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Wanting to change my plastic saddle and nut?


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#1 OFFLINE   R2Guitar

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:19 PM

Hi.

I have a Yamaha LL16 which was originally 725 in the store but I got it in a sale at 499. Solid rosewood back and sides solid spruce top.

I am happy with the sound for the price all but the open B string can sound "throaty" when played hard and overall tone is perhaps leaning towards a tad too much treble.

The sales guy is also a Luthier and can custom set up the guitar with a bone saddle and nut. My question is.

What sort of change to the sound/tone could I expect from having the plastic saddle and nut replaced with bone?

Many thanks!

#2 OFFLINE   nicksdad12

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:46 PM

The saddle has a big effect, as do the pins. Try upgrading the plastic pins to Tusq for $15, and if you like the change then upgrade the saddle to Tusq or bone. The main difference is volume and clarity.

The nut is the most expensive change, and the least important for tone. It's probably a good hard plastic or Tusq already on that guitar. I wouldn't bother changing it unless it's defective.

I have a repair shop, and I never try to sell anyone on a new nut for tone, but always tell them what a big difference the saddle can make, and the pins if the original ones are plastic. I see these great old Martins with plastic pins, and the customers flip when they hear them with new pins. Tusq, ebony, bone, anything but tone sucking soft plastic.

#3 OFFLINE   karcey

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 05:07 PM

Why would a firm like Yamaha, who are really quite proficient in the music industry, produce a guitar which retails for 725 English pounds and fit it with inferior saddle and pins? Don't they know anything about tone? Maybe someone should write to them and tell them that for just a pound or two at the point of manufacture they could vastly improve the sound of their product instead of leaving it to the aftermarket businesses.
"The music matters more than the instrument on which we play it." Jason W. Solomon

#4 OFFLINE   scotty_b

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 05:43 PM

karcey said:

Why would a firm like Yamaha, who are really quite proficient in the music industry, produce a guitar which retails for 725 English pounds and fit it with inferior saddle and pins? Don't they know anything about tone? Maybe someone should write to them and tell them that for just a pound or two at the point of manufacture they could vastly improve the sound of their product instead of leaving it to the aftermarket businesses.

A lot of bigger companies seem to cut costs on such fashion...some of the components on American fenders are pretty crappy as well.

#5 OFFLINE   R2Guitar

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 05:34 PM

karcey said:

Why would a firm like Yamaha, who are really quite proficient in the music industry, produce a guitar which retails for 725 English pounds and fit it with inferior saddle and pins? Don't they know anything about tone? Maybe someone should write to them and tell them that for just a pound or two at the point of manufacture they could vastly improve the sound of their product instead of leaving it to the aftermarket businesses.

I agree 100% my friend.

Thing is, I loved the guitars tone even with the plastic so a bone replacement has only got to be even better!

#6 OFFLINE   karcey

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 08:14 PM

I'm hoping this works out well for you.
A couple of curious points come to mind, and this is not specific to your job but the whole guitar satisfaction scene as a whole. How many people think about the nut, saddle and pins when they're buying, and how many buy because they like the sound? If you like the sound enough to buy an expensive instrument, why try to change it? Will the changed sound be to your liking? How can you be sure it's different when you get it back from the shop? Are we all searching for the Holy Grail of sound. Are we being realistic? Can we ever be totally satisfied, even if we know there's some ordinary materials in the guitar?
This is probably a set of questions best left for another thread. But in your case R2 I'm hoping to hear that you've gained that improvement that you hoped for, and you still love the guitar!
Keep in touch.
"The music matters more than the instrument on which we play it." Jason W. Solomon

#7 OFFLINE   Maddog54

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 11:47 AM

I'm interested to see how this works out for you myself. I was considering the same thing with my 12-string, but I cannot find a saddle for it...has something to do with being intonated or compensated(which I don't know the meaning of either). I found one place that could possibly custom make it, but not worth the hassle and the cash right now.

#8 OFFLINE   carol m

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Posted 02 April 2010 - 01:39 AM

A bit of a side issue: is it possible to tell what sort of nut and saddle you have if the manufacturer doesn't specify it in the model info?
One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain - Bob Marley

#9 OFFLINE   R2Guitar

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 03:47 PM

carol m said:

A bit of a side issue: is it possible to tell what sort of nut and saddle you have if the manufacturer doesn't specify it in the model info?

It looks like plastic, that very bright white colour. The guy in the store is a Luthier so I's assume he knows what he's talking about!

#10 OFFLINE   nicksdad12

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 06:37 PM

The only way I can tell if a saddle or nut is bone is by smell. If you sand a bit and it smells like the dentist drilling your teeth, then it's bone.

#11 OFFLINE   carol m

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 07:07 AM

Thanks for that idea nicksdad - I was wondering about the saddle on my Takamine. It has a split bridge and the strings make little grooves in it so I was wondering if it was plastic or not. I might try a light sand next time I change the strings. It sounds great and I wouldn't change it, but it'd be interesting to know.
One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain - Bob Marley

#12 OFFLINE   Chaotic Kittie

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 05:22 PM

carol m said:

Thanks for that idea nicksdad - I was wondering about the saddle on my Takamine. It has a split bridge and the strings make little grooves in it so I was wondering if it was plastic or not. I might try a light sand next time I change the strings. It sounds great and I wouldn't change it, but it'd be interesting to know.

Else post a nice pic of the bridge where the flash reflects in it, and it might be possible to tell from sight.
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
- George Bernard Shaw

#13 OFFLINE   Chaotic Kittie

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 05:56 PM

Generally however I've noticed that brand name guitars below $700-800 have plastic saddles and nuts out of the factory, and sometimes even higher-end guitars than that have it, so the price could be a good indicator.

As for why they don't have higher quality details in from the beginning, it's because it's not cost effective. It would put up the production cost (which they _ALWAYS_ want to keep as low as possible for any mass produced item, even if it's a matter of just a few $), but they would not be able to raise the price of the instrument accordingly, as they'd lose many potential buyers. The way companies generally makes profit out of mass produced high-end items is by having the details such as saddle and nut made out of cheaper materials but STILL have a price that would match or surpass the production cost if they'd have used higher-end materials.

Unfortunately, regardless of what these companies know about material and it's effect on sound, they don't care about the individual needs of any player, they care about making a profit, regardless of how small it may seem to the everyday person. That's the harsh truth about it. If anyone wants an instrument made to that perfection, they generally need to spit out huge amounts of bucks on custom instruments.

//End rant. Sorry if I went off-topic. =P
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
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#14 OFFLINE   solidwalnut

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 02:50 PM

R2Guitar said:

Hi.

I have a Yamaha LL16 which was originally 725 in the store but I got it in a sale at 499. Solid rosewood back and sides solid spruce top.

I am happy with the sound for the price all but the open B string can sound "throaty" when played hard and overall tone is perhaps leaning towards a tad too much treble.

The sales guy is also a Luthier and can custom set up the guitar with a bone saddle and nut. My question is.

What sort of change to the sound/tone could I expect from having the plastic saddle and nut replaced with bone?

Many thanks!
Check this link out: Welcome to Custom Guitar Saddles. Bob Colosi, the owner there, knows about all there is to know about these things. Great site, great info.

karcey said:

...Are we all searching for the Holy Grail of sound. Are we being realistic?...
I hear you, brother. I think I have to say that guitarists should stop and smell the rose they have first :). What I mean is that knowledge is power, and it's good to understand the differences and what kind of difference each type might make. That way, it's just a matter of experimentation to see if you like the differences, rather than an unquenchable thirst to find the Holy Grail of tone...

I recently changed my saddle from Tusq to bone. Oh my, what a difference. Now the Tusq isn't bad sounding by any stretch. Rather, the difference between the two is remarkable on my guitar.

The Tusq comes stock on the vast majority of Taylors. Tusq generally gives a nice, smooth and well-rounded sound from top to bottom. When I first picked up this guitar with the Tusq saddle, years ago, I fell in love with the sound.

Then I changed it to bone last year. Wow! Brighter top end, deeper low end, crisper high-mids. So yes, it's worth experimenting. But do it right: Save the old saddle and don't destroy it taking it out so you can put it back if you don't like the new saddle. You can do the job yourself if you wish, and if you read the instructions at Bob's web site.

Call Bob Colosi or visit his web site. He knows saddles and bridge pins. He knows what different manufacturers do and what to look for, and look out for, on your guitar.

Steve
Steve Cass
Solid Walnut Music/ASCAP

Becoming a great guitarist has less to do with fancy moves than it does becoming a master of the basics and learning musicianship.
It's not what you can't do. It's how you play what you already know.


View my lessons here at GfB&B


"Rhythm guitar is a trip that alot of people miss" -- Tom Petty


#15 OFFLINE   knight46

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 05:06 PM

+1 to Bob Colosi. I bought a bone saddle from him for my Yamaha FG720 and it improved the sound of my guitar (stock plastic saddle that was very loose) a great deal.
"Hail Mary full of Grace..."

#16 OFFLINE   solidwalnut

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 06:18 PM

I just ordered some bone bridge pins from Bob just to see if that would make a difference in tone on my axe. I'll let you know in a few days if it did or not! He reports that the main difference is usually more sustain.
Steve Cass
Solid Walnut Music/ASCAP

Becoming a great guitarist has less to do with fancy moves than it does becoming a master of the basics and learning musicianship.
It's not what you can't do. It's how you play what you already know.


View my lessons here at GfB&B


"Rhythm guitar is a trip that alot of people miss" -- Tom Petty


#17 OFFLINE   solidwalnut

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 08:26 PM

I just replaced the original ebony pins with bone. Wow, nice touch. Added some sustain and volume. They probably wouldn't have made as much of a difference without also changing out the bone saddle, but the combination of the two is excellent! More focused low end, crisper mid's and highs, higher overall volume.
Steve Cass
Solid Walnut Music/ASCAP

Becoming a great guitarist has less to do with fancy moves than it does becoming a master of the basics and learning musicianship.
It's not what you can't do. It's how you play what you already know.


View my lessons here at GfB&B


"Rhythm guitar is a trip that alot of people miss" -- Tom Petty






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