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Author Topic: Saddle Experiments - Best material???  (Read 50957 times)

Offline skip77

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Saddle Experiments - Best material???
« Reply #60 on: January 26, 2007, 08:41:16 PM »
Gentlemen, I work with resin based composites. As the name implies, these materials are highly filled, usually with various ground glass particles. Each resin system has limitations in terms of how much filler it can withstand or wet. Generally, the thicker or more viscous resins will allow lower levels of filler but tend to be stronger than lower viscosity resins. There are nano particles in many composites these days and when particle sizes of various fillers are carefully matched, higher filler levels can be achieved than usual - this is called particle packing theory and it is a very real phenomenon.

I just installed a TUSQ saddle into my Oscar Schmidt OS11CE and added high tension classical strings by Fender at the same time. The difference over the original plastic saddle and cheap strings is very noticeable and I'm quite pleased. As soon as TUSQ tech support guy, Javier, recommends the closest TUSQ nut, I'll replace it as well. Right now, my OS11CE classical is putting out about as much volume as my larger Alvarez accoustic with metal strings. Sustain is much improved as promised by TUSQ. The higher tension nylon strings help the guitar feel and play more like the steel string Alvarez I am used to - a perfect scenario for me.

I suspect the TUSQ saddle and other TUSQ parts are really nothing more than a modern composite, similar to what I work with every day. It is a proprietary resin/glass filler composite and probably nothing more. That is why it sounds like glass when you plop in on the table - it is essentially, glass. It is tougher than glass, however, because the strong resin matrix is highly crosslinked, making it hard to break. There are limits, of course, and they will break. However, in the normal range of stress applied during installation, removal and from string tensions, the material is quite able to stand up. The reason strings do not dig into the TUSQ material is the glass filler. My guess is the filler level in TUSQ parts is somewhere between 75-85% by weight. This is nothing special in today's composite world. None the less, I suspect that TUSQ has a very optimium formulation which would be difficult to match without many hours experimenting and testing.

I would like to suggest to the guys that are talking about trying to cast these parts - consider this - get some syringes, at least 3ml size or larger. Get some 10 min epoxy from ACE hardware and separated the two parts. Get the smallest particle size filler you can find, whether CF or other types, and mix them separately into the two epoxy components in equal amounts. Experiment with the amount you can mix in. The resulting composite will begin to take on a clay-like texture and body. If you can heat the components seperately, you will notice viscosity will go down quite a bit, allowing more filler to enter the formula. While still warm, and with your mold nearby and ready, combine the two pre-mixed components and mix thoughly but quickly. Try not to whip air into the mixture. Tap the mixture on the counter or bench top several times to force air to the top. Scrape the air bubbles off with a tongue depresser or piece of paper. Pull the plunger out of your syringe. Pour the composite mixture out on a clean piece of plexiglass or similar smooth surface. Back-fill the syringe by dragging it across the thin film of composite several times with the back end of syringe down and tip up. When the syringe is full enough to fill your mold, insert the plunger and extrude a little composite to get rid of air bubbles. Inject the composite into your mold. It will be helpful if you have vent holes in your mold - this will allow you to push the composite into and through the mold until it vents - that is how you will actually fill the entire mold as opposed to leaving trapped air pockets. On this note, you may want to place the vents in the mold at the far corners and middle of saddle, for example. When composite squirts out of all vents, you will know the mold is perfectly full.

Allow to harden the recommended time. Trim excess flash and vent sprues. Sand and fit. I have experience molding and casting as well. If anyone wants to pick my brain, please contact me via email since I don't visit the forum very often. skip@mytowntennis.com  Keep in mind if you heat the epoxy or whatever kind of resin you are working with, when added to the catalyst component, it will react faster than suggested on the package. Sometimes it will react much faster. If you use epoxy from ACE, select one with long enough work time to allow all the pre-mixing, heating and syringe loading - better to have it set slow than too fast. Once the mold is filled, so what if it takes an hour to harden, right? Good luck men.  skip in delaware
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Offline skip77

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Saddle Experiments - Best material???
« Reply #61 on: January 26, 2007, 08:52:44 PM »
One other thing I would like to mention to you guys that want to attempt casting your own saddles. Most resins and resin based composites, when cured, will have what is called an air-inhibited layer on all of the exterior surfaces of the part. Some will have more air-inhibition than others. Do not be dismayed by this. Have some ordinary rubbing alcohol handy and be careful working the rubbing alcohol - it is very flammable and the flame is invisible.

Dab a rag or paper towel with the alcohol and begin wiping the cast saddle. The alcohol will not harm the cured composite but it will dissolve and remove the air-inhibited layer. You may need to wipe it two or three times with fresh alcohol and fresh rags. Then, finishing the part with fine sand paper to fit, will also result in a very clean and no longer sticky saddle.
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Offline Dreadman

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« Reply #62 on: January 26, 2007, 10:43:57 PM »
Right on Skip. At first it looked like too long of a post but by the time I got to the end I was craving more. I'm fascinated with just about all aspects of manufacturing/science/technology and you added a nice little nugget into my permanent memory. Thanks!

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Offline dlovegrove

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« Reply #63 on: January 26, 2007, 11:41:50 PM »
Skip, what you are describing is mostly similar to the process I'm using. No question about mixing half of the additives in each part of the resin... you gain greater additive volume, smoother mix, and more mix time. I hadn't thought about warming the resin components before mixing, to increase additive capacity - that makes sense. I've already been hitting 60-65% additive with ease, so that's an exciting idea.

I haven't found any need for venting; saddles are so very small that they simply don't have room to trap air. I've been planning on pressure-curing once I reach a viscosity too thick to release air, but I haven't got there yet.

Success with porcelain tonight. One run of straight cold-cast porcelain and one with an additional 50% CF - they are post-curing now, can't wait to install one and find out how they sound.
David




Offline Dreadman

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« Reply #64 on: January 26, 2007, 11:52:56 PM »
I bet the porcelain will give interesting results. I'm not familiar with working with it, is it a powder and water kind of thing? Any special handling?

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Offline spt

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« Reply #65 on: January 26, 2007, 11:57:08 PM »
quote:
Originally posted by dlovegrove
Success with porcelain tonight. One run of straight cold-cast porcelain and one with an additional 50% CF - they are post-curing now, can't wait to install one and find out how they sound.


Me too, the can't wait part...
« Last Edit: January 26, 2007, 11:57:57 PM by spt »
 

Offline nogin007

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« Reply #66 on: January 27, 2007, 09:33:20 AM »
After just one day on my WD32SW the string grooves in the ebony were terrible.>>>>>>>  Dreadman, do they use a denser grade of ebony on resonator saddles? A lot of the saddles on resonators are maple, with an ebony cap. If I'm not mistaken, resonators use heavier strings also.
 

Offline nogin007

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« Reply #67 on: January 27, 2007, 09:39:38 AM »
The reason strings do not dig into the TUSQ material is the glass filler.>>>>>>> The guitars I have owned with TUSQ saddles had to be replaced with bone, after some use. The TUSQ would have string grooves develop quicker than bone. And the bone seemed to have better tone. When I would change them out, I wouldn't change the strings at the same time. So I could compare just one thing at a time. Of course, it's all relevant to our individual ears, and the sound we want.
 

Offline dlovegrove

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« Reply #68 on: January 27, 2007, 10:25:55 AM »
After my recent experience, I think it doubtful that any resin-based composite will be able to resist string grooves completely. But what if a composite saddle with great sound characteristics was so inexpensive you could change it with the strings? Say, a dollar or two?

On the other hand, if Dreadman can get bone manufacturing perfected, it would make that pointless. A $10 bone saddle would certainly be superior in terms of durability.

Dread, the porcelain is a very fine powder that mixes directly into the resin components. Obviously, unfired porcelain will have a completely different molecular structure than fired; but it does add significant mass and porosity.

If Tusq really has glass fillers, that might explain why some people don't like the sound as much. Glass will carry the vibration better, which would enable those graphs on their web pages, but won't improve the tone.

I'm finding that CF can be added in extremely high amounts. For example, I can max out the resin with an equivalent amount of porcelain powder until it won't take any more (about a full 1:1 ratio); then I can go back and add a huge amount of CF with no discernible change in the viscosity or mix - pretty much 1:1:1, though it's hard to really measure the CF.
David




Offline gregjones

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« Reply #69 on: January 27, 2007, 10:32:34 AM »
quote:
Originally posted by dlovegrove

If anyone wants a free saddle in trade for giving me feedback on how it compares to whatever you are currently using, just e-mail me an address and I'll send you one (or more than one, if you are willing to do the work of swapping them out!).


I came to this forum just to see if there was anything about saddles.  I just bought a new D10 for a travel guitar.  I tried to e-mail you but couldn't because I don't have enough posts.  If you want this new saddle for a mold let me know.  gregajones@hotmail.com
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Offline Dreadman

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« Reply #70 on: January 27, 2007, 12:45:13 PM »
quote:
Originally posted by nogin007

Dreadman, do they use a denser grade of ebony on resonator saddles? A lot of the saddles on resonators are maple, with an ebony cap. If I'm not mistaken, resonators use heavier strings also.

That ebony could very well be more dense. I know there are different varieties of ebony and that may be the difference. The heavier strings would probably do less damage too. My deepest grooves were from the high strings which seemed to slice right through and the heavier ones floated a little better.

SPT, who's got experience with lignum vitae, told me not to give up on it yet so if my local hardwood store has it (and snakewood) I'll give them a try.

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Offline Dreadman

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« Reply #71 on: January 27, 2007, 01:08:43 PM »
quote:
Originally posted by dlovegrove

After my recent experience, I think it doubtful that any resin-based composite will be able to resist string grooves completely. But what if a composite saddle with great sound characteristics was so inexpensive you could change it with the strings? Say, a dollar or two?
I hear what you're saying. Even if the filler was diamond the resin is still the limiting factor on groove resistance. Cheap replacement is a great idea. Until now accurate replacements for Washburn saddles have been hard to come by. I've got nine Washburn acoustics with plastic, corian(?) and my experimental aluminum and wood and all could stand for replacement.

quote:
Originally posted by dlovegrove

On the other hand, if Dreadman can get bone manufacturing perfected, it would make that pointless. A $10 bone saddle would certainly be superior in terms of durability.
I am shooting for $10-$15 but I don't consider bone to be the only way to go. Once you factor in each guitars different sound and each players different preference for sound I think every possible material has a place. I have some guitars that sound best to me with stock plastic.

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Offline spt

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« Reply #72 on: January 27, 2007, 01:17:56 PM »
Here's my very unscientific assessment of the usual materials and then some.
On a spectrum from metallic sound to wood sound (say from a brass wind to a wood wind instrument, or from a bronze bell to a wood bell), tusq is the closest to pure metal sound, lignum vitae is the closest to pure wood sound. It goes without saying that the dryness, sharpness of the sound is greater towards the metal end of the spectrum than the wood end. I have found this to be true regardless of the richness of the tone itself (the density of harmonics for each single note).
Bone is the best balanced to my ear.
Ivory adds a crystal dimension in the spectrum, between metallic and wood. You give up a bit of the dryness-sharpness thing in the change.
So, if I wanted to decrease the shrill of a guitar, I'd try to go towards the wood sound. If I wanted to clean up muddyness, have a sharper, better defined sound, I'd go towards the metal sound.
I have no idea how this applies to recorded sound but it seems it doesn't translate the same once recorded, unless you equalize it to sound similar.
Now, I'd still love to find out where porcelain is in that mix...
« Last Edit: January 27, 2007, 01:19:28 PM by spt »
 

Offline just strum

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« Reply #73 on: January 27, 2007, 01:24:38 PM »
quote:
Originally posted by dlovegrove


On the other hand, if Dreadman can get bone manufacturing perfected, it would make that pointless. A $10 bone saddle would certainly be superior in terms of durability.





I've been following this thread with interest and the idea of alternative materials is fascinating, however I don't understand the above comment.

I see bone saddles for $6.00, am I missing something other than the challenge of making ones own saddle?

I purchased one from First Quality and installed it my J28SDL and it works just fine.  I also installed one from Bob Colosi for $25, installed it in my WD32SW and to be honest, I cannot tell the difference between the $6 saddle and the $25 saddle.

http://www.fqms.com/Guitar_Bone_Saddle_Blank_-_Wid_P18129C1909.cfm?UserID=2295793&jsessionid=2c30b4274618U$A3f$CC



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« Last Edit: January 27, 2007, 01:26:06 PM by just strum »
 

Offline spt

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« Reply #74 on: January 27, 2007, 01:53:16 PM »
No difference. Maybe workmanship, fit? Intonation...
But it is a reasonably priced material, and easily available.
I think a few of us like to find out for ourselves, maybe the hard way.