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  1. #1
    Baluchitherium
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    10.01.15 @ 06:45 PM
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    Default Preferred Nut Material/Upgrade

    What material do you prefer for a non locking nut?
    Any feedback would be great especially if you are a LP player.

    My Gibson LP Corian nut has gotten beat. Some grooves have gotten deeper than others(causing slight but unacceptable tuning issues),also some string grooves catch sometimes when tuning or bending. I put graphite from a pencil in the grooves every time I restring etc and that helps with the hangups but the old nut needs some attention.

    I've decided to just upgrade it to a superior material instead.

    A lot of choices out there. Seems people agree on a few but it's like everything else. Everyone has their own preference for their own reasons.

    You got people preferring Brass, Graphite, Synthetic Ivory, Pre banned real Ivory by many is considered the best. I've heard about 35,000-year-old fossilized mastodon ivory. It's supposed to be excellent but I have not yet found a place to buy it. Many feel Bone is the best you can go with. I miss anything?

    I'm basically trying to upgrade to something more durable than Corian with the slightly improved resonance/sustain, tone that is associated with these better materials.

    What do you prefer and why?
    Anyone have a place to get fossilized mastodon ivory nuts? I was thinking Ivory, Bone or the Tusq synthetic stuff.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  2. #2
    Forum Frontman
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    Default

    Bone is ideal, but you've absolutely got to be sure you're hiring a GOOD tech to carve it. (I've seen some terrible LP nuts carved.) Otherwise, Tusq and graphite are excellent.

  3. #3
    Baluchitherium
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AT View Post
    Bone is ideal, but you've absolutely got to be sure you're hiring a GOOD tech to carve it. (I've seen some terrible LP nuts carved.) Otherwise, Tusq and graphite are excellent.
    Thanks for the advice. That's reassuring as the tech, who is highly experienced, also suggests bone as the best upgrade.

    I'm curious AT. I have heard and read many say ivory and this fossilized ivory especially is the best. The difference is likely negligible to bone but I'm wondering if you or anyone has an opinion on it?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  4. #4
    5150 A&Z Guitar Repair's Avatar
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    Donor

    Default

    I'd recommend bone. My feelings concerning bone are this...The harder the better.

    While you can spend hours looking for the pre banned ivory and other exotic bone nuts, the difference between these nuts and a bone nut from stew-mac is negligible at best. Look for the hardest bone, buy from a reputable dealer, and have a qualified person install. If you choose a synthetic, Tusq and Graphite nuts are excellent choices. You might also look at the Earvana nuts as they are essentially TUSQ or Graphite.

    Even the most exotic nut/Floyd/pickup/tuners/strings, etc if installed improperly, will take away from the overall sound and playability of the guitar.
    Scott Eivins
    A&Z Guitar Repair

  5. #5
    Sinner's Swing!
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    11.25.17 @ 09:06 AM
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    Default

    Carving custom nuts was my specialty for well over a decade. When I got started, bell/marine brass was all the rage, though I've used many materials, both traditional, and real oddball stuff brought to me. (Thank god brass finally lost favour, due to it's high maintenance aspects.)
    Just from my experience.
    On most guitars, for me, it's bone all the way. It gives a nice round tone on open strings, and minimal snag/pinging issues. It's durable, doesn't require a ton of maintenance, and if cut right, it'll provide many years of reliable service. I always found the standard black graphite to be good on 6 a side Fender style guitars because of the linear pull through the nut to the tuner...but I'm not as big a fan of graphite on a 3 aside guitar, because of the side pressure on the slots, particularily on the bass side. A guitar that sees heavy wang-bar use, or regular alternate or drop tunings, (simply because it's a softer material,) the bass strings tend to wear them down over time, and facilitate fret buzz. The modern Tusq nuts, especially their compensated models are great for acoustic guitars are great, and also give a good open tone, so given that, I think they may work well on a LP/Gibson style guitar. I have not done a great deal in the materials like Corian, but my Gibson came with one, and it did wear out fairly quick, especially on the D string which surprised me, so I replaced it with bone, and have had no issues at all.
    Last edited by we die young; 03.04.13 at 06:32 AM.

  6. #6
    Baluchitherium
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    Default

    Thanks for sharing your experience guys. Appreciate the info.

    Though I have several guitars with non locking nuts I was much more of a floydrose guy for most of my life. This is the first non locking nut I've had replaced/upgraded. When you look into all the materials that people use and prefer it can add to the uncertainty.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  7. #7
    Sinner's Swing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by At0micPunk View Post
    Thanks for sharing your experience guys. Appreciate the info.

    Though I have several guitars with non locking nuts I was much more of a floydrose guy for most of my life. This is the first non locking nut I've had replaced/upgraded. When you look into all the materials that people use and prefer it can add to the uncertainty.
    I know! Haha.
    For instance, when I started, brass was a very big deal. Everyone wanted brass in search of sustain. The first one I made was for a 70's ash body Strat I had. Thought I'd try it for myself first. It was great for a while, but after 6 months or so, I hated it! The downside to it was mainly the maintenance involved with it. It always needs oil, the strings eventually start snagging. Also with a whammy bar, it would wear faster as other nuts do typically, with the string slowly working it's way down beyond the slot's bottom, but as it would wear, the strings would bind more and more over time, so you have metal on metal, which causes creaks and pinging. On a material like bone, graphite etc. the wear is a little more broad with area adjacent to string also breaking away minutely. With brass, it is a soft metal, so rather than small particles breaking away microscopically over time, it more or less just displaces or smears the metal.

    I've had some odd requests over the years. I actually had one guy bring me a small antique ivory figurine...(maybe belonged to a past relative?), and he asked me to make him a few nuts for several guitars he had out of it. A couple were vintage archtops, one was a 1930's Gibson, an old Epiphone Spartan I believe, and an 60's Gibson 335. I was leery about doing anything with it, and even contacted another luthier who I knew had worked with ivory many years ago. He said as long as it was an old piece purchased prior to the ban, it'd be good, and I'd be fine, as to the fact that I was only charging him the straight time on labor alone, I was in the clear.
    Well, I got two nuts out of it, so split the difference, and did one of the Archtops, and the 335. They both sounded real good, and polished up, looked very nice.
    Nowadays, there's so many choices, it can get overwhealming.
    You've got roller nuts too!

 

 

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