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Bridge Pin Bingo


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Recent, newfound clarity in mic'd recordings has directed me towards some annoying resonances. Not show stopping, but simple enough to fix in the form of loose bridge pins. Mine on the SJ-200 have been loose since day-1. The high-E and B positions drop in way too easily, and have an annoying resonances buzzing thing even when height at the 12th is raised to 5/64th. Compared to the hummingbird, they have that ill-advised tilt back towards the head-stock. Sooo, off to the races.

The stock pins measure .2075 - .2090. The taper angle is 3 degrees. My Hummingbird's pins range match.

So long story later - it turns out that the .210 size is still far too loose in my SJ. A late Google search that ended up back on this forum and a 7-year old thread revealed someone stating that the bigger sized 2A pins at .220" have been what his recent Gibsons have taken. I try one from my Martin D-41. Darn near perfect. Might have been perfect if not so out of round. I relayed the info back to Mr Colosi and now I have a set of the bigger 2A pins coming my way. 

The .210 pins I got last week will go into the Hummingbird, which does use that size a lot better than the SJ does. I'll take my biggest new .220 size and try it in a suspect position on the Martin where the pins seats lower than the others. If it's just a faulty pin size issue, I'll end up getting a set for the D-41, too.

The funniest thing did happen after installing the new pins on the SJ. Although undersized as they still are, they were .0015 to .0025 bigger than stock, and the E-B positions are .0035 bigger. The resonances were largley reduced from the E-B strings, yes, but the whole guitar seemed different in a tighter, more responsive way. I was not expecting that in the least. I know there is great debate out there about bridge pin changes and tone change/no change. I don't want to start a riot, but there was a change. I've read that undersized pins can cause tone issues, and that is what I'm calling this at this point in time.


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I own 5 Gibson acoustic dating from 1994 to 2016.  It seems to me that there are at least subtle differences in the bridge pin fit on all of them.  Do they ream these by hand?  My solution if I wanted to change has been to order slightly large and then sand down to a snug fit.  

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13 hours ago, J185cat said:

I own 5 Gibson acoustic dating from 1994 to 2016.  It seems to me that there are at least subtle differences in the bridge pin fit on all of them.  Do they ream these by hand?  My solution if I wanted to change has been to order slightly large and then sand down to a snug fit.  

I don't know anything about that process. I imagine at some point that there should be a human somewhere in the process doing his/her best effort to make sure that the pin and tapered hole fit perfectly. Wood changes with a little age, maybe? 

4 hours ago, Holiday Hoser said:

If I get one too loose when changing strings

l put a damp paper towel in there for a few minutes snugs 'em right up

a little spit will fix most things said my late father

I never would have thought of that solution. Makes sense, and extreme small amounts of moisture on occasion shouldn't hurt long term(?).

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I really am trying to keep this short and sweet. It's not working. Sorry!       I really am. Hokey Dokey - The newest, thickest pins are in the SJ, and the first pins I had purchased moved to the Bird. To recap, both guitars had the same sized pins, but were under-sized. The SJ had an additional issue of oversized bridge pin holes that ended up taking a .220. I think I should point out that I had recently re-read some pretty firm statements online and in Dan Erlewine's book on the proper fitment of bridge pins, bridge condition and their importance for good tone, noise impact and even effects on playability.  I had some noises that were quite annoying and increasingly obvious, so why not explore. 

So , how did it end up?

SJ - The SJ's improvement was noticeable in terms of playability, solidness in overall tone and in reduction in the B and E string buzzing. The geometry changed in a measurable manner, which was baffling. What was surprising was how much better this guitar sounded afterwards. It's just a deeper tone, and I don't feel like I'm over-powering a plectrum through the strings like it used to. I had always worked to keep this one in optimal playing condition. I think that job just got easier. I later I changed the strings to a new set of D'Add NBs. The warmth of this pairing with the improved clarity is nice. I am VERY tempted to take the UST out again, put in the taller saddle and see what this guitar sounds like with brighter strings.

Hummingbird - This one baffles me. It was always the prettiest sounding of my small, high-quality acoustic collection. It's always been the hardest to put up. It took less effort than the SJ to keep it in great playing order. It was never a cannon, which is not a bad thing. That said, and as described in this thread, the Cleartone EQs  that I had been trying out were just plain noisy. I put the proper sized .210s pins in it is now that cannon - and with far less noise. (?) The Cleartone EQs increased volume thing became real. I'll describe it more in that thread. I guess these threads can be one now. The feel of the strings is very solid as was the case with the SJ.

The bottom line on this pin journey FOR ME is that it is a very real issue.   The book and articles to that end were on target for mine. That improper pin fitment has many effects on a guitar. A nice, cheap(ish) improvement. I will no longer brush off and ignore loose fitting bridge pins. I feel like I fixed issues with the SJ, and that I just enhanced the 'bird into a different stratosphere. These are guitars that played and sounded far better than the vast majority of higher end wall jobs at the local guitar stores. These were not duds. This Hummingbird, especially, might just be in that class of "special". Time will tell. I need to track this one again. 🙂 


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