For decades, luthiers (individuals who make or repair string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box) have been searching for the perfect material for their guitar nuts. The nut is part of a tremolo system, allowing guitarists to press a lever to loosen the instrument strings and access a different range of sound. When releasing the lever, the strings should spring back to the exact same tension and therefore return to their original pitch. However, if there is friction within the system, the returning pitch will be off.
Luthiers have experimented with different guitar nut materials, including bone, metal, ivory, graphite, and other composites. However, when Raygun Guitar Owner/Operator Chris Verhoeven built a custom guitar with a unique neck design and realized he needed a tremolo system, he went looking for something new.
Enter Quadrant Techtron® HPV (High Pressure & Velocity) material. As a self-lubricating material with excellent wear resistance and a low coefficient of friction, Verhoeven decided to take a shot. He contacted Quadrant for a sample, cut the composite into the shape of a guitar nut, installed it, and ran some tuning stability tests.
“I was just shocked at how well it performed,” he says.
Verhoeven’s initial experiments revealed that, under most scenarios, the guitar nut made out of Techtron® HPV improved tuning stability to the point that (in a controlled environment), the impact to perceivable tuning stability was almost 0. The results were measured as the difference between starting tuning and tuning after tremolo action in cents of a tone.
“That’s really awesome especially considering the guitar I used for the test had other aspects that would generally lend itself to poorer tuning stability,” he says. “A good human ear can hear fluctuations of 5 cents [of a tone] or more.”
The results of Verhoeven’s testing were promising enough for him to recommend using Techtron® HPV for other real world applications.
“I like messing with stuff, and that’s one of the reasons why I probably came across Techtron®, is I like new… I like experimenting,” he says. “It’s an impressive material, and I’m having fun with it. I’m sure there are additional applications… off the top of my head the nut and the saddles of a bridge.”
Techtron® HPV PPS
● Excellent wear and frictional behavior
● Excellent chemical and hydrolysis resistance
● Very good dimensional stability
● Good electrical insulating and dielectric properties
● Inherent low flammability (perfect for those on-stage pyrotechnics)
● Excellent resistance against high energy radiation
Raygun is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where Verhoeven has been building custom guitars and importing his own models for about ten years now. He’s the entire company—owner, operator, designer, luthier, and importer.
– Raygun Guitar Owner/Operator