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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:08 am 
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Posts: 204
I'm not sure if this topic belongs here but I can't thing of anywhere else it might be appropriate. If John or Diane want to move it, feel free.

I've always been an advocate of bone saddles over synthetics, but recent experience has let me to start re-thinking this. I've heard that Corian and Tusq saddles and nuts are nearly identical to bone in transfer of vibration to the soundboard, and are more durable as well.

I've noticed that bone seems to wear out more quickly; I've seen a few of the string seats start to crumble. Is this a common factor of bone, or is it just a bunch of bad saddles I bought some time back?

Obviously, you're not going to get the same consistency in a natural product as you are in a synthetic product, but do you feel better about putting synthetic materials into your builds?

All responses gratefully accepted.

Stay safe.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:18 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
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There's definitely a quality disparity in natural products. First, bleached bone will be softer than unbleached. Also, bone increases in density and therefore hardness, depending on the weight of the animal. So, the heavier the animal, the harder the bone.

Having said that, I'm not so sure that harder materials sound better.

The hardest I've worked with is ivory (the real stuff). It's beautiful, but i thought it sounded brittle and tinny. I prefer bone. I have replaced the tusq nut and saddle, which were in my Martin dread, with Buffalo bone, which is what i prefer.

I've found that I like the sound of buffalo horn bridge pins, as much as I like bone pins. I want to try horn for my nut and saddle.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 9:25 pm 
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I've used Coarian on a few instruments, mostly on mountain dulcimers but also on a guitar or two. It seems to be a bit soft, but it sounds okay. I've usually used unbleached bone with the idea that it was "better." My recent experience with the last guitar I built, however, suggests that "best" for one instrument may not be best for another instrument. I could never get it to sound right with a bone saddle. I finally replaced it with a piece of moose antler, of all things, and the guitar finally sounds the way i think it should. Moose antler has a hard outer layer and a a less dense interior, which seems to be what that guitar needs for a saddle. So, I think "it all depends."

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:06 am 
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Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 8:03 am
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Location: Chestertown Maryland
Maine

Do you use the hard part or the soft part for the nut? Or like an Osage Orange bow, half of each?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:44 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:14 pm
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I have the hard outer layer on top for the strings to rest on. That wouldn't be much of a problem with a nut, but because that outer hard layer isn't very thick, I had be careful when I sanded the radius on the saddle not to sand right through the hard layer on the ends. There was also the problem that the outer layer is not very flat. There are depressions and ridges. I had to try to line up the strings so they didn't end up in a depression. Here are a couple of pictures. I hadn't noticed before I took these that I still need to trim the saddle to final length!


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Don't believe everything you know.
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
When things are bad, try not to make them any worse, because it is quite likely they are bad enough already. - French Foreign Legion


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 12:13 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
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Location: Hegins, Pa
there can be advantages of both. Bone for natural acoustic man made for under saddle pic ups

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Blues Creek Guitars Inc
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president of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans
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