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Thread: Saddle/Nut material

  1. #1
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    Default Saddle/Nut material

    So I have seen and heard about several different materials that can be used for the nut and saddle. So my question is mainly for the saddle. Does the material affect the sound? and how? Is it the hardness or density of the material make it better? Does a harder/denser material transfer vibration to the bridge and soundboard better? I know alot of questions but I am curious.

    I have a uke with a wood saddle and was wondering if it was worth switching out the saddle and/or nut.

  2. #2
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    Yes, to all the questions you asked.

    You say you have a wood saddle now. If so, it's probably ebony. Ebony ranks on par with a quality bone saddle.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renaissance-Man View Post
    Yes, to all the questions you asked.

    You say you have a wood saddle now. If so, it's probably ebony. Ebony ranks on par with a quality bone saddle.
    Thanks.

    I am pretty sure it is not ebony. It is a Koa Pili Koko and i would guess it is rosewood. It looks like the bridge, nut and fretboard. I also have Stagg which appears to be some sort of plastic material.

  4. #4
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    If it's rosewood, you may be able to get a little more sustain from a bone saddle replacement. It's not much an investment to try. A good bone saddle is hard to shave with a file, though.

  5. #5

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    I've seen sadles and nuts that are made of "man-made ivory". Since elephants are protected, real ivory is taboo. So what then is man-made ivory? PVC?

  6. #6
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    Man made ivory is most likely in reference to Graphtech's product, Tusq or Nubone. Many guitar companies use Tusq, as well as a few of us local builders. We have ours custom molded for our ukulele, but slabs are available for purchase all over online. You can shape the slabs with tradtional hand tools, but beware. It kills cutting edges almost instantly. Tusq is some kind of plastic. Exactly what, I don't know.

    Regarding the original question, harder is better, generally speaking. I find Tusq to be brighter, while bone is warmer. Wood like ebony is hard to describe. It's bright and barky, yet not really like tusq or bone.

  7. #7
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    Thanks Renaissance-Man and Koalohapaul. It is so cool that there are knowledge rich members here on the forum and they share their knowledge.

    So does the nut material have any affect on the sound produced or is it ussually just matched up with the saddle material for looks?

  8. #8
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    A good nut also (potentially) aids note sustain. Basically, the harder the material, the less potential to dampen string movement. Change out the saddle first. If you think it was worth it, go for the nut.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renaissance-Man View Post
    A good nut also (potentially) aids note sustain. Basically, the harder the material, the less potential to dampen string movement. Change out the saddle first. If you think it was worth it, go for the nut.
    In reference to the sound, I only use either Micarta or bone as saddle material and have found no difference in tone quality with either material whether the string is played open or it is fretted. Remember, with the exception of the Am7 chord, all of our playing is fretted, if not fully then at least partially. As long as the nut material is fairly hard, strong, workable and durable, I don't think it much matters.
    Only my one and a half cents worth.
    Chuck Moore
    Moore Bettah Ukuleles
    http://www.moorebettahukes.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moore Bettah Ukuleles View Post
    Only my one and a half cents worth.
    Probably worth at least three if not four and a half in my book.

    Thanks agian to all that gave input. I am not sure if I am going to do anything I was really just curious. I might try changing the saddle on my KPK and/or Stagg to see if I can notice a difference. I might tinker around with one just to satisfiy my curiousity. Than I can say I did some upgrades to my uke.

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