View Full Version : So I Was Thinking

AC Baltimore
09-20-2011, 06:37 PM
We put a lot of emphasis on nut materiel. I am no tech and could be very wrong, but when any given string is fretted, does that not take the nut out of the equation? It would seem to me that the saddle is the only constant point of contact. When fretted would the the fret wire at that fret not become the nut?

I wonder if anyone has tried bone frets?

09-20-2011, 11:32 PM
Interesting point. Yes, the saddle counts a lot more for transferring sound than the nut. I would say better nut materials make for smoother nut slots and look better too.

I can see it affecting open strings though, and I recall some fiddly diddly metal electric guitarists swear by brass nuts. Personally though, I reckon you'd need the hearing of a dog to notice a difference

09-21-2011, 04:34 AM
All true. The saddle is more important on sound than the nut is. However, on open strings, having a bone nut is important for consistent sound. My main instrument is the 5-string banjo, and I had to make sure the banjo had a bone nut since I play open strings on it a lot. I had a banjo with a plastic nut, and it was noticeable when I would play an open string. Both of my banjos, and most of my guitars have bone nuts. My ukes, however, don't. I haven't played a uke with a bone nut. Not sure how important it is with nylon strings. My classical guitar has a plastic nut, and to be honest with you, I don't really notice a dramatic sound difference on open versus fretted strings. Can anyone shed some light on this as far as the huge difference a nut makes with nylon strings? I am curious to know.


09-21-2011, 06:45 AM
this is my opinion as well. icould care less about nut material most of the time and when i get a new instrument i almost always have a new saddle made of high quality bone and just have the nut adjusted to make sure the slots and height are correct. you are right, once the note is fretted, it's a moot point and you will get more bang for your buck and better sound if you replace the saddle over the nut.

09-21-2011, 12:14 PM
What da other guys said plus, you'll find that even with the proper nut files getting the slots perfect on a bone nut is a lot more work than on a plastic or Tusq nut.


09-21-2011, 01:11 PM
I don't believe that anybody has commented on the concept of bone frets. I dont have a clue of whether it would work or not, but it sure is an interesting idea.

mr moonlight
09-21-2011, 09:56 PM
never seen bone frets, but I have seen carbon fiber frets. They worked great. Very smooth with less of that tapping noise you get from the strings hitting the frets. I thought it would have less sustain, but it seemed to work fine. I imagine bone would have a similar feel. Installing bone frets would definitely be quite a job and replacing them would be a real pain. Sounds like a cool concept, but not really practical for an instrument that gets a lot of play over the years. Perhaps an instrument that gets played only occasionally.

Speaking of nuts, I just looked at my Danelectro and remembered that it has a metal nut. Still, there is a definite sound difference between open and fretted strings even though the materials are more similar.

09-21-2011, 10:56 PM
A luthier once told me that the harder and more brittle the bone, the better for use in saddles and nuts. I am guessing that the same would be true of frets. The test I was taught was to take several bone blanks and drop them onto a hard surface to see which "rings" best.

With that brittleness in mind, I suspect that trying to work with bone for fretting would be pretty difficult in many ways. Forming the frets - especially the tang; hammering or pressing into place...

At first thought I can't see it being practical, and I wouldn't expect any significant advantage soundwise.

If you want to try good, hard (but workable) fret material try EVO gold. I refretted a mandolin with it a while ago and was very impressed.