Bone Nuts and Saddles for Guitars is the most common and least expensive aftermarket natural material used for saddles. It is denser than any of the synthetic materials and in nearly all cases displays an immediate, noticeable difference after installation.
Most of the bone used in today’s guitar saddles comes from Chinese cows or ox. Is a Chinese cow or ox better than South African, European or any other ones for that matter? Not at all, but, their bones are cheaper. The most expensive cost will be your postage. What can also be done, if you are a keen DIY, is go to your local butcher and purchase a thigh bone of a cow or ox and ask the butcher to cut the ball joints off and the cut the bone longitudinally through the centre exposing the marrow. If you have a dog, let him/her eat all the marrow out and eat all the bits meat off. Do not cook the bone. After a few days, put the piece of bone outside in a well-ventilated area and let it dry out for a good 12 – 16 weeks. After the bone is dried out, you can cut the nut and or saddle out. The down side of this is that there will be an unpleasant smell, similar to burnt hair.
NO animals are unnecessarily murdered just for the purpose of anyone’s guitars. These are simply the by-products of the beef industry. Nearly every guitar in the higher price range (approx. R25000 ($2000.00) and up) will come with a bone saddle and nut as the standard material. You will rarely find any handmade guitars in the extreme price ranges that do not come equipped with high quality bone components. It is unquestionably the standard in that section of the industry.
Bone saddles can be a bleached white colour, and can occasionally have some darker “speckling” in the grain. Most saddles can also be ordered in what is known vintage bone. The only difference between this and regular bone is the vintage bone is dyed to a yellow-brown colour to give it an aged or vintage look.
Bone is usually the first step people choose in an aftermarket saddle, as it is relatively inexpensive, and offers significant improvement over factory-installed components. Bone increases clarity and sustain, provides better overtones, and provides a better high to low end balance. It provides a much more “focused” high end and punchier low end, and is not at all shrill like some plastic saddles render the guitar. Also, bone will outlast the factory installed plastic saddles by far.