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brass saddle


music321
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I don't know a thing about brass saddles other than the fact that I don't think I'd want one. I'm kinda partial to bone, tusq or even just plain old plastic. And, yes, a compensated saddle helps with intonation. That's what they're made for.

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I owned a Yairi DY55 for years that had both nut and saddle in brass. Never a complaint. My memory was that it had a somewhat brighter sound. Never felt the need to change them. I realize that probably doesn't help much, but that's what I've got.

 

EDIT:

Not a very good picture, but if you will look real close, I think you can see. A little bit o' blue smoke obscuring the photo. That was a pretty good long while ago!

 

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anyone use one? how does it compare to other, more standard (e.g. plastic) materials?


or how bout a compensated saddle? do they really help with intonation?

 

No idea about brass saddles. Doesn't sound like something I'd want to try. Everything else aside, trying to file one down to fit would probably be a real bitch.

 

But I do know this: Your avatar is brilliant! :thu:

 

Regarding compensation, yes the point is to help with intonation. Intonation on a guitar is never quite *perfect.* A properly compensated saddle will tweak things just a bit closer to perfect.

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Mostly, a brass saddle help lam-topped gutars that are a little muddy-sounding (adds brightness and sustain)...

OTOH, sometimes a brass saddle can add too much brightness, making some guitars a bit shrill.

Inexpensive enough to try, and easily reversed if you don't like how it sounds, though.

+1

Daion Guitars - late '70's / '80's did brass nut and saddle.

They used solid Douglas Fir for their tops on their better models and laminate B/S's

Brass can sound brash / course - dare I say 'metallic', I replaced a brass saddle with bone and the owner, a flatpicker liked the fuller - sweeter tone (his words).

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daion31-300x224.jpg

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Funny how that is. Adding extra mass around the bridge would normally be considered a "no-no." Brass bridge pins didn't help my D-28. Blech!

 

And yet doing this on a laminate top seems to help it. I had an old Yamaha FG351SB all laminate. Brass bridge pins definitely changed its tone for the better.

 

If you have a higher quality solid top guitar, a brass saddle won't buy you anything in tone or intonation that a good quality bone or even Tusq saddle will.

 

If you have a laminate top guitar, all bets are off. Try it and see.

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anyone use one? how does it compare to other, more standard (e.g. plastic) materials?


or how bout a compensated saddle? do they really help with intonation?

 

Brass, or other metals, is not usually used for saddles for all the reasons listed above. Probably the two biggest are the difficulty of working it and the fact that it adds a lot of mass to what is already the heaviest brace on the top of the guitar (the bridge plus bridgeplate). Some very old guitars, Weissenborns and a few others used a piece of fret wire for a saddle, but then you have the problem of getting enough break angle (the saddle in Seorie's picture also looks like it is very low - without knowing anything else about that guitar I would be suspicious that it needs a reset). John Doprya experimented with brass for early resonator saddles and rejected it.

 

You can test the effects of additional mass by simply taping some weight onto the saddle. Brass bridge pins are another option - when I did the Pin Test most people felt that they "brightened" the sound of the guitars that I put them in (D18, old Yamaha).

 

As to the original question - if there was truely an advantage to brass saddles manufactures (or small builders) would certainly use them. Bone (and ivories) and synthetics (plastic, Tusq, etc) remain the most popular for lots of very good reasons.

 

As far as a compensated saddle - first, almost every modern guitar has the saddle compensated for the different core diameters of the strings - that is the way it is angled with more length to the bass than treble. In addition, you will find that it is located farther than 2X the distance to the 12th fret, that is more compensation. Both of those help with correcting intonation, particularly as you play up the neck. In addition, you can further compensate individual strings (usually the B and low E) either by using an accurate tuner or just simply moving the break point a little more.

 

Does it help - yes, but mostly in the upper frets. Remember that there were a bunch of Martins built with the saddle at 2X on the high E and because their bluegrass playing owner rarely go above the 5th fret they really never noticed.

 

I'm anal about compensation - I use Jasemine Tea's trick to set the break point of every string - on a 12 string the saddle ends up looking like a rip saw blade.

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Some very old guitars, Weissenborns and a few others used a piece of fret wire for a saddle,

 

You'll find that on some budget guitars from the 50's and 60's as well. I've got a Stella set up that way. It works, sort of. I wouldn't recommend it.

 

Compensation: For me is a must. Strings aren't perfect, but you can make them play much more in-tune with a compensated saddle.

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Compensation: For me is a must. Strings aren't perfect, but you can make them play much more in-tune with a compensated saddle.

 

Except on a slide guitar where you really don't want any. Having just built an electric, I was impressed by how really easy it is to set them up and dial in the compensation. Of course, when you spend all your time in the middle of the fretboard it is vital.

 

edit to add - it is interesting that on an electric, metal saddles are the norm. But the saddle only acts as the "end of the string" - since is doesn't vibrate (much) it probably doesn't matter what it is made out of. On most archtops, mandos, violin and other instruments with tailpieces, the saddle is usually integral to the bridge and is wood - ebony, rosewood or similar. Archtops are compensated for the individual strings, but you can slide the whole thing around to get the overall intonation correct (I learned that on instruments with f-holes, a good starting point is the middle of the f's)

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But the saddle only acts as the "end of the string" - since is doesn't vibrate (much) it probably doesn't matter what it is made out of.

 

It isn't transmitting vibration for amplification purposes (unless there are piezo elements involved) but it still matters what it is made of. Just like bone or wood frets would sound different on an acoustic even though they are only the 'end of the string'.

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I made the switch from plastic to all brass just recently, my first thoughts were it sounds strange but at the price it's definitely worth a try. If you like the sound of your guitar as it is stick with the original hardware but brass will absolutely work to enhance the wood sound. Now I'm used to it I personally think it sounds amazing. To get the most out of it though make the full switch, saddle nut and bridge pins. What you have to take into account is you either want metal on metal or you don't.

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One wonders if a brass saddle would have worn turned green in the 8 years since this thread was started? Should we then be discussing the effects of "never dull" on a nitrocellular finish? 

My thought on things is that guitars are built with certain design parameters and there are some upgrades that will improve the guitar or gimmicks that will make the guitar sound or respond in ways that it was never intended to be.

In this case, I think metallic contact points for the strings are delving into electric guitar or resonator territory. In those cases, lower frequency tone is sacrificed in favor of higher frequency clarity and some sort of external parameter such as an amplifier with modeling capabilities to "color" the tone back to something less "brash."

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4 hours ago, kwakatak said:

One wonders if a brass saddle would have worn turned green in the 8 years since this thread was started? Should we then be discussing the effects of "never dull" on a nitrocellular finish? . . .

Or perhaps one need apply a coat of clear lacquer to the saddle so that it doesn't tarnish? Or mayhap a stainless steel or titanium saddle would help to avoid the issue? (But only when paired with the correct bridge pins?) ;)

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On 2/16/2020 at 2:22 AM, Chris 72 said:

I made the switch from plastic to all brass just recently, my first thoughts were it sounds strange but at the price it's definitely worth a try. If you like the sound of your guitar as it is stick with the original hardware but brass will absolutely work to enhance the wood sound. Now I'm used to it I personally think it sounds amazing. To get the most out of it though make the full switch, saddle nut and bridge pins. What you have to take into account is you either want metal on metal or you don't.

When I buy a guitar it's because I like the way it sounds. So I leave it just as it is.

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Getting back to the NEW poster’s thing, which is sort of a recurring theme of 8 year old posts, but not much going on anyway... we all like to tweak stuff.  Brass?  I guess it would have an effect, and boredom could probably turn folks into experimenters.

Im still trying to wrap my head around a $35.00 pick though.  The Blue Chip, that’s a tweak!  
 

I tweaked a guitar this week with dadarrio XT strings this weekend!  What a huge difference, well, the replaced set was over a year old.  
 

Chris 72, follow up?  You’re not going to just LEAVE, are you?!
 

 

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I prefer brass. I have an old 70s Cimar 12 string made by Ibanez that I play as a 6 string. Noticed one day the plastic saddle was broken in the middle. First I made an aluminium saddle - very light, but quite metallic in sound. I then made a brass one - has much better, balanced treble and bass response. I then installed a compensated bone saddle - very bass loaded sound. Really emphasises the wound strings, can barely hear the unwound treble strings.

Swapped the saddles many times before settling on brass. Maybe because a 12 string has heavier construction it isn't as bright? Don't know, but I prefer the brass after comparing plastic, aluminium, brass and bone to each other.

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