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Dennis G

Bone bridge pins?

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So thinking out loud here...I have a Masterbilt AJ500M, and it has a bone nut and saddle, but as near as I can tell, the bridge pins are plastic. Any noticeable difference in anything if I upgrade or should I just leave well enough alone?

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I usually change all mine out for genuine ebony.

 

Does it make any real difference? Some swear it does. Me? I just like to change them out for ebony.

 

How's that? No help whatsoever, right?

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Bridge pins are, in my experience, a lot of fun. Sometimes I change 'em for the sake of appearance: add or subtract bling, coordinate with my twisted sense of visual aesthetics, and such. Most often, the change does nothing for or against tone quality or volume. Again, in my experience, there are exceptions and, when they happen, they are significant. I do not believe that stock plastic pins are the great Satan. Badly WORN plastic pins are on the path to exacerbating problems with tone, though. The wear that counts most is where the string's ball end meets the pin. A thusly worn pin lets the ball end chew into the bridge plate at an above normal rate and you're on the way to problems. Enter the bone bridge pin: install a set early on, and you postpone eventual problems since bone will wear more slowly than plastic. I wouldn't expect an improvement, but you'll keep the original sound lots longer. In the event that your bridge plate has some erosion, but hasn't split or come to the point of needing replaced, my top suggestion for bridge pins is brass. They have given me a threefold improvement on several of my older acoustic guitars. First, the volume improves. Second, the tone gets a boost. Third, string response becomes more even (dead string problem disappears). If the brass pins don't do the job, installing a brass Plate Mate usually will. That failing, it's time for a trip to the luthier. Thanks for bearing with me through this long-winded diatribe. Hope some part of it's helpful!

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Go with bone. A guitar (and its sound) is the sum of its parts, and the better you can make the parts, the better the sound. That said, bridge pins are a bit down the list of things that make for a good guitar -- wood choice and quality of craftsmanship would be at the top -- but they still can make a difference and bone will probably always be better than plastic.

 

I've got camel bone pins on my IB'64 Texan, and it sounds better with them than with the plastic ones it came with.

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Thanks all for the replies. I think I'll be changing them out in the near future. Diverden, thanks for the link. I learned a lot from that website.

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Go with bone. A guitar (and its sound) is the sum of its parts, and the better you can make the parts, the better the sound. That said, bridge pins are a bit down the list of things that make for a good guitar -- wood choice and quality of craftsmanship would be at the top -- but they still can make a difference and bone will probably always be better than plastic.

 

I've got camel bone pins on my IB'64 Texan, and it sounds better with them than with the plastic ones it came with.

 

To begin with, I know (because I owned one) that the Texan is a nice guitar. But if a guitar is the sum of its parts, surely the wood is the starting place. Putting bone pins on a part laminate guitar comes no where close to starting with an all solid guitar. It brings to mind the old saying about silk purses and sows ears!

PS I don't think pins make any difference at all really,

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PS I don't think pins make any difference at all really,

 

Hard to say. But I sure like the fossilized walrus ivory pins that came on my RAVS Masterbilt, which does have a great sound. [thumbup]

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Hard to say. But I sure like the fossilized walrus ivory pins that came on my RAVS Masterbilt, which does have a great sound. [thumbup]

I have a set of FWI pins purchased from Elderly a few years ago and they are wonderful. The price, however, is their drawback. Realistically, bone is likely just as good.

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I've changed some of mine out to Tusq and like them. Don't know if they sound any better, but I do like the dot or MOP look depending on the guitar I'm sticking them into.

 

On some of my guitars & I do like the SOUND of Tusq better than bone for a saddle however. Ring nice, clear clean, crisp. Bone more muted and midrange only IMHO.

 

Aster

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PS I don't think pins make any difference at all really,

But they sure look b itchin' don't they? LOL. Kind of like a Bigsby on an electric, you like 'em or you don't. For the few bucks involved, I think I'll take the plunge.

 

Thanks all.

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I've changed some of mine out to Tusq and like them. Don't know if they sound any better, but I do like the dot or MOP look depending on the guitar I'm sticking them into.

 

On some of my guitars & do like the SOUND of Tusq better than bone for a saddle however. Ring nice, clear clean, crisp. Bone more muted and midrange only IMHO.

 

Aster

This gets me wondering if a Tusq saddle would result in a change (careful not to say improvement - I do not wish to offend fans of the 'mellow' or, to my ear, 'mashed potato' sound) of similar nature in a mahogany top guitar like the Martin D-15.

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To begin with, I know (because I owned one) that the Texan is a nice guitar. But if a guitar is the sum of its parts, surely the wood is the starting place. Putting bone pins on a part laminate guitar comes no where close to starting with an all solid guitar. It brings to mind the old saying about silk purses and sows ears!

PS I don't think pins make any difference at all really,

 

I think my post made clear that bridge-pin material was down the list of things that make for a good-sounding guitar. That said, all other things being equal, a guitar with laminated sides will probably not sound significantly different from a guitar with solid-wood sides. And I say that as someone whose other two acoustics are all-solid wood guitars handmade by independent luthiers, and someone who has owned plenty of all-solid wood guitars in the past. Since the IB'64 Texan has a solid top and back, if you stuck solid sides on it -- again, with all other things being equal -- the guitar is not going to sound a lot different. The type and thickness of the finish probably has more of an impact on sound, and that is why I had the poly finish on my Texan sanded down. The before-and-after sounds were quite different, with the "after" being much better.

 

But don't take my word for it. Take the word of Antonio de Torres, the great luthier who once built a classical out of a solid top and papier mache(!) back and sides. His work demonstrated that the top and bracing were the important considerations for sound, not the sides or back.

http://luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10101&t=16981&p=241743&hilit=papier+mache#p241743

 

But since Torres is dead, you could ask Bob Taylor, whose company once built 25 guitars out of wood from pallets(!) to prove his contention that design and build quality were just as important (if not more so) than wood choice. http://www.guitaradventures.com/taylor-pallet-guitar-story

 

And while bridge pins alone will not turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, they will, generally speaking, bring an improvement. There are lots of players who will attest that the right pins will affect tone, resonance and/or sustain.

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If I replace the nut and saddle, I like to replace the bridge pins with matching ones just for appearance sake.

 

...otherwise, I am not much of a fan of using bone for the bridge pins...there are some who have cracked their bridge with the hard bone pins when they inserted them with too much force or when humidity changes caused the wooden bridge to shrink.

 

I do replace my factory plastic bridge pins with ebony pins and have MOP dots added if I like the look on that particular guitar, but IMHO pin replacements are strictly appearance related, I have never heard any definitive difference in sound and I've been at it for 50 years with this 6-stringed box now.

 

Bone Saddle....MOST important!

 

Bone Nut...important for longevity, because the wound steel strings can act as a "rat-tailed file" in the nut slots when you tune the guitar up, wearing the slots down over time in a plastic nut. That will never happen with a bone nut.

 

Colosi's products are first class...he has a lot of different bridge pins available. When I contracted with Breedlove for my custom shop 000 Revival, I specifically insisted that I provide all the "group" (saddle, nut, pins, tailpin and strap button for the neck) so that I would get Colosi's "West African Hard Ivory". It's a lifetime product!

 

Cheers!

 

Dugly B)

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So thinking out loud here...I have a Masterbilt AJ500M, and it has a bone nut and saddle, but as near as I can tell, the bridge pins are plastic. Any noticeable difference in anything if I upgrade or should I just leave well enough alone?

 

I also have the aj500m and installed bone bridge pins. The guitar seems to have a little better sustain with mine. Try it and I think you will like it.

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I also have the aj500m and installed bone bridge pins. The guitar seems to have a little better sustain with mine. Try it and I think you will like it.

Thx. Just put new strings on, but I think next string change I'll take it to my luthier for a pin change and setup. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I'm sure it won't hurt.

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