Does A Bone Saddle Make A Difference?

A bone saddle will make a difference compared to the factory-installed plastic or Tusq saddles found in many acoustic guitars. A beginning guitarist may not notice much of a tonal difference, but intermediate to advanced guitarists will typically hear a difference. Bone saddles almost always will sound better than the inexpensive plastic saddles used in less expensive guitars.

However, with Tusq saddles, bone is not necessarily a better tone but is different. Generally speaking, the bone will produce a warmer and fuller tone, whereas Tusq will produce a brighter and cleaner tone. It depends on the individual player and specific guitar as to which saddle material is preferred.

Below is a further discussion of the common guitar saddle types.

Furthermore, bone has a touch of natural fat content and has a slight self-lubricating aspect for the strings, which will slide smoothly during tuning. 

Inexpensive Plastic Saddles

Made of inexpensive plastic material, these saddles are often found on less-expensive guitars priced below $300. The problem with inexpensive plastic is that it will result in less volume and less clarity. Additionally, plastic saddles do not last as long and can break easily. Furthermore, plastic saddles on inexpensive guitars often do not match the fretboard radius of the guitar, which can result in playability issues. You can print out radius gauges to check whether your saddle and neck radius match. If your saddle and guitar neck radius do not match, please contact us and we can suggest a saddle with the correct radius. If your guitar has a cheap plastic saddle, then it’s best to replace it with another material, such as Tusq or bone.

Tusq saddles are commonly installed at the factory for acoustic guitars in approximately the $500 to $2,000 range. Tusq delivers a clean, bright tone that some people will prefer over the tone of bone. In particular, we’ve often found that Taylor Guitar owners will prefer the tone of Tusq, as Tusq goes along with the clean, bright tone associated with Taylor models. However, we’ve also seen a number of Taylor owners who want to warm up their guitar’s a bit, and a bone saddle does this well. Conversely, in our experience, Martin guitar owners almost always prefer the tone of bone over Tusq as bone produces a warmer, fuller tone that many want from a Martin model.
 

Bone saddles are almost always made from cow (bovine) bone. All MacNichol Guitars bone products are made of cow bone. As mentioned previously, bone produces a warmer, fuller tone. Bone is an inconsistent material, and so you might get a bone saddle that has a dead spot, or overall just does not transmit tone well. In higher-quality bone saddles such as the ones that we sell, this is extremely unlikely, but since bone is an organic material, despite all the QA efforts, a particular bone saddle may sound dull in your guitar. However, if you receive a saddle from us that you are not fully satisfied with for any reason, then please contact us and we will provide a free replacement or full refund.

Questions? Please use our Contact Form, or call 435-647-6327 for more information.