Guitar repair – Horn over bone: here’s the lowdown!

How many of you rhythm players, who play with a plectrum/pick, find the bone saddle and nuts are a little too responsive and the sound a little too loud? How many of you feel that it would be so much better if the response was mellower and even a little subdued?

I think I have the answer.

If you have been a regular visitor to this blog, you know how much I fancy bone for nuts and saddles over any other material. However, for a good part of a year, I have been messing around with the thought: what if buffalo horn was used in its place?

I studied some, listened to what respected luthiers had to say, and talked to some guitar-builder acquaintances here in India. Almost everyone had the same idea that buffalo horn was much softer than bone, and thus, much harder to carve. This further prompted me to think, and the result is the following.

In Western country music (as in other genres too), a technique called palm muting is used, where the palm of the playing hand partially rests on the strings near the bridge. This has a dampening effect on the sound that is produced. While using a horn nut and saddle, you can play freely without concentrating on palm muting but still get SOME of that effect.

Additionally, what you get is an accentuated bass response and a mellower treble response. Again, this set up helps those players who play with a pick or plectrum.

If you ask me, the arrangement is perfect for when you are accompanying yourself/somebody on stage and even when you are recording. Also, the music will be that much more uplifting if you’re playing for yourself, by yourself.

Needless to say that the arrangement is not so great for finger-style players.

If you wish to have a go at horn, Lucknow Guitar Garage will be happy to accommodate you by fashioning a nut and a saddle meant just for your guitar – to your playing style. What’s more there are bone bridgepins to indulge in too to complete the set!

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

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