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Ebony nuts and saddles!
Author
Post
PaulF

Total Topics: 28
Total Posts: 67
I recently noticed a few articles on the web about using ebony for nuts and saddles. Wondered what you guys think.


Jun 01, 10 | 2:04 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
not on steel strings. There are much better things to use than ebony.

john hall
blues creek guitars inc.
authorized cf martin repair center

Jun 01, 10 | 3:34 am
PaulF

Total Topics: 28
Total Posts: 65
hi John ... I wasnt intending to use it myself ... I have bone but I was curious what you experienced guys thought because of the articles i was reading.


Jun 01, 10 | 3:40 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
I use an ebony top on my resonators saddle (and bone nuts), but I haven't heard of anyone seriously using it on acoustics.

And, fwiw, when I did the comparison test of different pins in my old D18 ebony was the one that I liked the least - took 'em out and put good old Martin plastic back in. But milage varies......

Jun 01, 10 | 7:10 am
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
Ebony nuts wear quickly and often (usually) break when you try to remove them. If you need the black look, try water buffalo horn. It's not quite as hard as good bone but looks cool and lasts well.

Ebony saddles warp, bend, and break and they don't transfer sound as well as a denser, more homogenous material -- like bone.

Jun 01, 10 | 11:53 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
I used black water buffalo horn for the nut and saddle on my #2 build, and it gave a really nice look to the guitar. It is pretty much the same as bone to work, and polishes up really nice. I used a piece I had laying around for a knife handle. I will purchase more this way and cut it into blanks myself.

Kevin

Jun 01, 10 | 1:08 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Here's a little know source for not only black but just about any color nut or saddle you might desire.

http://www.coriansamples.com/prostores/servlet/StoreFront#

A 4x4x1/2 sample block is $2.00 !! --- enough for a zillion pieces.

Martin used/uses Micarta and Corian --- perhaps not bone like (my ears would not know the difference) but nice stuff just the same.

Ken Cierp

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978


Jun 01, 10 | 2:44 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Linen micarta is beautiful stuff and quite hard. I has a grain to it similiar to old ivory. Another material I have used for years for knife handles. I am going to have to try it. I do have back paper micarta, and I may give it a try too.

Kevin

Jun 01, 10 | 3:38 pm
PaulF

Total Topics: 28
Total Posts: 65
Ok ... so I guess the general concensus is that ebony should not be used. I wonder why the interest in some quarters!!!

I am sticking to bone. If I need a nut and saddle with a difference I am sure I could find it. But for now bone will do me.

Jun 03, 10 | 8:21 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Paul, can you post a link to the ebony discussion - I would like to check it out. Remember that many floating bridges are done in wood - either rose or ebony (archtops, mandos, violins) but in every case they work completely differently in the way they drive the top (whole different discussion). They are also always notched for string spacing.

Some years ago when I was doing the pin and string comparisons for a different forum I considered doing saddles, but rejected the whole idea for several reasons. One, it would be a heck of a lot of work and expense collecting all the different blanks and cutting/shaping the saddles (obviously a LOT more work to do nuts). However the main reason for me is that I personally have a moral objection to any of the ivories (I will not enter the debate, just let me say I won't have it in any of my guitars). That would leave cow bone, a couple of man made things like Tusq, micarta, maybe one of the graphites, a hard wood like ebony and maybe a metal like brass. Without the ivories the test wouldn't mean anything to lots of people so I just put the whole idea away.

So, for me, cow bone is fine for my acoustics, ebony or maple for the resos and ebony on the mando

Jun 03, 10 | 12:08 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Last thought, I have glued a little piece of ebony to the bottom of a bone saddle to shim it - seemed to work a lot better than the usual piece of credit card that folks use.

Jun 03, 10 | 12:10 pm
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
It would be neat to try dyeing bone a black color.......but not sure what might work, if anything. Wouldn't cost that much to try.

Jun 03, 10 | 2:01 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
If you want black bone, just get some water buffalo horn. It is bone, just as hard as cow bone. I've used it with fine results. You could save yourself the trouble.

Kevin

Jun 03, 10 | 3:22 pm
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
I was told that water buffalo horn is actually fused hair. I was an ecologist rather than biologist, so can't say for certain that that's true.

It certainly seems to me to be softer than bone and the two times I used it for saddles, it was pretty dead-sounding. I switched back to bone and both volume and brightness increased. I like it for nuts in some situations (mainly for its looks) but not for saddles.

Just my 2

Rick

Jun 03, 10 | 4:01 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Hmm, well my understanding has been that horn is bone, but I could be mistaken. Perhaps I need to put a cow bone saddle in place of the buffalo horn saddle and see if I can tell a difference.

Kevin

Jun 03, 10 | 4:32 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Horn is the same material as hair and nails, keratin. Its a protein and is hard, but not as hard as bone. I used amber buffalo horn on #2, but while I was waiting for it to arrive I tried bone and did not notice a difference in sound. I was worried the horn might not sound as good, but it sounded great to my untrained ears. Can ears be trained anyway? I have never seen one sit on command.
Anyway, Rick has built more guitars than I have, but my lone experience with horn was just peachy.

Jun 03, 10 | 7:52 pm
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
Can ears be trained? Not mine, fer sure (a big thank you to whoever invented the electronic tuner!). But I really did hear a difference between the bone and horn saddles -- and, I readily admit, this was a while ago when I didn't know as much as I do now. It would be better to say that I knew even less ... The bone saddles might have been fitted better, or the action set a little better, or some other factor came into play. But several other experienced luthiers I've talked to about water buffalo have had similar experiences.

Then too, there are those guitars that benefit from a little quieting down.

My dear wife, who has been in this business since ... um, I'm not allowed to say since when but she has LOTS of experience. Anyway, she pointed out that the makers of Tusq graphite products make a black saddle. Might want to try that, too.

Jun 04, 10 | 10:24 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
I have some green speckled corian (same stuff as tusq I think) that I've had for a long time. Might look funny, but I could try it out and see if it produces a different sound.

Jun 05, 10 | 6:49 am
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
Corian is NOT Tusq. Totally different, much softer, different structure. I haven't a clue how well it would work though I suspect it would make a better nut than saddle. But, hey, try it! The cool thing about nuts and saddles is that they're almost the easiest things to change in pursuit of different tone.

Jun 05, 10 | 9:09 am
Hugh

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 309
Antlers are true bones. Are there black antlers?

Jun 05, 10 | 10:07 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2008/Jan/Going_Nuts.aspx

Jun 05, 10 | 10:10 am



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