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E-minor7

The Nut Department

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Hello again - 1 basic Q and I know it belongs elsewhere so it will be posted there too.

 

How much does nut material affect tone ?

 

Plast

Tusq

 

Horn

 

Bone

 

Brass

 

Very curious to hear personal experiences -

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How much does nut material affect tone ?

 

I think the nut material has very little effect on tone, all other factors being equal. Bridge saddle material on the other hand makes a pretty significant difference.

 

It's also good to remember that the bridge saddle is involved with every single note you play, but the nut is only involved on open strings.

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My thoughts and knowledge on this is vague and diffuse.

 

Is the nut only 'active' when the played strings actually touch it.

 

Does this mean we switch from fx bone to metal nut in all combinations all the time - and a full 100 % to metal (the fret) when we capo ?

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I thought the nuts were banned?

 

Now we have a Nut Department?

 

 

I mentioned it once before, but what we need is an intrepid inventor/guitarist to make a capo with the strings on top of a 'movable nut' so it is EXACTLY like the real nut, with grooves and all. Perhaps they could make it to adjust wider as the it is moved up the guitar neck, and also make it in a choice of nut material 'inserts' for plastic, bone, ebony, tusq......et al.

 

 

Remember where you heard the idea first, folks!

 

 

BluesKing777.

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BK- I have often wished for such a device. Some decent applications:

 

  • Instantly have that 12-fret J-45, no Custom Shop req'd
  • Take a favorite AJ or J-200... convert to short scale for playability and tone
  • All of the silly folk who would like to play those 12 string guitars on a regular basis could drop the tuning down a tad & use the "Napo™" to go up to standard tuning.

To the OP: Yes, I do think the nut material makes a diff. And recall the brass nut era from the past.

Also- There's a 1930's L-00 around here somewhere that has so much vibration up the neck, it is known to produce a noise that was impossible to suss out. Turns out, it was the length of the D string above the nut "ringing" as if it had been picked. What this means, I have no idea, but I'm sure it's the principle behind why clip-on tuners work so well. String vibration going all the way up and down the neck.

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To the OP: Yes, I do think the nut material makes a diff. And recall the brass nut era from the past.

Also- There's a 1930's L-00 around here somewhere that has so much vibration up the neck, it is known to produce a noise that was impossible to suss out. Turns out, it was the length of the D string above the nut "ringing" as if it had been picked. What this means, I have no idea, but I'm sure it's the principle behind why clip-on tuners work so well. String vibration going all the way up and down the neck.

 

Really try to investigate this as I consider replacing the black tusq nut on my slightly too loud re-necked 1966 CW with black buffalo horn.

Might go for an old-vase-ivory-saddle also.

 

I know what I do and say when talking about saddle and pin materials, but admit that headstock piece is terrain vague for me.

Just made an experiment on my vintage 4-track Fostex cassette and recorded a bone-nut on track 1, then a horn ditto on track 2.

Same chord-patterns with and without capo on the second fret.

Prob is that the veteran machine records slightly uneven, but something tells me horn is mellower, which then would be the right path here.

Have to dig deeper into this topic and intend to write a well-skilled luthier over Easter to hear what he has to say.

Maybe he'll come up with a golden egg. . .

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BK- I have often wished for such a device. Some decent applications:

 

  • Instantly have that 12-fret J-45, no Custom Shop req'd
  • Take a favorite AJ or J-200... convert to short scale for playability and tone
  • All of the silly folk who would like to play those 12 string guitars on a regular basis could drop the tuning down a tad & use the "Napo™" to go up to standard tuning.

To the OP: Yes, I do think the nut material makes a diff. And recall the brass nut era from the past.

Also- There's a 1930's L-00 around here somewhere that has so much vibration up the neck, it is known to produce a noise that was impossible to suss out. Turns out, it was the length of the D string above the nut "ringing" as if it had been picked. What this means, I have no idea, but I'm sure it's the principle behind why clip-on tuners work so well. String vibration going all the way up and down the neck.

 

 

 

it wouldn't give you a 12-fret b/c the biggest difference there is where the bridge is placed on the top and thus it's relation to the bracing.

 

 

as for whether or not the nut matters on fretted notes? if it doesn't matter because it's behind your finger, then bridge pins don't matter either because they are behind the saddle. tuning keys wouldn't matter either. heck, the rest of the guitar wouldn't matter! a lot of people think that the only thing that matters is the string itself, and whatever it directly contacts. clearly that's not true or body size, wood, etc, wouldn't make a difference. the nut matters on all notes. it just makes a BIGGER difference on open strings, and similar materials will be closer to each other on fretted strings.

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I change all my new guitars out to Bone.. saddle and Nut. there is a difference..

I take your word - but have to ask :

 

Did you check what effect the 2 had isolated ? , , , and if yes, how did it break down ?

 

I know it's hard to describe, but fx in %. .

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as for whether or not the nut matters on fretted notes? if it doesn't matter because it's behind your finger, then bridge pins don't matter either because they are behind the saddle. tuning keys wouldn't matter either. heck, the rest of the guitar wouldn't matter! a lot of people think that the only thing that matters is the string itself, and whatever it directly contacts. clearly that's not true or body size, wood, etc, wouldn't make a difference. the nut matters on all notes. it just makes a BIGGER difference on open strings, and similar materials will be closer to each other on fretted strings.

I would think so - but logic tells me there must be a fairly 'big' difference whether you hear it (the nut) from behind the fingertip or directly.

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Prefer Hazelnuts, but cashews are OK. Tone depends on how many I eat of them and how much my belly hurts ..

 

Sure, love hazels - consume between 17 and 20 daily during the X-mas month, but now it's Easter I need a golden egg. . .

 

Any hens, EA, , , ?

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The saddle is more important than the nut, and I think TUSQ is a great material because it is stable and consistent, where bone and fossil and other materials, especially natural ones, can vary in density from one section to another and impact balance.

 

Whatever material you use, the most important issue is fit. The saddle has to make complete contact with the bridge and be as smooth at the contact point as possible. I sand my saddle contacts to 600 grit or higher.

 

The nut slots have to be cut properly so the string fits and moves unrestricted. The difference in tone between a bone nut and a TUSQ nut is something most ears can't detect. Brass nuts have a ping resonance and fossilized walrus ivory nuts can mellow your midrange strings - not always desired outcome.

 

Still, the person who put it best pointed out that if you play like Chet Atkins, none of this matters, and I am always struggling with how I spend my time -- should I be a better player or should I spend my time learning about technical details? Balance, of course.

 

So, if you bought a guitar with a plastic nut and saddle, of course replace them. If you bought one with a TUSQ nut and saddle should you change to bone/ivory? No, I don't think so.

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Even Bob Colosi (http://www.guitarsaddles.com) doesn't think nut material makes much sonic difference, and he makes and sells nuts.

 

To quote him on his website "The saddle plays the biggest part, followed by the bridge pins. The nut also plays a role in this regard, but only to a very minimal degree, if any."

 

Bob is a guy I would believe.

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Even Bob Colosi (http://www.guitarsaddles.com) doesn't think nut material makes much sonic difference, and he makes and sells nuts.

 

To quote him on his website "The saddle plays the biggest part, followed by the bridge pins. The nut also plays a role in this regard, but only to a very minimal degree, if any."

 

Bob is a guy I would believe.

 

Being a player himself, Mr. Colosi ought to know what he's talking about down to the finest nuances.

I can't find the place where he mentions nut material as being of almost no importance, but ran into this -

 

Bob Colosi about West African ivory nuts :

 

Because of its hardness, this is unquestionably the BEST material I have ever come across for nuts and will endure the years of wear and tear this component normally experiences. As with all the nuts I make, they come oversized with the string slots uncut and need to be installed by your local luthier or qualified technician, unless you have experience changing them.

 

Apart from that -

 

Well, opposed to what I believe Colosi thinks, my experience is that ivory is softer or creamier sounding than bone.

But that is based on the significantly bigger adjustable saddle inserts, which involve much more mass.

 

But yes, , , I consider dropping the horn nut idea.

 

Have to mail that luthier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top of this page: http://www.guitarsaddles.com/faqs.asp

 

1. What do these parts do for the sound of my guitar?

Being a more dense material than factory-installed components, they serve as a much more efficient transmitter of the energy of the string to the top of the guitar, causing increased sustain and clarity, overtones, better separation and definition of the individual strings during strummed chords, and in many cases, increased projection. The saddle plays the biggest part, followed by the bridge pins. The nut also plays a role in this regard, but only to a very minimal degree, if any.

 

(Emphasis on "very" is Bob's).

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Top of this page: http://www.guitarsaddles.com/faqs.asp

 

1. What do these parts do for the sound of my guitar?

Being a more dense material than factory-installed components, they serve as a much more efficient transmitter of the energy of the string to the top of the guitar, causing increased sustain and clarity, overtones, better separation and definition of the individual strings during strummed chords, and in many cases, increased projection. The saddle plays the biggest part, followed by the bridge pins. The nut also plays a role in this regard, but only to a very minimal degree, if any.

 

(Emphasis on "very" is Bob's).

 

Yeah - that would be my top 3 as well : Saddle - Pins - Nut ?

 

Just sent a 3-Q mail to the talked about luthier - will report when/if he responds.

 

Funny enough another luthier I spoke to last week told me water-buffalo horn nuts have more sustain.

 

The show goes on and there's definitely an amount of 'religion' included.

Not least for that reason it's a good thing to nail the facts, which can be nailed.

 

 

 

Attention - These 2 last lines have nothing whatsoever to do with and shouldn't be seen in connection with Easter.

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I am not implying the nut has no effect. I believe however that the trouble to change one is not worth it for me, personally.

 

My J45 has that strange black Tusq nut (which for some reason always reminds me of guys in black socks in terrible low budget porn movies of yesteryear), but the slot heights are perfect, and the self-lubricating nature of it actually makes sense for a nut.

 

I really don't believe it would be worthwhile to change it out for a bone nut, it would not result in anything I can hear (although I could do without the porn movie images in my head... they make the snakes in there nervous).

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I am not implying the nut has no effect. I believe however that the trouble to change one is not worth it for me, personally.

 

My J45 has that strange black Tusq nut (which for some reason always reminds me of guys in black socks in terrible low budget porn movies of yesteryear), but the slot heights are perfect, and the self-lubricating nature of it actually makes sense for a nut.

 

I really don't believe it would be worthwhile to change it out for a bone nut, it would not result in anything I can hear (although I could do without the porn movie images in my head... they make the snakes in there nervous).

 

Hehe, , , jey, I like the black ones too. Especially on the re-necked creambinded CW, which also has binding around the headstock.

 

That's why I'd go for horn - or one of the reasons why.

 

But as said something tells me it won't happen. . .

 

 

 

 

 

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Hehe, , , jey, I like the black ones too. Especially on the re-necked creambinded CW, which also has binding around the headstock.

 

That's why I'd go for horn - or one of the reasons why.

 

But as said something tells me it won't happen. . .

 

 

What about trying an Ebony nut if you like the black?

 

 

I have one on my 37 Gibson L-0 and on my National M14, but I couldn't tell you the difference because they were on there when I got them!

 

 

BluesKing777.

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What about trying an Ebony nut if you like the black?

I have one on my 37 Gibson L-0 and on my National M14, but I couldn't tell you the difference because they were on there when I got them!

 

Also a very good idea - Ebony nut and ivory saddle. Man, the thing is gonna sound like a piano !

 

Apart from that I could be suspicious the strings would eat up that dark wood, , , but yes. . .

 

 

 

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I take your word - but have to ask :

 

Did you check what effect the 2 had isolated ? , , , and if yes, how did it break down ?

 

I know it's hard to describe, but fx in %. .

 

 

Clarity and volume on a acoustic is what I like... I like getting the most out of my guitars for what i spend.. I dont like the muddy tones that are present in most acoustics.. take the manmade plastics off.. and add good materials..

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I think an ebony nut is a really bad idea. Not dense enough, not hard, would not stand up to the strings sawing back and forth. If you really want that cheap porn movie look, Bob Colosi can make you a bone nut died pretty dark, or even one out of buffalo horn.

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