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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Bone nut on an electric

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Obsessed, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    42
    Mar 17, 2003
    albany, ny [not chicago]
    I'm firmly in the camp that the nut material does affect the overall sound, even of a fretted note. There are so many other things in the signal path of an electric guitar that the effect can be masked, though. Think of it like an ingredient in a recipe; a little bit of the right ingredient can make a noticeable difference.

    I stopped (for the most part) installing synthetic nuts unless the customer *really* wants it. They pay for the part and then labor to install it, which brings the price close to what a bone nut would cost anyway. (I charge a flat rate that includes the cost of material.) Nobody ever raves about the improvement in sound after getting a new tusq or graphtech nut, though they often do rave after getting a bone nut.

    The pre-slotted bone nuts that are available are best thought of as rough drafts that need quite a bit of work to turn into a finished product. The StewMac ones are better than others. The Allparts ones are downright goofy.

    The pre-slotted synthetic nuts are "good enough," but not good. The slots for the high strings are too wide and not always sloped right for the guitar, so I generally wind up filing them almost as much as if I were starting from scratch anyway.
     
    Mr Green Genes, moosie and Obsessed like this.

  2. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    It'll never matter one way or another to You unless You hear the difference. Tests done by other people with their guitars and their equipment really don't matter. Your guitar, your equipment, same settings will matter. It's a cheap mod and takes little time. You'll either notice a difference like I did or you won't. If you don't, you'll at least know that you have a good nut that will last a long time and the spacing will be better as you pointed out.;)
     
    drew1d and Obsessed like this.

  3. Wrong-Note Rod

    Wrong-Note Rod Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Mar 4, 2009
    atlanta
    I've been told straight to my face by repair guys and novice guitarists who know it all, that bone is the only way to go.

    Sod them all.

    My favorite tele guitar has a freaking black graphite nut, it never goes out of tune and sounds great.

    I've got a bone nut on my strat and it doesnt sound any better, or stay in tune any better, than the tele.
     
    Obsessed likes this.

  4. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Holic

    977
    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    I am hoping that this side tracks the thread and creates controversy, but you are missing an advantage by not using a compensated nut like an Earvana nut IMHO. Some major guitar manufacturers have offered them on their guitars so not everyone thinks that they are bunk.
     

  5. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    Graphite is great for a nut, I think just about anything is better than plastic.

    I've seen these before, my question about them is, How do you maintain intonation for the lower frets when changing the distance between them and the nut? I can see adjusting the intonation at the bridge since the distance from the bridge and high frets is so great, it seems to me that also doing adjustment at the nut would be counter productive. Does anyone else get that impression?
     

  6. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    42
    Mar 17, 2003
    albany, ny [not chicago]
    Zep, though it might seem counterintuitive, the compensated nut works out quite well to even out temperament issues that cause some notes to sound out of tune, especially when comparing open notes to fretted notes.

    For instance, the G# in an E chord is always a little bit sharp. So on that string, the break point is moved towards the 1st fret. When retuned, the G# note is not as far away from the nut as it was before, so it's more in tune.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017

  7. papa32203

    papa32203 Tele-Holic

    660
    Nov 4, 2011
    Surprise, AZ

    I'm going to have the fingertips on my fretting hand replaced with w/ brass.
     
    Obsessed and BadMojo like this.

  8. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Holic

    977
    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    I think that the physics is similar to the strange fret shapes on true temperament necks except that instead of the weird shaped frets you are altering the string lengths. I have had the best results using them on 25.5" scale lengths. I tried one on an acoustic that was a 24.75" scale length. It still sounding better than a straight cut nut, but not as effective as it does on a 25.5"er.
     

  9. user34603

    user34603 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    67
    171
    Dec 5, 2016
    Richmond VA
    as long as the nut slots are cut correctly and lubricated (no string binding in the slots), plastic is not a big deal. Bone is stable and looks good. But the nut does not make much difference in sound.... pickups and the bridge parts do (like a steel tremolo block).
     
    eallen and Obsessed like this.

  10. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    Thanks guys for that. As long as I've been playing and have become used to how the lower frets sound, this kind of nut may just be too different to what my ears have become used to.
     

  11. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    Why would the bridge make a difference, but the nut not make a difference? They're both points that keep the strings in scale length. If one makes a difference, then logically both would make a difference.
     

  12. eallen

    eallen Tele-Meister

    The difference the nut would make is only on the 6 open string notes since your fingers act as the "nut" on all other. The bridge on the other hand is in play on all notes.
     
    Obsessed likes this.

  13. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    The above post I made earlier explains why the nut makes as much difference with open strings or fretted strings.
     

  14. Raimonds

    Raimonds Tele-Meister

    Age:
    46
    337
    Dec 1, 2014
    Latvia
    I wonder, when was the last time you went into smokey and dim lit bar with live band playing gig and immediately said: oh, thats crappy sound comes from plastic nut. Or: heavanly bone nut sound? This is hair splitting, imo.

    Btw, graphite nuts are plastic with graphite additive to make them abit more slippery.
     
    Felino likes this.

  15. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    42
    Mar 17, 2003
    albany, ny [not chicago]
    No, of course not. The nut is the sort of thing that makes a small but noticeable difference, like a special seasoning in a recipe. It's the difference between a fresh apple pie made with a little extra nutmeg and one without, not the difference between a fresh pie and a 2 for $1 pie from the gas station.
     

  16. kennl

    kennl Tele-Holic

    987
    Feb 6, 2007
    Moon Township, PA
    I have one parts caster with an earvana nut
    The guitar has a different timbre than those without compensation
    Not unlike a guitar with a wound G versus an unwound G
    Best engineering solution for a nut is on both my Steinberger and Supro - a zero fret.
     

  17. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Well, this is why I am asking the question. Since I don't have tuning problems, it seems that my plastic nuts are good to go from now. I have experimented with different string gauges and action heights, so maybe that would be the time to swap out a nut. Admittedly, my Sheraton's plastic nut is pretty ugly compared to my MIM strat and tele, but not ugly enough to change it out just for aesthetics.
     

  18. Raimonds

    Raimonds Tele-Meister

    Age:
    46
    337
    Dec 1, 2014
    Latvia
    Experiment, get some preslotted tusq, bone, etc nuts, swap them, it doesnt cost much if you know how to work with some simple tools. And you will be able to tell us if you could hear any difference.
    I stopped experimenting years ago, now I dont even know what nuts on my guitars are made of, it doesnt matter for me. Only thing I need from them is to keep strings in place.
     
    Obsessed likes this.

  19. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Ya know, I really like your idea of just swapping out a plastic nut for a pre slotted nut just for the heck of it. Thanks.
     

  20. Zepfan

    Zepfan Friend of Leo's

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    No I don't do that either, I go to be entertained instead of picking apart their gear. It's more about you and your guitar, gear in your home and what your hearing from it all. These little changes are hard to hear at loud volumes with pedals and a set of drums banging in your ears, but in your home it's more noticeable and especially playing clean.
    It seems to me that plastic and other softer materials muffle the tone and sustain a bit while harder materials do a better job. Graphite and other synthetic hard materials are fine because of the additives that change the plastic into a harder material.
    Hard wood gives a different tone to a guitar that can be appealing, especially on a Jazzbox and maybe plastic would be a good fit for that too.
    If your happy with plastic, then great. Since I've heard the difference, I can't be happy with plastic anymore.
     

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