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joakiml
07-02-2018, 07:44 AM
What is your preference in terms of saddle (and nut) material, bone or synthetic material like nubone or similar?

In terms of making the nuts and saddles synthetic materials seems to be a bit more pleasant to work with (bone is quite smelly for one thing). Perhaps this is one reason many manufacturers are choosing synthetic materials.

Uke Don
07-02-2018, 09:51 AM
Graphtech Tusq or Tusk XL. Consistent, resonant and easy to work with. Slick, so the strings don't hang up in the nut slots or across the saddle. And no, I don't buy the argument that bone (or walrus tusk, or mammoth ivory, etc., etc.) sounds better.

Swamp Yankee
07-02-2018, 11:04 AM
What is your preference in terms of saddle (and nut) material, bone or synthetic material like nubone or similar?

In terms of making the nuts and saddles synthetic materials seems to be a bit more pleasant to work with (bone is quite smelly for one thing). Perhaps this is one reason many manufacturers are choosing synthetic materials.

Bone doesn't smell too bad until you use power tools. I like bone, personally.

Graham Greenbag
07-02-2018, 12:04 PM
I like bone, personally.

Plus one.

I can’t say that I’ve done rigoursous trials but replacing man made synthetic materials with simple bone seems to give a better sound to my ears. Some folk might have ethical reasons (vegan / vegetarian) not to use bone but I don’t share those and instead think it more eco to use bone than a man made material.

besley
07-02-2018, 12:52 PM
I think that "synthetic" materials have received a bad rep mostly from cheap plastic nuts and saddles. Bone certainly sounds better than cheap plastic, but I sure can't tell any difference between bone and high tech synthetics such as Nubone or Tusk or even basic Micarta.

Ukulelerick9255
07-02-2018, 03:59 PM
Tusq especially if you are using a pickup and plugging in

Ukulelerick9255
07-02-2018, 04:03 PM
The difference between bone and Tusq is very evident in two ways. One...Drop one on a table then drop the other, the Tusq will chime and bone is duller sounding. Two....plugged in Tusq is solid and transmits a clean signal with no variance, bone which is porous and has internal inconsistencies can not send as clean and pure a signal.

spookelele
07-03-2018, 08:40 AM
in a vacuum, i pick bone.
nubone is softer and the strings can start to wear small grooves in it, esp if you use wounds.
I cant honestly say I can hear a problem with the grooves, but knowing they are there bothers me.

mmfitzsimons
07-03-2018, 09:18 AM
+1 for Tusq.

kypfer
07-03-2018, 09:19 PM
It's all marketing guff!

Until someone can show me oscilloscope and spectrum analysis plots made under controlled conditions of the differences I won't believe it.

What graphs that are published inevitably have obvious inaccuracies and omissions that make them useless to anyone except the uneducated.

Just because some graphic artist marketeer came up with a technical-looking image claiming to demonstrate the advantages of their new wonder product doesn't mean the claims are true!

I'll save the money I could spend on fancy-named gizmos and use it for important stuff that will benefit my playing, like good strings and more sheet music!

:music:

kkimura
07-04-2018, 12:41 AM
I had a tenor with an ebony nut and saddle. Unremarkable sound but that was probable more to do with the strings. Yes, I was too lazy to try different strings.

Jerryc41
07-04-2018, 01:22 AM
It's all marketing guff!

Until someone can show me oscilloscope and spectrum analysis plots made under controlled conditions of the differences I won't believe it.

I agree. And even then, if it take an oscilloscope to see the difference, does it really matter in the real world? I think many of the expensive components of ukuleles do more for the ego of the owner than for the sound of the uke. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it. :o

Swamp Yankee
07-04-2018, 01:46 AM
I'm not sure about the latest formulas used in Tusq nuts, but on some of the slightly older Larrivee and Taylor guitars I've seen, the Tusq nuts and saddles have taken on a burnt umber color, through aging, that I don't like at all.

Unbleached bone nuts that I have seen on tenor banjos from the 1920s still look great, and are still doing their job well all these years later.

BlackBearUkes
07-04-2018, 09:47 AM
I personally think the drop test proves nothing, Tusq works better in a mic situation, but it wears 3 times faster than bone. I use bone, period.


The difference between bone and Tusq is very evident in two ways. One...Drop one on a table then drop the other, the Tusq will chime and bone is duller sounding. Two....plugged in Tusq is solid and transmits a clean signal with no variance, bone which is porous and has internal inconsistencies can not send as clean and pure a signal.

Mr. Sweetie
07-04-2018, 11:16 AM
I discovered Tusq when buying acoustic guitars back in the day and I always liked the tone and feel. I have put a reasonable amount of mileage on my guitars which have wound strings and I've had no wear issues to date so, I can't imagine my fluorocarbon strings wearing them out if my wound strings haven't. If I had to replace a saddle or nut on my ukuleles I would not use bone, it's a personal thing for me. I am open to new materials but Tusq is my go-to at present.

hollisdwyer
07-05-2018, 06:14 AM
in a vacuum, i pick bone.
nubone is softer and the strings can start to wear small grooves in it, esp if you use wounds.
I cant honestly say I can hear a problem with the grooves, but knowing they are there bothers me.

Iíve had the same issue with bone saddles also. I favour wound 3rd & 4th strings and am a heavy strummer. I think that saddles May just be a consumable for me.

Uke Don
07-05-2018, 07:44 AM
I personally think the drop test proves nothing, Tusq works better in a mic situation, but it wears 3 times faster than bone. I use bone, period.

I'd be very interested in knowing where that wear information came from. It does not reflect my experience.

BlackBearUkes
07-05-2018, 02:13 PM
It comes from my experience as a luthier and repairman for the last 20 years. The wear mostly comes from folks changing strings over a regular time period, say about one month. When someone brings a guitar in for setup work or repair, Tusq saddles and nuts need replacing far more often than bone. If the person rarely changes strings the wear is less but still there. I've had older guitars in that have bone saddles and nuts, sometimes over 50 years old and the wear is slight but there. Show me a Tusq saddle that reaches 50 years old and I'll guarantee you the groves in it will reach the wood on the bridge. You may not agree but this is my experience with bone and Tusq.


I'd be very interested in knowing where that wear information came from. It does not reflect my experience.

joakiml
07-06-2018, 03:46 AM
Thanks everyone for your input and opinions about this. I guess it's not a clear case and different players have different preferences, I guess I have to make up my own :)

UkerDanno
07-06-2018, 06:46 AM
Thanks everyone for your input and opinions about this. I guess it's not a clear case and different players have different preferences, I guess I have to make up my own :)

Good idea...given a choice, I would pick bone myself. Although, my old Martin has ebony saddle and nut, I believe and it sounds awesome, wouldn't change it for anything.

And, IMHO the nut would make very little difference in sound as long as it's not a soft plastic.

Swamp Yankee
07-07-2018, 12:30 PM
...different players have different preferences, I guess I have to make up my own :)

Notice how well " my own" rhymes with "bone"? .... jus' sayin'

kissing
07-09-2018, 03:53 AM
I work with both, and there are some pros and cons.

Synthetic Material (Nubone, Tusq, etc):
PROS
-Consistency: Each unit will be predictable and same as the last.
-Easy to work with: Sands down quite easily when adjusting saddle height

CONS
-Can wear out quicker with wound strings
-Tusq tends to cost 2-4 times more than typical bone (though Nubone and generic synthetic ones are relatively cheap)


Bone
PROS
-Last longer
-Good bone tends to produce a sharper, crisper sound - possibly due to hardness and density

CONS
-Harder to work with (harder to sand down)
-May be inconsistency - bone saddles differ from one to the next, and may have internal difference in porousness and density, etc.



I can't really make up my mind, as I have instruments setup with both materials.
Generally speaking, I find that Tusq/Nubone is sufficiently tough for nylon strung instruments (and with flatwound or non-wound low-G strings).
I prefer it on the grounds that it's easier to work with (doesn't require as much patience as sanding down bone) and I like the tendency for it to give a stronger output for undersaddle piezo pickups.

For any instrument that uses steel strings, such as acoustic guitar, I always go with bone.
Tusq/Nubone gets eaten up very easily by steel strings - I really wonder why some companies feel like they're an appropriate material for saddle/bone material in such instruments.

kypfer
07-09-2018, 08:53 PM
Tusq/Nubone - I really wonder why some companies feel like they're an appropriate material for saddle/bone material in such instruments.

Simple, they're relying on the buying public to be mystified by the fancy spelling and paying through the nose for the privilege.

These materials are easily moulded, so production costs are minimal, but will appeal to the fashionistas out there who wouldn't want to be thought to be playing an instrument with a "plastic" saddle or nut!

I'm not saying the stuff isn't good, but it's no better than many other readily available materials that don't have the cachet of a stylish name!

YMMV :music:

kissing
07-10-2018, 04:25 AM
Simple, they're relying on the buying public to be mystified by the fancy spelling and paying through the nose for the privilege.

These materials are easily moulded, so production costs are minimal, but will appeal to the fashionistas out there who wouldn't want to be thought to be playing an instrument with a "plastic" saddle or nut!

I'm not saying the stuff isn't good, but it's no better than many other readily available materials that don't have the cachet of a stylish name!

YMMV :music:


Indeed.

I do buy some of the marketing hype that Tusq/Nubone are "good" in terms of passing on vibrations efficiently for a good, bright sound.
I don't think absolutely all of that is bogus. I certainly do notice a difference when I go from a cheap plastic saddle to Tusq/Nubone, and even some bone saddles on cheaper instruments that don't happen to have inherently good acoustic properties (as bone varies).

What I don't like is, the material is soft as! Steel strings dig into it from literally the second you install it and tune the strings up once!

kypfer
07-10-2018, 04:58 AM
I certainly do notice a difference when I go from a cheap plastic saddle to Tusq/Nubone ...

... and do you do this without fitting a new set of strings, or, just by chance, do you change the strings at the same time ;)

jer
07-10-2018, 12:11 PM
With plain strings only I have no problem using about any material. As mentioned above though, if wound strings come into play they wear a saddle a lot quicker.

As for tone: I've had some instruments that I liked the original cheap plastic saddle on better than bone or Tusq...It just depends on the instrument. Sometimes the difference wasn't big enough to even matter.

As for the nut: Keep in mind it only comes into play with open notes. Once you fret it's out of play and it doesn't matter what it is made out of....so long as it is slick enough that it doesn't bind up the strings and cause tuning issues.

kissing
07-10-2018, 03:21 PM
... and do you do this without fitting a new set of strings, or, just by chance, do you change the strings at the same time ;)

More often its tuning up with the same set of strings and allowing them to settle. It would be part of my setup process.

It's just one of those things I notice after doing it about a hundred times or more on many instruments. Oh, it sounds crisper now than it did for the past months/years it had the different saddle.

I dont think it's far fetched to believe the saddle material plays a distinguishable role in overall tone. It transmits vibrations from strings to soundboard. It would be overly skeptical to believe it has no effect at all.

Edit: the effects are more apparent when you also have undersaddle piezos. After changing the saddle, you can clearly hear through the amp you have changed how the vibrations transfer from strings to directly under the saddle.

Ukecaster
07-12-2018, 11:52 AM
I had a luthier tell me he wouldn't cut a bone nut or saddle, as he didn't like the smell, he only uses Tusq. Well, I prefer bone, so he doesn't get any work from me when a bone nut or saddle is wanted.