Do bridge pins really change a guitar's tone?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by FluffyDog6, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. clintj

    clintj Friend of Leo's

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    I've seen discussions of using the different weights of pins to subtly tune the top of the guitar. Some guitars suffer from a dead note around F# or even B caused by interference between the frequencies of the note and the top vibrating (a "wolf tone"). Adding or subtracting mass can help here; it certainly did with one of my guitars. My Yamaha had a weird overtone on the open B string when new, and the same note played on other strings. Changing to heavier bone pins cleared up the problem.

    I usually switch out plastic pins as part of the initial setup for my acoustics anyway. Bone is more durable.
     
  2. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I sense a difference going from plastic to wood or bone, but probably only discernible by the player.
     
  3. chezdeluxe

    chezdeluxe Poster Extraordinaire

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    From my perspective the player's satisfaction is the most important element. Until the audience tells me otherwise, and in an amplified gig that's up for debate.
     
  4. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's important to consider that bridge pins come in various tapers, mainly 3-degree and 5-degree so you need to know that you're replacing the pin with one that will fit properly. Guitar shops tend to carry Martin branded sets (complete with an extra pin if you lose one and a matching strap button) that are 5-degree taper. StewMac sells galalith ivoroid pins that are very nicely made. You can get bone or ebony pins from Luthier's Mercantile International in 3 or 5 degree taper. Tusq pins are also available. Bone, wood, plastic, brass, synthetic ivory - there are cosmetic and tonal reasons to try different pins.

    Yes. They make a difference but I wouldn't want to generalize because in some guitars you might not notice any change.

    Of course the cosmetic change is enough of a reason for some people, but consider also that harder materials are more durable, and there's nothing sadder than chewed up plastic pins that allow the string balls to damage the bridge plate.
     
  5. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I have a guitar where the bridge pins are specific to a string.

    Does that make any difference whatsoever? I have no idea.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
  6. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    You mean different kinds of pins, or just different pins of then same kind? I use different specific pins for specific strings, becuase I have cut the grooves deeper in the pins for the lower strings so that they don't jam. Also, I have one guitar with three brass pins on the treble side, for added mass, and three wood pins on the bass side. I did this by trial and error, for tonal reasons. I think that the Martin Martin Carthy model is like that, and I have read about other examples. I don't know whether there is any point in getting any more sophisticated than distribution of mass, but something like bone on the bass side and wood on the treble might have a noticeable effect on tone.
     
  7. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Different pins of the same kind.

    I think it may be to cause less trauma to the sub plate on the underside of the bridge.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
  8. oldmark

    oldmark Tele-Holic

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    When I took the pick guard off my Les Paul Trad Pro P90, it improved the tone considerably, too...No, really...;)

    I use bone pins with abalone inserts in all my acoustic Epiphones because I got them cheap and they look nice.
     
  9. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Had an old REAL Epiphone Texan that had a bone nut and pins.

    Yes, I do believe it made a difference, but it was one heck of a guitar in all ways - so I could be wrong.JMHO
     
  10. Doctorx33

    Doctorx33 Tele-Afflicted

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    Or the strings.
     
  11. Lies&Distortion

    Lies&Distortion Tele-Afflicted

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    That's along the lines of what I was thinking - when you changed pins did you also change strings? Seems like that could confound things.

    But I am speculating and do not even own an acoustic guitar.
     
  12. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire

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    To some degree or another. You're own ears will tell you much. Might get more harmonics, might get a rounder, louder sound, and you might get a more lifeless frequency response....as you will whenever you change material type and density of what sits between your strings and your guitar body and neck

    Common sense oughta tell ya something along those lines.
     
  13. TeleRooo

    TeleRooo TDPRI Member

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    YES!!! Only if they are special expensive TONEWOOD bridge pins...........:cool::cool::cool:;)
     
  14. Jim W

    Jim W Friend of Leo's

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    My understanding is that the original Gibson Everly Brother guitars did not use pins, but holes through the bridge. You would not have worry about dropping the bridge pin on a dark stage. Regardless I sure wish I had one of those original EB guitars.
     
  15. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Have you compared the grooves? it's possible that the pins for the fatter wound strings have a wider, deeper, or longer groove. You might also notice that the "ramps" or angled grooves (if there are any) in the bridge pin holes are different for each string. Once again it's an issue of how the pin fits - which is essential - as opposed to the material (which I believe can also make a difference but not if it doesn't fit right).

    And BTW it's called the "bridge plate" and yes it can get chewed up if the bridge pins are worn or if they don't fit properly.
     
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