#1
I'm making this thread to pool together information (actual studies and articles) about the benefits and disadvantages of certain materials for saddles, nuts, and pins. TUSQ compared to bone, plastic compared to TUSQ, etc, etc.

According to some charts I found at Graph Tech, TUSQ and bone begin to coincide in resonance properties at about 554hz. Otherwise, it seems that bone is very unpredictable, and TUSQ remains steady, except at about 330hz, where it seems to go crazy.

According to Graph Tech, the benefits of TUSQ are its consistency and superior tone to other synthetics.

Todd Stuart Phillips states in his review on Micarta, bone, and Fossilized Walrus Ivory (FWI) that bone grows and matures with age, yet even compared to a >30 year old bone saddle, a FWI saddle beat it with a tone that had more "character." Please note that this was an article, backed by no visible evidence.

Anyone else?
#2
Here's an interesting site with some information about your topic. This guy specializes in just saddles, nuts and pins, and seems quite knowledgable about them all. A tend to agree with him in respect to bone being superior to tusq. Also, it seems appropriate in keeping with the "living" aspect of acoustics...living wood, bone was from a live animal, so let's not put plastic on it. Weird thinking I know, but in a way it makes sense. Anyhow, here's the link:

http://www.guitarsaddles.com/faqs.asp
#3
Quote by LeftyDave
Also, it seems appropriate in keeping with the "living" aspect of acoustics...living wood, bone was from a live animal, so let's not put plastic on it.

Hey, at one point I'm sure the tortise shell pickguard was real, too.
#4
Possibly, but that's not really relevant is it? I wonder if ceramic's have been tried for saddles? Kind of seems like it would transfer sound vibrations to the bridge nicely. Hmmm...
#5
Sounds dangerous; the string tension could snap it like a piece of peanut brittle. Just the strings pushing on it alone could fracture it all the way through. But hey, try it and report back here.
#6
Not a chance, but there are ceramics that are very very tough. The space shuttles heat tiles are a form of ceramic. Where I work, we deal with a lot of specialized pumps, and some of the seals are carbon/ceramic blends. I'm just trying to think outside the box a bit here. What else do you think could work instead of bone and plastic? DixFix said he made a saddle out of granite once. Musta been a pain to shape tho.
#8
^ Good one, and they'd be self-lubricating at the same time. Not so sure on the vibration transmission end of it tho. What about some metals? Stainless Steel comes to mind, but would probably make it sound like a dobro or resonator guitar.
#9
LeftyDave I have made a nut & bridge out of granite (on a banjo) & it worked fine so i dont see why ceramic wouldnt. Also made them out of steel i.e. zero fret & a steel saddle. I suppose anything that will transmit the sound waves to the soundbox with hi-fidelity would work. Shell or MOP is used on banjos quite frequently for nut material also all types of hardwoods. Dont see why glass wouldnt work just fine as well. I actually made a bridge out of fine jewelers wire sort of like the Sydney harbour bridge in construction , in an attempt to keep the bridge weight down to a minimum (on banjo) it worked but wasnt any better than a $10 one from the local guitar store. LOL
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#10
I'm going to Florida soon, and the beach next to where I stay is rife with large clam and conch shells. I have a shop there, so I'll try and make a shell saddle and see what happens. Might have to wait until I get back, because I don't think I have my sand belt there. I can at least get the materials, though.

Didn't know that about ceramic; thanks, Dave! Do you have the material availible to you to be able to try this? I really want to see/hear some examples. I'm afraid I haven't been very adventerous in saddle/nut manufacturing, so I don't have much to offer.

Thanks everybody for keeping this thread alive; I think we can squeeze some interesting information out of it.
#11
As a matter of fact, I could very easily get ahold of some of the specialized ceramic/carbon material we use for seals in our pumps at work, old worn ones that is. They are black in color, but that won't make a difference. They are round tho, so I'll have to do some digging and see what I can come up with. I'll keep you informed if I can get the right shape and go from there.
#13
My Plastation 2 saddle


Speaks for itself

Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
Last edited by Dix_Fix at Jul 3, 2007,
#14
You could make a sallde or nut out of wood could you not? I've seen it done before, but have no idea what it would sound like.

Any ideas?
MY GEAR-
Epiphone Les Paul Custom
Roland Cube 15
Alverez/Yairi 1995 YM-1
Ovation Celebrity
Peavey Classic 30
Electro Harmonix Big Muff USA Reissue

My myspace. Yeah. I know it sucks.
#15
Yes any hardwood is ok they use them regularly on banjo, Many other types of stringed instruments use wood bridges.
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#16
Okay, so I went shell hunting the other day. I got a ton of thick broken clamshells (most are long enough for a saddle). Some have grain running one way or the other, so that'll be something to test. Thankfully I won't have to thickness-sand them too much. So, pretty much what we're going to be testing here is what sort of sound quality shell can produce, whether the grade (closeness of the grain) of shell makes a difference, and whether which way the grain runs can make a difference. I'm also thinking that the grain falling on the strings can make a difference.
#17
I guess it is the suck it & see approach ? LOL sounds like fun let us know how it goes I would love some pics of the job (in process) if you can. Chad
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#18
The shop's out of commission down here; I got el ziltcho for tools. So, it's going to have to wait three days until I get back in Michigan. Thanks for the interest though---it should make the job go quicker.
#19
sounds like you have it sussed. We will just have to wait eh? LOL
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#20
Back to work tomorrow for me after a weeklong vacation(needed it badly I might add) so I'll be checking on getting some of the carbon seal material then. My only concern is that it will be too brittle to fashion into a saddle, but we shall see. I'll try to get pics posted if my digital cam let's me.
#21
Gee Dave i thought you would end with the obvious 'pun' i.e. instead of "we shall see" , "we shell see" lol. The carbon seal you are talking of , is it more brittle than say bone. a belt sander (or a drill with a decent sanding disc) will help here. Ive made one out of granite. While it is a rock it is reasonably brittle.
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#22
As promised, I've done the saddle swap on my Alvarez. I searched and asked around at work, but that carbon material was either the wrong shape, or too brittle to fashion into a saddle. Back to the drawing board. I managed to get a bone blank from my guitar shop tho. I took my time and carefully carved and sanded it down until it was the exact dimensions of the original saddle. The original btw was plastic injection molded. There was even a name molded into it and a number. "Farida" on the leading face(towards the headstock, just under the low E string, and the numbers "3*72" appear on the same face just under the high E string.
Back to the bone saddle. The blank was not completely straight, but had a bit of a twist to it. It was a challenge to shape so that I wound up with as straight a saddle as possible, but I got it done.
Now for the sound! Incredible is all I can say! I now understand why bone is "The Standard" in acoustic guitars saddles and nuts. It has changed my Alvy for the better. Harmonics, especially at the 7th fret are substantially clearer and louder, more pronounced. The overtones of each string come through with much more clarity now, giving the guitar a lot more depth. I sacrificed nothing with the swap, and gained everything. From sustain to volume, the entire range of the guitar has now been stepped up a notch. I will do the nut and bridge pins next. I did snap some pics of the job, but my cam will only focus to about a half a meter, which is too far away to get any kind of decent detail. Might be able to borrow the good one from work, and if so, will post pics then.
Chad48309, how goes your battle? Are you winning?
#23
does your cam have a macro setting?
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#24
Yes, Dix, it does. .6m is the closest it's able to focus. Any closer than that and pics are just blurry. A saddle is a relatively small item to try to focus close in on, tried it then promptly deleted the pics. Couldn't tell the saddle from a toothpick.
#25
Dave you could try taking the pic through a magnifying glass , so long as you light it properly it will work.
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#27
Whew, it's good to be unbanned. Thanks for the bump, fsb_ben. I'm glad this thread helped you out. LeftyDave, right of the bat, I couldn't find a piece of sea shell thick enough to make into a saddle, because they all have a curve to them, which I would have to sand out. So, if someone happens to have a giant clamshell or the like laying around, see what you can do. I think a broken piece of a conch I stumbled on might be straight enough and thick enough, but I can't find it now! I'm trying to keep up on this, but I have a lot of things going on. I bought a parakeet, I'm painting my strat, and I'm fixing my capo (the Shubb finally broke down). We'll just have to see how it goes.

I did, however, buy and install a set of bone bridge pins with abalone inlay. The change was slight, but noticable. I first installed every other string with the bone pins, and did a test going up and down the fretboard. The bone pins definately add more clarity to the once muddied notes. It sounds as if there's a dampener being released with the bone pins in place. Overall, I'm very happy with them. Pictures are soon to some. Next up is a bone saddle after reading LeftyDave's review.
#28
Hey Chad it is a long time in the wilderness isnt it. Prey tell us of your encounters in the non UG world. Find any good gutiar forum sites (i sure did when banned)

fixing your capo i finally got a G7th for my guitar (had a banjo one for a while) should have just bought the guitar one in the first place as it works fine on the banjo & on my 12 string (up till about 4th or 5th fret) here is a pic & it works as good as it looks.


Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#29
Well, the grey (teflon?) padding on the back came detached so it needs to be reglued. Oh, and the black tubing has grooves in it, so I'll replace that for a buck. This capo has quite a bit of significance to me. I left my chrome dunlop slide at my best friend's house when I first started playing guitar. We couldn't find it, and so he gave me this capo to make up for it. He had gotten the capo from someone else, so this capo dates back to at least the early 90s. Then I learned all of the interesting things that can be done with a key change with this capo. It's stuck by me, and I will do the same for it. Brass construction, perfect function, what more could I ask for?

Edit: it's not just a simple reglue. This thing is very annoying when it comes to adhering to bare brass. I'll contact cement it when I get around to it. I'm pretty lazy right now.
#30
if you etch the brass a bit first.
I'm sure there is an epoxy that is made specially for metals like that.
Selleys (Australia) definatly do.
http://www.selleys.com.au/Selleys-Metallic-Repair/default.aspx


Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
Last edited by Dix_Fix at Aug 16, 2007,
#32
Whatever gets the job done. I played one of my guitars with the nut not glued down for a month or so before i fixed it. (oh it was a 0 fret guitar) so i was still able to use it. I doubt if you could without a 0 fret, dunno. but it sure added a new dimention to what open chords could sound like , you could actually push the nut upwards towards the "E" & do some wierd bends ,cause the zero fret would let the strings slide sideways.
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#34
After i changed my saddle to bone i can now never go back. I now go around forcing my friends to do the same thing.

I was wondering if anyone could post their opinions on the bone nut and pins. Especially the pins.
epic7734
#35
Bone pins made a difference for me. A slight, but still noticable, increase in clarity.
#36
Has anyone seen the new type (adjustable metal like an electric) bridge ? & any opinions if you have. I'll try & find a link.
Richard

Veni Vidi Vici

Head Drug Tester of Australians FTWclub
PM the_random_hero for entry

Prime Minister of the UG archtop acoustic players club,
PM Keef_is_King
to join!
#38
Quote by Dix_Fix
Has anyone seen the new type (adjustable metal like an electric) bridge ? & any opinions if you have. I'll try & find a link.


Dix, it's my understanding that less mass is good, more is not. A metal bridge such as a strat has will only add more mass to the soundboard. It also goes without saying that the internal structure of the guitar would need to be beefed up to support such mass, again making things worse, rather than better. My opinion of course, but you can see where I'm heading with this. Ask a violin luthier how much bridge mass affects the tone and sustain and you will understand why I don't think a metal bridge is viable. The adjustability of it sure would be nice to have tho.
#40
Quote by fsb_ben
I noticed that your bridge has many angular cuts at the top.. my bridge is pretty one uniform shape.

ANy advantages to the angular cuts?


That's called a "compensated" bridge saddle. Those cuts are for intonation. Some acoustics require them, some don't. My Alvarez doesn't have them, and it's intonation is right on the money. Plays beautifully all along the neck. If your intonation is good as is, no worries.