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View Full Version : Bob Colosi - bone saddles, bridge pins, nuts


vac4873
10-26-2006, 08:51 PM
Is Bob Colosi's web site still www.guitarsaddles.com? It seems to be down. I was trying to order a bone saddle for my guitar. BTW, I'd like to get a few opinions on which makes the most diffence in tone, saddle, bridge pins, or nut? My take is that the order I just presented is sorted by most to least influential on sound, but I would like to hear others' take on this.

Matt

JoeInLex
10-26-2006, 08:59 PM
I believe that Bob himself mentions the same order on his web page. I've read on other sites that this seems to be the general consensus.

ikan_kunning
10-26-2006, 09:51 PM
Yup, it looks like it's down for the moment. Be patient, am sure Bob will be getting it up and running soon enough.

FWIW, I've been led to believe the saddle makes the greatest improvement (subjective, I'm sure) followed by pins then the nut.

But then again, am ready to be corrected...but I'm pretty sure the saddle comes first.

rcolosi
10-26-2006, 10:31 PM
Is Bob Colosi's web site still www.guitarsaddles.com? It seems to be down. Matt

thanks for the heads up... It's back up and running now.

Folkstrum
10-26-2006, 10:51 PM
I believe that Bob himself mentions the same order on his web page. I've read on other sites that this seems to be the general consensus.
I had our local luthier, Jim Holler (http://trinityguitars.com) "fabricate" (?) a compensated bone saddle for my 855 (Kevin installs them on all his Omegas). In all honesty, I haven't detected much of a change in tone...perhaps a bit more mid-range bite, as I had to mess a bit with the eq on my little amp. I would've gladly gone with Bob, but having someone of Jim's caliber living 5 minutes from my driveway to his (and having ingratiated myself with his rather LARGE labrador...who barks a good line, but is a giant, loveable baby!), just figured he'd do the job WITH the 855 in hand.

Maybe my hearing isn't what it's supposed to be, or once was, but as I said, it isn't like I was expecting "night and day"---and I didn't get it. I think a part of that has to do with 12, rather than 6 strings; subtle improvements (or degredation) is hard to detect with the overtones, sympathetic resonances and sheer number of strings with a 12. I DO know, I prefer the Baggs I-Beam Jim installed on the Omega over what I had Dave Stutzman install on the Taylor 10 years ago...I think the "state of the art" in UST's and the like has really advanced. I'm now considering having the 855 modified with a Baggs or K&K.

andrewrg
10-27-2006, 07:12 AM
I once changed the stock synthetic saddle on a Martin J40 to bone and was disappointed by the result. There was a metallic 'clank' in the unwound strings. It may have been a bad piece of bone-being organic the density and thus the vibration transferrence will vary-but I replaced the original saddle and got the tone back.
Having said that my Bourgeois has a bone saddle and it sounds great.
I'm not convinced a bone nut will do much-once you fret a note or use a capo it's out of the equation.
Pins? They look good!
Either way it's a fun and relatively cheap way to experiment with your tone. To answer your original question I would put strings first, choice of pick next, if you use one (thickness, material and shape), then saddle material, as tone modifiers.

honeycrack
10-27-2006, 08:25 AM
BTW, I'd like to get a few opinions on which makes the most diffence in tone, saddle, bridge pins, or nut? My take is that the order I just presented is sorted by most to least influential on sound, but I would like to hear others' take on this.

Matt,

I may be a voice of dissention here but I find the most influential factor on the sound is a WELL-SEATED saddle regardless of the material. I honestly feel that the vast majority of improvement heard lies in this simple fact. It's all about contact. Most of the time I've switched out saddles was because I needed a change in the string compensation. TUSQ, micarta, bone, ivory; I used them all, and have only noticed a change in tone through USDs (pickups).

Bridge pins: this one baffles me. It SHOULD be outside the acoustic chain - just like tuning machines. The only factor I see here is if the pins are substantial enough to add weight to the soundboard and affect the vibration characteristics of the top.

Nut: Again, this is a seating issue (to avoid buzzes) but just as important is a clean break angle for the string. I envision some improvement in sustain is possible but I think it's too far away from the soundboard to impart any noticeable change in tone.

In the end, if this is what you want to do and it'll make you feel better about your instrument, then go for it. But, if your looking for some noticeable improvement, you may be chasing ghosts. I mean, who's to say what's an improvement anyway? Maybe bone "colours" the sound... and somehow we've come to accept this as better because someone else says so?

lotech
10-27-2006, 12:58 PM
I've just installed Bob's bone saddle and pins on my 810ce. The unplugged sound doesn't seem substantially different, but when I plugged it in for the first time (just this morning), I got a big surprise.
I'd never been too successful at tuning away the feedback and couldn't get a decent tone, no matter what I did with the tone controls. After sitting and playing for quite a while, marveling at the improved tone and the great increase in volume I could get without releasing the banshees, I noticed I had forgotten to put in the rubber sound-hole plug!
Before, plugging in without the "Feedback Buster" was a foolhardy venture, now everything is better.

I'm not sure what might have made the difference, but here's what was changed:
The bone pins replaced a set of knurled-head brass pins (installed by the previous owner Because he felt they would improve sustain).
The bone saddle replaced a Tusq saddle, also installed by the previous owner (to replace the original, because he felt it was too loosely fitted and was hurting the sustain). The previous owner is a guitar tech, and a good friend, so I think I'm being objective when I say that, while he did a very good job on the side-to-side fitting (a little better perhaps, than I did on the bone saddle), the squareness and flatness of the bottom left much to be desired.

In my previous life I worked for many years as a machinist. I don't call myself a Machinist, because I've met only a handful of craftsmen deserving of that exalted title, and I'm not one of them, but I do know a thing or two about getting something very square, flat, and slickly finished, and happen to have the tools and materials on hand to achieve good results.

I did the stock removal with a 120 grit, adhesive sanding disk, stuck to a small granite surface plate. Most people wouldn't have such a thing as a granite surface plate, but the Idea is to get the flattest, hardest, stiffest surface available, to work on. A piece of thick plate-glass (like a good quality mirror) or a milled stone counter-top, or a brand-new, good quality sharpening stone are good possibilities. opaque materials are better than transparent, because you can check the flatness of your saddle by setting it on the surface, with light behind it, and looking for light passing underneath.

The finishing was done on the same surface plate, using 400 grit paper, and finally some mylar fiber-optic finishing film I happened to have. I suspect something like crocus-cloth would work as well. Bob say's use 600 grit paper, and I'm sure the results would be good, but I didn't have any on hand (and I wanted to really slick this thing up!:D )

JoeInLex
10-27-2006, 01:22 PM
Matt,

Bridge pins: this one baffles me. It SHOULD be outside the acoustic chain - just like tuning machines. The only factor I see here is if the pins are substantial enough to add weight to the soundboard and affect the vibration characteristics of the top.



Interesting point. Judging by the varied information on the internet, the bridge pins do have an effect. As to why, not truly sure. What does make sense is that the pin should be the solid contact point between the varied components at the bridge and under it. If that contact point makes the components share the virbration / force as much as possible, then the maximum transfer of sound / resonance / etc. should occur. If the material used were softer, then I think that the transfer would be decreased by the dampening of the material and the lesser contact between surfaces. This is all just conjecture on my part because I'd ask why not just use a really hard material for the bridge pins, bridge, saddle, etc.?

honeycrack
10-27-2006, 02:17 PM
Interesting point. Judging by the varied information on the internet, the bridge pins do have an effect. As to why, not truly sure. What does make sense is that the pin should be the solid contact point between the varied components at the bridge and under it. If that contact point makes the components share the virbration / force as much as possible, then the maximum transfer of sound / resonance / etc. should occur. If the material used were softer, then I think that the transfer would be decreased by the dampening of the material and the lesser contact between surfaces. This is all just conjecture on my part because I'd ask why not just use a really hard material for the bridge pins, bridge, saddle, etc.?

It sounds like you're assuming there's significant/sympathetic vibration of the string between the saddle and the pins. Ideally there's not. The end of the vibrating string stops at the saddle, transferring energy down, through the thin part of the bridge and into the top.

With a well-seated string, it is possible to remove the bridge pins altogether. That is, the ball-end is wedged properly under the bridge plate. Tension keeps it in place. The pins are irrelevant. So, if they are affecting the tone, I would suggest that's it's either (a) the added weight of the pins. (i.e. Slowing the top down by increasing its deflection making it louder, bassier, "warmer".) or (b) vibration leakage into the pins by a poorly shaped saddle (i.e. adding harmonic distortion and "enriching" the overall aural experience).

JoeInLex
10-27-2006, 06:35 PM
Like I wrote, not quite sure how it makes a difference. I can see varied reasons why / why not it might help. Definately makes sense. Might all be just hype to sell more expensive components. Any luthiers out there care to respond?

Thanks folks, interesting subject.

Cornerstone Guitars
10-27-2006, 06:38 PM
I'm about to use a set for Jim's guitar and it definately should make a diference.... a lot denser than regular bone or Tusq. Looks pretty good too!

Plaid Coyote
10-27-2006, 06:58 PM
I'm about to use a set for Jim's guitar and it definately should make a diference.... a lot denser than regular bone or Tusq. Looks pretty good too!

That set is one of the Hard Ivory saddles and nuts that Bob has. Bob speaks very highly of the Hard Ivory.

bcaylor
10-27-2006, 08:26 PM
Just as info...Bob's site is back up and running!

http://guitarsaddles.com/

andrewrg
10-28-2006, 10:03 AM
If the tone enhancing properties of bone are worth all the hype we read about, surely large manufacturers like Martin would be using them in order to show their guitars to best advantage? Cow bone is cheap and plentiful and wouldn't add much to the cost of a guitar.

ljguitar
10-28-2006, 10:07 AM
If the tone enhancing properties of bone are worth all the hype we read about, surely large manufacturers like Martin would be using them in order to show their guitars to best advantage? Cow bone is cheap and plentiful and wouldn't add much to the cost of a guitar.
Yeah, and since the guitars are so high priced, these same manufacturers would obviously spring for Elixir or other coated strings so the guitars don't sound 'dead' when potential customers play them too...

Well one does...

Plaid Coyote
10-28-2006, 10:16 AM
Yeah, and since the guitars are so high priced, these same manufacturers would obviously spring for Elixir or other coated strings so the guitars don't sound 'dead' when potential customers play them too...

Well one does...

John Greven told me that Martin had considered using the Tor-tis pickguards on all their high end and special edition guitars. But, Martin would not pay him the additional $.50 per guard he needed to produce them. So Martin backed out.

ljguitar
10-28-2006, 10:20 AM
John Greven told me that Martin had considered using the Tor-tis pickguards on all their high end and special edition guitars. But, Martin would not pay him the additional $.50 per guard he needed to produce them. So Martin backed out.
Hi Plaid C...
I concluded long ago that ''pretty good guitars'' is what some companies are settled on building and if one wants something better - there are people like Bob Colosi around to help us.

All my guitars have compensated bone saddles, and slotless bridge pins.

Plaid Coyote
10-28-2006, 10:23 AM
Hi Plaid C...
I concluded long ago that ''pretty good guitars'' is what some companies are settled on building and if one wants something better - there are people like Bob Colosi around to help us.

All my guitars have compensated bone saddles, and slotless bridge pins.

Yeah, I agree Larry. I think that the general public is fine with the straight setup. But people get 3rd party upgrades on their homes, cars, boats and will do the same for guitars.

3rd_harmonic
10-28-2006, 10:24 AM
Is Bob Colosi's web site still www.guitarsaddles.com? (http://www.guitarsaddles.com?) It seems to be down. I was trying to order a bone saddle for my guitar. BTW, I'd like to get a few opinions on which makes the most diffence in tone, saddle, bridge pins, or nut? My take is that the order I just presented is sorted by most to least influential on sound, but I would like to hear others' take on this.

Matt

I tried to improve the sound - muddy bass- of an early shallow body A/E Washburn with a fossil ivory saddle. nada

vac4873
10-28-2006, 03:32 PM
Thanks, everyone for your input and interesting discussion. Here's my take on it, I had pretty much made up my mind to order a bridge saddle from Bob and found his site down. I took advantage of the opportunity to get some input from you folks here (whose input I have a lot of respect for) while I was waiting.
I have a new guitar that Larry accurately describes as a "pretty good" guitar (and not even one of the most expensive brands of "pretty good") with a tusq bridge saddle. I really like the sound of it, but was intrigued by some of the postings with the A-B comparisons of tusq and bone, was able to identify the bone saddles (when they weren't identified up front) and liked the subtle differences in tone produced by the bone saddle. So, I figured it was worth spending a few bucks --an amount that amounts to less than the tax I paid when I bought the guitar at a music store or the price of a steak dinner at a restaurant-- to find out if I like the subtle differences produced by adding a bone saddle. If I do like it, I have improved my sound at a very reasonable price. If not, I put my tusq saddle back on, and learn a valuable lesson at a very low price. I might even try it in one of my "beaters" that has a plastic saddle. I figure I can't really lose. I will also do some other inexpensive experiments with string brands and materials 80/20, phosphor bronze, coated, etc.
Again, thanks to everyone for their input!
Matt

muzz76
10-29-2006, 07:06 AM
If the tone enhancing properties of bone are worth all the hype we read about, surely large manufacturers like Martin would be using them in order to show their guitars to best advantage? Cow bone is cheap and plentiful and wouldn't add much to the cost of a guitar.

All Martin guitars from the standard series and up come fitted with bone saddles and nuts...they've been doing it a couple years now.

DM3MD
10-29-2006, 08:41 AM
If the tone enhancing properties of bone are worth all the hype we read about, surely large manufacturers like Martin would be using them in order to show their guitars to best advantage? Cow bone is cheap and plentiful and wouldn't add much to the cost of a guitar.


This is exactly why all Martin guitars (18-series and above) come standard with a bone nut and saddle as of a couple years ago. Same with select, high-end Larrivee guitars. Same with R.Taylor and Taylor PS guitars. It's also the standard material on virtually every high-dollar handbuilt acoustic made. I'm quite sure it's not hype.

SamJ
10-29-2006, 09:25 AM
Don't under rate the special place Walrus Ivory has in this arena. I recently heard (which led me to order for my guitar) the difference in Walrus and Bone on a guitar at my luthiers shop... He took all of 10 minutes to replace a saddle and restring a guitar with a new set of strings (twice, once for bone and once for walrus) and I was convinced that Walrus is the tone I'm after... harder than Elephant (and certainly Mammoth), and while as dense as bone, less likely to loose bass overtones. I'm thinking, that in the end, the harder the saddle/nut the more you're hearing the guitar as the sound transfer is less effected by the saddle and nut. The softer they are the more they'll interfere (to the better or worse) the tone.. so it's all about controlling density. There is of course an aesthetic value to the natural materials as well.