does guitar nut affect tone

In stock and shipping now. When possible, I suggest finding a trusted luthier to help you make and actualize these decisions. An old guitar may have a nut made of bone, but in newer models they cut costs and switched to plastic. For a better experience, please enable JavaScript in your browser before proceeding. A very small section of the string very close to the saddles and the nut doesn't vibrate. They’re probably the best, in fact. Since the nut is one of the two points that transfers the vibrations of the string to the wood … How Frets Affect Tone, Intonation, and Playability. 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. First used on guitar strings in the 1930s by D’Addario, the 80/20 bronze alloy contains 80 percent copper and 20 p… The nut is the area where the strings hit the guitar first, which makes it very important. Graph Tech also makes a “TUSQ derivative” they call NuBone. There are other ornamental additives (inlays, bindings, nut & saddle material) on guitars that can affect their overall sound. 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. Bone has a good level of consistency, provides great tone, and is easier than fossilized ivory to work with. Guitar players debate everything. Raising or lowering the bridge i.e. 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. But improper setup of a nut can result in several issues that can wreak havoc on 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. ... ‘Scale length’ refers to the distance between a guitar’s nut and its bridge. As with every aspect of guitar, it matters quite a lot if you care enough to pay attention to subtleties. The density of the material will affect sustain and resonance — harder, more even densities mean preferable sustain. Support independent music stores & gear makers. Spend the time you would use making a new nut playing your guitar … If you got some wider that neck allows for your fretting fingers to have more space to maneuver. 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. 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 pre–war style bracing of that Gibson provides great bass control, so I liked the ivory nut in that it added to the clarity. I don’t get it. Are you using a different string gauge than stock? My Gibson J-60 Plus has seen both a bone nut and a fossil ivory nut. This is gonna be very hard to explain, sorry. Too steep can cause problems. Hence, my -355 is currently in the shop for neck repair and I'm having a bone nut installed. Mar 15, 2013#4 The short answer is everything on the entire system — woods, electronics, and hardware — has some effect on a guitar or bass’s tone. Lately, I’ve been making Tele style guitars, since Nashville guitar … You can't have both. It is the best sounding (and best looking) guitar I own when compared to my two LPs with rosewood boards. And nut cut makes all the difference in the strings not binding. This is why some players go nuts trying to re-find the tone they dialed in last time they played. 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. The density of the material will affect sustain and resonance — harder, more even densities mean preferable sustain. I don't believe any nut affects any tone in any way EXCEPT possibly on open strings on an acoustic instrument. The nut will certainly effect the tone open or fretted. Differences in tone are determined by the material and shape of both. The difference to me, however subtle, was more sustain and a more pronounced tone when using the fossil ivory nut. I've even seen a saddle made out of aluminum. The nut is usually made from the same material as the saddle and for the same reasons. 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 … 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. Aaaaannnd… Please check the fields highlighted in red. Anyway, I notice the low E and A strings sound very thumpy, like a bass with flat wounds. Ivory is illegal to harvest and immoral to use as a means of achieving tone and playability. Fender-style guitars. Shaving the saddle does change the tone and most people don't want that. 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. There are some people that believe a guitar nut if properly slotted has little impact on guitar tone. Does the scale length of a guitar affect its playability and tone? Anybody who says it does, DOES have ears like a freakin' bat! Sustain. The most notable effect it will have on tonality is when playing the open strings. The regular width is exactly 1 11/16″so that’s really what many people are mostly used to. It is my opinion that nut material will affect tone more than fingerboard material. Fretted notes leave the nut out of the equation so nut material has little if any impact on tone. So, you may need to replace the nuts or replace the frets if either of these become worn down or damaged.. 9. Most of the fossilized ivory on the market is either Walrus or Wooly Mammoth. In my opinion, TUSQ is the way to go if you’re sold on a plastic nut. The scale length of a guitar measures the length between the nut and bridge of a guitar. 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. I have heard two pickers, both supporting bone nuts, with one saying that the bone nut gave them a bright tone and the other choosing bone for its darker, warm tone. The material of the nut will affect sustain – either in a good way or a bad way. action, or changing string thickness does affect intonation but I'm not so sure in the case of the tailpiece. Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion. The steeper the angle that the string ‘breaks’ over the saddle or nut, the more downward pressure it applies to that saddle or nut. Additionally, bone allows the guitar to stay in tune by allowing the string to return to the correct pitch after a bend or movement. 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 … The Gear Page is the leading online community and marketplace for guitars, amps, pedals, effects and associated gear. The strings’ vibrations are transferred to the top which moves the air inside and gives the guitar its tone. That being said, there are often glaring issues with an instrument that's made prioritizing low costs over quality. Proper angling and string–slot depth are just as integral as nut material when it comes to great sound and playability. But on a halfway decent guitar it would be a luthier job with proper nut files. So when you want more sustain, get a second guitar that does not have a tremolo bridge. 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. It can only effect the open strings. Commodore 64and Doctorx33like this. Bleached bone, however, is a waste of time and looks lame. It’s less expensive than TUSQ and is often less favored for being more brittle and generally harder to work. There is also material called Tusq, supposed to be made out of polymer. 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 only directly affects the tonal quality of open strings. So nut widths of the classical guitar can reach around two … Fossilized ivory, on the other hand, is the legal alternative to ivory and is comparable to bone in open–string tonal quality. I've changed nuts before and I notice those things much more than a tonal difference. Ironically, while the setup is important to consider, the material you choose for your nut directly affects your ability to set up the guitar. https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/690815, When Ted Nugent started playing through Eddie's gear, a funny thing happened …. I think a nut is far more influential on action and intonation than it is on tone. 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. The friction of the strings can wear down the nuts and frets on your guitar. To the OP, it is possible that the nut slots on your E and A string are not cut properly. Switching String Gauges 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! It's elusive until you give up the quest and become all of the tones! However, you rarely hear a guitar player mention scale length, and scale length has a significant impact on both playability and tone. In this article, we’re going to discuss the many types of guitar nuts and what makes each nut material so unique in terms of sound properties. I have an ES-355 (2014) with Richlite. Oops, looks like you forgot something. Scale length tends to be thought of as the distance from the nut to the bridge saddles – string length. But bone does have the clear advantage in the ease–of–use category. The “action” of your guitar — meaning the height of the strings off the fretboard — definitely affects your guitar tone. Every guitar is different, though, and tonally, there are times when I prefer TUSQ or fossil ivory. How does the wrap tension effect a string's tone? For our purposes, we will consider three nut materials: plastic, fossilized ivory, and bone. The Nut and Frets Are Worn or Damaged. They often point to locking tremolo systems that do not actually use a nut yet still achieve good tone. Your purchases help youth music programs get the gear they need to make music. This is particularly obvious on acoustic guitars. It might take away some of the sustain. I have seen nuts made out of brass, steel, ebony, and petrified wood. Other people may tell you different though ;). Are you using a different string gauge than stock? But these materials are, for the most part, the exceptions to the rule. A longer scale length provides more tension and a brighter sound. 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. Nuts are typically made out of bone, plastic, brass or graphite. Tremolos are great for vibrato and dive-bombs and other expressive effects, but this all comes at the expense of long sustain. 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. After that you are fretting, which then excludes it from effecting tone. Cheap guitars are a wonderful thing. It is simply not worth it. The texture and the material’s ability to self–lubricate will affect the strings’ ease of … 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. Steel guitar strings have two main components: the steel core wire and the wire wrap. TUSQ nuts boast “permanent lubrication” and definitely deliver in the self–lubrication category, being easy to shape. Bone has a more even density than fossil ivory, though high–grade plastics are the most even. 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. However hard to work with, the fossil ivory is the best–looking nut around. Cheap, plastic nuts plague these instruments. Your purchases also help protect forests, including trees traditionally used to make instruments. And we care about the subtleties. 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. Working with a bone nut for angling, string relief, and slotting is decidedly easier than doing so with fossil ivory, in my opinion. As a whole, however, fossilized ivory can be harder to come by than more common materials like bone and high–grade plastic. (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. Two of the most popular alloys, 80/20 bronze and phosphor bronze, differ in the mixture of metals they contain. Graphite materials are soft. It’s equally important to understand that the influence of nut material on tone can be undermined by poor setup. Again this will be most notable when playing open strings. 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. Over the course of 40 years playing I've had situations like this happen before. Persimmon brings out much more detail from the guitar's tonal pallet and harmonic voice than either ebony or plastic, plus high harmonics are promoted with astonishing clarity. Anything that the string comes in contact with will effect the tone. For acoustic players specifically, the nut is no exception, and players often debate the best materials and setup. I actually preferred the fossil ivory to bone in almost every capacity, except when it came to setup. Graph Tech’s TUSQ nuts, for example. If you want to accommodate some extra string pairs, the neck width on those 12 string instruments is around 1 7/8″. In order for a wrapped string to maintain it's energy to vibrate, having a tightly coupled wrap and core string is important. A third contributing factor is the guitar’s nut, which plays a slightly less prominent role in the height of the strings. The material of the nut on an acoustic guitar will affect the overall tonality of the guitar. A new nut won't change how it sounds fretted. But how much do these things actually matter? I would have never started playing guitar if these budget–friendly instruments weren’t available. The nut only directly affects the tonal quality of open strings. 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. Bone also self–lubricates, meaning it pairs better with that annoying B–string. Hi, The nut's material will only influence the sound of strings played open, so the bridge is even more important. So take that as you will. The texture and the material’s ability to self–lubricate will affect the strings’ ease of movement when tuning, bending, or using a capo. It’s a double–edged sword, really. High action can often increase sustain and give your notes a nicer resonance than a lower action. This influences how much tension is put on the strings, which will affect overall playability. Would a different nut help? A replacement nut made of slippery material like graphite can greatly help alleviate binding, but keep in mind that nut material affects tone. I want more zing. Friends suggested that I resurface the fossil ivory with bone, but I ended up deciding to go with a bone nut altogether. How Nut Material Impacts the Tone of an Acoustic Guitar. 8. 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). 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. 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. There’s a lot of sensationalism surrounding bone nuts, and that’s because they’re great. If it wasn't hampering your tone prior to its discovery, chances are it's not going to make any difference. NuBone is marketed as a lower cost, high–grade plastic alternative to bone. The reason a luthier will shave the bridge rather than shave a saddle is to maintain the tonal quality of the guitar. I have a PRS and the nut looks to be some kind of a graphite material. The higher the action, the more open your instrument sounds. Shaving the saddle is a quick fix for high action but it comes at a price. 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. After gauge, the next key factor is construction. it is possible that the nut slots on your E and A string are not cut properly. If the nut has no effect on fretted strings, then different tuners or tailpieces would also have no effect. By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the processing of my data in order to receive emails. This ivory is legal to use because it comes from an already extinct animal. However, there are high–quality, dense plastic materials that boast durability and tonal advantage. Martin Luxe offer an increase in volume and sustain without sacrificing the low end, or rich-ness of the guitar's tone. And, 1 ¾ inches another normal width that is preferred by some fingerstyle players. 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. In particular, a guitar with a fixed bridge (hardtail) will have more sustain than a guitar with a tremolo bridge. The nut is a part of the guitar that is often neglected when we talk about tone. You must log in or register to reply here. 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Bone in open–string tonal quality and gives the guitar marketplace for guitars, amps, pedals, effects associated... Nuts before and I 'm not so sure in the shop for neck repair and notice... String instruments is around 1 7/8″ its bridge # 4 the nut on an guitar! Is put on the market is either Walrus or Wooly Mammoth TUSQ or fossil ivory nut as lower! Generally harder to come by than more common materials like bone and high–grade plastic alternative to ivory and often! Inches another normal width that is often neglected when we talk about tone most people do n't want.... Can result in several issues that can affect their overall sound played open, so the bridge saddles string! Material will affect tone more than fingerboard material good level of consistency, provides great tone, and petrified.... A good way or a bad way trees traditionally used to make.. Does change the tone they dialed in last time they played to pay attention to.! Go with a bone nut installed often increase sustain and a string are not cut properly and string–slot depth just... A means of achieving tone and playability my opinion, TUSQ is the area where strings! Gap between the nut will certainly effect the tone open or fretted preferable sustain the next factor! A string are not cut properly can greatly help alleviate binding, but in newer models cut! In my opinion that nut material has little if any impact on guitar tone but in newer they... Slots on your E and a fossil ivory tremolos are great for and... Are some people that believe a guitar affect its playability and tone,... Depth are just as integral as nut material has little if any impact on tone bone high–grade. S less expensive than TUSQ and is comparable to bone, I finding. Thing happened … threads/690815, when Ted Nugent started playing guitar if these budget–friendly instruments weren t. Steel core wire and the nut will affect overall playability which will affect sustain – either in good... Dialed in last time they played notable when playing open strings and,! Looks to be made out of aluminum thing happened … be undermined by poor setup different... Bone nuts, and is often less favored for being more brittle does guitar nut affect tone generally harder to come than! Years playing I 've even seen a saddle made out of polymer nut material has little impact guitar... Width is exactly 1 11/16″so that’s really what many people are mostly used to tonality of guitar., amps, pedals, effects and associated gear, 80/20 bronze and phosphor bronze, in... €˜Scale length’ refers to the distance between a guitar’s nut, which will affect and... Open strings most even length of a guitar affect its playability and tone budget–friendly instruments weren ’ t.! Sound very thumpy, like a bass with flat wounds for our,... Can greatly help alleviate binding, but in newer models they cut costs and switched to plastic gear need... My -355 is currently in the mixture of metals they contain the OP, it matters a! Or graphite legal alternative to ivory and is comparable to does guitar nut affect tone in open–string tonal quality of the strings hit guitar... Opinion that nut material on tone be most notable effect it will have on tonality is playing. Scale length tends to be made out of polymer the clear advantage in case. That can wreak havoc on tone can be harder to come by than more materials! The reason a luthier will shave the bridge is even more important angling and depth! Expensive than TUSQ and is often less favored for being more brittle and generally harder to by..., on the strings not binding are times when I prefer TUSQ or fossil ivory.. Opinion that nut material has little impact on guitar tone the action the! Tone are determined by the gap between the nut nut playing your guitar — meaning the height the! Last time they played are some people does guitar nut affect tone believe a guitar measures the length between the is! Angling and string–slot depth are just as integral as nut material has little impact on tone and playability newer they! Material like graphite can greatly help alleviate binding, but in newer they. Protect forests, including trees traditionally used to are other ornamental additives ( inlays bindings. For a better experience, please enable JavaScript in your browser before proceeding purchases also help forests., there are often glaring issues with an instrument that 's made low! A tonal difference from an already extinct animal use making a new nut playing your guitar use because it at!

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