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Bridge pins for J-45?


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So, after reading a number of posts on this I'm considering trying out ebony or bone pins instead of the Tusq, but I'm curious about 3 things:

 

1. As far as tone, for those with a new J, do you prefer bone or ebony, and why?

 

2. As far as aesthetics, I know white (or off white) is the standard, but I've seen a couple of vintage J-45s with black and it's a pretty killer look.  Preferences, assuming tone is the same despite the color?

 

3. Am I correct that newer Gibsons use the standard size 1 now?

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Antiqued/aged bone in my J45.  The sound is fuller, richer and warmer than with the Tusc pins.  Love the tone with Martin Monel strings.  
can’t comment on the size question.  Mine are plain pins from LMI if I recall.  

rb

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As far as tone, aesthetics, and size goes there is nothing that beats bridge pins made out of fossilized whale penis. Master luthiers around the world wouldn't ever want you to insert anything lesser into your guitar.

Edited by Leonard McCoy
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Imvho, in general, less mass on the bridge = better tone. Again, imvho, bone and especially fossilized bone diminish tone. Of course, your mileage may vary. But there's a reason why Gibson, Martin, and others spec lightweight plastic bridge pins (and thin and light bridgeplates).

My favorites are the Antique Acoustic pins produced by extraordinary luthiers Will Henkes and Rudie Blazer. They have both the original molds for Gibson golden era bridge pins and tuner buttons and the original celluloid recipe.

Accept no substitute, again in mvho.

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I prefer Ebony pins only on my J-45 for tone.  They seem to make it growl a bit better and diminish the brightness just a tiny bit to my liking. I tried bone and did not like what sounded shrill to me and washed out growl of the deeper tones. Tusq, for me, like bone, made it ring to loudly and washed the growl away. It just depends on what your ears want to hear. While I DO like and prefer the white pin look on a Gibson J-45...they look great..but I definately prefer the deeper tone of the darker Ebony pins, and really those dark Ebony pins look pretty darn good on a J-45! I've switched back and forth many times, but always return to the Ebony pins for the rich tone my ears seem to get from them, particularly on a J-45. My Hummingbird is a much different story, on that I prefer the Tusq pins it came with for the rich light honey tone I love on a Hummingbird. The J-45 to me is a growler, deep and rich, not overflowing with trebs. The Hummingbird...well, its a Hummingbird and it sounds exactly as I think  it should sound with the tusq pins.

Edited by ALD323
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This is exactly the tone I'm going for, ALD323, which is why i'm thinking of the ebony pins.  Is there a certain brand you like?  I was looking at the Waverly on StewMac, but am open to whatever gets that growl (a term I've used before on here to greater and lesser effect).

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6 hours ago, egoidealmusic said:

So, after reading a number of posts on this I'm considering trying out ebony or bone pins instead of the Tusq, but I'm curious about 3 things:

1. As far as tone, for those with a new J, do you prefer bone or ebony, and why?

2. As far as aesthetics, I know white (or off white) is the standard, but I've seen a couple of vintage J-45s with black and it's a pretty killer look.  Preferences, assuming tone is the same despite the color?

3. Am I correct that newer Gibsons use the standard size 1 now?

Best advice is to try a bit of everything yourself. The answers here are already so varied and individual that no one would be able to steer by them.                                                                                                 Some say the harder pins, the better transmission, the more sound. I'm among them and fx use brass on the bass strings on several guitars. Soften up with horn, more with wood etc. . 

These things vary from person to person, perhaps from guitar to guitar and, , , maybe even from day to day. And why not have fun while experimenting on your own. 

4 hours ago, Leonard McCoy said:

As far as tone, aesthetics, and size goes there is nothing that beats bridge pins made out of fossilized whale penis. Master luthiers around the world wouldn't ever want to you to insert into your guitar anything lesser.

Then I'm afraid you haven't heard pins made from the upper skeleton of Mao Tse-tung. Especially the Chairman's ribs are considered highly valuable.                                                                                        They should offer a bi-flavor somewhere between a simple but clean willow whistle and a rolling river. 

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15 hours ago, jt said:

Imvho, in general, less mass on the bridge = better tone. Again, imvho, bone and especially fossilized bone diminish tone. Of course, your mileage may vary. But there's a reason why Gibson, Martin, and others spec lightweight plastic bridge pins (and thin and light bridgeplates).

My favorites are the Antique Acoustic pins produced by extraordinary luthiers Will Henkes and Rudie Blazer. They have both the original molds for Gibson golden era bridge pins and tuner buttons and the original celluloid recipe.

Accept no substitute, again in mvho.

I agree.  I bought a set of the Antique Acoustic pins for my '32 L1.  Still need to get a set for the '42 J50.  I am also planning on buying a set for my wife's 1960 J200.    

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19 hours ago, egoidealmusic said:

So, after reading a number of posts on this I'm considering trying out ebony or bone pins instead of the Tusq, but I'm curious about 3 things:

 

1. As far as tone, for those with a new J, do you prefer bone or ebony, and why?

 

2. As far as aesthetics, I know white (or off white) is the standard, but I've seen a couple of vintage J-45s with black and it's a pretty killer look.  Preferences, assuming tone is the same despite the color?

 

3. Am I correct that newer Gibsons use the standard size 1 now?

From Bob Colosi you would order size 2A. 

Installed plain white bone, on my J-45, & J-200.

http://www.guitarsaddles.com/

On my J-50, & Dove I installed Tusq. 

https://graphtech.com/pages/tusq-bridge-pins

I like both.

you can get Graphtech cheaper on eBay.

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I agree with jt's insight on this one.  I have guitar cases and drawers all over the  house with no longer used custom made bone bridge pins in them!  I'm always on the look out for small topped pins be they bone , ebony, rosewood , plastic or any material really.  The smaller the top and the less mass to the pin makes a difference I think I can hear on my guitars.

Edited by Hall
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19 hours ago, rbpicker said:

Antiqued/aged bone in my J45.  The sound is fuller, richer and warmer than with the Tusc pins.  Love the tone with Martin Monel strings.  
can’t comment on the size question.  Mine are plain pins from LMI if I recall.  

rb

I’m sold on the Monel strings too. The older they get the better they sound.

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14 hours ago, egoidealmusic said:

This is exactly the tone I'm going for, ALD323, which is why i'm thinking of the ebony pins.  Is there a certain brand you like?  I was looking at the Waverly on StewMac, but am open to whatever gets that growl (a term I've used before on here to greater and lesser effect).

I agree with you. I use Martin Ebony pins which I  bought from Guitar Center on my J-45. They cost a bit more, but are very well made, and will last a life time. Whats more is that the Martin Ebony pins fit like a glove directly on my J-45, with no modifications needed. A tight clean fit and can be pushed all the way in to the head with no problem so they fit flush and clean. I bought the Martin Ebony abalone pins, which have color but are still very subdued, they don't bash you over the head with color!  I think you can also get them in all back without the abalone or Mother of Pearl tips.  Let us know how it turns out! Hope this helps you! ...ALD

Edited by ALD323
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I like using wood bridge pins on all of my guitars on the simple premise that adding a little extra wood on the top can only help the guitar’s sound, even if only a little bit, as opposed to the unknown sound attributes of the other materials that are, of course, bridge pin options.

Just my perspective.

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

Edited by QuestionMark
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So I ended up ordering some ebony bridge pins from StewMac.  After putting them on, I really like how they've tamed  (or mellowed) the high end, but they seem to be muddying the low end--the attack is not as sharp. Overall it's a bit quieter than before which is fine as this thing is a cannon.   Am going to play for a few days to see what I think, but am wondering if using the original tusq pins on the low 3 and the ebony on the high 3 might get me exactly where I want to be.  Anyone tried a mix and match like this before, and if so what did you think?

 

Aesthetically, I love the look of the black so I'd likely order a set of black tusq to keep that consistent look.

Edited by egoidealmusic
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49 minutes ago, egoidealmusic said:

So I ended up ordering some ebony bridge pins from StewMac.  After putting them on, I really like how they've tamed  (or mellowed) the high end, but they seem to be muddying the low end--the attack is not as sharp. Overall it's a bit quieter than before which is fine as this thing is a cannon.   Am going to play for a few days to see what I think, but am wondering if using the original tusq pins on the low 3 and the ebony on the high 3 might get me exactly where I want to be.  Anyone tried a mix and match like this before, and if so what did you think?

Aesthetically, I love the look of the black so I'd likely order a set of black tusq to keep that consistent look.

There you go - been mixing pins for years now and it works perfectos for me. If you like the black/dark look then ordering black tusq is obviously is the path.                                                                                                                                               Tell us more when able, , , and remember bone'n'brass can be painted too.

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I decided to replace the tuning knobs on my J-45 with ebony to reduce the weight and for esthetic reasons and then went with Stewmac ebony w/ shell inserts for the matching look on the bridge pins. I can't say that the sound was altered in any discernable sense but the look and heft of the lighter tuning knobs is an improvement in my eyes and hands.

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7 hours ago, egoidealmusic said:

Those are gorgeous, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who make some choices based purely (or at least mostly) on aesthetics!

Would love to see a pic of that headstock!

No-no-no - a lot of us do that. I put golden waffle-back tulips on my Dove and aged oval Waverlys on my D-18. Made both guitars come home. 

So yes - a pic of the headstock would be good. Some of your own 45 including close-ups of the bridge also.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So in the name of an update, I've gone with (black) Tusq pins on the low 3 strings and ebony  pins (from StewMac) on the high 3, and I'm loving it so far.  I really like the ways the ebony pins setlled the high end down and made her warmer, but disliked the way that the ebony made the low end muddy, but I think this has really helped me find the right balance I'm looking for.  Still using the Martin Retro Monels (which I disliked at first but have eased into a really great sound) and feel like I'm really dialing in the sound I'm looking for.  Got some Sunbeam strings I'm going to try next time I change, but am really loving the tone right now.  Only complaint is the heads on the ebony pins are a good bit larger than the Tusq, but I know I'm the only one who would notice.  Thanks for all the thoughts, folks!

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I agree, my J45 seems to love monels once they’ve broken in.  Just switched to DAddario nickel bronze, and the jury is still out until they settle down.  First thing I did to my historic was slot the bridge and put in antique acoustic solid pins.  (Heresy, I know.).  Never looked back. I’d like to try ebony.  I’d avoid bone like the plague. 

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