So, what about Bridge Pins?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by specialidiot, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. specialidiot

    specialidiot most likely to seceede Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    I was made an offer on my Taylor 414ce that I almost accepted. So last night I decided to put a new set of strings on it and oil the fret board, then rededicate myself to spending more time with it.

    Now I'll admit that I'm a spacey guy, I misplace my wallet and/or keys at least a couple times a week. So I took great care with the bridge pins, set each one on a fresh sheet of printer paper as I removed it. Well part way into the operation someone came to the door and when I returned to my task one of the pins was missing. I've looked everywhere, it's just gone.

    I googled away and ordered a set with abalone dots from Sweetwater. In my search I found some cool hand carved pins, and pins made of bone but that's about it.

    Seems to me there should be a tgp thread here about the magic of custom carved bridge pins of various composition, with lengthy and heated discussion on the merits of each. I searched a bit and didn't find much here.

    What gives tgp?
     
  2. dazco

    dazco Member

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    2 things you should know about them..

    1)-different materials do sound different. The problem with asking about that is not everyone has hearing thats sensitive enough to tell, but they CAN make a very notable difference to those with acute hearing.

    2)-make sure the ones you get are the same size and taper as the stockers or you'll possibly run into 1 or more of several possible problems.

    That said i seem to find ebony sounds best of the maybe 5 types i tried. But never bone so i can't comment on that. Bone varies a lot too so that could mean some may sound good and others not. I probably wouldn't go cheap on them because i have noticed a lot of very cheap bone sets from overseas on ebay. Probably best to stay away from those.
     
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  3. OM Flyer

    OM Flyer Member

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    I like bone and ebony pins, but I've had guitars with plastic ones that sounded great. If you look at how little they contact the string and what their actual function is, their influence on tone has to be minimal. Brass ones, with their greater mass, may be the exception; I've never tried them.

    IMO, your choice of strings makes an exponentially bigger difference in tone than the bridge pin material.
     
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  4. Barnzy

    Barnzy Member

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    I also have a 414CE. I'm the original owner and it's been with me, as my number one acoustic since '98. I know this guitar better than I know my wife! And I have made several changes to it, each with varying effect on the sound. Changing the frets to SS really didn't offer too much overall tonal change to the instrument. Changing the saddle and nut from tusq to bone made a very big tonal change of more clarity and sustain. But I didn't hear too much difference when I installed bone bridge pins from the stock ebony ones. I believe I have a good ear for this stuff too...I can hear string brand/alloy composition differences, tube differences in amps and opamp differences in pedal circuits. But the bridge pin swap didn't really change the tone of my 414CE in any considerable way.
     
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  5. Barnzy

    Barnzy Member

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    ...also, as mentioned...don't just stick any bridge pin in that bridge. Pins come in different tapers, have a collar or don't, and come slotted or unslotted. You have to use the right pin or else redo the holes in your bridge for the different taper.
     
  6. DanR

    DanR Member

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    I replaced the plastic bridge pins on my two Martins, one with water buffalo horn and the other with bone. Both of the replacement sets also had abalone inlays. I replaced the pins because the plastic ones just seemed cheap and I preferred the aesthetics of the new ones. I did not hear a difference in tone after the replacements.
     
  7. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

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    Two rules for me ... add no additional mass to the bridge, don't buy into any claims of better tone. I have guitars with plastic, bone, and ebony pins. They all work.
     
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  8. Skub

    Skub Member

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    Same thing happened me a while back. You wanna know where the little blighter was?

    Stuck in the treads on one of my boots!

    Check yer boots,man.
     
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  9. riffmeister

    riffmeister Member

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    What about bridge pins?

    Yeah, I like them and use them. The guitar just does not sound the same without them!
     
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  10. slugworth

    slugworth Member

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    Yes they do sound different. It's not a huge deal, but if you are recording acoustic guitars, especially fingerstyle, then there can be a noticeable difference.

    I have tried a lot of different brodge pins, but I stopped short of the expensive fossilized stuff. In comparing with plastic pins, ebony pins give a warmer, darker sound. Bone pins give a brighter sound. Brass pins caused ringing I didn't like.

    My pins of choice are buffalo horn on the top 3 strings and Graph Tech "Tusq" on the bottom 3 strings. Buffalo horn sounds very similar to bone but I prefer the dark look in an ebony bridge. Bright sound with great sustain. Tusq is a more balanced sound, great all-around. I like it for the lower 3 strings because it brings out the lows more than bone but doesn't accentuate the high frequencies like bone.

    If you want nice pins but don't want to spend a lot of money, then I would recommend the Graph Tech ones. They make pins specifically sized for Taylor guitars, they don't cost a lot of money, they are a definite upgrade sound-wise over stock plastic pins, and they come in several different cosmetic options.
     
  11. Barnzy

    Barnzy Member

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    Taylors come with stock ebony pins...not plastic. Thanks for the tip on Graphtech pins though....

    edit...just read that Baby through 200 series use plastic...just learned something new!
     
  12. Seorie

    Seorie Member

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    "So, what about Bridge Pins?"
    they’re for pinning the strings in the bridge holes, (unless you have a string through bridge).:D
    If you play a note or chord and let it sustain to let you hear thee sustain and tone like a lot of demonstrators do on youtube
    you may be able to detect subtle differences - bearing in mind that many top makers work they bridges to weight down to the gram.
    They dont do it for no reason - they know it makes a difference, throw some 'heavy' pins on such a bridge and you'll hear a difference.
    I'd postulate that different string sets and 'tone production' from your picking would be much more noticeable to the extent that they'd
    override most 'pins'
    But in the real world when your playing the cocktail of overlapping sequences of sustaining notes - eh - no.
    I have a guitar with a string through bridge and when I'm playing - guess what - with MY string choice and picking -it sounds like ME playing on any of my guitars !.
    Oh, I did lightly 'tape' six bone pins to my Lowden (string through) bridge and didn't heat the slightest difference :eek:
    PS I like the plastic pins with the abalone dot that came on my Bourgeois, I think the 'dot' adds something to the sound but I'm not quite sure what - , helluva pins, I like it
     
  13. specialidiot

    specialidiot most likely to seceede Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks everyone for your responses. Since they aren't too expensive, I ordered plain ebony from Amazon and ebony with abalone inserts from Sweetwater. Still waiting for delivery....

    DanR I get the aesthetics angle, for an additional $3 I got the inlays.

    OM Flyer I'm using Elixer Polyweb original coating, 80/20 bronze right now. I'm always open to suggestions.
     
  14. TheoDog

    TheoDog Silver Supporting Member

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    Bridge pins have effect on tone like nut materials effect tone on fretted (or capoed) notes. I'm not saying they do or don't effect tone. But so much more of the tone is from the speaking vibrational length of the string from saddle to nut/fret.
    A reason to upgrade is to ensure solid install of the strings with minimal movement. Plastic pins degrade quickly.
     
  15. teledude55

    teledude55 Supporting Member

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    I put some Bone Bridge pins on my J-45 and it seemed to get a lot more sustain. I like them. You have to be careful with them when changing strings though, they will break easy.
     
  16. specialidiot

    specialidiot most likely to seceede Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    LOL just caught this, thanks.

    I suspect one of our two cats grabbed it but I've looked all over.

    Regardless a new set of OEM Taylor ebony pins came today and I got that e installed finally. ;)

    I'll use the abalone inlay ones I have coming on my GS Mini since those are plastic.
     
  17. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

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    I had to replace the pins on my Martin D-16GT because a couple of the original ones got messed up. I ended up buying some tusq ones because that's what they had at Sam Ash, and I was actually surprised that they changed the tone of the guitar. Seems a bit brighter and more balanced across the strings now.
     
  18. Edmond

    Edmond Member

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    I can tell they took away some of the treble and added some bass when I went from plastic to ebony pins on my D-18 with adi top. I did not change strings along with the bridge pin change.
     
  19. GGinMP

    GGinMP Silver Supporting Member

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    Check out Bob Colosi for nice handmade pins.
     
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  20. Barnzy

    Barnzy Member

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    ...and saddles too. I like his bone saddle in my guitar better than the wave compensated bone saddle I ordered from Taylor. I have his pins too. He does great work.
     
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