The return of Black Beauty II – why not to touch the nut slots


Here is a return customer. Remember Black Beauty II? If you don’t, here it is:

However, this time, the complaint was that when you played open chords, the instrument sounded a natural seventh!! I tried playing it and if I had played a major 7th, it wouldn’t have sounded any better! Unfortunately, I had played a G Maj chord.

My experience told me that it could only be a badly cut nut. But, how was it possible? Last time around, I had swapped the plastic nut and saddle for a swanky, new bone nut and saddle.

So, I looked at the nut and sure enough, someone had tried to file down the nut slots with a knife or a like tool. Firstly, do not touch the nut ever! You can sand the saddle down but the nut is a different story. Please don’t try this at home. Let an experienced hand handle it. Of course, if you have done such a job before, go right ahead.

wrong depth. pix courtesy:
right depth. pix courtesy:

Ideally, in a properly cut nut, individual strings should sit half in the slot and half out of it.

What was happening with Black Beauty II, strings in the badly cut slots were catching in them and sounding off.

There could have been two ways to rectify the problem. The easier way – replace the nut – would have cost the customer, the tougher way was to fill the slots with bone dust and super glue and then cut the nut slots again.

That is what I did. Also, I cleaned up the fretboard, oiled it and shone the frets. With new strings and stretched to hold tension and tune, the guitar played as good as new.

polished and oiled the fretboard too
Stretching strings to help them hold tension


Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

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