The Nut at the top of the fingerboard, where the strings lay and are spaced evenly, is surprisingly critical.
If the strings do not fit and lay perfectly in the tracks cut for them there are a few things that may happen when playing the violin.
- The intonation or harmonic of the instrument may be out.
- There may be buzzing if there are bumps in the track that prevent the string from laying flush right to the end of the nut – where the fingerboard meets with it.
- When the tracks/ grooves are cut too deep they may prevent the strings from vibrating freely and alter the sound and or responsiveness of the instrument.
- When the tracks are cut with a slope down toward the peg box and a kink is visible at the point where the fingerboard and nut meet it is likely that the strings may be cut at this place causing the winding to be undone and new strings needed. The edges and sides need to be filed in such a way that the string never comes into contact with any sharp edges.
- If the strings are more than 0.5mm above the fingerboard it becomes harder to play the violin when pressing down on the notes – especially in the first few positions.
Preferably the nut is made of a piece of hard wood with the direction of the grain laying across the neck. If it is in line with the neck the strings will have a tendency to cut through the wood and come too close to the fingerboard.
One wise thing to do in the tracks is to pencil in a bit of graphite to help lubricate the strings so that they travel over the surface smoothly. This helps the strings last longer.