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Leaving the factory: Bone, Plastic, or Tusq?


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Sorry but you have been missing the point. Almost all the folks that buy a new guitar go out and buy pins that they personally like. They do this at the exact same time they change the strings to the

. I'll mostly agree with Bob.   I'm chiming in because this is one of my pet peeves about Gibson and it's more variable than I'd like. My J-200 came with a bone nut, tusq saddle and plastic pins. I

Tusq is more consistent than bone so they use Tusq for guitars with pick-ups.

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Is there a general rule to what type of nut and bridge materials are used on each acoustic? like, do certain models receive Bone nuts/saddles while others receive Tusq? do any models receive plastic (shudder) nuts/bridges?

 

This has varied over the years. Current practice seems to be that higher-end models get a bone nut and saddle, and lower-end models get a Tusq saddle and either a bone or a Tusq nut. You can check the specs for current models on the Gibson website (although it's not necessarily the case that every guitar is built in accordance with the specs).

 

-- Bob R

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I'll mostly agree with Bob.

 

I'm chiming in because this is one of my pet peeves about Gibson and it's more variable than I'd like. My J-200 came with a bone nut, tusq saddle and plastic pins. IMO, if you spend $3K+ on a guitar it ought to come with all bone - bone nut, bone saddle and bone pins. Yes, it wasn't that much of a big deal to order up the proper bridge profile in bone and bone pins from Bob Colosi, but it still gets to me - - $3K+ and plastic pins! ](*,)

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Tusq saddles typically get used with guitars that have electronics. I've been told that tusq sounds better than bone with certain electronics. Bone saddles are typically used on models that do not come with electronics.

 

Thanks for chiming in Vincent. Never heard that explanation before.

 

And in my example above (post #3), my J-200 does have a factory under saddle pup. But I often play it un-amped and IMO the tusq is kind of dull sounding with a muddy low end un-amped. My bone saddle is well fitted and the un-amp sound is easily heard to be more lively with the bone - somewhat sharper attack and clearer, with a more defined low end. I also notice no loss in the amped sound. I'm not alone in this opinion. There have been other members who have posted about being more satisfied with the sound of their instrument after swapping out tusq for bone. - - - Of course there are those who say they don't hear a difference.

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I purchased a SJ300 custom in RW in 2006. Bone nut, tusq saddle and plastic pins. A J45 custom in 2010. Same story. I have replaced all with bone from peghead to strap pin. The sound on each, amplified and unamplified is 100% better. Clearer, brighter highs, and clearer less muddied lows. Mid ranges are awesome. I get compliment after compliment at how good they sound. When I go play another in a shop, I have found no comparison. This IMHO is a must do improvement. I agree whole heartedly. If I were to purchase (and I may) a Santa Cruz, it would not even be an issue.

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Tusq is more consistent than bone so they use Tusq for guitars with pick-ups.

 

Yep, that one has been brought up before.

 

It's kinda like the original spec plywood top J-160e vs the reissue with a solid sitka top. The plywood works great amped, but sounds bad un-amped. With sitka it sounds great un-amped, but when amped you have to control feedback. In other words, a trade-off. In the tusq vs bone trade-off, I'll take bone.

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Yep, that one has been brought up before.

 

It's kinda like the original spec plywood top J-160e vs the reissue with a solid sitka top. The plywood works great amped, but sounds bad un-amped. With sitka it sounds great un-amped, but when amped you have to control feedback. In other words, a trade-off. In the tusq vs bone trade-off, I'll take bone.

AMEN! Brother...

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tusq is the pringle to your kettle chip, the mcnugget to your organically-raised free-range hen, the (stop me) wonder to your spelt-wheat, the jack to your van winkle (stopped)

 

it may not be 'better' but it sure does all sound the same [thumbup]

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Is there any way to tell by appearance whether a nut or saddle is TUSQ or some other white plastic? Curious about my 1993 Gospel reissue but I assume it's just whatever plastic is typically used in saddles.

 

i must admit i honestly couldn't tell! i have an early 2000's lefty J-50. i thought it had a plastic nut. anyway, i recently took it in for a set-up and told the tech "while you're at it, swap out the nut and bridge for bone, please." he said alright, but then when he looked at it, informed me i'd had a Bone nut all the time. he said the bridge appeared to be Tusq or some other material, but was Not plastic. i was pretty surprised. the bridge pins, however, are definitely plastic and he recommended swapping those out.

 

is it the color of the bridge/nut that allows one to tell?

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Tusq will be slightly off white in color, where most bone is white. Also, if you remove the saddle, Tusq will usually have a couple of small marks visible on the bottom which are left over from the injection process. Also, if you sand bone, you will notice a smell similar to burning hair.

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Tusq turns noticeably darker with exposure to sun, a brownish color. If it's tusq and you leave it out in the light much, when you remove the strings and pull the saddle out of the slot, you can see a tan line. Bone won't have this. +1 on what Guitarstrummer said.

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Tusq turns noticeably darker with exposure to sun, a brownish color. If it's tusq and you leave it out in the light much, when you remove the strings and pull the saddle out of the slot, you can see a tan line. Bone won't have this. +1 on what Guitarstrummer said.

 

 

bone will darken too, but it usually happens at the points where it meets the wound strings. the metal turns it dark.... like a tobacco stain. this is my experience using PB strings anyway.

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Here is a tusq saddle I left out in sunlight from a window. The side that was below is still quite light and the exposed parts are dark.

 

tusq_darkening.jpg. . . . J_185_saddle.JPG

 

Here [above right] is the bottom of the tusq saddle that came with my J-185. You can see the holes guitarstrummer mentioned which are sometimes present.

 

 

Nice pics Jerry. B)

 

 

I've never noticed tusq color like that from the sun.

 

Some interesting stuff on this thread.

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ah, good idea posting pics! thanks....hmmm, i'm starting to wonder about the nut on my J-50---it certainly has yellowed on the edges. hmmm...i'll snap some pics and post when i get the chance, and if you the jurors could let me know what you think, it would be much appreciated!

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okay, here are a few pics, jurors. the lighting is a bit yellowish, but so is the nut. the bridge pins are definitely plastic, and have a different brighter yellow/cream color. anyway, what say you? is the nut plastic? is the bridge Tusq? any input appreciated!!

post-32337-055189300 1302665216_thumb.jpg

post-32337-029070100 1302665241_thumb.jpg

post-32337-001914700 1302665264_thumb.jpg

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