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How much does the nut material *really* effect the tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ::::BASSIST::::, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Is the difference in tone perceivable in a live rock band mix?

    I have a bass that has a plastic nut and I'm wondering if its worth it to upgrade it to a graph-tech or something.
  2. Personally I think it only affects the tone when the string is open, as the frets supercede it when stopped down.

    Having said that, I have replaced plastic nuts with brass on guitars and there has definitely been a change in tone (for the better) on the open string.

    I'm a brass nut, though. :D
  3. HeebeeJB


    Jun 5, 2007
    Washington UK
    A poor quality plastic nut badly affixed can rob tone and even volume from the open strings. I wouldn't go as far as a brass nut but graph tech style nuts are a worthwhile upgrade.
  4. BassBuzzRS


    Oct 18, 2005
    3% difference.
  5. ROON


    Aug 5, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    Uhh. I'm sure it makes no difference whatsoever. I'm sure if you had two sound clips identical basses, one with a graphite nut and one with a bone nut, nobody would realise.
  6. Micolao


    Sep 7, 2005
  7. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    As long as the nut is installed and cut properly it won't make much difference what it's made from.

    However the material the nut is made from can make a difference in other ways not having to do with tone. My favorite nut material is bone because of how nicely the can be worked and polished.
  8. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    The biggest difference is how graphtech or slipstone(derlin) hold tune better, espically if you bend a lot or have a tremolo bridge.
  9. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    Less than clay dots, more than the finish color.
  10. lowbass68


    Feb 3, 2008
    +1. I don't think there is much difference in one quality nut from another. I prefer bone simply from a workability point of view. It cuts and polishes well plus it is durable. Micarta and other synthetics are good to. Don't care for graphite cause it is messy to shape. I hate brass because it is a pain to shape and it tarnishes after a while.
    Another nice thing about bone, micarta and graphite is that if you switch to a slightly lighter gauge of strings and the nut slot is a little loose, you can use filing from a blank nut and fill the slot with a mix of filings and super-glue or epoxy. Gotta be careful or you can make a mess doing this.
  11. Jjango


    Nov 16, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Maybe it's just psychological, but the basses I've played with brass nuts seemed to sound somewhat metallic and harsh on the open strings.

    But as I said, perhaps it's purely psychological. It's been a long time since I've played a bass with a brass nut.
  12. The carbon fiber nuts I make LOOK so cool, to me anyway, it enhances my mood, thus enhancing my playing, thus.........enhancing my sound :D

  13. Bass Below

    Bass Below

    Oct 24, 2006
    New York
    I was gonna ask you where you got that nut. I searched and couldn't find one like it anywhere...
  14. I make them myself. The material is tough to work with but when it's done, it looks and works great. Each one MUST be fitted so I can't really mass produce them :(
  15. On a solid body electric bass guitar, the big difference (IMO) between plastic and the quality materials (bone, micarta, graphite, brass etc.) is the durability. The better materials last longer, much much longer. If you talking about an ABG, then like all acoustic guitars there will be a noticeable improvement in tone if you replace the plastic nut and bridge saddle with bone.
  16. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    The nut is said the affect the tone of open strings. Different materials react differently to the vibrations. Danelectro for instance uses aluminum for the nuts on their '63 reissue bass. They say it helps add sustain. I don't know enough about physics and bass construction to argue with them.
  17. 69nites


    Jul 11, 2006
    this is probably true

    brass has a much differant tone tho.
  18. 69nites


    Jul 11, 2006
    when you get into things as differant as bone and aluminum you're going to hear a differance
  19. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    I shouldn't imagine it would effect the tone much, even when the string is open. It probably would to some extent, but it'd be hard to notice the difference live.
  20. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    Comparing Brass to plastic, or bone to aluminum, again these would only have an effect on open strings. Will you hear it in the mix, probably not. Then again, as a sound guy, i've noticed that once a band asks for something i can usually ask them without changing anything if it sounds better now and the answer is always yes.

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