Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby waldo041 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:09 pm

Jon S. wrote:I've already played the guitar again (I'll go back now and have some fun with Althea, too). I still would not describe the tone as "heavier" but perhaps Frank Zappa was onto something when he said talking about music is like dancing about architecture.


have you played that guitar with any other nut material besides brass?

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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby Pete B. » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:14 pm

Maybe if we use words that describe tone, like treble, bass, a frequency boost or cut in the XYZ-hertz range, etc.
Heavier, to me, sounds like you are saying "an increase in Bass response", but when I read "It took the "mellow" right out of the E,A,&D strings" I think that means "an increase in Treble response".
Myself, I would like the fretted chords/notes to sound more like the open strings... for example, on every acoustic and/or electric guitar I've ever played, an open G chord sounds like it has more treble than a barred G chord.
Last edited by Pete B. on Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby JonnyBoy » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:17 pm

Would how the string is cradled in the metal change the tone? a shallow and loose v's deep and snug groove? the action height and intonnation even? I see where the variables can become almost immeasurable as Jon says, some guitars sound dark where the difference would be great some are naturally bright and it may be less. FWIW the graphite was so similar to a fretted low note that the difference, which could be argued, but at the same time who has time. But I don't deny the drastic differences for other esteemed brothers, as in a squier strat's plastic nut v's a brass one either, that sounds cool to me and would make sense.

FWIW, I am adding a brass nut to a guitar I am working on, strictly for the looks and maybe for the tone (who knows yet?), but through my life of playing around with my nuts, graphite has helped keep string slippage and catching during tuning much less than bone or my brass. I had one before that literally required lubrication to keep the strings playable in the grooves, again maybe a bad design (another variable!? :? )

They look cool! and yes, especially scalloped. Does anyone have an idea where to get a scalloped one? I only saw raw, straight nuts on ebay.
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby Pete B. » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:19 pm

Were Jerry's string grooves V-shape or U-shape?
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby JonnyBoy » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:26 pm

Pete B. wrote:Were Jerry's string grooves V-shape or U-shape?



Waldo may have noticed that one... I was wondering if the cradling of the string may affect the tone too...
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby mijknahs » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:50 pm

To scallop the nut, just use a small round file, then finer grades of sandpaper.
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby playingdead » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:32 pm

JonnyBoy wrote: but through my life of playing around with my nuts



TMI!

I had a brass one put on my Tiger guitar, and I like it.
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby Jon S. » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:36 pm

waldo041 wrote:
Jon S. wrote:I've already played the guitar again (I'll go back now and have some fun with Althea, too). I still would not describe the tone as "heavier" but perhaps Frank Zappa was onto something when he said talking about music is like dancing about architecture.


have you played that guitar with any other nut material besides brass?

peace,
waldo

No. That was one of the points I was trying to emphasize earlier. But even if I had, it can sometimes be too easy to "hear" changes that you're pre-expecting. I know that may sound facile but, truly, it's why the scientific method was invented. But I don't want to keep beating this horse. I'm more than willing to concur that changing from a plastic nut to a bone nut changes the tone and also from either to a brass nut. I was only trying to share my view that, relatively speaking, don't expect drastic tone changes from simply changing your nut, especially when you're on stage with an ensemble (which I'm not the only one to believe, BTW - others have posted similarly).

The exception would be on trem guitars. There, the type and cut of your nut can make all the difference in the world and not only in tone (strings ain't cheap!).
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby williamsaut » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:28 pm

Jon S. wrote:I've already played the guitar again (I'll go back now and have some fun with Althea, too). I still would not describe the tone as "heavier" but perhaps Frank Zappa was onto something when he said talking about music is like dancing about architecture.


It's the 'X' factor again. The maple Strat with ebony board, brass nut, buffer, Super IIs, E120. All these things stack the deck to a sound that's closer to what your looking for. Also, as I'm sure lots of folks here will attest, a perfect or near perfect tuning and intonating instrument with new strings makes all the difference in the world. When doing A/B tests and checking out new gear it's really important that the guitar is in perfect tune and at correct pitch.

My axe has brass in both nut and bridge pieces. I use D'Andrea 346 picks, bend the heck out the strings, do plenty of fanning, and leave the strings on for several gigs at a time with almost no detuning at all and have broken a half dozen strings in 10yrs. with upwards of 250 gigs. I can't say it's the brass but I've had no problems with brass.

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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby williamsaut » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:42 pm

Pete B. wrote:Were Jerry's string grooves V-shape or U-shape?


All guitar nuts that I know of are grooved with small files made for the job each one having teeth on the edges of the file instead of the flat side and shaped in a radius. The files come in different thicknesses to match the width of the string that the groove is for.

Too loose a slot and the string will 'rattle' or buzz, too tight a slot and it will bind and seem not to stay in tune or go flat only after pulling a note on that string or pop sharp shortly after tuning up.

Purists and people building classical and flamenco guitars totally by hand will just use the edge of a three-corner file creating a vee shape but the special files are the way to go. Look them up at Stew Mac. There's a wealth of knowledge about guitar building in their catalog by just looking through it.
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby Chuckles » Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:12 pm

My experience is with a brass/bone nut on my Ibby, then getting th post with bone (the brass with the individual string adjustments didn't cooperate.) Troy offered to swap it out FOC if I wanted. Now that I've had them both in house after Troy fixed up the Musician and I've been able to compare them head to head, I see/heard no reason to swap out the bone for brass. If there's a difference, it's so subtle that I'd not want to be without my guitar for the time it would take to do the swap.

Then again, I blew out my hearing 25 years ago cupping my ears to hear every nuance of every show I went to, so what do I know?
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby Chuckles » Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:35 pm

playingdead wrote:
JonnyBoy wrote: but through my life of playing around with my nuts



TMI!

I had a brass one put on my Tiger guitar, and I like it.

That there is bringin' the funny!
:lol: :lol:
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby JonnyBoy » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:12 pm

mijknahs wrote:To scallop the nut, just use a small round file, then finer grades of sandpaper.



A dremel, fine grinding stone, sanding wheels and buffers would do the trick eh? I was thinking for around the same price the hassle free version would be available. I would hate to have another that catches during tuning, then go back to graphite again. I really want a trouble free brass nut, like mentioned above. I have to say though, I have not had a broken string in A LONG TIME and I gig quite frequently. I can't even remember when I have last. If the brass causes more breaks from metal to metal friction, then that is a step backwards IMO. Graphite is a natural lubricant, i've been told and gives a nice zing too. But it is not cool looking. its quite boring actually. I have heard using pencil lead on metal nuts and saddles to help lube the string too.

I also agree some of our ears are more sensitive than others, I might be able to pick out the subtle changes if my ears didn't have a bunch of tiny crickets constantly singing from years of loud music. Sometimes I close my eyes and listen to the symphony of tinnitus in my head. It has good tone at least. :smile: I wonder if it sounds like Jerry's?

I don't play with my nuts very much anymore. I know what works for me and what doesn't these days. 8) I just want my nuts to look cool and live hassle free. don't we all?
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:18 am

Personally I think graphite sounds a lot like brass. If you care more about the lubricating properties (oh, no, now we're lubricating our nuts?) than the look I'd say go for it.
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Re: Would a Brass Nut be worth it?

Postby Pete B. » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:27 pm

Speaking of lubin' up the groove... :oops: I usually take a pencil-tip and spin it around a few times in the "string-grooves" (in the Nut) to get some graphite-ee pencil powder in there.
This keeps the strings pretty slip-ee... no chirps when tuning.

Do you guys think the Brass nut changes the tone more than say... changing the the tone knobs on the amp, or raising/lowering pickups?
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