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Talking 'bout nuts!

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Flea Claydirnt, May 8, 2001.

  1. Does anyone know the benefits or of having a nut made out of bone or the benefits of a graphite nuts? Which one do you all prefer and why.
  2. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I like wood nuts, because I like fretless.
    On a fretted, wood would do, too, if you have a zero fret (which is highly recommended!).

    Otherwise te differenses between materials are mainly a question of wear resistance. Bone will withstand better than wood (may be some exception), and graphite is supposed to take a lot of abuse.
    Then, if you play fretted, there are also metal nuts. They take abuse well, they sound fretted on open string....are very nice, really. A little harder to prepere properly, though. And if you play fretless, I doubt you want metal-ringing open strings :)
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    The custom I will be getting is spec'd out with bone. IMO, the composties/graphite are just as good, but the bone is a vanity thing (one reason to get a custom, isn't it?).

    All the great, vintage, instruments had bone. Actually, bone can be a liability in that if something hits it with sufficient force, the bone cracks/breaks and it's repair time.
  4. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    wood nut eh? i'll have to try that on my fretless. what kind of wood do you think? same kind as my fretboard?

    as for my fretted bass, i've got a brass nut on it, and open notes sound really consistant. if only they still made just-a-nut I's, i'd retrofit every fretted bass i ever own with it.

    i guess graphite nuts were designed with guitar players who use tremolo in mind, because of the active lubrication of the strings, and my guitar player/tech friend doesn't recommend them for any other use (he uses brass nuts on his strats).

  5. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    The only thing I'd avoid is plastic. Bone has the crisp sound of metal with a little less ring IMO. I have never used wood, but it sounds interesting. If you have a zero fret, would any of this even matter? Wouldn't you just get the sound of the zero fret?
  6. To start, graphite is a form of plastic. The material is graphite powder suspended in a hard nylon and formed into stock shapes. This hybrid combo is excellent for use as slow speed bearings since it's the graphite that cuts the friction. That is one of the advantages of using it in a nut. The strings won't bind, and will easily slip over the nut as the string is tuned. Since the nylon is very hard it's as good as anything out there.

    IMO the best (and easiest to obtain) plastic is Corian. Yep, the countertop stuff. You can get leftover and drop from countertop contractors or at job sites. A little goes a long way. This stuff is much harder than bone and with about 300 different patterns and colors you can match the bone look easily. It carves, sands, and polishes to a lustre and is very easy to work with.

    My personal fave material for a nut is brass. Not as easy to shape as a plastic, it is a more traditional nut material. If you use metal on the bridge, why not the other end? I've built several nuts from brass and it's always provided the best, clear, ringing tone I prefer. And there's something soothing about a gold toned metal atop a wood neck.

    Recently, I've done a nut in hardened aircraft aluiminum. Easier to work than brass, it too is very hard and isolates the strings very well. It is also sort of unusual to have a white metal nut since plastic, brass, bone and other materials are usually used. I polishes to a chrome finish and I'll probably use more of it in the future.

    Hope this helps
  7. old_skool


    Aug 17, 2000
    Milwaukee, WI
    excuse my ignorance.....but whats the material used to make the frets? how well would that work?
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Don't let the name, "nickel silver," fool you. There's no silver in it. It's mainly nickel and copper. The "nickel silver" thing got started when it was used as a silver substitute.

    I can't imagine how you would cut slots deep enough into the fret wire to accommodate your strings. Look at your frets from the side. How is an E or an A even begin to be seated firmly in that? Ideally, 1/2 of the diameter should be seated into the nut and fret wire ain't gonna get it.
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Hard hardwood :D
    Examples that i know of are: lignum vitae, ebony, satine (I think that's the name), pau ferro, wenge and cocobolo.
    I'd say any wood with a Janka hardness figure of 700+ would do very well. E.g. lilac bush! Wich would put those tiny branches into good use :D
  10. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Excuse my glaring error w/regard to graphite, I just meant those really cheap white plastic things that seem to made from elmers glue.
  11. Shoot Blisshead, I knew that you knew that you were talkin' about the cheezy ones but you know by reading some of these posts on this forum that there are some out there that won't know what we know ;)

    As far as a nickel silver nut goes, the first one I ever fabricated for one of my basses was from nickel silver! And as far as I know it came from one of the greatest all-time sources for pieces that are just the right size to cut one from:


    Go to the local horn repair shop and ask to dig in one of their parts boxes. Get a key with the right length for your nut. Most of these key's have a shaft that has a narrow profile with a pointed top edge (sorta like a house roof). Start from there making the shape you want.
  12. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    What's a Just a Nut? Heard of them by name, not by anything else? What gives?

    And pardon the ignorance, but what's a Zero fret? One more fred, and the 3rd fret marker is on the 4th (3rd fret, beings as there is a "zero" now)? Or what?

    An personally, I'd like brass nuts...they look better with almost ANY color hardware than black/white/whatever. Just my opinon.
  13. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    the brass nut warwick used to use. has individual screws for each string...lika dis!


    its a fret that sits right in front of the nut, so that open strings aren't really open, they too are touching a fret.

    yep..gotta go with the brass nuts. ;)

  14. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
  15. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Nice Dolphin, Warwick5S!

    Is it yours?
  16. What is the nut made of on MIM Fenders?

    If one reads all my posts, you see that I ask everything about Fenders...

    And this is post 300
  17. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    i wish! i found pics of it on www.bunnybass.com. now it may look like kinda girly for a bass site, but look at the pics of basses they have! they have a semi-professional photographer guy in house and he takes AWESOME pics. check these out:





  18. heavyfunkmachin


    Jan 21, 2005
    whats your opinion on brass nuts with a chrome finish???

    i like the looks, but... not so confident on the finish not wearing out...
  19. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    TUSQ by graphtech..
    It's a man-made product that sounds like bone,..but MUCH more durable.
    My bridge saddles are made out of this also.. Couldn't be happier with the tone.
  20. Hi.

    My answer to this question from the 2001 vintage would be graptech black plastic.

    Where You folks find these threads to bump ;).

    Just my 0.02&#8364;

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