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Author Topic: Saddle Experiments - Best material???  (Read 49174 times)

Offline spt

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Saddle Experiments - Best material???
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2007, 11:45:51 PM »
quote:
Originally posted by dlovegrove

  • A ceramic saddle is more dense and hard than brass, yet doesn't sound too bright.



  • I know Gibson used ceramic saddles in some of their cheaper L models.  I'm not familiar, soundwise, with the material myself. Are you?
    quote:

    My starting place for materials data is http://www.matweb.com. There are several other materials databases out there, but that one is most extensive.


    Thanks for the link!
    quote:

    One more time: this isn't my field of expertise. I'm just a sucker for a challenge.


    We like that, don't we...?

    One thing that wasn't mentioned yet (I think?) is the fact that a heavier (denser?) material does increase sustain (metal saddles). It takes more energy to move it but carries it longer just by inertia.
    « Last Edit: January 18, 2007, 11:47:10 PM by spt »
     

    Offline newlywashed

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    « Reply #16 on: January 19, 2007, 08:07:52 AM »
    Well, this has all gotten pretty interesting. I know they make bone china where bone ash is mixed with the porcelain. Again though this is something that would require a kiln. Who knows if that would offer anything desirable, but it sounds good in name alone!
    I also did a quick google search and found this informative site:  http://www.guitarsaddles.com/

    He makes saddles in a variety of bone/ivory - Fossilized Walrus, and legally obtained ivory among them. Personally, I'm opposed to using ivory for anything - creating a market for it only can have a negative impact on elephants - but I won't impose my views on that any further. Other materials are also discussed on the website above.

    I can't get his e-mail to work from my work computer here, but I was going to write him and ask that he pops in on the forum and offers his words of wisdom. I think much of this thread has to do with making them yourself though. It's simply fun to play around with this sort of thing and see what works best for you!

    Quote from his site:

    A LOT of people ask about the density and porosity of these materials as compared to the plastic materials such as Tusq or Micarta….and if  â€œdenser is better.”   Density of the material alone is not a controlling factor.  If this were the case, we'd all have brass, ceramic or iron saddles.  The trick is to get a material that has the optimum density so the resonation gets to the top of the guitar at a frequency that vibrates it most effectively.  Not too fast.....not too slow.  Bone, Elephant and Walrus have different densities, but ALL within a spectrum that is OPTIMUM for guitar usage.

    dlovegrove - what sort of visual arts? I'm a fine arts major  graphic designer/illustrator and now in product design/development. Guitar is a newfound creative outlet.
     

    Offline spt

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    « Reply #17 on: January 19, 2007, 09:12:48 AM »
    David's suggestion to use a resin to bind the porcelain sidesteps the kiln completely (and shrinkage due to heat). Can't wait to see where this goes...

    If you do a search on the forum for Bob Colosi, you'll find a few people here have already dealt with him (mostly with success, I think).

    I'm always worried about declarations on OPTIMUM... A LOT has to do with what one LIKES.
    Although there is a large consensus behind bone and ivory, ultimately, beauty is in the ear of the beholder, not in someone else's wisdom. And — science, $ and wisdom notwithstanding — it seems nobody but Stradivarius yet knows what turns a brilliant violin into a Stradivarius...

    Also, I see this more as an experiment for the curious than the reasonable mind... If a new, cheap, and better material is discovered, hallelluya! If not, hey, it was a fun journey!

    To me, bone is already easily accessible, reasonably priced, easy to work with AND terrific sounding... All the rest is gravy.
    « Last Edit: January 19, 2007, 09:15:28 AM by spt »
     

    Offline vheissu

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    « Reply #18 on: January 19, 2007, 09:23:54 AM »
    Can I please just ask ... What is Tusq? What is it like? Looks? Feel? Weight?

    Ben

    Offline spt

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    « Reply #19 on: January 19, 2007, 10:06:44 AM »
    Tusq is a man-made substance that looks greyish, feels like plastic, is easy to work and sounds glassy when dropped on a hard surface.
    That's about all I can tell you...
     

    Offline dlovegrove

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    « Reply #20 on: January 19, 2007, 02:07:12 PM »
    I had a brief talk with my brother, who has a doctorate in physics and is also an accomplished musician. He said, without hesitation, that the disorganized structure of bone is what makes the sound work.

    The smooth even-ness of plastic (and, for that matter, metal) works against the quality of sound. They might transmit a pure wave shape better, but the guitar wave is extremely complex. The less perfect structure actually does a better job of transmitting the complexity. He even said that a plastic saddle would be improved simply by dimpling and marring the surface (at a very small scale, of course), which I'm going to try for the fun of it. I'll get more info from him later, but that's a pretty interesting view.

    I've searched for a patent on Tusq, hoping to get a little more insight in how it's made, but haven't found anything. They do say it is made with both pressure and heat.

    Newlywashed, I did my college work in fine art (drawing/painting), gradually shifted to graphic design and worked in that for a dozen years, and now have ended up managing a creative team of both designers and artists.
    David




    Offline newlywashed

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    « Reply #21 on: January 19, 2007, 03:06:49 PM »
    Hey - pretty interesting information there dlovegrove. It's amazing how something seemingly simple can be so complex. I'm definitely of the mindset that likes to learn the why's along the way. I'm just starting out on the guitar so I think much of this is lost on me, but what's more fun than modifying something you use frequently to better suit you?! When I get a little more proficient, you bet I'm going to tinker around a bit and come back to this forum for wisdom.

    dlovegrove - I also manage a creative team - designers, painters, and sculptors and am trying to grab some freelance design work on the side.
     

    Offline 1 Cal

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    « Reply #22 on: January 19, 2007, 05:09:36 PM »
    Interesting thread guys! [8D]

    I can't add anything on the technical side but...
    I did get a bone saddle from Bob Colosi (great guy).  When I fitted it I also replaced my nearly new EJ17s with brand new EJ17s (so there would be no noticeable difference in sound from the string change).

    WOW!  What a difference.  The sound was SO different I didn't like it at first because it didn't sound like MY guitar any more.  After half an hour or so, I simply LOVED my NEW guitar.  More volume, more precise sound at every string/fret and, well, a different/better (I can't explain it) sound.

    Just my 2 cents

    Cal
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    Offline Dreadman

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    « Reply #23 on: January 19, 2007, 07:49:24 PM »
    quote:
    Originally posted by 1 Cal

    The sound was SO different I didn't like it at first because it didn't sound like MY guitar any more.  After half an hour or so, I simply LOVED my NEW guitar.
    That's interesting Cal. When I got my first all solid acoustic I didn't really like the sound because I was used to my laminate B&S D10's. Also, about 6 years ago I went to the music store with $1000 in my pocket, played everything in my price range and decided on a $300 D10SCE (yet another D10! LOL). Looking back it wasn't the best sounding guitar I played that day, it was just the one that sounded the most like I was used to. I've since learned that choosing a guitar based on materials and construction is at least as important (if not more so) as choosing it on sound.

    Dreadman
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    Offline dlovegrove

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    « Reply #24 on: January 19, 2007, 09:20:20 PM »
    The time has come. The box of specialty resins was waiting on my porch, so I'll begin casting tomorrow. Maybe!

    Can't cast without a suitable mold, and that started the problem. Ideally, I would have a new, unused saddle from Washburn to use as the model. Without that, I was planning on using the saddle from my WD18SW, since it is basically new and should theoretically be in fine condition. I knew already that it has one strike against it - the plastic is so soft the strings have cut tiny notches in the top. But I wasn't expecting what was hidden underneath.

    First, it came out too easily... very little pressure. Then I noticed clear hand-sanding scratches on the sides - someone has definitely run a piece of sandpaper across both sides, quickly and unevenly.

    But then I saw the bottom - the critical contact edge. Holy cow! It has clearly been hand-sanded, with the following results...
     - the bottom is no longer flat; it is angled back, away from the neck. That is, the front face of the saddle is about 1/32 taller than the back face. And that angle is not consistent - the bass side is nearly flat, while the angle gradually steepens across to the treble side.
     - The bottom is arched, so when it is sitting on a flat surface the outside corners touch with the middle about 1/32 off.
     - But the arch isn't smooth and consistent: it is comprised of three smaller scallops, exactly finger-sized.

    In other words, someone took  sandpaper, laid it across their open fingers, and slid the saddle forward and backward across it, pressing pretty hard. They weren't holding the saddle vertically, thus the fore/aft angle; they didn't sand side-to-side, thus the scallops and the arch.

    The end result is that the base of the saddle makes contact with the bridge at three miniscule points - the two extreme front corners, and at a low spot on the back edge halfway between the G and B strings.

    I'm going to go ahead and mold this one; I can easily eliminate the bottom problems, but it will still show the string notches. I don't know how much the height has been changed from its original state.

    I've got a little slab of micarta here; I think I'll cut/grind this down to match, guess at the original height, and make another mold from that.

    Does anyone have an original OEM unmodified cheapo Washburn plastic saddle laying around?
    « Last Edit: January 19, 2007, 09:21:31 PM by dlovegrove »
    David




    Offline just strum

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    « Reply #25 on: January 19, 2007, 09:24:19 PM »
    quote:
    Originally posted by dlovegrove


    Does anyone have an original OEM unmodified cheapo Washburn plastic saddle laying around?

    David







    I might have one, I'll check and if I do I'll e-mail you.

    Mark

    http://www.washburn.com/forum/pop_profile.asp?mode=display&id=6645


     

    Offline Dreadman

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    « Reply #26 on: January 19, 2007, 09:44:01 PM »
    If Strummy doesn't have one I'll look around. The problem in using one for molding though is that Washburn plastic saddles are only about .110 thick and Washburn saddle slots run anywhere from .125 to as much as .135 (or more sometimes). You might want to apply some kind of resistant tape (.010 thick should do it) to each side of the saddle to build the mold out enough so the finished saddles can be custom width-sanded for proper fit.

    I actually just measured a heavily grooved one and it seems that they're molded with what I think is called a draft. That is where the sides have a slight taper to ease the removal from metal molds. The top of the saddle is .105 wide, the bottom is .110 and the very edge of the bottom is .115. You may have to do some building up and sanding, even on a new one, just to get a good cast.

    Dreadman
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    « Last Edit: January 19, 2007, 09:45:15 PM by Dreadman »
    Dreadman

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    Offline just strum

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    « Reply #27 on: January 20, 2007, 08:45:38 AM »
    quote:
    Originally posted by just strum

    quote:
    Originally posted by dlovegrove


    Does anyone have an original OEM unmodified cheapo Washburn plastic saddle laying around?

    David







    I might have one, I'll check and if I do I'll e-mail you.

    Mark

    http://www.washburn.com/forum/pop_profile.asp?mode=display&id=6645






    David,

    I can't find one for your project.  I thought I had one that Washburn or Toaster sent me that had never been used, but I can't locate it.  

    Sorry,

    Mark

    http://www.washburn.com/forum/pop_profile.asp?mode=display&id=6645


     

    Offline spt

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    « Reply #28 on: January 20, 2007, 11:15:19 AM »
    David, I've got one. It's bone and was made to replace the saddle of the WD-56SW I had for a brief period. I am saving it for another Washburn with the same slot dimension. It should be a fairly standard one though.
    You're welcome to borrow it... Just email me your address.
    « Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 11:24:01 AM by spt »
     

    Offline dlovegrove

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    « Reply #29 on: January 20, 2007, 12:48:31 PM »
    My original plan was to cast my plastic one for these early tests, then hand-make a perfect model to cast finished pieces from. Given the state of my plastic one, I just decided to go ahead and make a better model now. Working on that today... hope to have it done and ready to mold from this afternoon.
    David