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LarryS
04-26-2016, 09:54 AM
I was wondering if changing the plastic nut and saddle to a bone/tusq/nubone would have a major effect on the tone or sustain? I see that high end instruments use such materials, but can it make much of a difference? Especially the nut which is surely cancelled out when you fret. Or is it just a marketing ploy?

jollyboy
04-26-2016, 10:04 AM
I've had very positive results with a couple of ukes that I changed the saddles on. One originally had plastic and one was a Kala that came with nubone - I changed them over to bone and there was a noticeable improvement in clarity and sustain in both cases. Bone saddles can be had for a couple of quid via eBay.uk so it's a very cheap way to upgrade an instrument - plus if you want to try filing one down to lower the action it means you're working on a 'spare' and, if you take too much off it's no biggie.

billten
04-26-2016, 10:11 AM
Also try switching to ebony, it does have a darker tone if the uke is too bright.

spookelele
04-26-2016, 10:28 AM
Maybe it matters what kind of plastic?

I dunno.. I bought a pretty large bag of plastic saddles, back when for cheap, and when I'm trying different things, I take the stock one out, label it, and put it in a drawer, and then make a new saddle from the plastic ones I got. It doesn't seem to change the sound much. I will say the cheap plastic ones I got are pretty hard. Like.. they make a tinkle sound if you drop them on a table.

And like.. nubone is plastic, but is 'better" plastic for whatever reason.

I could be wrong on this, as my experience is somewhat limited, but I've had very little difference from switching from bone to plastic. But again, I'm not sure all plastic is the same.

I bought a kealoha plastic concert for a friend that was on the fence about learning. That came with a saddle made out of some kinda soft white stuff I think was abs. Being what it is.. a saddle change on it.. isn't going to sound alot different.

LarryS
04-26-2016, 10:54 AM
Cheers guys. My saddle is ABS plastic, uncompensated

spookelele
04-26-2016, 11:03 AM
Cheers guys. My saddle is ABS plastic, uncompensated

ABS is pretty soft, which generally is bad for energy transmission.
I'm not saying the drop test is a holy grail, but it's something.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U3Oi7Sn4rg

If you go to youtube, there's lots of guitar vid comparisons where they just swap the saddles, and you can hear a difference, but in my own trials, I don't hear as much of a difference as in those vids.

Rllink
04-26-2016, 11:14 AM
Cheers guys. My saddle is ABS plastic, uncompensatedI think that you should just go do it, and report back. I would be interested.

librainian
04-26-2016, 12:15 PM
I think using different materials for the saddle do have a noticeable effect,mostly because of different densities. After all, this is how the vibrational energy of the strings gets converted to resonant vibrations of the top. I think the type of material used makes less difference than the overall density.

As far as the nut is concerned, its only job is to keep the strings at the proper height, length and separation. Aesthetically I like bone because it polishes nicely and wears pretty well, but the synthetics probably wear better and allow wound strings to slip a little easier through the slot.

Making your own saddles to try takes nothing more than some sandpaper, maybe a small file and patience. I think it's a good skill to learn and blanks are cheap. Give it a whirl!

spookelele
04-26-2016, 12:57 PM
I think it's a good skill to learn and blanks are cheap. Give it a whirl!

There's always that.
If you save your original, and don't like your new one, you can always go back, which is why I label the original, cuz there's a couple in that drawer.

It's a pretty inexpensive thing to try.

PhilUSAFRet
04-26-2016, 03:25 PM
Effect of nut material minimal anyway, but saddle material may or may not have any effect on cheaper ukes and depend on soundboard thickness, bracing, and whether a laminate or solid. If you want to proceed, I'd suggest you change the saddle only, since there is a greater possibility it may improve sound a little. String selection will probably have the greatest effect and there are lots of Tanglewood owners who can share their experiences with them. Good luck.

wayfarer75
04-26-2016, 03:55 PM
I did this on my koa Kelii, changed the saddle from rosewood to Tusq. I don't think it had much of an effect on sound. Changing strings has been more dramatic.

Brad Bordessa
04-26-2016, 04:41 PM
I hear bone is supposed to be "best." When I had the MISI put in my Kamaka my tech replaced the stock saddle (not sure what it was) with a bone one. I thought it sounded better.

spookelele
04-26-2016, 05:30 PM
One thing I've always had some skepticism about with bone:

Like.. bone isn't all the same. A chicken bone is obviously different than pork rib, which is different than a t-bone, which is different from an oxtail
An older person has trouble with brittle bones, but a youngster doesn't. But.. it's all just labeled as 'bone'

How do you know what you're getting?

kissing
04-26-2016, 05:34 PM
The saddle material also depends on the instrument. Some instruments sound better with Tusq than Bone, and vice versa.

Bone and Tusq are my two favourite materials. I have saddles that I have personally shaped on all my instruments, because I prefer a very particular shape and action.

Tusq is easier than bone to work with because it is softer and sands down quicker. Hard bone takes a bit more patience as it takes longer to sand into shape. Tusq is also 100% consistent. Every Tusq saddle will have uniform density.. whereas bone is more variable - no two bone saddles are 100% alike.

I start off with a blank guitar saddle, saw it to the length I need and then sand paper!

I would advise buying spares! I sometimes go too far on first attempt and need to start again.

LarryS
04-26-2016, 09:59 PM
there are lots of Tanglewood owners who can share their experiences with them. Good luck.

Really? I thought I was the only one! I wasnt necessarily thinking of changing my nut I was just curious if it makes a difference what the nut is made of. My uke is laminate mahogany, and I'm glad its a laminate.

kissing
04-27-2016, 12:01 AM
The nut only affects the tone of the OPEN strings. As soon as you fret a string, the influence of the nut is nullified.

The aim of a nut is to make the open strings sound the most similar to how the strings sound when fretted...and even with the ideal nut choice, it won't make a huge difference.

In my opinion, unless the current nut is breaking apart, it's not worth the effort of changing it. Changing a nut is a more difficult process than changing a saddle.

If you want to improve on tone, get a Tusq or Bone saddle if your current one is some kind of cheap plastic.
That being said, most ukes come with bone, Tusq or Nubone (cheaper Tusq) anyway.

Croaky Keith
04-27-2016, 01:55 AM
I'm sure I've read that a bone or ebony saddle gives more sustain, because plastic is softer & absorbs some of the strings energy instead of sending it all to the soundboard.

spookelele
04-27-2016, 02:54 AM
I've also never understood how a nut is supposed to affect the tone.
The tone comes from energy transmitted to the soundboard.
Unless the vibe from the nut is supposed to vibrate the neck and into the body which seems unlikely .... I don't see how that happens.

PhilUSAFRet
04-27-2016, 06:02 AM
Really? I thought I was the only one! I wasnt necessarily thinking of changing my nut I was just curious if it makes a difference what the nut is made of. My uke is laminate mahogany, and I'm glad its a laminate.

I'm happy you are glad, but it will greatly limit the improvements you hope for by changing things other than the strings.
re: "Really? I thought I was the only one!"....really?

LarryS
04-27-2016, 12:08 PM
I'm happy you are glad, but it will greatly limit the improvements you hope for by changing things other than the strings.
re: "Really? I thought I was the only one!"....really?

Yea where are the other Tanglewood players? But then it is a British company after all...

kissing
04-27-2016, 02:02 PM
I've also never understood how a nut is supposed to affect the tone.
The tone comes from energy transmitted to the soundboard.
Unless the vibe from the nut is supposed to vibrate the neck and into the body which seems unlikely .... I don't see how that happens.

Ie: the nut only really affects the tone of the open strings. When we hit an open string, the nut vibrates and passed on that energy onto the neck and soundboard.

Of course, not as much as the saddle does though

spookelele
04-27-2016, 04:07 PM
Ie: the nut only really affects the tone of the open strings. When we hit an open string, the nut vibrates and passed on that energy onto the neck and soundboard.

Of course, not as much as the saddle does though

I guess it's a little bit... but I'm doubtful you can hear it. Like.. If I tap the nut.. it doesn't really make much sound at all. But if I tap the saddle.. that's loud.

Croaky Keith
04-27-2016, 08:51 PM
Yea where are the other Tanglewood players? But then it is a British company after all...

Learn something new every day, I didn't know that, but I did associate them with lower end guitars.

PhilUSAFRet
04-28-2016, 01:46 AM
Several Tanglewood owners on UU, expected a few to provide feedback on their experience with them.