Would a different nut help? Your purchases help youth music programs get the gear they need to make music. Fossilized ivory, on the other hand, is the legal alternative to ivory and is comparable to bone in open–string tonal quality. The material of the nut on an acoustic guitar will affect the overall tonality of the guitar. Are you using a different string gauge than stock? How Nut Material Impacts the Tone of an Acoustic Guitar. It’s less expensive than TUSQ and is often less favored for being more brittle and generally harder to work. But these materials are, for the most part, the exceptions to the rule. A very small section of the string very close to the saddles and the nut doesn't vibrate. Additionally, bone allows the guitar to stay in tune by allowing the string to return to the correct pitch after a bend or movement. Are you using a different string gauge than stock? Remember that if you are working with the nut yourself, you’re going want to take some time to think about what material is going to work best for what you want to achieve. We like to hear ourselves talk just as much as we like to hear ourselves play, and no piece of the guitar is safe from scrutiny. The scale length of a guitar measures the length between the nut and bridge of a guitar. The texture and the material’s ability to self–lubricate will affect the strings’ ease of … Tremolos are great for vibrato and dive-bombs and other expressive effects, but this all comes at the expense of long sustain. It might take away some of the sustain. I actually preferred the fossil ivory to bone in almost every capacity, except when it came to setup. Sustain. For our purposes, we will consider three nut materials: plastic, fossilized ivory, and bone. Spend the time you would use making a new nut playing your guitar … I don’t get it. It is the best sounding (and best looking) guitar I own when compared to my two LPs with rosewood boards. Nut on a 1959 Airline/Valco Town and Country, Graph Tech TUSQ Slotted 1/4" Epiphone Nut, Fossilized Mammoth Ivory Pre-Finished Nut, Everything you need to know about body shapes, styles, and other considerations. If it were possible for a cracked nut to have even a tiny effect on your tone, it would only be when that one string is played open. That being said, there are often glaring issues with an instrument that's made prioritizing low costs over quality. Anyway, I notice the low E and A strings sound very thumpy, like a bass with flat wounds. After that you are fretting, which then excludes it from effecting tone. Support independent music stores & gear makers. How does the wrap tension effect a string's tone? Nuts are made of a variety of materials and they all can influence your tone – for better or worse – so I think this important part of your guitar deserves a little discussion. On electric guitars, none of these means of string-height adjustment are beyond the capabilities of a dedicated do-it-yourselfer who possesses just a … If you are experiencing problems that lead you to look at the saddle or the tuners (intonation with the B–string is a common one), you may want to take a look at that nut. Hi, The nut's material will only influence the sound of strings played open, so the bridge is even more important. Fender-style guitars. Loose windings will create a loss of sustain, create dead zones, inconsistent gauge thickness, and cause a guitar to make all kinds of fret buzzing noises you do not want. The shape and material of the nut can actually affect the entire tone and performance of your guitar, not to mention the impact it has on playability.. Needless to say, its worth having a think about which one is best for you. There are other ornamental additives (inlays, bindings, nut & saddle material) on guitars that can affect their overall sound. First used on guitar strings in the 1930s by D’Addario, the 80/20 bronze alloy contains 80 percent copper and 20 p… Fossilized ivory was harder for me to work with compared to bone, especially when dealing with string slots (I was switching to a heavier gauge). When you fret a note, that fret takes over from the nut as the “anchor” for the note, so it’s definitely involved in transmitting vibrational energy. Anything that the string comes in contact with will effect the tone. Hence, my -355 is currently in the shop for neck repair and I'm having a bone nut installed. You must log in or register to reply here. So take that as you will. The Nut and Frets Are Worn or Damaged. In particular, a guitar with a fixed bridge (hardtail) will have more sustain than a guitar with a tremolo bridge. So nut widths of the classical guitar can reach around two … The texture and the material’s ability to self–lubricate will affect the strings’ ease of movement when tuning, bending, or using a capo. You can't have both. Friends suggested that I resurface the fossil ivory with bone, but I ended up deciding to go with a bone nut altogether. As a bit of an artistic diversion, I “make” a few guitars every now and then, a habit I’ve had since I made my first guitar in Jr. High wood shop at age 15. The regular width is exactly 1 11/16″so that’s really what many people are mostly used to. So when you want more sustain, get a second guitar that does not have a tremolo bridge. And, 1 ¾ inches another normal width that is preferred by some fingerstyle players. The density of the material will affect sustain and resonance — harder, more even densities mean preferable sustain. In my opinion, TUSQ is the way to go if you’re sold on a plastic nut. If it wasn't hampering your tone prior to its discovery, chances are it's not going to make any difference. Ultimately, the nut setup is far more important than the material—a poorly adjusted nut will make a guitar difficult to play, hard to keep in tune, and impossible to intonate—and that will be far more noticeable than any little tone difference I can imagine! Scale length tends to be thought of as the distance from the nut to the bridge saddles – string length. The nut is usually made from the same material as the saddle and for the same reasons. But bone does have the clear advantage in the ease–of–use category. But on a halfway decent guitar it would be a luthier job with proper nut files. Switching String Gauges The strings’ vibrations are transferred to the top which moves the air inside and gives the guitar its tone. There are some people that believe a guitar nut if properly slotted has little impact on guitar tone. For acoustic players specifically, the nut is no exception, and players often debate the best materials and setup. This influences how much tension is put on the strings, which will affect overall playability. Electric guitars with Fender-style six-on-a-side headstocks usually have relatively straight string-pull, meaning the strings don’t fan out from the nut. Two of the most popular alloys, 80/20 bronze and phosphor bronze, differ in the mixture of metals they contain. Oops, looks like you forgot something. The nut only directly affects the tonal quality of open strings. Steel guitar strings have two main components: the steel core wire and the wire wrap. Ivory is illegal to harvest and immoral to use as a means of achieving tone and playability. May this article serve as a subjective guide or at least something to pick apart piece by piece with your buds at the guitar store. The Gear Page is the leading online community and marketplace for guitars, amps, pedals, effects and associated gear. NuBone is marketed as a lower cost, high–grade plastic alternative to bone. Nuts are typically made out of bone, plastic, brass or graphite. In stock and shipping now. After gauge, the next key factor is construction. Graphite materials are soft. But how much do these things actually matter? They’re brittle and hard to work with, leading to weak open string sounds and setup issues that normally demand an entirely new nut to rectify. Over the course of 40 years playing I've had situations like this happen before. I would have never started playing guitar if these budget–friendly instruments weren’t available. They’re probably the best, in fact. The reason a luthier will shave the bridge rather than shave a saddle is to maintain the tonal quality of the guitar. If the nut has no effect on fretted strings, then different tuners or tailpieces would also have no effect. Other people may tell you different though ;). It is my opinion that nut material will affect tone more than fingerboard material. Does the scale length of a guitar affect its playability and tone? The friction of the strings can wear down the nuts and frets on your guitar. Guitar players debate everything. The nut can have an effect on the sound, like the saddle, and needs to have the same dense, hard properties as the saddle as it is also in direct contact with the … But improper setup of a nut can result in several issues that can wreak havoc on tone and playability. The “action” of your guitar — meaning the height of the strings off the fretboard — definitely affects your guitar tone. The proper way to create the tone you want before you start hitting your pedals and amplifier effects is to open the tone knob up to a 10 and set your volume. Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion. High action can often increase sustain and give your notes a nicer resonance than a lower action. Working with a bone nut for angling, string relief, and slotting is decidedly easier than doing so with fossil ivory, in my opinion. It's elusive until you give up the quest and become all of the tones! Preachers of this gospel claim that the inconsistencies in density that are often found in ivory and bone nuts are not an issue for these juiced–up plastic nuts. In order for a wrapped string to maintain it's energy to vibrate, having a tightly coupled wrap and core string is important. I want more zing. Bone also self–lubricates, meaning it pairs better with that annoying B–string. The most notable effect it will have on tonality is when playing the open strings. Most of the fossilized ivory on the market is either Walrus or Wooly Mammoth. I have seen nuts made out of brass, steel, ebony, and petrified wood. A third contributing factor is the guitar’s nut, which plays a slightly less prominent role in the height of the strings. The nut only directly affects the tonal quality of open strings. Fretted notes leave the nut out of the equation so nut material has little if any impact on tone. Commodore 64and Doctorx33like this. Anybody who says it does, DOES have ears like a freakin' bat! They often point to locking tremolo systems that do not actually use a nut yet still achieve good tone. There is also material called Tusq, supposed to be made out of polymer. Too steep can cause problems. it is possible that the nut slots on your E and A string are not cut properly. I think a nut is far more influential on action and intonation than it is on tone. Again this will be most notable when playing open strings. My Gibson J-60 Plus has seen both a bone nut and a fossil ivory nut. Nuts that have slots worn too wide or deep will further frustrate as the strings could slip out of the grooves or cause buzz, but if the grooves are too tight they can pinch the strings when you bend notes and prevent them from going back into tune. I have found that the tone — when compared to bone and synthetic bone — is thinner using TUSQ nuts, even though they market a better bass response. Your purchases also help protect forests, including trees traditionally used to make instruments. The difference to me, however subtle, was more sustain and a more pronounced tone when using the fossil ivory nut. However, there are high–quality, dense plastic materials that boast durability and tonal advantage. To the OP, it is possible that the nut slots on your E and A string are not cut properly. A longer scale length provides more tension and a brighter sound. Bleached bone, however, is a waste of time and looks lame. This ivory is legal to use because it comes from an already extinct animal. For every basic, run-of-the-mill “3-meter black” cable, you’ll see another promising magical qualities that will give you the most transparent tone you’ve ever heard. Bone has a good level of consistency, provides great tone, and is easier than fossilized ivory to work with. A replacement nut made of slippery material like graphite can greatly help alleviate binding, but keep in mind that nut material affects tone. It’s a double–edged sword, really. The nut is a part of the guitar that is often neglected when we talk about tone. (Image credit: Future) A quick glance at any guitar retailer’s website will show cables largely fall into two categories; cables that market themselves as cables, and cables that market themselves as good cables. And we care about the subtleties. However hard to work with, the fossil ivory is the best–looking nut around. action, or changing string thickness does affect intonation but I'm not so sure in the case of the tailpiece. So in other words, a guitar’s scale length is determined by the gap between the two main components that seat its strings. The nut is the area where the strings hit the guitar first, which makes it very important. Yes, a different nut material can change the tone & sustain slightly but it sounds like you are experiencing something that's not typical of PRS guitars. So, you may need to replace the nuts or replace the frets if either of these become worn down or damaged.. 9. It’s equally important to understand that the influence of nut material on tone can be undermined by poor setup. Every guitar is different, though, and tonally, there are times when I prefer TUSQ or fossil ivory. Shaving the saddle does change the tone and most people don't want that. Cheap, plastic nuts plague these instruments. The steeper the angle that the string ‘breaks’ over the saddle or nut, the more downward pressure it applies to that saddle or nut. If you got some wider that neck allows for your fretting fingers to have more space to maneuver. The nut and saddle simply act as conduits for the vibration of the strings to the body of the guitar--so their effect on the tone of the instrument is pretty small. Lately, I’ve been making Tele style guitars, since Nashville guitar … 8. If you want to accommodate some extra string pairs, the neck width on those 12 string instruments is around 1 7/8″. I've even seen a saddle made out of aluminum. It can only effect the open strings. By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the processing of my data in order to receive emails. How Frets Affect Tone, Intonation, and Playability. Without addressing this, you can sort of get to a best compromise, maybe, by reducing neck relief, compensating with bridge height to fix the action, reintonating, and setting the strings tuned a tad flat. As pointed out, a good percentage of your playing will be with fretted notes, maybe some unfretted notes mixed in and those have to line up tuning wise. As a whole, however, fossilized ivory can be harder to come by than more common materials like bone and high–grade plastic. This is particularly obvious on acoustic guitars. JavaScript is disabled. Zero frets — which are seen less frequently now on acoustic guitars — make contact with the string post–nut prior to the saddle and bridge, removing some aspects of the nut’s importance. And nut cut makes all the difference in the strings not binding. I don't believe any nut affects any tone in any way EXCEPT possibly on open strings on an acoustic instrument.
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