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  #1  
Old 12-08-2012, 12:45 PM
Jackknifegypsy Jackknifegypsy is offline
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Default Wood nuts

Looking at several Stellas, all with old wooden nuts.

It seems 'organic' to have wooden ones, but would replacing with bone make a significant difference in tone?

Likewise, the saddles are ancient. Would the tone improve greatly if replaced with bone, or ivory?
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:02 PM
Ben-Had Ben-Had is offline
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Wow. are you going to get a bunch of different opinions on this one. Much is just one's preference. I prefer bone and think it would improve the sound. Saddle more so than the nut.
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  #3  
Old 12-09-2012, 10:32 AM
frankfalbo frankfalbo is offline
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I only use them occasionally on nylon and lap steels. I'll use scraps from the build itself to add continuity and decor. In both cases I saturate the contact surface with the thin CA. I soak the nearly completed nut slot, then re-cut it. This tends to plasticize it.

On nylons the tension and downward pressure is mild, and the contact surface is larger (lower psi) so if I acquiesce to the warm tonal implications, I get a nut that looks fantastic. I often get comments on it, even from non-guitarists.

On Laps it's the opposite. Extremely heavy strings, lots of down pressure, and I'll usually string it up awhile without cutting the slots. This compresses the wood under the string before I soak it with CA. The strings start their own slots, really, and the material underneath is a little denser. These will require some slot re-levelling over time, but the nuts are so high you've got plenty of room before the action is dangerously close to the board. I make these nuts really broad with a gentle slope too, usually 1/2" so the pressure is spread out over a long length of string, even though the width is thinner. (trebles)

Short answer? Yeah on the Stellas unless you're a purist I'd replace with bone.
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Old 12-09-2012, 02:01 PM
pfox14 pfox14 is offline
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I think bone nuts do improve sound especially sustain. Wood nuts tend to deaden strings more than bone does. Stella's had wood nuts as a way to save money not because they are the best material.
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:01 PM
Jackknifegypsy Jackknifegypsy is offline
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Default Bone it is...I have the blanks to fashion them...but

....Will remove the metal saddle on the Stella and replace it with bone.....

....is it necessary to take the material off the bottom to lower the saddle to the correct height, or has anyone simply 'scalloped' the bone at the resting place of each string to seat it, with the saddle in place?

Other than aesthetics, I don't see any reason to keep removing the saddle several times to get a perfect fit for each string when 'sculpting' out the groove with a Dremel seems it might work.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:22 PM
steveyam steveyam is offline
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Wood just doesn't have the hardness to combat the pressure and 'aggresiveness' of both wound strings and thin unwound ones. The string is going to start to create a groove its own size - and that's bad for stiction reasons. The nut slot should be slightly wider than the string occupying that slot. Wood is just not a suitable material. It works as a bridge/saddle material because the majoritory of string slippage and movement happens at the 'take-up' end of the guitar ie where the tuners are. Bone and such materials are much harder and allow strings to move across them without (or with much reduced) stiction and less wear; they last longer, with better performance.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:33 PM
arie arie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyam View Post
It works as a bridge/saddle material because the majoritory of string slippage and movement happens at the 'take-up' end of the guitar ie where the tuners are.
somewhat true- but what actually happens is that when the strings vibrate they bed down into the saddle and shift forward throwing your intonation and action off over time. yes you can just "take up the slack" at the tuner end but your strings are always burrowing down into the saddle and nut. more so with the wound ones who's windings act little saws cutting into the wood. i actually have guitar built in 36' with ebony nut and saddle. it's not really a big problem but you will have to replace them occasionally.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:37 PM
arie arie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackknifegypsy View Post
....Will remove the metal saddle on the Stella and replace it with bone.....

....is it necessary to take the material off the bottom to lower the saddle to the correct height, or has anyone simply 'scalloped' the bone at the resting place of each string to seat it, with the saddle in place?

Other than aesthetics, I don't see any reason to keep removing the saddle several times to get a perfect fit for each string when 'sculpting' out the groove with a Dremel seems it might work.
better to set string arch and intonation and then just remove material off of the bottom to adjust action -much easier. you really shouldn't have grooves in your saddle.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:10 PM
Ken Donnell Ken Donnell is offline
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Default wood or bone

While I mostly use bone for nuts and saddles, I have used wood effectively for both, and especially for nuts. Ebony is a great nut material. I have also become fond of a wood known as Bodark, or Boise d' Arc, both for nuts & saddles It is a common wood in the mid-USA, that is extremely hard, inexpensive, easy to work with, and discolors with age to a golden brown that reminds me of aged whalebone. But either bone or wood is a excellent choice. Good luck.
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:13 AM
steveyam steveyam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arie View Post
somewhat true- but what actually happens is that when the strings vibrate they bed down into the saddle and shift forward throwing your intonation and action off over time. yes you can just "take up the slack" at the tuner end but your strings are always burrowing down into the saddle and nut. more so with the wound ones who's windings act little saws cutting into the wood. i actually have guitar built in 36' with ebony nut and saddle. it's not really a big problem but you will have to replace them occasionally.
Indeed. Wooden (surface) bridges and saddles are still a problem, but much less so than a wooden nut. I'm not a fan of either, I was merely pointing out that the wooden nut is the worst offender re stiction problems.
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Last edited by steveyam; 12-13-2012 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:25 AM
Zigeuner Zigeuner is offline
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My 1964 Martin Model A mandolin has a wooden nut. It's ebony. It works very nicely. I guess ebony would be OK on a guitar, except it would probably chip after a period of time.

The mandolin hasn't chipped yet, but the string grooves are not very deep and I seldom change strings.

I would prefer a bone nut and saddle on a guitar, for durtability if not for sound. There is no advantage to a wooden nut or saddle.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:35 AM
arie arie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyam View Post
Indeed. Wooden (surface) bridges and saddles are still a problem, but much less so than a wooden nut. I'm not a fan of either, I was merely pointing out that the wooden nut is the worst offender re stiction problems.
got it. they often swell up with humidity changes too binding up the strings unless the nut slots are real shallow "V" grooves. in general i think that they are a bad idea but often help give the older guitars the tone they are famous for.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:23 AM
bwstl01 bwstl01 is offline
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Not to put down the Stella, but I'd stay away from Ivory. A nut and saddle would cost a significant percentage of the overall guitar's actual value.

Bone would make a tonal difference, but again, no need to go the expense of camel bone. Good old cow leg bone will do nicely. You can give them an aged look by soaking in strong tea or even coffee, just don't overdue it. You can always soak them again (or longer) if they are too light, but once they get too dark, you are stuck.

Good luck!
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  #14  
Old 12-13-2012, 05:34 PM
steveyam steveyam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwstl01 View Post
Not to put down the Stella, but I'd stay away from Ivory. A nut and saddle would cost a significant percentage of the overall guitar's actual value.

Bone would make a tonal difference, but again, no need to go the expense of camel bone. Good old cow leg bone will do nicely. You can give them an aged look by soaking in strong tea or even coffee, just don't overdue it. You can always soak them again (or longer) if they are too light, but once they get too dark, you are stuck.

Good luck!
I couldn't give a **** about the colour of the bone, just its fitness for purpose. Bone - of most sorts - is a great natural material for a nut or a saddle. It's hard, it has a natural slippery feel and it lasts a decent amount of time. What it's all about.
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  #15  
Old 12-14-2012, 05:41 AM
Jackknifegypsy Jackknifegypsy is offline
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Was looking for anyone who has used Ivory for a nut or saddle.

I can't imagine there would be a great deal of difference between bone and ivory (without examining the size of the pores thru a high power microscope) since Ivory tusks are just external bones.

I have several pieces of ivory that I could carve and fashion into a nut and i would if there was any benefit over bone to make it worthwhile. It wouldn't cost me anything to do it, other than the loss of the ivory blank which I could possibly for inlay on a future wood project.

Last edited by Jackknifegypsy; 12-14-2012 at 05:42 AM. Reason: typo
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