Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere but what is the best (easiest) technique for measuring from the first fret to the nut?

Previous efforts have always resulted in bad intonation.

Also if I file the slots how do I ensure the string is leaving the nut at the front edge and not half way through or even at the tuning peg side?

I realize this is CBG101 stuff but that's the level I'm at!

As always, thanks for the advice which I am sure will be invaluable, prompt and free! Things don't get any better than that!


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Assuming you are using a bone nut blank, the easiest (best) way is to establish your nut position BEFORE any fret positions. In other words, do not cut your first fret slot and follow by attempting to set your nut position. Because it is the nut position that is your zero mark for setting all of your fret slots/locations.

As for ensuring that the nut slots for the strings are proper, simply be careful to cut/file those slots so they slant downward toward the headstock...not flat.

Not much to add to Scott's response, but I'd suggest working in millimeters instead of inches. I'm not sure where 1.814 inches is on the ruler, but 46.076mm is pretty easy to find (46 is close enough). Measure each fret from the nut. Not fret to fret. If you make a mistake on fret it will be compounded on each one after that. 

When I first started with frets I used the same scale length as a manufacturd guitar I owned. Once I had them all marked out (I got the fret positions using the calculator on Stewmac's website) I could place the necks beside each other and make sure I wasn't way off on my measurements.

That's very useful stuff guys - I'll take that on board. Now to the shed.....

I also use a fret calculator, like most, for fret layout.  Much easier.  I have several templates I use in the scales I build in.  The hardest part of the process is calibrating your printer which took me all of about 5 minutes.  Once you have a template then laying out where your bridge will be located, as well as frets,  is about as simple as it gets.  Even I can do it...  )

Set nut (I use zero fret, super simple).
Measure nut to desired bridge position (who cares what scale length it is).
Multiply measurement by 0.9439 = fret 1 ... Multiply this number by 0.9439 = fret 2 (repeat until you run out of fret board)
Check 12th fret is in the middle.
Easy peasy.

It's possible that your nut position is fine, but your action is too high. If the strings sit too high in the nut it will make at least the first few frets play sharp. Scott's tip on filing the slots slanting down towards the headstock is really important too.

That's why I build zero fret guitars. Get the action/string height correct and there's no need for a nut. You just need lateral/horizontal (how is it described, note bend?) fixing.

google search to the rescue again

Thanks for all the replies guys.

Zero fret I think next time - can't be much different to placing a capo on a normal guitar surely?

I like the diagrams and they help greatly.



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