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chikon2000
03-06-2015, 04:55 PM
I have been thinking about upgrading a laminate soprano, and was wondering which would have the greater impact on tone: replacing the saddle or the nut? (Currently they are both plastic). Although I'm sure that it depends on the uke, just how much of a tonal benefit can one expect by replacing one of these with bone or Tusq? -Michael

kissing
03-06-2015, 04:58 PM
Between the two, the saddle will have relatively more effect, and will be a much easier installation.

It is much easier to sand down a saddle to desired height, than file a nut.

I have "enhanced" some ukes with bone saddles, as opposed to the cheap plastic ones that came included. I did notice a subtle improvement in tone and clarity.

deschutestrout
03-06-2015, 05:17 PM
Saddle for sure. And it may or may not make a difference ... but, likely will improve tone and sustain.

jer
03-06-2015, 05:36 PM
I agree with the ones who posted before me...Saddle. The nut is out of play as soon as you fret a note, the saddle is always in play. You may or may not hear any noticeable difference. Even if you do, you might even find you like the plastic better since tone is subjective. I like to install bone saddles for durability mainly.

kypfer
03-06-2015, 09:02 PM
As others have suggested, if any effect is likely to be noticed, it'll be from a replacement saddle ... assuming the original is of sufficiently inferior quality to be noticeably improved on!

My tuppence worth ... assuming the fret-board to be straight and flat, make sure your existing nut and saddle are optimally adjusted, (the replacement(s) would need to be set up anyway) then put the money you've just saved towards a decent set of strings. My preference would be Aquila's, but if you've already tried those, there are several other brands available that get good reviews on the forums here.

SteveZ
03-07-2015, 04:03 AM
Based on the cost, it may be worthwhile to get two or three replacement saddles, set them at slightly different heights and compare the feel/sound. Changing the action height at the saddle end can have a significant impact, and being able to go back to a prior setting (just in case you aren't satisfied) is a lot easier when you can do a quick swap-out.

chikon2000
03-07-2015, 05:35 AM
Thanks, these are all great suggestions. The uke actually sounds pretty good already, so it sounds like the difference may be pretty small, but perhaps swapping out the saddle would worth doing all the same. (On the other hand, the tuners on this thing have got to go!). Have folks had better experiences using bone or Tusq? And since we are on the subject, what type(s) of bone are typically used for saddles and nuts?

jer
03-07-2015, 05:50 AM
Thanks, these are all great suggestions. The uke actually sounds pretty good already, so it sounds like the difference may be pretty small, but perhaps swapping out the saddle would worth doing all the same. (On the other hand, the tuners on this thing have got to go!). Have folks had better experiences using bone or Tusq? And since we are on the subject, what type(s) of bone are typically used for saddles and nuts?
I usually get my bone saddle blanks from Stewmac.com They offer bleached white bone or the more natural unbleached bone that is harder..and harder to file. Usually any of it is cow bone that typically comes from China.
I've used Tusq a lot too. I really like it. It is softer than bone, so it dents easier. That's not as big of a worry with nylon strings (they do still dent a saddle sometimes though I've noticed) but if you have a wound low G or C you may notice it dents more over time.
I think bone does provide a clearer sound and more note separation on some instruments. That doesn't mean it's right for every instrument though. Tusq seems to be a bit warmer. If it were me, I'd go with bone on a laminate...but that's just me.

ichadwick
03-08-2015, 03:00 AM
Saddle - the nut has little (and arguably no) effect on tone.

Tusq is brighter than bone, and allows more acoustic energy to pass through - which can make a uke a little brash sounding. Experiment with both.

Frankly, I'd suggest you save up to get a solid-wood-topped uke instead.