/confirm. Thanks!
Ha! After taking the time to write that I realized you were asking about nut placement.
No worries, that was the next question I would have!
Ah yes, I'm sorry, I had that part in my head. I have the "standard" threaded rod from the cbgitty kit, so I will have to trim some. I just couldn't figure out how much to trim. Now I know.
I'm also thinking of replacing the threaded rod with copper water pipe, suitable aged of course, and notch for the strings. I'm making a darker looking CBG so I think that that would look good.
So I'll just have to measure carefully...
Thanks! That diagram makes it easy to see how the nut changes the intonation and the action.
Compensated nuts are included in the diagram cause they are a real thing...but its quite the endeavor.
If you have mis-cut the nut slot to 1st fret, it is an option to fix it with an overlap or recess top nut. even more work is individually compensating each string at the nut (do a google image search)
You put in an overlap nut like the 3rd one, set the bridge intonation using the 1st and 13th frets instead of open & 12, then start shaving back the takeoff point at the nut one string at a time to get open 1st and 12th to match the bridge, some will still overlap, some might recess like the 4th pic.
I would ditch the bolt unless it is a fretless, but that is just how I do it. I cut a groove with my small pull saw and a couple of files where the nut position is and use a nail instead. Doesn't need to be a thick one. It's a similar concept to zero fretting. It only needs to sit a little higher than the first fret. After that as long as the break angle is right then the intonation should be good. It's way easier. Just move the bridge around until it sounds right.
I just use templates, but if you are on a budget and all those .0 somethings don't frustrate you, then use a fret calculator. What I did was take the measurements of my acoustic. It worked okay, but I was a little off. I mainly use the 25.5 scale. But now I am getting ready for a variety, and I may just have to measure and use the right ruler. I wouldn't sweat it too much. My first git was trashed. The second was a fretless, but I took the measurements of my acoustic and imbedded copper rods where the frets would be and filed them down. That git was awesome, and I should have never given it away. But, everything was in the right place and you could not beat the sound. Now it is in some jerks storage container that wasn't the friend I thought.
My third git I messed up a little getting the measurements off a guitar, but I wasn't a master fretter yet and my saw was slipping and the sun was in my eyes. I would say make it as easy and fun as possible. It's a guitar made out of a cigar box. Heck, I have a tradition where when I use a certain box, I smoke the cigar of that box. Gives me an excuse to blow more than I should on a cigar. Have fun with it however it can be fun for you, and have fun playing it.
If you can get an accurate measurement off a guitar, I would make a template and use it. People have done it successfully. I was right on on one that way.