How to Differentiate Between Tusq and Plastic?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Doghouse_Riley, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm looking at buying a partscaster. The seller says it has a Tusq nut. How can I tell if he's correct?
     
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  2. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Much like Soylent Green is people, Tusq is plastic. I'm not sure I could identify the difference between a genuine Tusq nut and a chunk of high-density plastic someone carved into a nut. Tusq is a brand name.
     
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  3. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

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    The Tusq nut will have a grainy texture. If he has been using the guitar for a while there could be Teflon stains in the string slot since they are permeated with it.
     
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  4. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    plastic nuts are usually hollow and are molded , a tusc nut will resemble more of a bone nut being solid , also plastic would have a plastic smell to it if you scrtaped it on sandpaper

    also the tusc has teflon in the mix to allow for easy string slide across the nut

     
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  5. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It’s a $10 part. I wouldn’t put too much time into this.
     
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  6. bsman

    bsman Tele-Afflicted

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    I've heard that when you drop a tusq piece it will sound way different than a plastic piece (I haven't tried this myself.)
     
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  7. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Tusq is plastic. Regular Tusq has zero objective advantage over your typical plastic nut. You might find its tone preferable, or you might not.

    Tusq XL, OTOH, does have objective advantages. It is "permanently lubricated" with PTFE ("Teflon").

    What really matters is having the nut shaped, fitted, and slotted correctly, not the material.

    This is incorrect. Tusq XL is permeated with Teflon, not Tusq.

    And I'm not sure what is meant by "grainy texture." I have never experienced that with a Tusq or Tusq XL nut. Are you talking about the pebbled molding texture that is there when the nuts are new? If so, in practice, that goes away when you install, shape, and smooth the blank.
     
  8. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Hard to say . Some plastics are gummy , almost like nylon and that's easy to tell, but Tusq from other "hard" plastics... hmmm.
     
  9. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Drop them on a hard surface-Tusq "pings". It is plastic, but performs like bone. I replaced the bridge saddle of my Martin (bone) with a Tusq saddle. A little different sound-brighter, actually a lot more appealing to my old ears.
     
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  10. urbandefault

    urbandefault Tele-Meister

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    Recent Tusq XL nuts I've bought have had black printing on the headstock side.
     
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  11. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    And here I always assumed Tusq XL referred to the size.
     
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  12. jarpat

    jarpat Tele-Meister

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    What's wrong with bone..? Cheap on ebay..
    And I don't believe anyone can really hear the difference. It's a mental thing..?
     
  13. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Tonenuts!
     
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  14. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'm thinking.. why would the guy mention it or even know what a tusq nut is?... unless he bought one and put it in....;)

    it's not an expensive mod....
     
  15. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, Tusq tinkles like a piece of glass if you drop it on a piece of marble (or a cast iron jointer bed or table saw top). I use a flat scrap of marble with sandpaper glued to it for all kinds of work including truing up the edge of a nut or saddle. Water buffalo horn is soft and rubbery and just makes a thud when you drop it on the marble. bone is somewhere in between.

    But don't get hung up on whether it's 'just plastic.' except for some cheap imports with pre-molded nuts you probably won't have an issue with the nut material. Nylon was used by Gibson for the sacred '59 Les Pauls.

    I think the issue in buying a guitar is whether the nut slots were properly spaced and are deep enough for a nice playable action.
     
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  16. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Tele-Afflicted

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    I get that it's a $10 part but I'm a "waste not, want not" "$10 saved is $10 earned" type of person. $10 is 3 sets of strings.

    And yes, the seller claims he had a Tusq XL installed a few years ago. String spacing is fine. I need to check the slot depths.

    I like Tusq XL. I find I get less binding particularly with Strats which is what this guitar is.
     
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  17. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I use the Tusq xl nuts on my Allparts necked tele's and strats, (pq5000-00) they do ping when dropped on a hard surface similar to bone whereas plastic sounds dull in comparison.
    The nut makes a very noticeable difference, especially if you play a lot of chords, phrases where you let the open strings ring out.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  18. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thank you for providing the term I've been searching for: "gummy." I've set up 3 Squiers and the nuts all felt gummy when filing them.
     
  19. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, they are usually on cheaper guitars and I hate them too. You file them but it just kind of smears the material around! I'm not a big believer in nut material making much tone difference though. I've even put LSR roller nuts on electrics and not heard much if any difference.
     
  20. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    The lower-end Squier nuts have plastic that's kind of "extruded" out of each end of each slot: smeared out during filing.

    Yeah, I don't perceive any difference in overall tone due to nut material. When I play a cowboy chord I don't get ecstatic over the tone of that one note that's played open.
     
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