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T.B.

Bone or Tusq and Strings

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I left my Walden G570TB at my guitar tech shop today. I'm replacing the plastic nut & saddle. After speaking with him, I'll decide whether it's bone or tusq for the nut & saddle. What's the difference between the two, if any? Which do you prefer and why? My Walden came strung with D'Addario EXP's, I really didn't like them. I plan on trying out my true blue 'standards': Dean Markley Alchemy and Martin Phosphor Bronze SP's, but other suggestion would be appreciated. Thanks.

 

Trina

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Trina, I have bone in everything except my old Yamie which is still the original plastic. When I changed from Tusq to bone on my Taylor I can't frankly say I could hear a difference (no, I didn't record it). IMHO, they are really similar in physical characteristics - one is man made, one is cow made.

 

You've heard my string tests, one of these days I'm going to add some GHS and EXP's and a couple of flavors of Alchemys. Again, I think you can experiment (maybe do your own recording for comparison). To really hear differences do the string and saddle changes separately - what if one makes it brighter and the other less bright?

 

Report back what you think

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I think the difference between bone and tusq is very subtle and I don't think many folks could tell the difference if they compared without knowing which sound clip was which.

 

Tusq is a little cheaper and a little easier to work with so I picked it when I replace the saddle on my Guild and I couldn't tell a difference (it had bone from the factory).

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T.B. I like the sound of Bone better - Basically fom experience the only string i use is Dadarrio Ex-lights and Custom lights. Have heard Alchemy string are nice , going to try them when i get a chance .

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I hate messing with guitars I love so my 000-15s is staying plastic for now, but FK has turned me towards the dark side with all of his tests and such.

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I prefer bone. Mostly because I'm a traditionalist. I've played many a great sounding guitar with Tusq. I've been told that Tusq has better balance with an under saddle piezo. Something to do with even density compared to bone. I can't verify this but it sounded reasonable when explained to me. I think either one would be a good choice and the nice thing is that it is the cheapest thing to change if you decide to try the other.:wave:

 

IMHO bone has a subtle amount of extra presence.:)

 

D'Addario EJ16 is my usual string of choice.

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I had a a tusq saddle in my Gibson LC-1. Then put a bone saddle. I couldn't tell a difference. The strings change you tone more than the saddle/nut in my opinion...

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My vote is for bone. My Larrivee OM-03R came with a TUSQ nut & saddle and compared to an older OM-03R in a local shop (presumably also with TUSQ bits-n-pieces) it sounded all muffled and muddy so without any hesitation I ordered a bone saddle from Bob Colosi (www.guitarsaddles.com).

 

Once I got the saddle in the mail I went to work sanding and shaping it with maybe a little more height on the low E side and a little less on the high E side. I made sure to keep the same strings on that Jason at Notable had strung it with. I'm not sure if they were D'Addorio EXP's or Cleartones but they weren't all that great either. Still, with the bone installed they sounded a little crisper.

 

After that I experimented with a variety of different strings, mostly light gauge because this was to be my main fingerstyle guitar and I prefer responsiveness over sheer power. I tried John Pearse PB custom lights (too stiff), Newtone Masterclass PB lights, a variety of Ernie Ball strings that Jason included (which to be polite were not all that good), my mainstay Martin SP Fingerstyle PB lights and Elixir Nanoweb PB lights. The last two are still my go-to strings, with a slight edge to the Elixirs for their longer life and local availability.

 

Only once I had it dialed in after a couple of months of ownership did I truly bond with the guitar. Now my only complaint is that the open strings could be a little crisper, which means that the TUSQ nut is about to go (once I find a local luthier who's willing to do it) and I say good riddance.

 

TUSQ: I don't even like the look of the stuff. To me it looks like a cheap piece of granite with very little marbling. The cow bone may be a little icky to work with (it stinks when you sand it) but I'll live with it.

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My wife just got a Walden G570. We tried a couple of different string guages and types (DR PB Rare 12 and Daddario PB 10's). It sounded brightest and best with the D'Addario EJ15 Phosphor Bronze Extra Light 10's. I also bought a bone saddle that I am going to shape when I have time. For now, the guitar sounds very good, I really like the neck and the satin finish. She got hers for $105 on Ebay, which I think is an awesome deal.

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I have both TUSQ and bone saddles on various guitars (I am not much of a believer that the nut material matters that much). I have swapped bone for TUSQ and vice versa and it is difficult to discern a huge difference at times, but it seems that bone often "sweetens" the tone a bit--a little less sterile?

 

As to strings, the Dean Markley Alchemy PB's are also my favorite coated string on most of my guitars (with the glaring exception of my HD-28). I really like DR Sunbeams for a non-coated string. You may want to give them a try. They have a very warm and full tone when settled in and have the added benefit of slightly reduced tension due to their round cores.

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On my D740 I liked GHS Infinity the best. I haven't tried a set on the G2070 yet. I agree that the D'addario's don't sound good on it. Very muddy to my ears.

 

I have read an opinion that Waldens generally sound best with GHS, that's what prompted me to try the Infinity set. But I can't say that there was any evidence presented with the claim.

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I prefer TUSQ, at least for nuts, because I'm Cheap!!! You can get a preslotted TUSQ nut for about $10 whereas I got a quote last year on a bone nut and it would cost $5 for the blank and $40 for labor. I seriously doubt bone is "better" enough to justify the difference. There's no point doing it myself because nut files are not cheap (unlike me, LOL). As Freeman and others have said, most folks can't hear the difference anyway. I will admit I've been curious about brass for a while and one of these days I'm going to try it. OTOH, you can make your own saddle with ordinary hand tools and patience. BTW, I normally like/use d'Adario PB's but I've been wanting to try Alchemy's recently. Have to get a set next time.

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[uSER=89170]T.B.[/uSER] so' date=' did you go with Bone or Tusq? I'm also thinking about upgrading my Walden G570.[/quote']

 

I’m sure he went with bone. Or tusq, one of em. I’m not sure we’ll ever find out as people tend to move on after 12 years.

 

so what do YOU prefer? Your thoughts on this are required.

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Tusq wears out. It is easily machineable. Bone if it wears at all, not as fast. Difference in sound is subjective. I think bone sounds better, but I might be wrong. I'm deaf completely in right ear a nd have reduced hearing in left ear. As an age related problem, I hear much less treble. Bone is brighter than tusq TO ME. So I use it. Yamaha makes many bridges and nuts from urea formaldehyde. It sounds great on their guitars but they are tuned to those formulations.

 

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I don't think the difference between bone and Tusq is that subtle. Every time I've done a blind test I can pick the Tusq. It's got a really lively and balanced response, but has a slight plastic sound to it. I prefer the warmth of bone even though there's more variation and you can get a dud piece.

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I’m sure he went with bone. Or tusq, one of em. I’m not sure we’ll ever find out as people tend to move on after 12 years.

 

so what do YOU prefer? Your thoughts on this are required.

 

Just to set the record straight here (in her thread) TB was a semi-regular Guild playing forum member.

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I never made the effort to eke out a material advantage. I mean, new strings, both saddles cut identically, played immediately in succession to preserve atmospheric conditions during the test, attempting to impart identical playing physics (plucking or picking) in the same piece, recorded on separate tracks to document the entire experiment and then squinting real hard to hear a difference. Then, if the guitar is equipped with a UST, repeating the entire episode to document the plugged sound.

 

Don't ask me because I'm not going to do that, and don't tell me unless you do that.

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I never made the effort to eke out a material advantage. I mean, new strings, both saddles cut identically, played immediately in succession to preserve atmospheric conditions during the test, attempting to impart identical playing physics (plucking or picking) in the same piece, recorded on separate tracks to document the entire experiment and then squinting real hard to hear a difference. Then, if the guitar is equipped with a UST, repeating the entire episode to document the plugged sound.

 

Don't ask me because I'm not going to do that, and don't tell me unless you do that.

Of course. I'm not expecting you to believe anything that hasn't been verified by NASA or to be able to hear that sort of subtlety based on years of personal experience on this forum.

 

Do you adjust for solar activity when you tune? ;)

 

 

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Ah, bait taken.

 

Please tell me that you can hear a better difference and I will ask you to qualify better, that's all. Is the B string coming out better in the mix? Is the treble side now in balance? Is the bass brought out but not booming? What is better and how is that qualified?

 

I tried the bridge pin swapping out back in 2004 and for all the clutter-speak on the forum about it back then the subject died as quickly as it became a thing without anyone using the word better to describe their own experiements. Same went with changing out saddles, nuts, and all other manner of hocus-pocus. No substantive changes were described as better.

 

Then we were subjected to imagined "better" sounding guitars when the acoustic vibrator came along and people just couldn't contain their imaginations. They bought them, claimed there were changes but, again, better was not lauded. Then, the discussion about vibration induced sound board changes was also dropped. But, not to be outdone by their competitors, we had the so-called boutique builders advertising they used the buzz-boxes on their guitars before shipping them. One in particular mentioned his opinion about his guitars being louder but that isn't a quality aspect. Others followed suit to keep abreast of the marketing hyperbole.

 

No NASA or rocket surgery needed to replace empirical evidence right here on this forum, back in the day when common sense didn't need to be politically filtered for use.

Edited by Idunno

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Ah, bait taken.

 

...

 

I tried the bridge pin swapping out back in 2004 and for all the clutter-speak on the forum about it back then the subject died as quickly as it became a thing without anyone using the word better to describe their own experiements. Same went with changing out saddles, nuts, and all other manner of hocus-pocus. No substantive changes were described as better.

 

...

 

OK; Challenge accepted. I have tried brass bridge pins in many guitars over the years. So long as the bridge was not slotted so that the ball end of the string didn't actually hit the bridge pin, I have found that brass bridge pins increased the sustain and made the tone brighter and boosted the treble. Ebony pins made the tone darker. On some guitars over the years, the change was salutary and I kept them on; On others the guitar sounded better with the existing pins.

 

​​​​​​​Of course, YMMV.

 

 

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I've publicly replied to blind saddle tests on this forum, so not going to indulge your trolling any further. Just wanted to point out that you're wrong yet again.

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[/size]

 

OK; Challenge accepted. I have tried brass bridge pins in many guitars over the years. So long as the bridge was not slotted so that the ball end of the string didn't actually hit the bridge pin, I have found that brass bridge pins increased the sustain and made the tone brighter and boosted the treble. Ebony pins made the tone darker. On some guitars over the years, the change was salutary and I kept them on; On others the guitar sounded better with the existing pins.

 

Of course, YMMV.

 

 

There are those here that won't believe you unless you completed a post graduate thesis on bridge pins. Like you I use my ears. :D

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