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Thread: nut/saddle: bone or synthetic material?

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by joakiml View Post
    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.
    Last edited by UkerDanno; 07-08-2018 at 03:49 AM.
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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by joakiml View Post
    ...different players have different preferences, I guess I have to make up my own
    Notice how well " my own" rhymes with "bone"? .... jus' sayin'

  3. #23

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    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.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kissing View Post
    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
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by kypfer View Post
    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

    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!
    Last edited by kissing; 07-10-2018 at 04:48 AM.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by kissing View Post
    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
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  7. #27
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    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.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by kypfer View Post
    ... 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.
    Last edited by kissing; 07-10-2018 at 03:28 PM.

  9. #29
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    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.

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