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  • Tone Ninja?

    I've been experimenting with nut materials on my guitar. Of course, I did not mean to end up in this experiment, nor did I want to, but here I am.

    When I was deciding on all the specs and parts for my tele build, I decided to go with a pre-slotted tusq XL. It was too short, the nut slots too wide for the bevel on this particular neck, and the sound of the open strings has a noticeably damped resonance.
    I'm too obsessive about the action and speed of my necks to not have everything really dialed in, so I've come to realize that I need to custom cut the nut slots, and shape the nut from a blank. I'm probably going to use bone, because I installed one this past week and was able to test it out. I couldn't believe that I would notice as drastic a difference to the tusq XL as I did. I was so close to having this filed perfectly, but cut the D slot too deep. So, I cussed a lot, spent a several hours researching methods of repair, and have come to accept that I need to start over to do it "right".

    Anyways, I've probably going to stick with bone as my nut material, but I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with "Tone Ninja's" nut material?
    https://www.toneninja.com/guitar-nuts
    They use a glass reinforced acetal copolymer, which sounds legit as a nut material. I read the Wikipedia page on it, so I'm now an expert on material. I bought a blank, as well as a bone nut blank to try out.

    Let me just finally say this: It's bothering the hell out of me to have to buy anything from a company with the name "Tone Ninja". "Tone Ninja"?? Acetal Copolymer MaGee would have been a better name, ACM.
    It's so bad, I will actually feel some embarrassment saying it out loud if I like it and the topic of the tele's nut ever comes up.
    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

  • #2
    From the Tone Ninja page:
    "Tone Ninja nuts are manufactured using an engineered polymer that has a very high and consistent density that transmits more of the vibration of the strings to the neck of the guitar."

    That statement reveals a serious misconception of guitar/vibrational physics.

    The purpose of the nut (as well as the bridge) is to reflect vibration back into the string and not transfer it to the neck.
    It's somewhat comparable to a ball being reflected from a wall. If the wall is flexible it takes energy fom the ball.

    Any vibrational energy that is transferred to the neck gets absorbed and has no chance to re-enter the string, so is lost for sound (PUs can only "see" string vibration).
    As a result tone and sustain will suffer - at least with open strings.

    The harder the nut, the better it reflects high frequencies, so sounds brighter.

    Dunno the Ninja nuts. Only use bone.
    Don't think the nut has much influence on fretted notes.

    Last edited by Helmholtz; 10-23-2022, 02:46 PM.
    - Own Opinions Only -

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    • #3
      Well I've always just used bone because I know it works well and I never like guessing games. But I haven't worked nuts or acoustic saddles since before you had to buy these things from brick and mortar stores! So acquiring different materials would have meant placing an order with a shop. Distinctly more trouble than placing an order on line. At the time I was in the bay area of California and there were four respected guitar repair shops that all had bone blanks for nuts and saddles. Graphite was a popular product at the time, as was Corian but I never tried them since the repair guys and luthiers I trusted all used bone.

      And I can sympathize with your frustration shaping the nut. I never had much trouble with saddles, even compensated bone saddles. But shaping nuts is HARD. You have to match the seating profile, space the slots accurately, cut the slots to the right width, angle (actually two or even slightly curved), the bottom of the slots must be right to avoid premature wear and the depth of the slots must be perfect (same as a zero fret on the high E and almost unnoticeably higher than that on the low E). And then the top should be trimmed to allow just under half the string diameter to be above the slots. Get even one thing wrong and it will ruin your sleep until you fix it. When I'm shaping a nut I buy three blanks and never use less than two.
      "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

      "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

      "If you're not interested in opinions and the experience of others, why even start a thread?
      You can't just expect consent." Helmholtz

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
        And then the top should be trimmed to allow just under half the string diameter to be above the slots.
        I know that's what luthiers like Dan Erlewine recommend.
        But it doesn't work with the treble strings for my playing style (lots of heavy string bends). Too easy to lift a treble string out of its slot.
        So I go for full diameter with treble strings. Can't hear a difference. No increased problems with string binding either with well shaped and polished slots.
        Last edited by Helmholtz; 10-23-2022, 03:57 PM.
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        • #5
          Ill tell you Im having a hell of a time finding a music store that has a 1/8” thick bone blank. I hate waiting for parts at this stage of a project.
          but I will say this: i will probably never buy a pre-slotted nut again. There are so many nuisances in neck construction that can affect the optimal distance from E to E a few millimeters one way or the other. It throws the rest of the strings out of alignment if it differs from the pre-slotted
          If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by SoulFetish View Post
            Ill tell you Im having a hell of a time finding a music store that has a 1/8” thick bone blank. I hate waiting for parts at this stage of a project.
            but I will say this: i will probably never buy a pre-slotted nut again. There are so many nuisances in neck construction that can affect the optimal distance from E to E a few millimeters one way or the other. It throws the rest of the strings out of alignment if it differs from the pre-slotted
            Not to mention our own personal preferences. It's my own opinion that most strats have too little string to fingerboard edge margin. I would like to have an American bridge on my partscaster but the spacing on the MIM bridge is narrower and works better for me. So that's what I have. With a pre slotted nut you get what someone else thought was appropriate and possibly not ideal for you.
            "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

            "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

            "If you're not interested in opinions and the experience of others, why even start a thread?
            You can't just expect consent." Helmholtz

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
              It's my own opinion that most strats have too little string to fingerboard edge margin.
              .
              ^^^
              Click image for larger version

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              If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

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              • #8
                Agree that the high strings should be down in there . Not sold on the half diameter thing either . I would like the low E to be above the top of the nut though . I'm with Chuck on buying extras . The more spares you have the less likely to mess up . Especially if you paid too much . About your low slot , you may be able to save it if it's not too low . Thicker glue line will bring it up a couple thousandths . Also if you picture a see saw on the first fret if the nut goes down the bridge comes up . You may be able to lower the other 5 and raise the bridge . Then you will need to adjust the truss rod . The problem with all this is we are dealing with distances too small to see . Are you adjusting slots with strings installed ? Checked at full tension ? You'll get better with each nut . There is only one way to get experience .

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                • #9
                  No matter how you adjust the neck, the bottom of the slot must never be lower than the top of the first fret.
                  Use feeler gauges as depth stop.

                  When a slot is cut too deep, sometimes the baking soda trick works.
                  But might no be as slippery as pure bone.

                  Agree that a pre-slotted nut rarely fits.
                  Last edited by Helmholtz; 10-23-2022, 07:26 PM.
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                  • #10
                    I've shimmed nut's on occasion too when there's no noteworthy cosmetic issue or a cosmetic issue already exist so I'll be touching things up anyway. For a strat nut with that thin slot I doubt a shim would be noticeable unless you were looking for it. Or if you're a little OCD like me and your brain won't let you STOP looking at it.
                    "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                    "If you're not interested in opinions and the experience of others, why even start a thread?
                    You can't just expect consent." Helmholtz

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yes there is a point of no return . If you can shim it it will do til the new one comes . Getting back to the tone thing it's not what material has the best tone but that the open note sounds the same as a fretted one .

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                      • #12
                        Absolutely nothing wrong with shimming a nut using a stripe of veneer. Won't change sound at all.
                        - Own Opinions Only -

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                        • #13
                          How do you guys lay out nut slots ? I have been useing a mm rule and a sharp pencil just trying to stay on my mark and cut strait and square with a .010 saw . Do you use any special scales or guides ?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Helmholtz View Post
                            When a slot is cut too deep, sometimes the baking soda trick works.
                            What is this trick? A guitar tech I worked with saved the bone dust from filing nuts. He would mix it with cyanoacrylate to make minor adjustments if slot cut too deep. I guess the baking soda trick is the same technique?

                            Originally posted by Enzo
                            I have a sign in my shop that says, "Never think up reasons not to check something."


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by g1 View Post
                              What is this trick? A guitar tech I worked with saved the bone dust from filing nuts. He would mix it with cyanoacrylate to make minor adjustments if slot cut too deep. I guess the baking soda trick is the same technique?
                              Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) actually does chemistry with cyanoacrylate glues (CA) and forms a matrix that can be stronger and more adhesive than CA alone. A plastic nut stuck in with baking soda + CA can be very secure. You can make a variety of cement like materials by mixing different viscosity CAs and baking soda, and you can add colorants if you dont want cement color.

                              CA alone uses ambient water to catalyze its polymerization, and there are a variety of nasty smelling organic spray accelerators which make this faster, Adam on Myth Busters favors Zip Kicker, put anything with N,N-dimethyl-p-toluidine will probably work well (though stink!)
                              Last edited by tedmich; 10-24-2022, 04:18 AM.

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