M.O.P. AND MASTODON IVORY STRINGED INSTRUMENT NUTS AND SADDLES, and IVORY SLABS
All nut and saddle blanks are cut to oversize dimensions so they will require reworking to exact size by you. As materials which directly contact the strings, these parts are supremely critical in determining the sound of an instrument. The nut influences only open strings, while the bridge saddle affects every note on the fingerboard. Normally, the same material is used for both, but combinations can be experimented with in the privacy of your own shop.
Referred to as either Mastodon or Mammoth ivory, this perfect, solid material comes from Ice Age animals who gently passed away at dinnertime around 10,000 to 30,000 years ago, definitely qualifying it as "pre-ban"! Bone is harder than elephant ivory, which in turn is harder than the tusks of our wooly friends, so the sound may be slightly less bright, but often with a desirable gain in tone quality -- the only way to tell is to give it a try. Color varies randomly from off-white to buff or tan, sometimes with faintly mottled, blotchy, striped, or cross-hatched grain, but always distinctively classy! Sorry, but ivory can not be legally shipped outside the U.S.
The M.O.P. nuts are taken from our top-grade, heaviest Australian shells, and are shaped to display maximum pearliness on the top edge, where the strings pass over. Bright-sounding, visually beautiful, and very long lasting (if care is taken to lift the strings straight up and down during removal or installation). Especially impressive if a round file is used to scallop between string notches, as shown in the photo of a banjo thrown together by the Duke.
MASTODON IVORY FLAT SLABS : These are large flat pieces bandsawn and lightly sanded to approximately .090 thickness, with beautiful off-white to tan coloration and paler streaks of banded graining. GRADE A (IS-A) are 4-7 long X 1 ½-2 ½ wide, with a minimum amount of flaws or cracks (none on some, one on most); random-sized slabs that run 24-40 grams per piece. GRADE B (IS-B) are 3-4 long X 1-2 wide, smaller than A-grade, and with more cracking (but which are easily worked around if doing normal inlays or jewelry). GRADE C (IS-C) is a scrap (but not junk!) grade of randomly-sized smaller pieces with lots of character-building flaws and cracks, but still very productive when doing small work.
A CAUTIONARY NOTE ABOUT WORKING IVORY: it works easily with hand or power tools, sandpaper, etc., but can check or crack if subjected to extreme or sudden changes in either temperature or humidity (which is more critical with large pieces than with small). Be very careful, especially with power equipment, to avoid creating more than slight warmth while tooling this material. Also avoid any contacts with water, such as immersing, washing, wiping with a wet cloth, or heavy licking, especially while it's still warm from final sanding or buffing.