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View Full Version : ebony nut (and or saddle)



Rodney.
06-04-2013, 09:21 AM
I'm considering changing the nut and/or saddle on my Dolphin. It's my always-by-my-side uke, it gets more playing time than my other ukes, as I'm rarely at home lately.
The nut has seen better days, the rest of the uke is still fine, so instead of just buying another one I decided to do a small investment in a new nut.
I saw some ebony ones on eBay, and was wondering what difference they would make on the sound instead of the plastic nut the Dolphin came with.
As most these nuts come as a package with a matching saddle I'm wondering what an ebony saddle would do to the sound.
Any input is and will be appreciated

PhilUSAFRet
06-04-2013, 11:19 AM
I have them on my KPK solid acacia and I think it gives it an amazingly woody tone. Not sure it's worth it on a plastic instrument. Perhaps some plastic uke owners will chime in.

Rodney.
06-04-2013, 12:32 PM
'Woody', now I'm intriged.
Thanks for the heads up.

Jim Hanks
06-04-2013, 01:48 PM
If you like the instrument, I agree it is better to fix than replace. How much is the ebony? If not too expensive, just try it and see.

Pondoro
06-04-2013, 02:31 PM
I replace a homemade nut on a cheap baritone with an ebony nut and it sounded a lot better. The homemade nut appeared to be made from a piece of kitchen tile. But I made my ebony nut from a $2 scrap of ebony. I don't know how much they cost ready-made.

Loudster
06-04-2013, 03:52 PM
Just out of curiosity I swapped the nuts on my ukuleles about a week ago actually. One's ebony the other is simulated bone I think. Honestly, to my ears I'm straining to hear any difference. I'm not entirely convinced that the change between those two makes that much of a difference in sound (at least on these two ukes). Hopefully switching from plastic you'll notice a bigger difference.

Pondoro
06-04-2013, 04:23 PM
Just out of curiosity I swapped the nuts on my ukuleles about a week ago actually. One's ebony the other is simulated bone I think. Honestly, to my ears I'm straining to hear any difference. I'm not entirely convinced that the change between those two makes that much of a difference in sound (at least on these two ukes). Hopefully switching from plastic you'll notice a bigger difference.

I think my plan would be if a uke sounds OK for it's price don't mess around with a nut just to change it. In my case it was loose and looked ugly. And I had some ebony. If you are swapping the nut or the saddle anyway due to the old one being worn or cracked or shaped wrong then why not pay a bit extra for bone or ebony. I've built a few ukes and put bone saddles and nuts in them. I made them from a bone I bought at a pet food store. So they were cheap. Why buy plastic when wood and bone are available?

Hammond
06-04-2013, 07:01 PM
I am new here, I have spent months on search and read many articles, reviews, and posts about material of saddle and nut. I have also ordered and tried some on my tenor uke. As I am still very new to the uke world, please advise me if I write something wrong, then I can learn more.

From what I have read, changing the saddle would make more different outcome than the nut. With materials like ivory, bone, human made (tusq, nubone, plastic), ebony, rosewood, and some others like brass and glass. I have tried some of them.

Lets focus on the ebony vs plastic for you situation.

From what I have tried, ebony nut and saddle perform very natural sound on my acacia tenor uke. Compare to plastic nut and saddle, much different, it sounds softer, richer, sweeter, warmer, and more low frequence response. On the other side, plastic nut and saddle sounds brighter and thinner.

This is worth to try, those nut and saddle aren't expensive.

I hope this information would help on your consideration.

Johnny GDS
06-04-2013, 07:42 PM
The density of the materials has a big impact on how they transmit sound (via vibrations). Both the nut and saddle are important points of contact between the physical string and the instrument. The denser materials (bone, ebony) provide a better connection and transmit the vibrations more efficiently. Plastic is often very soft and absorbs a lot of the vibration before it can be communicated to the ukulele, making it a poor (but cheap) nut or saddle material.

The fit of the saddle and the slotting of the nut make just as much if not more difference than the material. If the saddle is loose, or shimmed with something soft, it will have a hard time connecting. Also if the nut isn't slotted properly (slots too wide, too deep, or not correctly angled), the vibrations won't be handled well either.

In some ukes changing nuts or saddles will make little to no difference, in others it will make quite a bit. Often with an inexpensive uke, it will make less difference.

That being said, if you need a new nut or saddle, I'd go for a good quality bone one. Ebony, however, being less dense than bone will absorb a little more vibration than bone. This will usually promote a warmer tone, commonly with less volume.

The real question is "what sounds better to you", and the only way to find that out is to try a few of the variables out. I'm curious to see which way you go!

Rodney.
06-05-2013, 12:23 AM
Thanks all, you gave enough information to let me take the plunge. I ordered an ebony nut and saddle, and will get back here when I have them installed, thanks again.