1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Copper (Metal) Experts

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by fenderbender4, May 30, 2014.

  1. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    72
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I really don't know much about metals and what's typically available to machine.

    I saw the Kohler copper saddles and am intrigued by them and am thinking about doing a set of ABR-1 saddles in copper. The issue is, is I don't know what type of copper alloy to use. I know it's pretty soft. I know Be copper is hard but is there any other copper alloy (besides brass) that has a high percentage of copper but would be hard enough to use as a guitar saddle?

    Are the typical coppers offered by machine shops useable for guitar saddles?
     
  2. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,327
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    Aluminum is actually great to play around with, as far as non-brass copper alloys, Bronze might be an option: But, Brass, Stainless Steel and Aluminum are fairly common in guitar making. There are alloys that have some small amount of lead in them - those are typically the ones that machine the best - especially iron based alloys. The small amount of lead allows tools be be able to dig into the metal better while being near mechanically identical to other related alloys.
     
  3. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    15,911
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2010
    Location:
    Loganville, Ga.
    This link is a fairly good short summary of the machining characteristics of various copper alloys.

    http://www.onlinemetals.com/copperguide.cfm

    I'm with mojo--not sure the much more difficult machining considerations that copper introduces, produces commensurate benefits over aluminum. Kohler's nibbled out a nice niche for themselves, and gotten some good pickers to use their hardware, but I'd like somebody other than them--as in somebody who has no profit motive--to explain to me why copper or brass, or anything else is any better than Leo's original steel-under-brass, which quickly became all steel. If you're looking for maximum transmission of vibration to the body, you want low mass, and aluminum is hard to beat for that.
     
  4. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,375
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Try some bronze (copper + tin + other stuff). Or aluminum bronze (copper + aluminum).

    Nickel silver is mostly copper if you're looking for something different.

    If you want a copper alloy to be hard, it needs to be worked. For saddles, that's pretty easy, because you can usually buy rod that's hard regardless of the alloy. If it's not, then you either have to get it larger and draw it down, or forge it smaller.

    Regardless, it's not going to be so hard that you can't cut it or drill it.

    For the purpose, and in my opinion, copper isn't going to be much different than brass, though in an absolute sense brass and bronze get harder than copper.
     
  5. Thinlineggman

    Thinlineggman Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,766
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Location:
    Oregon City, OR
    Another vote for giving aluminum a shot. Super easy to work with and will transfer the vibrations well. It's also incredibly cheap and available pretty much anywhere in any size bar and square stock form.
     
  6. kennl

    kennl Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,699
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Location:
    Moon Township, PA
    I works as a machinist years ago, and fashioned some saddles, knobs, and other hardware from brass. If I had access to the tools today, I would probably try phosphor bronze or "copper nickel" for saddles. Both are more difficult to machine than brass or steel, but, would offer some different characteristics. You can drop a bar of bronze or brass on the floor and hear a "splat", but phosphor bronze will ring like a bell.
     
  7. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    72
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Cool, thanks for the advice and tips. Lots of stuff to consider.
     
  8. Tom Pettingill

    Tom Pettingill Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    667
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Location:
    California
    I like and use both phosphor bronze and silicon bronze for saddles on some of my steels. There is a reason the best bells are made of bronze and not brass.
     
  9. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,375
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    If you go far enough back, the same word 'latten' gets used for both bronze and brass. The difference was that one side of Europe had zinc, the other side had tin.
     
  10. fenderbender4

    fenderbender4 TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    72
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Is Phosphor Bronze something that most machine shops/fabrication/prototype places can machine something out of? I mostly see steel and aluminum.
     
  11. twick

    twick Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    474
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    Location:
    Tallahassee Fl.
    Phosphor bronze machines nicely. Aluminum 2021-t3 is nicer. Makes great saddles!


    Sent from my iPhone using TDPRI
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.