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Questions for luthiers: Is nut replacement common?

Instruments: Looking to have some work done on my violin; however I'm not sure is something I need is a common procedure or not.

From Wayne Wilkinson
Posted May 6, 2010 at 03:24 PM

Just got my tax refund so its time to get some work done on my instrument. In addition to a rehair and sound post adjustment, I'm thinking about getting the nut replaced. My strings are not evenly spaced (huge gap between the D and A, and the G moves more to the left than it should as one moves up the fingerboard). The instrument has been like this since I got it, but the string placements are making some double stops difficult to finger and shifting high on the G requires me to REALLY stretch my hand to the side of the instrument.

I've never actually heard of a nut replacement. I'm sure it can be done, but is this something a luthier is commonly prepared to do in the shop or will this be some "special" procedure that costs a bit more? I also imagine they'll want to cut a new bridge, but who knows.

From Michael Darnton
Posted on May 6, 2010 at 06:20 PM

It's not a big deal at all. It takes less than an hour, including washing your hands and cleaning the bench up after.

From Joyce Lin
Posted on May 6, 2010 at 06:34 PM

I can't imagine it's a big deal, although I'm not a luthier - I have had the nut on my violin replaced, along with the fingerboard, the neck narrowed, and a new bridge...

It's likely that all you need is a new bridge - among the violins that I have tested and measured that have uneven string placements, bridge is usually the culprit. The string distances at the nut end may look uneven due to the string sizes, but if you measure them from center to center between two strings, they are usually equal. It's common (and IMHO, better) that A & D has a wider distance at the bridge - if you have thick fingers, you will appreciate it.

(Edit: it looks like Michael beat me to it.)

From Sue Bechler
Posted on May 7, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Anything can be replaced, though some stuff may be more than a violin is worth- say a cracked bass bar on a modest-quality violin. The grooves in the nut can wear down till the top end of the string doesn't clear the fingerboard. The nut may also have been cut initially w/incorrect spacing, or not at the proper angle. Sue

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