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FERREREZAKI

Posts: 64
Joined: Jul. 10 2013
 

Saddle vs. Nut 

Any opinions on which one of the nut and saddle respectively, that has the most influence on the sound quality of a guitar?

Lets say you have a dencent guitar with plastic nut and saddle. You can only replace one of them with a bone/ivory equivalent.
Which would it be? Nut or saddle?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 19 2015 17:07:58
 
ngiorgio

 

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Joined: Nov. 1 2005
From: Florida, USA

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

Saddle.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 19 2015 18:15:43
 
mounirben

 

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Joined: Sep. 12 2013
 

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

Saddle, because you will not always play open strings, in flamenco we use even a capo/Cejilla
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 19 2015 18:27:47
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1692
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

Saddle. Because it is more involved in sound production. Even the way it is seated and how tightly it fits in its slot can influence the sound.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 20 2015 3:56:09
 
mounirben

 

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

Dear Ethan, in your opinion Flamenco guitar shoud have a tight saddle or not ? Also can you describe the impact of a tight saddle (and the opposite).
Thanks
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 20 2015 8:06:01
 
Anders Eliasson

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

My opinion
The better the saddle is fitted, the better it transmit the vibration of the strings to the bridge. So tight and well fitted is the way to go. But experience from the real world has told me that it is highly overrated. But the cerebral guys keep writing long essays about the importance of tight saddles (and underwear). Personally I prefer tight saddles and loose underwear. Slightly bipolar, yes I know and I´m working on it, but in the other direction.

The nut has little impact in the sound production of the guitar. A nutcase can have a serious impact on sound production. And often in a possitive way.

If anyone wants a description of the sound impact of a not so well fitted saddle, I must know if we are talking 0,001mm or 0.002mm ? ( That las one was poor ironic humour )

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 20 2015 8:33:03
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

I ain't no luthier but I am familiar with different instruments.

From observing and playing with many kinds of bridges, I would assume that the saddle on spanish guitars should be tight as "in place" and maybe not tight as in "hard to get out". If it is loose, the saddle might get angled inside the slot.. which would reduce proper contact.

What I mean is that many instruments don't even have a saddle slot, the saddle is just held by the downward force applied by the strings... which means that they can't be tight because there's nothing to "be tight to".


Double basses/cellos/violins, mandolins, jazz guitars, etc... they all have this kind of free saddle held by downward force and they all work fine. I would suspect that since the tie block is very near the saddle on a spanish guitar, the increasing amount of break angle will make the saddle force the wall of the slot towards the headstock.. and if the fit isn't tight, the saddle will be crooked.


All this to say that if the break angle is shallow, you probably can get away with a less than tight fit while maintaining contact at the bottom, just like the instruments that don't have a saddle slot.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 20 2015 15:50:54
 
FERREREZAKI

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 20 2015 18:30:48
 
FERREREZAKI

Posts: 64
Joined: Jul. 10 2013
 

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

ORIGINAL: Anders Eliasson

My opinion
The better the saddle is fitted, the better it transmit the vibration of the strings to the bridge. So tight and well fitted is the way to go. But experience from the real world has told me that it is highly overrated. But the cerebral guys keep writing long essays about the importance of tight saddles (and underwear). Personally I prefer tight saddles and loose underwear. Slightly bipolar, yes I know and I´m working on it, but in the other direction.

The nut has little impact in the sound production of the guitar. A nutcase can have a serious impact on sound production. And often in a possitive way.

If anyone wants a description of the sound impact of a not so well fitted saddle, I must know if we are talking 0,001mm or 0.002mm ? ( That las one was poor ironic humour )


You mean like an Über-tight-arsch?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 20 2015 18:33:17
 
Jeff Highland

 

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From: Caves Beach Australia

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

One of the few exceptions to the "replace plastic saddle with bone to improve the sound" rule which I have encountered is when the base of the saddle slot is not flat itself, especially if it has an undersaddle pickup fitted.
The flexibility of the plastic saddle will have allowed better contact than the rigid bone replacement.
There are solutions to this, but initial results of the swap may be disappointing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 20 2015 19:48:26
 
Anders Eliasson

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Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to Sr. Martins

quote:

I ain't no luthier but I am familiar with different instruments.

From observing and playing with many kinds of bridges, I would assume that the saddle on spanish guitars should be tight as "in place" and maybe not tight as in "hard to get out". If it is loose, the saddle might get angled inside the slot.. which would reduce proper contact.

What I mean is that many instruments don't even have a saddle slot, the saddle is just held by the downward force applied by the strings... which means that they can't be tight because there's nothing to "be tight to".


Double basses/cellos/violins, mandolins, jazz guitars, etc... they all have this kind of free saddle held by downward force and they all work fine. I would suspect that since the tie block is very near the saddle on a spanish guitar, the increasing amount of break angle will make the saddle force the wall of the slot towards the headstock.. and if the fit isn't tight, the saddle will be crooked.


All this to say that if the break angle is shallow, you probably can get away with a less than tight fit while maintaining contact at the bottom, just like the instruments that don't have a saddle slot.


You are totally mixing up things. You cannot compare the violin/cello family with the flattop guitar family. Its two completely different things. I build both.

Its VERY important that the bridge of an arch top instrument fits tightly with the soundboard.
And your ideas about breakangle etc are totally blurry.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 21 2015 7:57:11
 
Sr. Martins

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

Its VERY important that the bridge of an arch top instrument fits tightly with the soundboard.
And your ideas about breakangle etc are totally blurry.


Isn't that what I said? Too much breakangle and the saddle wouldn't stay in place.. anyways, by design those instruments don't have steep breakangles and the base that touches the top is a little wider than the saddle itself. If spanish guitars didn't have slotted bridges, the saddle would accept very little breakangle before flying away.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 21 2015 12:49:56
 
HemeolaMan

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From: Chicago

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

I'm all for replacing both if they're plastic.

I prefer to replace the nut first because chances are it's from a factory and they cut it so that the set up would be the least offensive to a variety of players. If you replace that and get one made out of a nice hard slippery substance, the action will probably improve a bit and your tuning will keep better. Typically.

I am a big fan of the zero fret or a nut with a zero fret embedded in it. Not for tone reasons, but because I find the tuning to be more stable and the action is easy to get spot on.

The saddle is critical too. The plastic ones from the factory are really abhorrent. Swapping those out for even a less than professionally made saddle can make a huge difference.

I concur with Anders' assessment of the saddle fitment. Tight is good. There's probably some sweet science out there which says x is better than y...but whatever. Make the thing fit as best you can and call it a day.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 21 2015 15:48:51
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1692
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to HemeolaMan

quote:

I'm all for replacing both if they're plastic.


Makes sense to me... But I tried it once on a friend's Spanish factory made-guitar that looks just like a nice guitar but has little sound. Unfortunately, it didn't make a noticeable difference; it still had no sound. So...be prepared to be disappointed.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 21 2015 16:51:37
 
hamia

 

Posts: 408
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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

ORIGINAL: Anders Eliasson

My opinion
The better the saddle is fitted, the better it transmit the vibration of the strings to the bridge. So tight and well fitted is the way to go. But experience from the real world has told me that it is highly overrated. But the cerebral guys keep writing long essays about the importance of tight saddles (and underwear). Personally I prefer tight saddles and loose underwear. Slightly bipolar, yes I know and I´m working on it, but in the other direction.

The nut has little impact in the sound production of the guitar. A nutcase can have a serious impact on sound production. And often in a possitive way.

If anyone wants a description of the sound impact of a not so well fitted saddle, I must know if we are talking 0,001mm or 0.002mm ? ( That las one was poor ironic humour )



In your experience does a tight nut have any correlation with tight underwear? I'm starting to believe there is a connection.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 21 2015 17:35:23
 
etta

 

Posts: 347
Joined: Jan. 20 2010
 

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

The nut can be very important as suggested, but in other ways. I have a G.Canin blanca with a "compensated" nut but only slightly on the E, B, and G strings. This guitar has the most accurate intonation I have played. It also gives the guitar better intonation, even with capo applied. I tried the same idea on a banjo years ago, and it worked.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2015 12:33:09
 
Anders Eliasson

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:

Makes sense to me... But I tried it once on a friend's Spanish factory made-guitar that looks just like a nice guitar but has little sound. Unfortunately, it didn't make a noticeable difference; it still had no sound. So...be prepared to be disappointed.


I have had the same experience. But that said, I believe in using the best material for both nut and saddle. Or at least give it a try.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2015 16:08:46
 
mmenk

 

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to Anders Eliasson

I have seen a lot of funky stuff out there. Saddles that were ill fitted, made of plastic, fumbled with, weird set up, unlucky breaks, split saddles and all sorts of junk loaded under them to jack up the action. What amazed me the most was that the guitar still had a voice and personality in spite of the clumsy work.
The magic part about the whole thing was that it was so easy to fix the situation and make the players very happy. Keep it simple, take a luthier to lunch.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 21 2016 23:23:41
 
estebanana

Posts: 9410
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

Saddles are for horses. Nuts, such as Pecans, make great pies.

You should saddle your horse tightly or your pecans may fall off.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2016 2:10:20
 
Leñador

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From: Los Angeles

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

Pecans, though great are not nuts they're a drupe.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2016 2:20:42
 
estebanana

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

So your nuts are drupe?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2016 2:41:41
 
Leñador

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From: Los Angeles

RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

HAHAHAHAHAHA sometimes! lol

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2016 3:10:11
 
mmenk

 

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to Leñador

sometimes I feel like I am saddled by my wife, and she drives me nuts. I know that she thinks the same about me, it all works out in the end and the action is fine.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2016 7:43:19
 
Ruphus

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

Saddles:

Worst I´ve seen have been home-gown weirdo settings on saddles of second hand / else-owned guitars.

Some people are incredible daring with touching / tweaking things they don´t understand. And obviously, when beginners find diffculties with their right hand some will assume that there could be some genius trick to prevent getting stuck in or missing the strings.
So, they lower the hight of the D-string for instance, or alter spacing individually per string etc.

Out comes an unusable mess.
And I would expect mal-routines in the RH dexterity if someone plays such setup long enough to get firmly used to it.

There is one thing that could actually justify change, which is the bridge spacing. The common dimension won´t fit everyone ideally. And when too far out it can be a needless obstacle to the individual player.

The way to go about it however would be to trade in for a guitar with better suiting dimensions, instead of taking out a file and vandal away.

Ruphus
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 22 2016 9:02:56
 
mmmenk

 

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to Ruphus

What you say is so true. It all comes down to the player, and they need to get what they want. My father did the most screwed up thing that I have ever seen in my entire life. He had this junk guitar that he bought at Sears, back in 1959, back before all the cheap stuff coming out of Japan, then China.
Guitar was probably made in Chicago. The action was messed up, so he wanted to fix it himself. Mr Meg was a smart guy, trained as a scientist, but lost his mind in WW2. He could bang out a great song, and learned to play the guitar in the army, from some good ole southern boys. His talking blues were the best.
Here is what happened: the action was too low and buzzing, so he takes out a lead weight from an exercise trainer, and bangs it with a hammer to bring it up to the height that he needs to stop the strings from buzzing, and finally gets it flat and tall enough to satisfy his needs. And he just jams it up against the front of the bridge, and has a good old time with his guitar.
I guess since he never shifted his chord formations out of first position, the intonation thing was never a factor for him.
One last factoid about Mr. M. He had the largest hands in the land.
He could cover 2 strings with the tip of his little finger. He had some really cool techniques for forming chords with his paws.
He was the best, that is why I love the guitar so much.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2016 6:05:34
 
Ruphus

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

It´s seems like not just layman who are having difficulties with understanding setup and intonation.

Once I fetched a wonderful strat second hand on which however someone had messed around with its floyd rose bridge, so intonation was slightly off. Sometime, trying to correct it i only made it worse. Brought it to a special guitar store and ordered adjustment with the rock-star styled / very insider looking shop owner.

Not only did he separate me from my axe for more than a week and return it with a dent in the neck round, but mess up intonation worse than before.
-

Segovia was known for his big paws too. And there are many flamencos with "sausage fingers" (as we name them in German). I always thought big hands to rather be handy for guitar playing. They look like more stable angles to me.

Ruphus
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2016 7:46:28
 
mmmenk

 

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to Ruphus

ruphus, the hand thing can become a topic for discussion.
I want to get back to the nut and saddle thing.
They are the transmission points and help articulate and focus the vibrations,
So they are vital, and worth very serious consideration.
I worked on a Hauser that had a zero fret. That is a fret, just behind the nut, and starting point for all the open string notes on the guitar.
This guitar was made in Munich, in 1939.
A sad time in the history of our world, but the guitar was very good.
He based it on a famous guitar that was owned by a Spanish virtuoso, Miguel Llobet. That guitar was built by Antonio Torres, and had a tournovas under the sound hole.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2016 9:01:26
 
Ruphus

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RE: Saddle vs. Nut (in reply to FERREREZAKI

Me can´t tell about better transmission through zero fret (for having no experience myself).
However / besides, saw zero fret considered positive also because of it helping strings slip, hence better tuning.

Regarding that aspect I always thought to the contrary (provided all string bearings considered smooth; and tuners working flawlessly / rollers turning freely) wanting as much angle as possibbe behind the nut in order to buffer pull on mechanics.

From there thus increasing the angle from nut slots to rollers by rolling up the strings towards the outer side of the peg head.

Ruphus
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 23 2016 9:13:08
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