The Emperor has new nuts!!

blaren

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Can anyone post some spectrum analysis or just a recording that displays the tonal difference a nut makes when strings are fretted please?

Everyone claims they get this amazingly better and more resonant tone once you "upgrade" those pesky SE nuts. Sure, like any nut, they can bind if you use fatter strings than they were slotted for but you don't throw your kids away or replace them when they cry (you spank the crap out of them until they stop...OH YEAH?? You want something to cry about???), why replace a nut that needs it's slots widened-out a bit? If you want a nut that has more lubricity that is a different story but to say that a nut changes or improves tone when strings are fretted...well this I HAVE to see (or hear).
Clips anyone?
Thanks and have a great day and happy Spring!
 

justmund

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Pretty obvious no one has done a properly controlled experiment to show this so why ask?

Might be easier if you go off and do this yourself.

Since you haven't posted for a couple of months, seems like you've got time on your hands to do things more constructive than raise moot points like this.
 

goat-n-gitter

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I make it a rule to only play open position cowboy chords, so the nut is absolutely critical to my tone.:box:
 

rugerpc

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At least it is a guitar question. It could be worse.

I'd rather read this as an academic discussion than be spammed by links to business software and app development software...
 

drdoom8793

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This has got to be one of the most blatant attempt at trying to start the 'what affects tone' argument that I've ever seen.

(Possibly) obvious troll is obvious?

Edit: To actually contribute to the thread, no, I've never seen actual data that confirms one way or the other. And I don't know that it would make a difference to those that are truly convinced that it makes a difference. To put it simply, if you don't think it's going to make a difference, don't change the nut. If you think it will make a difference, then change it. Not hurting you if someone wants to change the nut on their own guitar.
 
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JustRob

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I would love to plug a bunch of guitars into the spectrum analyzers I have access to at work, but my employer would have issues with this. And in the end hard data isn't likely to change many minds since tone is largely subjective.
 

LSchefman

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Gee, I think it's a perfectly legitimate question, but I'd like to add some of my own, as I think the OP's question is too broadly framed.

Given the fact that lots of chords include open strings, might a tone improvement on open strings be worth the effort, even if the tone change might not translate to fretted strings?

I have another question regarding whether fretting a string actually 100% eliminates any vibration that is transferred to the neck of the guitar by the nut, but I suppose we can leave that one for the scientists. Or maybe we could test it this way -- to take one of Paul R. Smith's analogies a little further, if you had a guitar with a rubber nut, would the sound of the guitar be any different than the sound of the guitar with a PRS nut when you fret a string?

If yes, then you might conclude that nut material affects the tone of a fretted string. If no, then you might conclude that it's irrelevant to the fretted string. It'd be awfully easy to test this one. In fact, you could probably just put a piece of rubber band between the nut and the strings and see how that works. And no, I'm not doing it.

I'd be willing to bet that the fleshy part of the fingertip doesn't put enough pressure on the string against the fret to completely eliminate vibration to the nut. In fact, if you think about putting a capo on a fret vs your finger, I think you'll agree that the two sounds are different.

Then there is the question of playing harmonics, and other techniques that we guitar players use, such as slide, hammer-ons and pull-offs.

On a personal note, I've never changed the material of the nut on any of my guitars in the 47 years I've been playing. But at the same time I haven't needed a spectrum analyzer to tell me whether or not the tone of my guitars have changed if I make other changes to the instrument, or even change string formulations.

And in the end hard data isn't likely to change many minds since tone is largely subjective.

I'd modify this a little to say that our impression of tone is subjective, because of course, lots of things about tone can be measured.
 
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gball

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For the sake of discussion I will say that, while I firmly believe nut design and material can make a difference to an unfretted string, when I changed the nut on my SE to a USA one I heard no discernible difference. I wanted to, tried to, but being completely honest with myself either my ears don't work as well as I thought or it is so close as to make no difference, which frankly I would expect from PRS - I don't think they are going to put out a nut at any price point that is inferior. From handling both of them side-by-side I actually feel the main difference is the US one seems like it will wear better.
 

kbprs

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[...]
I have another question regarding whether fretting a string actually 100% eliminates any vibration that is transferred to the neck of the guitar by the nut, but I suppose we can leave that one for the scientists. Or maybe we could test it this way -- to take one of Paul R. Smith's analogies a little further, if you had a guitar with a rubber nut, would the sound of the guitar be any different than the sound of the guitar with a PRS nut when you fret a string?
[...]

The string remains under tension between the nut and saddle, so horizontal modulation of the string and its tension could (and I would go so far as to say have to) effect the overall vibration of the string. That being said, it's clear the effect of the nut diminishes by one or two orders of magnitude when you fret a string, and that the effects of all of the other materials in the guitar "system" have much larger effects than the nut material.

I can tell the difference between the PRS material, bone, and, say, Corian, but it's not a better/worse thing. And when actually playing the guitar (rather than sitting in front of a spectrum analyzer or sifting through FFTs all day) that subtle difference doesn't really matter.

So in a sense I'm agreeing with Mr. Schefman and Mr/Ms blaren ;) in that it makes a difference fretted and unfretted, but in the end it's subjective and relatively irrelevant. IMHO!
 

markie

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Interesting.................. And all this time, I thought the fretting a guitar string meant the steel fretwires were a substitute for the nut :iamconfused: :wink:



I once drove a 1972 El Camino. I have since upgrade to a 2013 Tahoe.........
 
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shinksma

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Interesting.................. And all this time, I thought the fretting a guitar string meant the steel fretwires were a substitute for the nut :iamconfused: :wink:



I once drove a 1972 El Camino. I have since upgrade to a 2013 Tahoe.........

Well, the fret wire is a substitute for the nut in establishing the base frequency of the note you are playing, but the manner in which harmonics (and possibly sub-harmonics) are generated, and how the note decays, can, in theory, be affected by all that stuff on the other side of the fret and the other side of the bridge saddle points. Thus two-piece stop-tail bridges vs wrap-arounds, tremolo blocks being replaced for solid brass version from John Mann, etc.

I don't doubt that there are people who (believe they) have experienced an improvement in "tone" after replacing their SE nut for a PRS USA nut. I also don't doubt there are many who will swear they perceive no difference.

For many people, replacing a nut is as easy and normal for them as replacing lampshade knobs for speed knobs. If they can do it without hurting the guitar, well, good for them.

I replaced the nut on my HB, but mainly because it seemed to me that one of the previous owners had already done so, and that now-previous (bone-looking) nut was not doing it for me - I seemed to get a very (very!) mild buzz on the open G-string. So I put on a stock USA PRS nut. Plays just fine now, thankyouverymuch. But I can't say the tone changed (beyond lack of the very mild buzz).
 

Bluesboy998

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I replaced the nuts on two of my se's with core nuts only because I had them,I really couldn't tell the difference between the two.Prs wouldn't put anything on there guitars that are inferior the se nuts were fine besides on stage in the heat of the moment who cares if it works it works.
 

markintime

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I did not replace the nut on my new 30th Anniversary Custom 24; I just had the slots widened by Sweetwater to accommodate the 10 gauge set. My tone change came from having it come with 59/09's in place of the stock pickups. I don't think the nut material makes any discernible difference, IMHO, as long as it ain't rubber. :biggrin:
 

AP515

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When you fret a string you don't take all the tension off the tuning key. You don't take any of the downward pressure off the nut. In very small amounts you add to each of these. So, they still perform the same functions, and in doing so they continue to add the same color to the tone. All you are doing is shortening the length of the string. there is no real difference in tone from fretted or unfretted strings.
 

justmund

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Gee, I think it's a perfectly legitimate question, but I'd like to add some of my own, as I think the OP's question is too broadly framed..

...

Oh I think it's a perfectly legitimate question too, just the delivery sucked. Instead of the whole out of nowhere "show me the evidence" for a point no one was really arguing in the first place (see the "SE Mods" thread), then chucking something in about belting your kids(???), it could have simply been:

"Hey guys, been thinking about something lately... Do you reckon nut material can affect tone/sustain/resonance on fretted notes? Anyone done, or willing to do some experiments to support their theories?"

Seriously, to show this (properly) on a spectrum analyzer you'd have to build a jig that holds the guitar (or better still, supports it by a guitar strap), build a "picking rmist", build a human finger like thing and have it apply constant pressure to a fret, collect a bunch of data (let's say have the robot pick a string 1000 times), then look at the spectrum analysis at 100ms, 200ms, 300ms etc etc, make sure all the graphs are the same, loosen all the strings to the point you can change the nut, retune EXACTLY to where it was before, repeat experiment, repeat for different frets (maybe fret 1, 12 and 24 might be enough), then do different strings, 2 strings, 3 strings etc etc... Might as well control temp, humidity, dust etc while you're there too. Anyway you get my point!

I recently had the misfortune to attempt to watch some "tonewood debate" on YouTube. Some English dude prattling on about other guys and their lack of logic, then goes and builds a kitchen Strat (out of a kitchen benchtop or something), then "compares" this to another Strat he built out of "tonewood". His " experiments" were horrible, and showed a realtime spectrum analysis over lay of both guitars being strummed. The resolution of his analyzer was very poor, and it was easy to see that you couldn't prove or disprove anything from his "experiment".

A simple (anecdotal evidence) experiment would be like what Les said to do, put a rubber band on the strings and see if you hear a difference. Even sit there and play a chord/note and have someone slip the runner band off and on and see if you can hear a difference plugged and unplugged (prob best to use a profiler/modeler and not a tube amp for this one :p )
 

WEDGE

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I do have core PRS's so I cannot comment on the SE Nuts but I am sure that when raging through my Splawn that the subtleties of the magnitude being discussed here are lost on me........and I am totally cool with that.
 
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