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Author Topic: a few qustions about saddles  (Read 3343 times)
Aln
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« on: June 16, 2014, 03:31:11 PM »

Hello!  I have a Vancouver built D03r. It's got what looks like a white plastic saddle and black pins.  I'm sure its all stock as I bought it new at Rufus in Vancouver.  Does anyone know what the materials are in each?

Next question: The Graphtech website pretty convincingly states that tusq is better than bone.  But what I see is a pretty clear preference for bone saddles on the different forums.  I'm wondering if anyone has done anything like an independent semi-scientific test of the different materials and determined something like an un-biased description of the different characteristics of each.  I'm not sure I can trust Graphtech's own info.  And I'm curious how many people, change their strings at the same time as they replace their tusq saddle with bone, explaining the huge improvement!  Also, the fact that Larrivee is putting bone in more instruments now only means they think they'll sell more guitars that way.  I'm very curious to know what they at Larrivee actually think of tusq compared to bone.

Next up:  Can anyone vouch for the saddles at Cherokee?  They seem to be either made for Larrivee, or by them and they're cheaper than Bob Colosi's.  Are these the same saddles that go in new instruments from the factory?  Are they good?

Bob Colosi indicates that bone can be inconsistent and that his materials go through an extensive examination to ensure quality.  Is this really an issue, and should I trust that the Cherokee ones are fine (they're quite a bit cheaper)?  Colosi also sells Monster cables, which I've always heard are a complete rip-off, so I don't know whether or not to believe his sales pitch.

Finally:  If I do have a tusq saddle, is that "good enough", and should I just stop obsessing about this stuff and just play that damn thing!?   

Thanks!
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ZachStevenson
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 06:04:37 PM »

Hi Aln,
You probably do have a Tusq saddle on your guitar already. The way to tell is to take the strings off or loosen them enough to remove them from the bridge end, remove the saddle and drop it on a hard surface. A Tusq saddle will give a pleasing ring when you drop it. If you do want to keep the strings on the guitar use a capo to stop them flopping about and coming unwound at the tuner posts.

My first experience with Tusq was a couple of years ago when I replaced the stock bone saddle in a Fender acoustic electric. I did so because the bone saddle had chipped and flaked under the G string. I did not change the strings at the time and I did notice an improvement in tone between the Tusq and the bone.

Now that said, bone is a natural material and as such will vary from piece to piece. Also keep in mind that the guitar I was working on is an inexpensive import.

If you don't have a Tusq saddle and you want to try one it's not expensive and it's fairly easy to fit one if you buy a pre-radiused and pre-compensated one. All you need is some 200 and 400 grit sandpaper, a good hard dead flat surface, and a good straightedge. Remove the existing saddle to use as a reference for the correct saddle height, place the sandpaper on your flat surface, use the straightedge as a guide to ensure the saddle stays perpendicular to the sanding surface, and apply elbow grease to sand material off the bottom of the saddle until the height matches the existing saddle. This will take some time, Tusq is quite a dense material.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!
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Cheers!

Zach
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SMan
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2014, 06:53:01 PM »

 welcome

I'm a fan of bone but have had both.  It is really subjective so I won't say one is better than the other.
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 09:09:04 PM »

The bone saddles at Cherokee are great, and at a good price. I prefer them to tusk.
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Aln
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2014, 02:51:49 PM »

Thanks for the info and the welcome!  

Its good to know I (probably) have a tusq and not plastic saddle.  I'll try the drop test when I change strings again.  

Its curious that the bone bridge on Cherokee's site:  http://cherokeeguitar.com/product/larrivee-bone-saddles/
... looks more like something out of a mold than something whittled out of a piece of bone.  The Colossi ones do look pretty sweet!  Damn, why is nothing ever easy!?  

After, reading more on this, there's plenty of people who prefer tusq to bone, but not near as many who prefer bone.  Bone looks nicer, and I'm sure plenty prefer the idea of a natural product to some chemical concoction, which may influence their judgement.  I think maybe I'll have do my own test.  I think I've got pretty discerning ears (who doesn't!?), but I sure doubt their ability to remember between the 15min. its going to take to swap one bridge for another!  

Thanks again!

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cke
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2014, 05:07:32 PM »

I would not say there is a large difference between the usual saddle materials, more a tweak. Still significant though.

I have used TUSQ, bone, ivory and WAHI. To me the TUSQ is acceptable, but bone is cleaner and I think more extended. WAHI is the hardest and the cleanest and brightest and gives discernibly better separation. Ivory compared to bone is a bit rolled off on top, giving a very pleasing mellowness, still excellent separation.

Many have ethical issues using any ivory and I get that. There is not enough difference, and bone is so good and cheap...

Cherokee saddles are fine, I think Larrivee makes them on the CNC, but,may be wrong about that. I love Colossi's products. His come a bit ''fat' so you have to sand the ends and sides as well as the bottom to get the fit right. As I remember the Cherokee ones just drop on and you just work on the height.

It is a reasonably low cost tweak, so no biggie to experiment. welcome
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2014, 05:31:33 PM »

You can polish a newly sanded saddle with a dremel buffer. If you don't have one you can use a fingernail dresser/buffer thingy for just a couple $. Works well. Bone is much more durable than tusq, which is plastic btw, and gums up files.
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AZLiberty
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2014, 08:18:46 PM »

You have a plastic saddle and pins.

The plastic is probably Tusq.   There is nothing really wrong with Tusq, though Bone is of course more traditional.
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2014, 04:07:53 PM »

Another vote for Bob Colosi's bone products - his "blems" or "seconds" are a a bit cheaper - I bought several and they seemed fine to me.
Ships quickly and very slick transaction.   
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2014, 02:30:38 AM »

I'm so glad you initiated this thread, since I have the same exact guitar and was fixin' to do this same purchase this weekend...but not quite positive which direction I wanted to go, or what I had.  Thanks to all for the input so far.
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Aln
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2014, 06:10:03 PM »

I went ahead and gave the Colosi saddle a try.  I went for the bone saddle and got bone pins while I was at it.  I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in trying this.  The installation was easy. I just had to do a bit of sanding as the new saddle was (intentionally) a smidge over size in all dimensions.  The instructions that came with it were thorough and simple. He recommended a couple different sand papers.  I just used a piece of 180 and a fingernail buffer to touch it up.  It took me less than 1hr. all in - you gotta go slow and keep trying the fit in the bridge to get it just right.  I'd say sanding the pins a bit to fit the holes took about half that time. Bob was great to deal with too.  I was a bit surprised that instead of emailing me an answer to my questions, he just went ahead and phoned me!  (You guys in the US have WAY better long-distance plans than we Canadians do btw!)

(That sounds like a bit of an advert I know - trust me I would be whistling a different tune if I wasn't so happy!)

There's no question that there's a difference in sound. The tone is much mellower now.  I thought this guitar had a bit of a harsh quality to the overtones - especially with new strings.  I'm quite sure its just a quality of tusq, and totally subjective whether or not you like it.  I play with both the fleshy part of my finger tips and nails to produce different tones, and I really like the mellower tones I can make now, and I can vary the pluck if I want more brightness too.  In my opinion, it sounds WAY better.  It is a subtle difference, we're comparing apples to apples here, and it still sounds like a Larrivee - just better imo!.

Oh yeah, thanks also for the advice guys.  It was definitely tusq that was in there.  Its a very hard material you wouldn't easily mistake for a regular plastic saddle.

Happy strumming!

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Mr_LV19E
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2014, 02:29:02 PM »

Colosi also sells Monster cables, which I've always heard are a complete rip-off, so I don't know whether or not to believe his sales pitch.

Not sure where you heard that Monster cables are a rip-off, if they stop working noise free they are replaced for free of charge.
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« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2014, 03:20:31 AM »

Not sure where you heard that Monster cables are a rip-off, if they stop working noise free they are replaced for free of charge.

Yes, but they are just a certain combination of wires and insulating material configured in a certain way, but not necessarily in a unique or superior way.  One can get cables that do the same thing for much less money.  The physics of sending an electrical signal thru a piece of wire are pretty basic and one conductor is as good as another in most applications.  That is why some consider them a rip-off.
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« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2014, 12:23:52 PM »

Oh come now. 
Any true blue audiophile will tell you that you buy your cables first,
then build the rest of the system around them.
Why else would you buy a $1000 speaker wire? 
 



http://www.musicdirect.com/p-40757-cardas-clear-light-speaker-cables.aspx

Back on topic - replacing the saddle, imho, is the easiest
and most fun way to start modding a guitar.
And if you don't like the sound, you can just switch back to the original. 
Bob Colosi saddles make it so easy and it sounds so good. 
Nuts are a little harder with less effect
and I can't even tell the difference in changing pins.

Good on you for trying it Aln!

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Danny
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2014, 01:53:05 AM »

I replaced the tusq nut and saddle on my D-02 with bone and it made a very significant difference.
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2014, 07:09:32 AM »

I replaced the tusq nut and saddle on my D-02 with bone and it made a very significant difference.

Was it a significantly positive difference, or just a significant difference, Dan?  What characteristics changed and how? 
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
Danny
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« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2014, 10:59:21 AM »

    "Was it a significantly positive difference, or just a significant difference, Dan?  What characteristics changed and how?"
     Positive for sure. I should add that I did a lot of fine filing and sanding on both the nut and saddle to get the best break angle and to be sure that the strings made contact correctly.
 This made the intonation proper up and down the neck as well as assuring the strings would not change their tuning after being fretted. (Does that make sense?) In other words after playing for a while the guitar was needing to be retuned.
    I know a properly made tusq saddle and nut can achive the same thing. Even a plastic nut and saddle could. But their is also a clarity of tone that came through with the bone as well.
    Also I used very small files and sanding tools to shape the nut and saddle. I always like working with bone more than tusq when attempting to make a proper nut or saddle. Plus they do look nicer when polished. Of course the bone lasts longer as well.
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« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2014, 11:16:47 AM »

Was it a significantly positive difference, or just a significant difference, Dan?  What characteristics changed and how?  
Also no buzzing or "wolf notes". The tusq saddle in my case was slightly thinner than the bridge slot, so it leaned slightly. The bone saddle is fitted just right in the bridge slot and is straight (no angle).
    
       I guess after reading all this you could surmise that it was less the bone making a difference and more the properly made and fitted nut and saddle. Maybe so. But for me bone wins out over tusq for several reasons.
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2014, 08:20:49 PM »

Also no buzzing or "wolf notes". The tusq saddle in my case was slightly thinner than the bridge slot, so it leaned slightly. The bone saddle is fitted just right in the bridge slot and is straight (no angle).
    
       I guess after reading all this you could surmise that it was less the bone making a difference and more the properly made and fitted nut and saddle. Maybe so. But for me bone wins out over tusq for several reasons.

Thanks for the assessment, Dan.  Everything you said makes perfect sense to me.  I like working with bone the best, also.  I agree it looks the best too.  I think the jury is still out on which one sounds better assuming both are perfectly sized, shaped, polished, and fitted.  I think which particular guitar it is installed in has some influence also.

 
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
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