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Comparing Brass Saddles to Stainless Steel - Does it matter?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Cody_J, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    Neat! I'll message you when I take a break later! Thank you.
     
  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Does Allen screw composition get involved in the discussion? :)
     
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  3. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    Thank you! That section was actually an afterthought that came out of my A-B'ing the two saddle sets.
     
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  4. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    Haha! You know what, why not? Let's make a video for that!
     
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  5. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    Brass is around 8% more dense than steel - relatively similar - I think you would have to compare something like Aluminum (300% less dense than brass) saddles to brass saddles to really hear any difference that you could record.
     
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  6. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    I like the specificity! Unfortunately I only have one aluminum saddle, not a complete set. However, it wouldn't be that hard to get the rest and try it out!
     
  7. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I could hear a difference in the initial attack. I understand now why some guys run a steel E/A saddle and brass for the other two. I agree with @blowtorch that this won't make a ton of difference in a full band setting or with certain sounds (lots of distortion), but on its own I could hear a clear difference.
     
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  8. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I know a guy... ;)
     
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  9. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    Years ago, I made a few bridges using aluminum and steel for the base plates and different sized brass, aluminum and steel rod pieces for saddles using this guitar. I wasn't trying to prove anything other than "could I make my own bridges that I liked better than one's I could buy"... And, that is true, one can make a better bridge than one you can buy, but one would kind of be on their own because not a lot of people are doing that and it really needs more collaboration to develop an approach that 'looks' as good as one you can buy, that said I do love my ugly DIY bridge's tone and playability more than hard-tail bridges that are out there (related to mechanical simplicity and the right materials).
    Anyways, I used this guitar below (which is sporting one of my early Aluminum baseplates with thin 3/16th" brass rod saddles - really tough to make a hole for a set screw on those...) and on my bandsaw below I'm showing how I made my steel baseplates.

    SA_front_Small.jpg Last.jpg

    The difference between all these different saddles and baseplates was very interesting.

    With an aluminum baseplate:
    - The biggest difference (using an aluminum base plate) was the saddles using 3/8" aluminum were rod had a lot less sustain, the attack was kind of less too (to my ears) and kind of lacked low end.

    - The saddles that I made with 3/16th" brass sounded amazing great attack, great sustain, just as much low end as any saddle I had tried - the main problem was that palm muting strings was a lot tougher to get right as there was not a lot of saddle to use for muting and the breakover on the saddle was a lot steeper so notes either rang out or were heavily muted with nothing in between. And, these skinny saddles are not that comfortable to play on because the edge of the low-e string's saddle felt like it was stabbing my hand when I played.

    - The saddles I made with 3/8" brass rod everything was kind of middle of the road - just as much low-end as the skinny 3/16" saddles - maybe a little more sustain - but the attack and over all tone was identical to standard Tele saddles - no surprise really.

    - The saddles I made with 3/8" steel rod had a lot more attack - too much and oddly enough a little less sustain. The tone just kind of had this edge that would not really go away - IMO very similar to how I think the tone changes with stainless frets. Note definition really stood out too - I'm guessing that there was mostly fundamental tones in the tone of the strings and techniques like playing softer or palm muting did not have any blending effect like it usually does with brass saddles where I think I believe I hear a lot more fundamental tone when I hit a note harder with brass saddles - that just did not really happen with steel saddles. So, I would say steel saddles sounded less dynamic with softly played notes vs. hard played notes - every note kind of had the same balance.

    With steel baseplate:
    Generally, same as above on all saddle types/materials, but the steel baseplate was a little brighter (a little more attack too) and lacked the sustain that I got with my aluminum baseplates. That said, the steel plates were very hard to work/make - so the steel plates I made were not mechanically anywhere near what I could make using aluminum - and that could have been the difference in tone right there.

    Generally, aluminum baseplates are great, brass saddles are a very familiar tone - with 3/8" brass rod they are pretty good at everything and had the best dynamics between when I played a note hard or softly. Steel is OK for saddle material, but it's hard to work and lacks a lot of the dynamics to the tone that I got with brass: Just not the tone I was looking for - more edgy than I wanted. Aluminum saddles are not great - that's where I think everyone could likely hear a difference, but again, not an improvement over brass. Finally, steel baseplates - way too much work to make yourself...

    Of course - all of that work was done over a about 6 months about 10 years ago and my thoughts are pretty subjective: But, I do love brass for saddles - I think soft, dense, metals are the way to go for saddles.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
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  10. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    This is very interesting! I’ve done some amateur woodworking before, but never anything with metal. I really enjoyed this write up and reading about your experiences with this stuff.
     
  11. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, I think a lot of the minutia that we get into sometimes is more for us than it is anything else — and honestly I’m all for that. I have come to the opinion that if it makes you happy, then that’s what matters in the end. However, I would agree that we don’t need most stuff that we wind up using in our rigs, haha.
     
  12. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    My ears aren't good enough to hear the difference. Most assuredly the audience or in the context of a mix the difference, if any, isn't heard.

    Now switch tips on the other hand... wow!
     
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  13. Unionjack515

    Unionjack515 Tele-Afflicted

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    I use stainless E-A and brass on the other two. I also use pure nickel .011s. I think the stainless on the bigger bass strings gets me a little more definition and snap. I like to think that it would make less difference the smaller the string gauge but who knows.
     
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  14. jfgesquire

    jfgesquire Tele-Afflicted

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    Then there are chrome plated saddles, which will also depend on what is under the plating, brass, steel or pot metal.

    And then there are the Vintage 6 saddle bridges, which also has the saddles chrome plated, but I don't know what metal is under the plating.
     
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  15. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    I think that is what I have landed on doing for now — for the same reason that you mentioned. No rules against mixing and matching!
     
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  16. jayroc1

    jayroc1 Tele-Meister

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    Anything that touches the string is going to affect the attack and sustain of the string. The harder the material generally the better transfer of energy.
     
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  17. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    Right?? It never ends.. I chose to limit the materials to two for the sake of this video, but you’re right — there are so many options.
     
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  18. Cody_J

    Cody_J Tele-Meister

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    Sounds like my next video — switch tips and pickguard screw material!
     
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  19. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't leave out strap buttons, an essential element to tone of the gods.
     
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  20. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Did you adjust pickup heights and screw poles?
    Did you swap pots 'n caps?

    Those are the levers I use on any guitar that doesn't inspire and rarely do I swap pickups now (I'll swap for different pickup styles like humbucker to P90).


    L6-S models were all maple bodies and necks. Skinny Squier-like necks though. Kind of SG ergonomics for strap pins and seated rest positions with the neck out to the 'far' left. Pickups and the circuit were designed by Bill Lawrence (plus Gibson mods) with a rotary switch to cover Tele and Strat tones in addition to LP tones and included an early version of Bill's "Q-filter" RCL circuit.

    The L6-S (S for Santana) was Gibson's attempt at another "Fender Fighter", just like when the LP failed in the market at the end of the 50s they created what would be the 60s SG model as a thinner and lighter two humbucker instrument. So Gibson returned in the 70s with another attempt to unseat Fender popularity.

    [​IMG]
    .
     
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