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  #1  
Old 01-20-2021, 08:47 AM
PeteyPower16 PeteyPower16 is offline
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Default Micarta Saddles: Do they go “dead” with use/age?

I heard on a YouTube video that eventually Micarta saddles go dead and need to be replaced.

Is this true?

Is so, can anyone share the reason it goes dead? Is it due to age of the materials, or due to use?

How often would one need to replace a Micarta saddle for this rumored possibility?
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2021, 09:53 AM
woodenstrings woodenstrings is offline
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I think the micarta saddle does not change or need replacement unless its been modified in a negative way at some point.
I have an old Taylor 812 from 1986. I believe it has a micarta saddle.
It still sounds and plays as great as it ever has..
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Old 01-20-2021, 02:05 PM
PaulVA PaulVA is offline
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I don't think they go dead, but they can deaden sound once worn. Because they are made from material that is not overly hard, they eventually develop wear spots at the points where the strings contact the saddle, and those wear areas get flattened somewhat such that they can affect tone or intonation. The tone is muffled sounding when the contact point is not as sharp as it should be. The top of the saddle can be cleaned up and restored to original condition with some filing and/or sanding. But if that would lower the action more than desired, then a new saddle is needed, so in that way I suppose they can wear out.
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Old 01-20-2021, 08:32 PM
hermithollow hermithollow is offline
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Micarta can't go dead because like Naugahyde, it was never alive. As with most other nut and saddle materials, it can wear out and possibly deteriorate over time like most plastics (and again - other nut and saddle materials)
I don't think you will notice a change in the sound of the guitar as long as the micarta is "sound" enough to be used as the nut or saddle.
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Old 01-20-2021, 11:19 PM
Tim E Tim E is offline
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Which youtube video was this? What was meant by "going dead"? Micarta can fail, perhaps by wear, or by cracking or some other mechanical failure. Bone can do the same thing. But it doesn't really change over time as far as I've seen. It has no apparent lifespan. It seems to remain as rigid as it can be as long as bone or ivory or metal. Perhaps "as rigid as it can be" doesn't compare favorably other materials? But that's a different thing than what I interpret as "going dead".
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Old 01-21-2021, 08:00 AM
Neil K Walk Neil K Walk is offline
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I've never given micarta or tusq a chance. One of the first things I do is order a bone saddle.
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Old 01-21-2021, 08:28 AM
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ljguitar ljguitar is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteyPower16 View Post
I heard on a YouTube video that eventually Micarta saddles go dead and need to be replaced.

Is this true?
Hi PP

In 1994 when my Olson arrived it had an LR-Baggs LB-6 saddle (a brass blank with 6 piezos embedded in it, topped with Micarta. The guitar sounded amazing.

10 years later I decided to have a new pickup/mic system installed (K&K trinity), and as part of that process the LB-6 was removed and replaced with a bone saddle.

The first chord I played after picking it up, I was amazed at how much better the guitar sounded acoustically. I was surprised at the improvement (because the Olson was already more amazing than any guitar I'd played or owned up to that time).

My gigging partner came over the next day, and he picked it up and immediately asked what I'd done to the guitar. Two more players repeated this scenario over the next week.

From that point on, I've replaced every Tusq (Taylor's saddle material) and Micarta saddle that came in a guitar with bone, and the change has always sounded better with me playing my styles of music.

At one point around the time I swapped the pickup system in my Olson, I was on the phone with James Olson and we were talking about possibly putting a new LB-6 in mine, and he said that since I'd bought my guitar, a different company had purchased Micarta and the Micarta was softer in the new saddles, (he was adjusting them before sending new guitars out).

Hope this contributes to the discussion…




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Old 01-21-2021, 12:22 PM
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blindboyjimi blindboyjimi is online now
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No, I don’t believe they go dead, but I’m with LJ, the harder the material, the better sounding it will be. A lot of manufacturers use Micarta or Tusq as its 100% consistent and cheap and sounds good with an under saddle pick up. A good piece to bone is just slightly harder to source and probably a bit more expensive to make a saddle or nut than Micarta/Tusq but it’ll be the best $60 you can spend (replace the nut too if it’s the same material).
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Old 01-21-2021, 01:58 PM
MrErikJ MrErikJ is offline
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Micarta is pretty hard and fairly comparable to Tusq in durability and tone. It has its own sound profile, as mentioned above, that you may or may not prefer to bone or similarly harder materials. I'm guessing Taylor uses it for both its simplicity and tone (as it impacts their guitars, specifically). It won't fail, per se or go "dead" but you may prefer a harder material.

I don't have a big preference between micarta and Tusq but I've never been unhappy with a saddle I've purchased from Bob Colosi. I have guitars with micarta, tusq, and bone saddles and I like them all. Bone is definitely the hardest.
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Old 01-21-2021, 02:42 PM
RalphH RalphH is offline
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Taylor make 35,000 guitars a year. I suspect the choice to use Micarta is almost 100% driven by the consistency of results and manufacturing efficiency they gain from that. As for whether it's better or worse... Well tone is subjective anyhow and many probably wouldn't notice much difference anyway. -- That's not to say it's not there before I start a war --
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Old 01-21-2021, 03:41 PM
MrErikJ MrErikJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RalphH View Post
Taylor make 35,000 guitars a year. I suspect the choice to use Micarta is almost 100% driven by the consistency of results and manufacturing efficiency they gain from that. As for whether it's better or worse... Well tone is subjective anyhow and many probably wouldn't notice much difference anyway. -- That's not to say it's not there before I start a war --
The perfect response: Micarta works fine but it may or may not be for you. For a brand manufacturing guitars, it is a more efficient choice. It shouldn't go "dead" because it isn't fruit but if you don't like it, you may prefer the tone of bone or Tusq. If you have no complaints about it, just leave it.
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  #12  
Old 01-21-2021, 10:44 PM
hermithollow hermithollow is offline
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Swapping saddles is much easier than changing nuts. It you want to try out bone you can buy a blank for a few bucks and copy the dimensions of the micarta saddle you have. Most saddles are not glued in, so you should be able to loosen the strings and lift the existing saddle out to copy it, and replace it with the copy and retune the strings. If you find you like micarta better you can just swap it back. Some people do prefer micarta.
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Old 01-22-2021, 12:20 AM
hifivic hifivic is offline
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It was never alive sounding to begin with! Poor material for transmitting tone and sustain.
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