I've been considering using a notched piece of bone or plywood for a string guide on my guitars.  I like to use a zero fret, so I don't need a real bone nut, just a notched piece to hold the strings at the right spots.

I was thinking I could use either a piece of the 1/8" aircraft hobby plywood I have or get some bone bridge blanks and use them.

I'm guessing the bone would look a bit nicer and maybe last a bit longer, but is it really worth the trouble?  Please, let me know your thoughts.  And if you have recommendations for other materials, please let me know!



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I’ve got something like the second pic right now.  The bar is aluminum and notched on the bottom to position the strings.  I don’t need the break angle because I scarfed the neck and the whole thing feels a bit clumsy. 

I was thinking of something like the first pic.  I hadn’t even thought of using a scrap of neck material like in the third pic, that would be pretty easy to do.  And I suppose if a solid piece of wood works, plywood should work as well.

Thanks for the ideas!

Let me throw a different idea at ya. For a year or two, I've been building my three string gits mainly with zero frets. Instead of a string spacer, I build the headstock with the tuners installed for a straight pull for the strings.

1. I mark a line straight up the center of the headstock, then measure to the left and the right of the center line for the 1st and 3rd string, for me, usually 10mm. I like 'em a bit wide. The tuner posts are 6mm wide, so I measure 3 mm to the outside of the thickest string, mark it, and that will be the tuner hole. Wrap the string from the inside of the post, counter-clockwise. This will pull the string taut, right on the drawn line.

2. Then, mark 3 mm to the  left, "bass" side of the center line of the middle string, mark it, and you have the tuner hole position for the middle tuner. Wrap the middle string counter-clockwise around the post, and you will pull the middle string taut over the drawn center line.

3. Mark 3mm to the right side of line for the remaining (thinnest) string. This will be the position for the last tuner hole. Wrap your skinny string clockwise around this tuner, and you will pull the string taut on the sting line.

My measurements and positions are as viewed from the neck/headstock being upright, and viewed from the front, using 2 tuners on the left, and 1 tuner on the right. This would be a set of 1R/2L tuners, as tuner position is sold as viewed from the back of the headstock. If you use 1 tuner on the left, two tuners on the right, mark your tuner post hole 3 mm to the right side of the middle string line, wind your string clockwise, and you will get the same string pull over the center line.

I always cut a half circle into the headstock, next to the middle string tuner. This allows easy access to the tuner knob. Without this notch, the tuner knob will likely hit the headstock. Be sure to cut the notch where the knob extends out from the headstock, not even with the post.

I use this method on both scarf-joint necks and straight headstock necks. I like it, and after one or two times of building this way, it became much simpler than I probably make it sound.

I do like that!  This all started because I can’t seem to get screws as string guides aligned just right, and they sit a bit tall for my liking when using a 1/4” fret board. You have a nice system, and the half circle cut lends some really nice style. It’s much easier to drill and place tuners than screws.  I’ll think about this on my upcoming build. 

It worked out just like you said it would Grandpa!

DS, as you can see, my headstocks are fairly simple..straight wood with wings. Should work with more detailed headstocks with appropriate planning. Happy building!

Planning?!?  We're supposed to be planning?!?!?  Aww man, I've been doing it all wrong! ;)

I really like your idea, and your simple headstocks.  Less is more, I like CBGs that are a bit rustic.  I can appreciate a really finely finished instrument and the skill to create one is to be highly respected.  But in CBGs, as with most things in my life, once they look mostly ok and function, I'm done and I skip the fine polishing.  I'll wash my car from time to time but I'm never gonna wax it.

I was showing a guitar I built for one friend to another; he's next on the list to get one.  We were looking at things and I mentioned how I had some ideas but didn't want it to be too fancy.  I asked what he wanted in his guitar.  He said, "As long as it sounds and plays like this, I don't care about anything else."  I think he and I are on the same page.


Scott, I'm with ya. I've spent some time trying to "fine finish" some cbg's, and in the end they didn't play a lick better with all of the 1000 grit sanding! I , to, prefer a rustic look, and have been able to gather up some "junk" to use for builds, either as components or adornments (I don't do much adornin', though). Rattle can finishes are where I go, in paint and poly. I appreciate the beautiful instruments that many post photos of, but I just don't want to spend the time. Each builder gets to choose his road, and end product. A good player is much preferred to a finely finished wall hanger. Good playin' gits are where it's at. If you're keepin' or sellin', it really has to play well.


But you you told me about it first, Grandpa ;)

I typically use a piece of hardwood, scraps from my fretboards.  (Like the oak one posted earlier).  I would not use plywood, as it might splinter and fall apart...

Plastic chopsticks. 

Genius!  I should have thought of it myself.  I used one a few months ago to replace a lost nut on a cheap ukulele my friends had. 

I picked up a pack of 20 for $4 at lunch time. :)


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