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  #1  
Old 05-24-2019, 08:07 AM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Smile Emerald Bone Saddle Mod (Success Finally)

Well after months of trying to dye a bone saddle black for my Emerald guitar I finally succeeded, after many many many failed attempts. I won't reiterate on all the things I've tried that didn't work. And just to add I didn't want to paint the saddle I wanted it completely dyed. I'll post some before and after pics later when I get home from work.

First off here's a link to the bone saddle. These are made by MacNichol guitars and they are quality bone saddles and the closest match to the stock tusq saddle that Emerald uses:

https://www.amazon.com/Unbleached-Sa...P5Z8HESCDTW5K4

Okay so I should also mention that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the stock tusq saddle. There's also nothing wrong with using a normal white bone saddle either. I don't think it looked out of place as white I just think aesthetically the black is a better match for Emerald guitars. The same could be said for Rainsong or other carbon guitars that ship with white saddles. I tried the bone saddle on my X30 (before I gave it to my uncle) first and than on my X20 and I personally preferred the bone tone better than tusq. It made the tone have more snap and crispness and better clarity.

For those who are not happy with the tone of their guitar replacing the saddle from tusq to bone is a cheap and easy mod that in some cases can make a huge difference. If you don't like the change you can easily revert back.

So to dye the bone saddle black here's what I did that worked (you should shape the saddle first before you dye it). You can vary the materials somewhat, I just used what I already had at home and turned to Chemistry 101.

First, I made 2 liquid solutions at the same time. One solution I poured white vinegar into a bowl (just enough to cover the size of the saddle) and in my case I added black keda dye as I already had that on hand. I would think that you could use practically anything to add to the vinegar so long as the mixture was black and the overall solution is acidic.

The 2nd liquid solution was very simply pouring lemon juice into a container and adding a piece of steel wool. This creates an iron salt solution.

Take the bone saddle and place it in the acidic solution and leave it in there for a full day. Next take the now black bone saddle (using rubber gloves) and place it in the iron salt solution for another day. Now when you remove it the black dye (or whatever you use) will be completely absorbed into the bone. Wash it off with water and let it sit for a few hours to dry. Voila, you now have a permanently dyed black bone saddle.

Thought I should share this for those interested.

Here's some pics of before and after:

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

Last edited by GuitarLuva; 05-27-2019 at 09:07 PM. Reason: Add Pics
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  #2  
Old 05-24-2019, 11:17 AM
Gitaman Gitaman is offline
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Guitarluva, I enjoy reading all your experiments and I am glad it worked out. I have been thinking stealth black look for my OF660 and I might give it a try with a second set of nut and saddle since I like the current ivory bowtie look as well.

I wonder if I could do the same to my Chrome tuner...
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:00 PM
EvanB EvanB is offline
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Interesting chronicle. Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:21 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Guitarluva, I enjoy reading all your experiments and I am glad it worked out. I have been thinking stealth black look for my OF660 and I might give it a try with a second set of nut and saddle since I like the current ivory bowtie look as well.

I wonder if I could do the same to my Chrome tuner...
Thanks Gita I am a crazy modder but this one I really wanted to succeed. Regarding your stealth black look I think it would add a nice touch to the Journey. Kinda like a Rainsong Smokey except glossy. You could paint the chrome Grovers black easy enough and follow up with a clear coat (though you will be without the guitar for the process) or take a more expensive route and replace them with black ones easy enough. Something to consider for sure.

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Interesting chronicle. Thanks for taking the time.
My pleasure. I know a few others on here bought the same saddle and might be interested in dyeing it black.
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:25 PM
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raysachs raysachs is offline
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Aesthetics aside, how much difference do you hear in the sound with the new saddle? Did you sand the bottom of the new saddle yourself and tweak it for intonation or did you have someone a luthier do that part?
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:47 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Originally Posted by raysachs View Post
Aesthetics aside, how much difference do you hear in the sound with the new saddle? Did you sand the bottom of the new saddle yourself and tweak it for intonation or did you have someone a luthier do that part?
Ray, before I dyed it I sanded it down myself to the same height as the stock tusq saddle. Compared to the tusq saddle there was a noticeable difference in tone. Trying to put it in words is not always easy but compared to tusq it was more clearer. The bass notes are punchier and the trebles are crisper. For me I like it better, much better. It's of course possible that not everyone will feel the same. I also replaced the tusq saddle with bone on my Gibson a couple months ago as well (minus the dyeing) and noticed the same thing.

I only succeeded this experiment just last night so I have yet to put it back on. When I get home from work tonight I need to gently buff the saddle with scotchbrite and then polish it before I reinstall it. Hopefully tonight I should say!
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Old 05-24-2019, 05:42 PM
jwellsy jwellsy is offline
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I wonder if Colortone stain would work for other colors.
https://www.stewmac.com/Materials_an...id_Stains.html
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Old 05-24-2019, 06:21 PM
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raysachs raysachs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarLuva View Post
Ray, before I dyed it I sanded it down myself to the same height as the stock tusq saddle. Compared to the tusq saddle there was a noticeable difference in tone. Trying to put it in words is not always easy but compared to tusq it was more clearer. The bass notes are punchier and the trebles are crisper. For me I like it better, much better. It's of course possible that not everyone will feel the same. I also replaced the tusq saddle with bone on my Gibson a couple months ago as well (minus the dyeing) and noticed the same thing.

I only succeeded this experiment just last night so I have yet to put it back on. When I get home from work tonight I need to gently buff the saddle with scotchbrite and then polish it before I reinstall it. Hopefully tonight I should say!
I'm not at all DIS-satisfied with the sound of my X7 with the tusq saddle on, but this seems like an easy enough mod to try just to see if I like the difference. I'm sure I'd be fine sanding the saddle down to the height of the stock saddle. I'm less sure about intonation though.

I don't have any problem fine-tuning intonation on my electrics, which all have adjustable saddles, but I've never messed with it on an acoustic. Did you have to sand any of the string contact points to move them slightly fore or aft or was the intonation fine out of the package? The stock saddle has the guitar perfectly intonated and I'm not that confident about trying to adjust that.

The dying of a white saddle is something I might or might not even do. If I try one and really like the sound, I might eventually get around to trying to dye it, but more likely I'd just get used to it and leave it white.
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Old 05-24-2019, 06:55 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Originally Posted by jwellsy View Post
I wonder if Colortone stain would work for other colors.
https://www.stewmac.com/Materials_an...id_Stains.html
So long as you use it as mentioned above I would guess you could use those to get whichever color you desired. I did try black stain on it's own, that was one of my failed methods. The stain just wouldn't absorb into the bone even when I put it in the can (sealed) for 6 weeks, not even a drop. Mixing it with vinegar should work fine while following the above.

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Originally Posted by raysachs View Post
I don't have any problem fine-tuning intonation on my electrics, which all have adjustable saddles, but I've never messed with it on an acoustic. Did you have to sand any of the string contact points to move them slightly fore or aft or was the intonation fine out of the package? The stock saddle has the guitar perfectly intonated and I'm not that confident about trying to adjust that.
I never adjusted anything else on the saddle beside the height as of yet. It is compensated, just not quite like the stock tusq saddle. That also makes me wonder why they use that particular saddle with all that crazy compensation on it. Is it really necessary, I don't know. To set intonation properly you should be using a strobe tuner, which I don't have. If I check the saddle with my ears it sounds fine or with a normal chromatic tuner. I can tolerate sharp or flat a few cents if that was the case. Adjusting the intonation on an acoustic is certainly not as easy as on an electric but there are several things you can do. It unfortunately requires constant loosening the strings, tweaking, than retightening to check. It is a bit of a pain. Once I get it put back on I'll check everything over and report the findings. I never even bothered checking the intonation on the X20 with the stock tusq saddle (yet).
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Old 05-24-2019, 08:01 PM
jdinco jdinco is offline
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I've always found that once the saddle height was in spec the intonation was fine.
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Old 05-24-2019, 10:37 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Originally Posted by jdinco View Post
I've always found that once the saddle height was in spec the intonation was fine.
I concur. I did sand the bone saddle a tad lower than the stock tusq saddle (deliberately). I just finished putting it on. I checked intonation with a normal chromatic tuner and everything was spot on with that. I definitely like it better than the tusq saddle as I said earlier.
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:39 AM
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raysachs raysachs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdinco View Post
I've always found that once the saddle height was in spec the intonation was fine.
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Originally Posted by GuitarLuva View Post
I concur. I did sand the bone saddle a tad lower than the stock tusq saddle (deliberately). I just finished putting it on. I checked intonation with a normal chromatic tuner and everything was spot on with that. I definitely like it better than the tusq saddle as I said earlier.
Good to know - thanks folks. I just ordered one of the saddles. For $15, it's a no-lose proposition.

I'm not usually all that anal about intonation - one of my electrics is a three saddle telecaster withOUT compensated saddles. But I recently checked my X7 because I was trying a set of strings (Newtone Heritage) that someone here had posted several years ago they were specifically told by the Newtone folks shouldn't be used on short scale guitars because they won't intonate properly. So when I put a set on, I checked the intonation (Polytune 3, in strobe mode) and it was perfect. Then I emailed the folks at Newtone and they basically nicely suggested I shouldn't believe everything I read on the internet...

But I should be able to match saddle height pretty easily and if the intonation is chromatic-close, I'm cool with that. And if I love the difference, maybe someday I'll get around to trying to dye the saddle.

-Ray
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Old 05-25-2019, 09:29 AM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Originally Posted by raysachs View Post
Good to know - thanks folks. I just ordered one of the saddles. For $15, it's a no-lose proposition.
-Ray
My sentiments exactly Ray. For $15 it's worth a try. Easily reversible if you're not happy with it.

I have one more mod planned for the X20 during the next couple weeks. I do tinker a lot, but I never do anything that isn't reversible, well that's not totally true.
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Old 05-25-2019, 11:01 AM
jwellsy jwellsy is offline
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I couldn't find a fretboard radius listed on that Amazon link.

Emeralds typically have 16" radius fretboards.
https://emeraldguitars.com/guitars/specifications/

https://www.thaliacapos.com/pages/fr...tar-make-model
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Breedlove Blond Jumbo
Yamaha Silent Steel String
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  #15  
Old 05-25-2019, 03:55 PM
GuitarLuva GuitarLuva is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwellsy View Post
I couldn't find a fretboard radius listed on that Amazon link.

Emeralds typically have 16" radius fretboards.
https://emeraldguitars.com/guitars/specifications/

https://www.thaliacapos.com/pages/fr...tar-make-model
Yep there's nothing listed about the radius. Doesn't matter to me though I checked intonation last night and it's fine. Saddle height will affect intonation as well and I did make the bone saddle a little lower than the stock tusq saddle and I'm still fine.
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