Brazilian Bloodwood Nuts and Saddles

February 10, 2010

Disclaimer. The views expressed below are my views (Uncle Johnson). We will quite happily make you a nut and/or saddle in any material you like with the exception of compressed bat guana,

For the last few years I have been trying to find alternative materials for making nuts and saddles. The traditional materials such as bone and brass have been proven over time and the more widely used modern materials such as Corian, Micata and Tusq are also very good……So why do I want to re invent the wheel? Because..

1. Bone makes the work shop smell like an industrial dentist’s surgery when shaped and sanded. I also find it very difficult to get a regular supply of consistently hard, non porous bone. The tone can sometimes be a little too bright and even bit harsh depending on the application, and lastly it can be quiet “sticky” when used to make a nut, thereby causing strings to “click” or “creak”. This can affect the tuneability and tuning stability of the instrument.

2. Brass attracts heat and burns my poor little fingers when I’m shaping it. I like it in certain applications and in some cases, as with bone I will recommend it. However, like bone it is quiet “sticky”.
3. Corian, Tusq and Micata are all wonderful materials, however I get a little worried for my health (not to mention my staff) when shaping it, as all these composite products smell kinda toxic.

Right then, this is what I had to ask myself.

1.The “new” material has to be super, super resonant.
2.The “new” material has to be hard as buggery and super long wearing
3.The “new” material slippery enough to allow easy string travel.
4.The “new” material has to be consistent
5.The “new” material has to be easy to shape
6.The “new” material has to make my workshop smell good and be, within reason, non toxic.
7.Lastly, it has to look good and make my clients happy so they keep coming back to me.

The material (Blood Wood) is an exotic timber from Brazil which has only become available in Australia in the last 12 months. Hearing is believing. Everyone of us in the workshop is amazed by this discovery. It has taken 3 years of experimenting to find it, however it has been worthwhile.

The “other” discovery we found is that by laminating the blood wood with ivory (slips) taken from the keys of donor pianos we get a gorgeous look nut or saddle with the combined benefits of both materials.

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