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Tone by Specific Gravity
Buoyant bones produce mild tones. Less buoyant bones produce strong tones. Now it is easy see which is which.

Specific gravity tells you how buoyant one substance is from another. It compares the weight of a material with an equal volume of water. As a rule, the greater the specific gravity, the heavier and denser the material. Since water has a specific gravity of 1.0, materials measuring less than 1.0 will float. Materials measuring more than 1.0 will sink. So if you want mild tones, then get bones that float. If you want the strongest most solid tones, then get bones that sink.


Get the Tone You Want
What is the difference between a mild tone and a strong tone? It's just the difference in tone relative to specific gravity. Click a sub category above to view the world's largest selection of musical bones grouped by similar tone quality.

Tone Variables
  • Higher moister content produces lower tone. Lower moister content produces higher tone.
  • Smooth textured bones produce sharper tone. Rough textured bones produce duller tone.
  • Wide bones produce a greater tonal range than narrow bones composed of the same material.
  • Thick bones produce lower tones than thin bones composed of the same material.
Tips
Choose less buoyant bones when you want mild tones that won't overpower other instruments. Choose bones that sink in water when you want the strongest most solid tones possible to help you stand out from the rest of the band. Heavy dense bones carry additional mass which provides the kinetic energy you need to make a pair of bones rattle easier. But if you want milder tones, then choose bones that like to float.


Geeky Facts
Specific gravity is also called relative density. In French, density is "masse volumique." Specific gravity is "densite."


How can this tone guide be improved? Send comments and suggestions.

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Pea Patch Minstrel-style Ebony Bones, wide Pea Patch Minstrel-style Ebony Bones, wide

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Pea Patch Minstrel-style Rosewood Bones, regular Pea Patch Minstrel-style Rosewood Bones, regular

Traditional minstrel design, exotic wood...plain price.

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Pea Patch Minstrel-style Rosewood Bones, wide Pea Patch Minstrel-style Rosewood Bones, wide

Traditional minstrel design, exotic wood...plain price.

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Pea Patch Flat Boxwood Bones Pea Patch Flat Boxwood Bones

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Flat World EbPea Patch Flat Ebony Bonesony Pea Patch Flat Ebony Bones

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Pea Patch Flat Tunwood Bones Pea Patch Flat Tunwood (Indian Red Cedar) Bones

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Shooting Star Bubinga Bones Shooting Star Bubinga Bones

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Shooting Star Chechem Bones Shooting Star Chechem Bones

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Shooting Star Cocobolo Bones Shooting Star Cocobolo Bones

Hand-made, easily played...since 1983.

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Shooting Star Lacewood Bones Shooting Star Lacewood Bones

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Shooting Star Oak Bones Shooting Star Oak Bones

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Buckingham Grey slate musical stone bones Stone Bones, Grey Slate

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Whamdiddle African Blackwood Bones Whamdiddle African Blackwood Bones

Handcrafted by master luthier with graduate degree in Physics.

Whamdiddle Canary Bones Whamdiddle Canary Bones

Handcrafted by master luthier with graduate degree in Physics.

Whamdiddle Granadillo Bones Whamdiddle Granadillo Bones

Handcrafted by master luthier with graduate degree in Physics.

Whamdiddle Spalted Tanoak Bones Whamdiddle Spalted Tanoak Bones

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Specific Gravity Guide
SG (specific gravity)
Figures are approximate (but pretty darn close)

Tone Quality/SG
Mildest Tone 0-.49 SG
Milder Tone .50-.59 SG
Mild Tone .60-.69 SG
Medium Tone .70-.79 SG
Strong Tone .80-.89 SG
Stronger Tone .90-.99 SG
Strongest Tone 1.0+ SG (sinks in water)


SG/Substance