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Up grading is it really worth it Acoustic pins saddle nut

#1 User is offline   Richie321 

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 03:57 PM

After experimenting
With bone bridge pins then tusq then ebony ive come to the conclusion
That is it really worth it to change pins nut and bridge saddle??
Dont get me wrong there is a small difference in tone. With bone and tusq
But is it a big enough difference to change out the plastic parts .and my Conclusion is no. The way i see it if you have a great guitar with a great tone it.ll sound good as it is and to change things is taking away its original tone
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#2 User is offline   duluthdan 

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 04:51 PM

My son loves the tusk parts on hIs j-35. He swapped out the saddle with an extra bone saddle I have, and almost immediately reversed back to the Tusq. Better is in the ear of the beholder I suppose, but his ears, and mine, agreed that the switch to bone did not do anything positive on that guitar.
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#3 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:21 PM

I still maintain that all acoustic guitars are inherently female. Each is lovely in its own special way, no two are identical, some respond happily to one overture while others may differ completely in a variety of subtle and engagng ways. Most become sweeter with age and care and experience. The delicate patina of time far surpasses the beauty of early bloom. So, regarding bridge pins.... Sometimes they just don't matter. The guitar makes its own choice, no matter what we'd like to believe, and what the guitar prefers can be just as mystifying or confounding - depending on your perspective - as the preference of ladies for one thing above another. I have yet to experience a guitar that liked Tusq, but I'll accept the preference if and when it happens. My guitars favor plastic in some cases, ebony or bone or brass in others. I have a set of fossil mammoth ivory in reserve, just in case a lady with that preference should come my way. Somehow, I can't think of pins in terms of upgrades. It's more a matter of providing the guitar with what it likes best.
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#4 User is offline   MissouriPicker 

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 07:28 PM

Don't think I've ever swapped-out the bridge pins in any guitar I've owned. Definitely not in any of my Gibsons and definitely have never changed a bridge, saddle, or tuners (except for a broken one on a J150). If the guitar doesn't sound good when I first check it out, I won't buy it to begin with. And if it already sounds good, why would I change it? Of course, lots of people change things around on their guitars and they think the change is definitely positive. That works well for them. For myself, changing strings every nine months to a year (sometimes year-and-a-half) is about the extent of my "changing." I've heard a lot of great-sounding guitars that don't have any bone on them. Heard some great sounding ones that do have bone on them. Just do what works for you.
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I like the idea of guitars being female. Likely true. Some want a boob job to be their best. Others are happy with themselves as they are. Either way, they're great. [thumbup] [thumbup]
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#5 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 08:59 PM

Are we speaking of guitars or boobs? ☺😄😂😅😋
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#6 User is offline   NCtom 

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 09:10 PM

I am an inveterate tinkerer with all my guitars; I change saddles and pins to bone. On my -35, after I removed the under-saddle pickup and all it's gear, slotted the bridge and used bone pins. Tonight I replaced the pins with unslotted white Galalith pins from Stewmac and was pleasantly surprised. It looks vintage as all get out and sounds a little crisper . I may rethink automatically replacing everything with bone.
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#7 User is offline   dhanners623 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 12:20 AM

Swapping out things like saddles and nuts and bridge pins are (for the most part) easily reversible changes. Swapped out the plastic bridge pins on my J-35 with camel bone because I just don't like plastic. I'm thinking of swapping out the Tusq saddle this summer when I'm back in the U.S. I'll leave the Tusq nut as-is because it works fine and I don't think a properly slotted nut contributes as much to tone and playability as the saddle does.

Of course we buy guitars that sound great. That doesn't mean they can't sound "better" (subjective, I know) with a simple tweak or two.
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#8 User is offline   Richie321 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 02:17 AM

This is a post i found on another forum. I tend to think he has a point

A few days I posted to say that I had found that after putting bone bridge pins into my Yamaha FG-360, the tone had become harsh and brittle, almost as if the guitar had been EQ'd with an upper mid shelf, throwing the whole original, beautiful, warm tonal characteristics into chaos. The previously lush, warm, lower mids and bass - the 'body' - just seemed to disappear. It sounded 'clanky'. Wade said that that was the reason why he tended to prefer plastic pins, because they retain the original characteristics of the instrument by not adding or changing the tone - hope I've not misquoted you there Wade. By that time I had already swapped the bone pins for ebony ones and I much preferred the sound. Though there was still a nagging feeling that all was not quite right; not how I remembered it to be. So, tonight I put the original plastic pins back in. And - you guessed it, the sound is much warmer, bigger and generally more toneful. Yet you would think that adding a few higher end harmonics by using wooden or even bone pins would be beneficial. Well, obviously we're not just talking about a few harmonics, we're talking about fundamental changes to the overall tonal signature of the guitar. This is not the first time I have experienced this, it happened recently on my Epiphone 'J45' copy with solid top. So for me, the moral is, play around with bridge pins - ie deviating from stock - at your peril. I am talking about a really noticeable negative effect here. Just so glad that the reaming I had to do to put in the new pins was not sufficient to stop me putting the plastic ones back in. Phew. But a great experiment if you want to try it - just don't ream anything so much that you cannot return to stock.
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#9 User is online   blindboygrunt 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 02:31 AM

As many who say bone pins improved it ,say goin back to plastic pins improved it , some hear no difference at all

I'm tending I think that sometimes a plastic pin just fits better than the bone ones that were purchased
Or vide versa.

Or folk hear what they want to hear
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#10 User is offline   Richie321 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 03:57 AM

 blindboygrunt, on 20 May 2017 - 02:31 AM, said:

As many who say bone pins improved it ,say goin back to plastic pins improved it , some hear no difference at all

I'm tending I think that sometimes a plastic pin just fits better than the bone ones that were purchased
Or vide versa.

Or folk hear what they want to hear
i agree about plastic pins fit better than bone i think better than tusq as well i put some tusq in that did fit ok but seemed to strougle pulling out they were sanded a fraction but were a little hard to pull out.plastic came out no problem
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#11 User is offline   Victory Pete 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 05:31 AM

All my acoustics have unbleached bone saddles and bone pins. I even went so far as to put a 5 degree taper to the factory straight holes. I have Gibsons and Martins. In every case each modification had improved the volume and tone. My fleet of guitars have never sounded so good. Old strings now will sound better for a longer period of time as the efficiency of sound transmission has increased. The guitars basically are more loud and clear than they ever had been.
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#12 User is offline   62burst 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 06:35 AM

Depends on the guitar. Maybe if you have a guitar that's overly bright (not mentioning any names), going to the plastic pins (or even rose' on certain strings) might tone things down a bit. Trying to make your Gibson into a Martin?

Who knows, maybe the cheap plastic pins are part of the recipe for the Gibson Thump.

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#13 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 06:46 AM

 62burst, on 20 May 2017 - 06:35 AM, said:

Depends on the guitar. Maybe if you have a guitar that's overly bright (not mentioning any names), going to the plastic pins (or even rose' on certain strings) might tone things down a bit. Trying to make your Gibson into a Martin?

Who knows, maybe the cheap plastic pins are part of the recipe for the Gibson Thump.


Depends on the guitar.... EXACTLY!
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#14 User is offline   fortyearspickn 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 06:50 AM

I've found bone pins with the little abalone inset sound much better than plain bone pins. I put the darker abalone ones in the EAD slots to give them that extra thump.
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#15 User is offline   ksdaddy 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 07:10 AM

If I'm dissatisfied with the shape/size of a saddle or the layout of a nut, I'll make my own with bone blanks. No idea what animal they're from. There is one guitar in my arsenal that has a cheap plastic nut and saddle. If anything were a candidate for an upgrade in the traditional sense, that would be it! However I'm very happy with the tone as it is, so nothing will get changed unless either gets damaged somehow.

Come to think of it, I refretted this thing back in 2005 and didn't have any bone blanks on hand so I took a piece of crap plastic nut out of the junk drawer and shimmed it up until it fit as a temporary measure, until I got some nut blanks.

"temporary measure" lol...

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#16 User is offline   Victory Pete 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 07:54 AM

View Postfortyearspickn, on 20 May 2017 - 06:50 AM, said:

I've found bone pins with the little abalone inset sound much better than plain bone pins. I put the darker abalone ones in the EAD slots to give them that extra thump.


I use nothing but Waverly bone pins with abalone dots, yes they do sound so much better, they have that extra sparkle I have been looking for. As for the darker bone pins, I stay clear of those as it makes my guitars sound too dark. I am going to have a set of bone pins made with diamond centers, I may have to settle for zircon though, as I am on a budget.
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#17 User is offline   vacamartin 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 08:17 AM

Different builds produce different tones. The plastic pins might just be transferring the string vibration to the plate better than any other pins? Nothing "wrong" with plastic or Tusq ....most novices don't even know what's on their acousticPosted Image
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#18 User is offline   Buc McMaster 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 08:28 AM

View PostRichie321, on 19 May 2017 - 03:57 PM, said:

.......is it really worth it to change pins nut and bridge saddle??


For the cost of said items, it seems a relatively inexpensive experiment for those that like to tinker. Every guitar is an individual (be they male or female, Cowboy!) and as such respond differently to changes at the ends of the string bed. Some are dramatically changed, others show no audible difference at all. Much like trying out different strings, nut/saddle/pin swaps are experiments that only the owner of the instrument can evaluate........what works for some does nothing for others.

.....and I think my J-45 would take exception to being called a female. Fat, brash and aggressive......all man.
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#19 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 10:09 AM

Could be true, Buc. On the other end, it could be experiencing a gender crisis😱 Either way, as long as it sounds good!
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#20 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 11:08 AM

I quite like Boxwood or Ebony pins. They add a smidgen of smoothness, like adding a teaspoon of yogurt to a pot of chilli.

I had Buffalo horn pins in my old Recording King RNJ25, which didn't change the sound a jot but looked nicer than the stock plastic. Bone saddle in there.

Both my Gibson Jumbos came to me with bone pins, my SJ200 which I bought new and my '41 Reissue SJ100 which I bought secondhand. I wonder if Gibson fit bone pins as stock to these? Seems odd that both had identical bone pins. The 200 has a Tusq saddle, the 100 Bone. I'm considering boning the saddle (!) of my 200 before long for comparison's sake, plus it's a road dog of a guitar and the harder wearing bone saddle would need less fettling to remove string indentations over time.

My Dove has stock plastic pins and Tusq nut and saddle. It sounds like sad night-time bells and citrus fruit. Not changing a thing there!

My '67 J45 has Ebony pins, bone nut and a Tusq saddle which are perfect for it.

My L-1 style early EL-00 has bone pins, bone nut and Tusq saddle. A bit of a grab-bag of bits but lovely sounding little thing.

My IB '64 Texan has plastic pins, bone nut and Tusq saddle. Absolute cannon!

I think saying "all bone" or "all Tusq" is a real eggs/basket scenario. I think the best course of action is to try everything and see what combo works for each guitar.
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