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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. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    LOL, I've done that a lot. I usually make a show of working the board for a few seconds without actually changing anything and they give the thumbs up every single time.
  2. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    I had a bass with, successively, a molded plastic nut, a brass nut I carved myself, and a graphite nut from Carvin.

    The biggest difference? The plastic was white, the brass was, well, brass colored, and the graphic was black.
  3. notenslaved

    notenslaved I survived the 80's only to see it return.

    Feb 13, 2008
    Connecticut, USA
    +1 regarding the sound difference on open strings, otherwise you probably won't notice much - if any - difference in sound.

    Performance is another story - the graphite is nice for preventing the string from hanging in the nut. Smooth tuning is always nice. I use a Hipshot D-Tuner on my low E so having a graphite nut probably helps with it operating smoothly.

    Don't forget: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"
  4. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    That's about it. I rarely play open strings, so I guess it went right by me.
  5. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    Reviving this thread: For whatever reason, nearly all bass bridges are metal. Certainly there are durable plastics or carbon/graphite materials that could easily be shaped into bridges. Assuming the best tonal material is used for making a bridge, and nearly all bridges are metal, cost not withstanding, the BEST tonal material for a nut should be a metal or metal alloy as well.
    Simplifying, if metal is used for most bridges, why isn't it used for most nuts?
  6. it was not just the biggest difference it was the only difference to any one standing on the other side of the monitors unless he is an audiophile and you are in a studio, reality check: when live its all the same;)
  7. ::::BASSIST::::

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

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Well, there are brass nuts, but I think metal nuts would sound too... metal-y.
  8. Bass Below

    Bass Below

    Oct 24, 2006
    New York
    At the bridge, you want the string vibrations to transfer to the body. A plastic bridge would likely do more dampening than transferring. Not necessarily the case up at the nut.
  9. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    I'd doubt that, otherwise fretted notes would be useless.
    Metal nuts are fine. brass nuts are common.
  10. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Once in 1969, I broke a G string on my Jazz bass at a gig. It was a big crowd in a large club. When we took a break, I put on a new string, which I didn't realize was a heavier Gauge. When I tuned it up the nut broke.

    I took out my granddad's pocket knife and my comb. In about 20 minutes, I had carved a new nut from the spine of the comb. I popped the old nut out, held the new one in place and tuned up.

    It was still on the bass when I sold it about 7 years later.

    Sounded great!
  11. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    That is a great story, one for the grandkids:). (edit: absolutely no reference to the date) I like the sound of brass nuts. Alembic and Warwick come to mind. I was noticing that LEJ also uses brass nuts.
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    It affects tone a bit, but only on the open strings.
  13. Congrats on being the first person in the thread to get "affect" right.
  14. Nut material has a totally huge effect on tone, guys! In much the same way that only clay face dots sound right...

  15. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    In the game of tone-nuance, alder vs ash, maple vs rosewood, flame vs quilt, etc., affecting the tone A BIT is saying a lot.
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

  17. Probably affect your sustain some bit. It will affect your tone, but anything perceivable maybe be confined to purely psychology.

    Both sides serve as nodes, which means they are equally important. Granted, there is less wood up at the nut, but the neck is very much part of the vibrating body. It's part of the reason why there are dead spots.
  18. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    As has been said, once you fret the string there is no difference and in the context of a live band noone is going to hear a difference on openstrings.

    However, I installed a Graphtech nut on a g****r once and was stunned by the annoying amount of noise from the strings which were now resonating a lot between the nut and the tuners when open strings were played.

    End result, I just put the old plastic POS nut back in and tidied up the slots.
  19. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    How about playing harmonics? IME open string harmonics ring louder and longer with a brass nut.
  20. 69nites


    Jul 11, 2006
    that's more likely to be due to a poorly cut nut

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