Nuts

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Turi, May 9, 2015.

  1. Turi

    Turi Member

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    Copy paste from Effects area. Think I posted in wrong area.


    Hey, I'm curious about something.

    What's the difference between all the different materials for nuts?
    I need a different nut for a Gretsch G5420T, as the plastic one is horrible and I'd like to upgrade it.


    I don't know anything about them though. Yeah, the strings go through them - big whoop.

    What I do know, is that they affect the tone of open strings. I use open strings a lot now, after learning how to apply them to lead licks and stuff like that, even when you're playing higher up on the fretboard - you can totally replace say, a D note, with the open D, and it'll give the lick a whole different feel.

    It's really noticeable to me how these open strings sound in that context, along with the usual cowboy chords and other stuff like 079900
    I really dig playing in E and letting the open B and high E strings ring out all song.

    So yeah, I dig the open strings.


    What should I expect from different materials for the nut?
    Are some materials more twangy than others?
    Are some a little more mellow?

    I'm convinced I'll be able to tell, and appreciate the difference - because of how much I love the open strings.

    Obviously I'm after something good that'll let the Bigsby do it's thing without getting the strings caught up at all - but I'm totally wanting to know what tones different materials of nut will provide to the open strings.

    I know that I won't hear any difference on strings that aren't open.


    Thanks for any and all advice/tips etc etc.
     
  2. theruley

    theruley Member

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    It is completely debatable with valid arguements on all sides as to what nut material is best.

    One important factor in this though is the execution of the installation of the new nut. There are a few good ways to screw it up so it should be done by a reputable tech or luthier.
     
  3. SPROING!

    SPROING! Member

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    The cut is the main thing to me. All but one of my guitars have Tusq nuts now. They sound fine and never bind.
    The other is deer antler. It sounds fine, too but is like bone in that it's very unforgiving on the cut for the strings. If it's cut right, it works like a champ but will bind and ping like crazy if the slots aren't right.
    Sound differences to me are minor with any decent material. Bone, Tusq, corian, etc.
    have never tried brass or wood.
     
  4. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    yep, any quality material will suffice... difference... it's as subtle as the brand catsup ya choose for your "fries" Hunts? Heinz? House brand?

    as long as it's cut and fit correctly you'll be fine.

    Ron Kirn
     
  5. Turi

    Turi Member

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    I didn't think the nut material would be subtle when it comes to changing the tone of the open strings!

    I thought it would be really obvious!

    I'll definitely get the shop to do it all properly.

    The one that comes stock is so bad and I feel it seriously lets the guitar down. Has got to go.

    Tusq seems great to me ATM if it never binds..
     
  6. Tony Bones

    Tony Bones Member

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    I have a fondness for unbleached bone, but I admit that it's partly just the appearance. As SPROING! said, tusq is more forgiving and will often allow easier tuning.
     
  7. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    If you think about the function of the nut (basically to create a firm endpoint for the string to vibrate and to allow it to move easily for tuning), it's obvious why it doesn't make a huge difference in sound. As long as it's cut right and the correct height and not "soggy" to absorb string vibration, it'll do the job. Hence why guitars with zero frets don't sound radically different than similar construction guitars with just a nut... So get the one that's going to be most functional for you. It's possible that acoustic guitars depend more on the stiffness of the bridge/nut material than electrics, so there is more of an argument there.
     
  8. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    Bone or brass. Plastic is sort of a tone killer. Corian may be OK. But I'd think bone or brass would sound better.
     
  9. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    If... the nut was such a dramatic variable in the tone conundrum... then there would be a dramatic change when going from an open string, influenced by the nut, to a fretted one, with that sound influenced by the nickel silver or stainless fret...

    while there will always be those that swear they can hear a dramatic difference.. I've never met anyone that could ... and that's a lotta anyones...

    Logic would dictate that if the nut COULD invoke that level of variance, then it should be made of nickel silver too.. to match that of the frets...

    I have used Corian, Bone, Petrified bone, Ebony, Ivory, Brass, Sterling Silver, Laminated Nickel Silver & rosewood, or Ebony, Delrin, Teflon, petrified wood, various tusks, and petrified tusks, Marble, Bakelite, and all of the commercially produced "stuff" marketed as being the personification of the guitar nut Messiah... not to mention the "nut revelations", locking, roller, or whatever....

    I think my most profound comment was, once i mumbled, "Sigh . . .Oh humm.."...

    None are remarkably superior to any other...., all work fine.... and the simple fact is "you" don't want anything that's going to sound different from a fretted note...

    Ron Kirn
     
  10. fjblair

    fjblair Silver Supporting Member

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    +1

    Nut material effect on electric guitar is not worth the fuss.
     

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