Nathan Gallardo

Sound Design || Music || Audio DIY || Game Dev

Resonator Guitar [Part 12 – Nut and Frets]

I can try a few different things for the nut as it doesn’t really need to be glued down straight away, so first I’m trying a steel one, inspired by a photo a mate showed me of Jeff Beck’s Stratocaster.

I found a bit of steel laying about so I cut it to length, cleaned it up with the grinder and used the original nut as a template to mark the cuts. I used hacksaws and files of varying sizes to cut the slots. The action at this point is really high, but I can lower that once I’ve strung it up.

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Fret spacing is super important to get correct intonation, so I downloaded WFret from The Musical Instrument Makers Forum. It’s a brilliant little program, you just put in the scale length (length from nut to bridge) and it will print out as many frets as you like and give you the correct measurements.

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So I printed out the template, cut it out and stuck it on and marked the positions. I scored the lines with a Stanley knife and used a thin hacksaw to cut the grooves.

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That done, I cut the fret wire to the right lengths, and used the grinder to smooth the ends. I bashed them in using a hammer and a bit of wood to avoid dinting the frets. A proper luthier would shudder but it worked for me.

The board doesn’t have a radius like a proper guitar would because I figured that might be too much trouble. I’m pretty damn pleased with that though.

I should also mention I used some yacht varnish on the board before installing the frets. I don’t recommend this as it doesn’t dry very hard.

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