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How to identify bone vs plastic saddle?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by fngrpepr, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. fngrpepr

    fngrpepr TDPRI Member

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    Maybe a silly question, but is there an easy way to tell whether my saddle (or nut, for that matter) is bone or plastic? Ideally without pulling them out of the guitar.
     
  2. voodoostation

    voodoostation Tele-Afflicted

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    Gently tap it with something hard or metallic. You'll tell the difference.
     
  3. jwsamuel

    jwsamuel Friend of Leo's

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    In addition to tapping it, look at the saddle with a magnifying glass. Bone is a natural material and will have some variation. Most plastic saddles -- but not all -- will have a uniform color.

    Jim
     
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  5. Codger

    Codger Tele-Meister

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    What Jim said, but plastic doesn't necessarily mean bad. If it's cheap plastic we call it plastic, if its expensive plastic we we call it something like micarta, or corian, or graphtech.
     
  6. philpm

    philpm TDPRI Member

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    The test I see from the guys on the Washburn forum is to heat up a needle and place it on a non-critical area of the saddle. If you get a nasty burning smell, its bone. If it melts, its plastic.
     
  7. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire

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    Take it out of the guitar and snap it in two. Plastic will break off cleanly, and bone will splinter.
     
  8. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I can tell by scratching it with a fingernail, feels different.
     
  9. el cheapo

    el cheapo Tele-Afflicted

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    You could take a piece of sandpaper and sand it a little. Bone will smell like... well... bone. Plastic won't have much of an odor.
     
  10. fngrpepr

    fngrpepr TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the tips guys. It's a guitar from '58-'60, so I'm guessing it's bone, but was wondering how to tell for sure.
     
  11. Brandon mac

    Brandon mac Tele-Holic

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    yes....
    make a youtube video of you playing the guitar,upload it on here and let one of the cork sniffers tell you if it is bone or plastic.
     
  12. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    If you have great tone, it's bone.
    If your tone sucks, it's plastic.

    Where I got thrown off is when I asked my guitar tech to replace the plastic nut with bone, he told me; "don't bother".:confused:
     
  13. NewPort

    NewPort Tele-Meister

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    Not sure if it's the material or a proper setup, but in my experience plastic seems to ring out louder when the high strings are played open compared to fretted notes. I just replaced a Tusq nut ( which was an improvement over cheap plastic) with a bone nut, now the open notes sound close to fretted notes in volume, also the g-string sounds much better. I used some precut nuts from Hong Kong and just tuned up the slots with a welding tip cleaner.
     
  14. jwsamuel

    jwsamuel Friend of Leo's

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    His reasoning may have been that the nut only affects tone when you play an open string, so it is not worth the expense to change it. When you fret a string, the nut is out of the picture.

    Jim
     
  15. dog fart

    dog fart Friend of Leo's

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    I hope he wasn't taking a shot at your playing.

    I have some experience in this matter :oops:
     
  16. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    :cry: This is what I was thinking. But I do appreciate good advice, even when it's not what I want to hear. :cool:
     
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