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Old 08-13-2013, 07:04 AM
Gasworker Gasworker is offline
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Default Nuts and Saddles

I have so many questions when it comes to chasing better (different) tone.
When changing from bone to TUSQ or TUSQ to bone or different types of bone or ivories why aren't people changing both the nut and the saddle to the same material? If simply changing the saddle makes such a big difference will changing the nut make an even bigger difference?
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:12 AM
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It depends on how critical you think the nut is, which is a topic that has created some spirited debate here at AGF. Many believe that the nut is critical and transmits vibration through the neck and neck/body joint, others believe that happens but don't think it's very important. With Gibson it's a selling point because they rate the importance of the hot hide glued dovetail joint as very critical to the sound of the guitar, which elevates the importance of the nut. It really comes down to which expert you want to believe.
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:43 AM
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Personally, I think the saddle can make a significant difference in tone.

I remain unconvinced that changing the bridge pins or the nut to a different material will in and of itself, improve tone to any degree.

This is just my personal opinion ... shared by some, but not by all.
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:56 AM
Bikewer Bikewer is offline
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IMO, the primary reason for upgrading the nut is mechanical... Harder material like bone or Tusq is less prone to wear and binding when tuning the instrument.

Sound? Hard to see how it could have much effect.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:26 AM
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In addition to whether the nut material has as much significance on tone as the saddle, changing out a saddle can be done as a do it yourself job much easier than changing out the nut. The accuracy of the grooves in the nut are critical to playability in lower positions, and if not done right can also cause fret buzzing.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:35 AM
Opa John Opa John is offline
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I'm in the same camp as those who believe the nut and bridge pin material have very little, if any, affect on the tone. If there is a difference, I've just never heard it, I guess.

I have bone saddles on all of my guitars, but on my Yamaha changing the saddle to bone didn't even seem to make any difference. I think some people hear what they hear and others hear what they want to hear.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:44 AM
lmacmil lmacmil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gasworker View Post
If simply changing the saddle makes such a big difference will changing the nut make an even bigger difference?
If the nut material affects tone (still a point of contention), it will only do so on open strings. Any fretted note takes the nut out of the equation.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:09 AM
Todd Yates Todd Yates is offline
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The nut affects tone, especially on open strings. If you don't believe that, change a nut from plastic to bone or some similar material. You can even hear the change on some electrics. At least some of the difference is negated when fretting, although I'm not sure the nut is completely irrelevant at that point.

The saddle comes into play on every note, fretted or open.

People change saddles more frequently than nuts for two reasons....

(1) As noted above, the saddle affects every note.

(2) The saddle is a much simpler DIY project. Most are drop-in, and can be fitted and adjusted with a few simple tools. Nuts must be custom crafted to ensure proper string spacing and slot depth. They require more tools and experience.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:14 AM
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And on a guitar with a zero fret, the nut would have no effect at all as the frets would carry any energy into the neck -
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Old 08-13-2013, 11:55 AM
Rodger Knox Rodger Knox is offline
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Yes, all of these things make a difference, even the bridge pins.
The opinions on nuts and saddles have been covered in the previous posts, and I have nothing to add.
Bridge pins have an effect because they have weight, and that weight is part of the bridge. Changing the material of the bridge pins is only significant if the weight of the pins changes. Adding(or removing) weight to the bridge will affect the main top resonance frequency.
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:08 PM
AA&E AA&E is offline
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I believe it will make a definite differance on the saddle. I believe it will make a difference on open strings on the nut. I don't believe bridge pins will make a difference. The strings vibration end points are the saddle and nut (or fret on fretted strings)... I don't believe the bridge pins could possibly have any significant impact on transmission of vibrations into the top. These are just my opinions based upon personal experience.
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:17 PM
Gasworker Gasworker is offline
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"If the nut material affects tone (still a point of contention), it will only do so on open strings. Any fretted note takes the nut out of the equation."

This makes sense. Thanks. I specifically didn't raise the bridge pin issue as I agree they don't affect tone but they can be a nice aesthetic change. Maybe I will try a bone saddle and find out for myself. Have a great day
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:36 PM
Gcunplugged Gcunplugged is offline
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I agree with the majority opinion here that changing the saddle can improve tone, and also sustain. Conventional wisdom says that is because the saddle transfers the vibrating string energy to the soundboard. A harder material transfers more energy, or at least that's my theory.

I don't think that the nut has a significant affect on tone, but it possibly could for sustain. Replacing the nut could still be worthwhile, for the mechanical reasons mentioned earlier in the thread. Most interesting to me is that Tusq has the XL line which have graphite embedded for lubrication in the slots.

Has anyone tried one of those? Does it actually work and have less binding when tuning or bending?

GC
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:15 PM
billgennaro billgennaro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lmacmil View Post
If the nut material affects tone (still a point of contention), it will only do so on open strings. Any fretted note takes the nut out of the equation.
glad i read thru this thread before responding. this is what i would've said.
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:32 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Yates View Post
The nut affects tone, especially on open strings. If you don't believe that, change a nut from plastic to bone or some similar material. You can even hear the change on some electrics. At least some of the difference is negated when fretting, although I'm not sure the nut is completely irrelevant at that point.
I can hear a subtle change when the nut material is changed from hard plastic/micarta/what-have-you to bone. It's certainly not a big, dramatic change, but it's discernible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Yates View Post
The saddle comes into play on every note, fretted or open.
The saddle material is unquestionably the most important out of all these various appointments, which makes sense since it's the primary route of the string vibrations into the top of the guitar.

On most instruments I find that I prefer bone nuts and saddles, but occasionally bone saddles will add a harsh treble edge to the tone that I don't care for. So I'll backpedal by experimenting with Tusq or micarta saddles, one or the other of which usually solves the problem.

But I always keep bone nuts in place once I've had them installed. I like the effect that they have, subtle though it may be.


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