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Author Topic: Bone Vs. Tusq Vs. Micarta : The three way saddle battle!  (Read 14379 times)
The Hickman
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« on: December 30, 2009, 10:21:46 PM »

Ok ok ok, I know everyone has their own opinions....and I want to hear them! I really don't know the difference between each of the above named materials when it comes to tonal properties and durability, etc. (other then the fact that they are three separate materials, two of which being man made. I think). What is the big deal? Why do some players prefer certain saddles and others....another?  

Could I get some feedback on pros/cons; likes/dislikes on the above named saddle types?  
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Michael T
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2009, 12:54:42 AM »

Here is all you'll likely need to know about bones:  http://www.guitarsaddles.com/products.asp

As far as the synthetics are concerned, I don't care about them so I am not qualified to make an impartial comment.  whistling
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2009, 04:07:14 AM »

Bone is significantly more durable than Tusq. Tusq is basically a plastic and sounds like it... Yeah big surprise, guitar parts tend to sound like the material they are made of. There's an idea propagating on this and maybe other forums that one should wait a while to change a Tusq saddle out with bone but I believe this is just an arbitrary idea that has caught on. It's my contention that if a six month old guitar sounds good with a bone saddle then new it would sound good with a bone saddle.
However it is certainly possible that a specific guitar sounds better with tusq than bone but that just hasn't been the case for me. It's just one of those things you have to try. I don't like to describe tone but to me bone tends to sound fatter but also with better string separation where as tusq tends to sound thin and less defined. Trying to say which is brighter is really a waste of time btw.
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cke
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2009, 04:23:29 AM »

I think those who advise waiting may have 2 purposes. 1: Maybe they think that later, an angel will appear and tell them what is better (Or they will just swap and listen once it's more open).

2. If you liked it enough to buy with Tusq, then you might even like it more with bone  and enjoy making a gift to your git.

And some people genuinely prefer the sound with Tusq. It is very consistent from example to example whereas bone is not.  And without playing it for a while, how would you know the subtleties?

Mine came with Tusq nut and bone saddle. I don't think I'll buy a Tusq saddle to compare against. May someday try a bone nut if I experiment with the string spread. Otherwise I Love my L-09 the way it is nice guitar
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Chris
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2009, 08:30:55 AM »

I changed from a tusq to bone saddle in my L03R when Jim H was offering to fit bone saddles to the FIII for free (before Christmas last year, I think). So I emailed him and suggested that his offer implied that he preferred bone to tusq. His answer was that tusq could have an unwelcome brilliance. So I made the change and can confirm what Jeremy indicates ie there is more substance in the trebles - "fatter" is a good term. I had already changed the nut for bone because the string spacing was not to my liking. Also I would have to admit that I prefer the fact that bone is an organic substance.  Rick
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Zohn
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2010, 05:32:40 AM »

The only "issue" with bone, is varying density - the consistent and real dense samples would be the ones cut from the middle or central part of the shin-part of the bone, whereas you also get "spongey" parts closer to the knuckle-area of the bone where tendons are affixed. The saddles that are available commercially are generally from the prime area as described.
Some people advocate the use of "micarta" or "tusk" purely because it is consistently dense (relatively speaking), especially when used with UST pickups.
Me, I just love my bone.  
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2010, 03:40:56 AM »

So how does micarta differ from tusq? I agree that bone seemed to suit my ear better than tusq but now I have a Martin D-16GT with a micarta bridge and I don't think I'm gonna switch it out I just love the tone so much. I only wish it didn't look so.... plastic!
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2010, 04:17:08 AM »

So how does micarta differ from tusq? I agree that bone seemed to suit my ear better than tusq but now I have a Martin D-16GT with a micarta bridge and I don't think I'm gonna switch it out I just love the tone so much. I only wish it didn't look so.... plastic!
My Martin had a micarta saddle and it was fine. I guess I'm stubborn though and just believe bone is better so I replaced it. It's not any better in tone though.
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The Hickman
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2010, 08:11:21 PM »

My Martin had a micarta saddle and it was fine. I guess I'm stubborn though and just believe bone is better so I replaced it. It's not any better in tone though.

Ya, I think I've been won over to the thought that all natural is the way to go. IDK ask me in a year and I might hold to a differing opinion. 
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Sincerely,
-The Hickman

     You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
                                                       -Psalm 16:17
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2010, 09:34:14 PM »

Different isn't necessarily better or worse. For most intents and purposes, Tusq works and sounds fine, as do other things. Heck carbon guitars sound good. If you can't tell a difference then it really doesn't matter. I prefer bone but let me just say, keep your carta offa my guitar! 
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jgillard
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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2010, 09:47:40 PM »

I recently put a custom Colosi bone saddle into my seagull SWS guitar. I don't know if it is the bone itself or the fact that I fitted it properly but the guitar sounds 10x better. Much more shimmer, bass and overall response. I was actually quite surprised how much of a marked difference there was from the previous tusq saddle. The guitar sounds like a million bucks now. 

It is now a fabulous sounding mahogany dread that is easy to play and keeps on calling to you to play it some more.
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Barefoot Rob
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2010, 10:28:16 PM »

I use bone mostly because its easier to work with.I don't care one way or the other because it doesn't really matter what I think because some client will show up with some website for me to check{which I don't do} because so and so say's this is what your suppose to do.More bad info on the web then good in my book.

But some one will read this post and.........................................
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cke
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2010, 10:54:45 PM »

I use bone mostly because its easier to work with.I don't care one way or the other because it doesn't really matter what I think because some client will show up with some website for me to check{which I don't do} because so and so say's this is what your suppose to do.More bad info on the web then good in my book.

But some one will read this post and.........................................
Ain't it the truth!
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Chris
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2010, 12:22:01 AM »

I felt bone was getting more string energy into the box than tusq when I've compared. The treble has more heft and sparkle.
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« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2010, 12:46:28 AM »

On almost all my guitars bone has seemed to work best.  That's been a lot over the years.  A couple have been fine with Tusq.  Not saying better, but that I couldn't tell a difference on those specific instruments.

Confession - do have a bone saddle on order for my recently acquired L-01. 

Also, have purchased some bone blanks in the past that were not that good.  For whatever reason. 
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Eric P.
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« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2010, 05:30:16 AM »

I use bone mostly because its easier to work with.I don't care one way or the other because it doesn't really matter what I think because some client will show up with some website for me to check{which I don't do} because so and so say's this is what your suppose to do.More bad info on the web then good in my book.

But some one will read this post and.........................................
   ..........................................Say. unclrob...YOU ARE RIGHT... as usual.
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pennerblue
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« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2010, 07:08:30 AM »

but let me just say, keep your carta offa my guitar! 

Hey...your miCARta ran over my DOGma...

I don't have a real good ear for this type of thing (too many HELMET and FUGAZI concerts), but I did once swap a TUSQ and bone saddle on a Larrie and there was indeed a difference.  I sort of liked both...in different ways.  I guess my thought is that the price isn't that significant, so it's worth trying both. Perhaps lame (but true) advice.

Of course different string brands and picks may make a MORE significant difference...the problem is that you go from 2 or 3 options (with saddles) to a bajillion with strings/picks!

Good luck, keep experimenting.
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« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2010, 02:43:51 PM »

Hey...your miCARta ran over my DOGma...

I don't have a real good ear for this type of thing (too many HELMET and FUGAZI concerts), but I did once swap a TUSQ and bone saddle on a Larrie and there was indeed a difference.  I sort of liked both...in different ways.  I guess my thought is that the price isn't that significant, so it's worth trying both. Perhaps lame (but true) advice.

Of course different string brands and picks may make a MORE significant difference...the problem is that you go from 2 or 3 options (with saddles) to a bajillion with strings/picks!

Good luck, keep experimenting.

I agree and like the bone myself but I'm not entirely sure the Tusq sounded worse.  My  guitars sounded very good either way. I wonder if I just don't prefer the idea of bone. Anyway, I mistrust those who say it made a huge difference in my guitar. Jeepers, I've told them a million times not to exaggerate!     
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pennerblue
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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2010, 04:54:12 AM »

I thought you told them a Billion times not too exaggerate?
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“Your lack of technique can be part of your style. The thing about style is that it’s more entertaining, more important and hopefully more intellectual than technique.”
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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2010, 06:53:47 PM »

Both my Larrivees have bone, and my Yamaha LL500 has Corian, according to the factory.  I believe Corian is similar to Tusq.  All 3 guitars sound great, and I don't plan on experimenting.  I really wonder if you did a blind fold test if anybody could really tell the difference. 
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