Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

Strings - Nut - Saddle - Pins - They are essential to TONE!


nodehopper
 Share

Recommended Posts

I agree with everything nodehopper (the OP) said eleven years ago.

Personally, I have found that monel strings sound best on my J-45, even the Martin ones!

Unless you are trying to shred on the J-45 like a horse's ***, I believe the heavier the strings, the better. 12's minimum.

StewMac prices are crap.

Bob Colosi is to whom your business should go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i agree that in my limited experimentation that saddle and bridge pins do effect tone. I tried a bone saddle, ebony and bone bridge pins on my 09 songwriter and immediately swapped them back out for their tusq counterparts

i know im in the minority here but the tusq serves the sweet brightness on my sitka/rosewood/ebony SW much better (to my ear) than the bone and ebony components. I instantly heard a dulling or mellowing of the highs and a more prominent mid range

im also in the minority as it seems that there is no songwriter discussion in here!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/31/2010 at 2:13 PM, nodehopper said:

Ok...To start off. I personally change the saddle and pins on all my guitars from the factory plastic to bone. I believe bone saddle/pins/nut do enhance the sound of my guitars and is a fairly low cost/low risk upgrade. (A little bit of MOP inlay on the pins can also give a little bling). Saddle and pins are something anyone can DYI, cutting and installing the nut is probably something for a good guitar tech to do for you and should be under $100

 

A couple resources for this upgrade, but not limited to, would include:

 

StewMac Saddles

 

StewMac Pins

 

Bob Colosi Custom Saddles and Pins

 

Frets.com Steel String Guitar Users Manual has lots of info on saddles, pins etc.

 

As far as strings go here is some basic info:

 

Quick primer on strings

 

 

I personally prefer coated strings such as:

 

D'Addario EXP Coated 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

 

Martin SP Lifespan Phosphor Bronze Coated Acoustic Guitar Strings

 

While many here love Elixer strings ...I am personally not a fan. YMMV

 

Coated strings last longer and some will reduce finger squeak a bit. Purists believe the coating reduces tone or some people tend to change strings so often the extra cost for coated strings doesn't make sense.

 

And for small delicate guitars I love Newtone Heritage Acoustic Guitar Strings

(They are designed to have a reduced and virtually equal tension on each string.)

 

My general thoughts on string selection.

 

If you have a guitar that is naturally loud and bright go with Phosphor Bronze strings to bring some extra sweetness and complexity to its sound.

 

If you have a guitar that is a little on the quiet side or needs a boost in treble use 80/20 strings.

 

Two properties of strings that have a lot of influence on sound are string gauge and string tension.

 

Generally the larger the gauge the greater the tension, but not always. A couple websites like Just Strings have some information on string tension for a few of the strings they sell and it can be very interesting. Some manufacturers have the info on their websites. I wish this info was more easily available.

 

I would say the average steel string guitar player uses what are called "lights". Lights are also called 12's because generally that is the gauge of the high "E"string, but buyer beware that this is not an industry standard and also many sets of "lights or 12's" can have the other strings in the set vary in gauge from brand to brand.

 

Experimenting with strings is probably the single most effective, easy and inexpensive way to bring out the best tone of your guitar. Trying .11's .12's and mediums .13's can greatly effect the guitars sound. Most modern guitars can handle .13's, but make sure you refer to the guitars manual to be sure before stinging up .13's. (Warning - changing string gauge can change the action of your guitar. For example heavier strings will pull harder causing string height on the fretboard to raise and may require a truss rod adjustment)

 

80/20, phosphor bronze, coated and uncoated, custom strings sets where the low E A and D strings are heaver gauge to bring out a guitars bass response, etc...etc. The possibilities are endless and the fun of experimenting is Guitar Nerd Heaven!!

 

Alright ....let's discuss! Agree with me....Disagree with me....

I been debating on putting bone everything on the new j45 but read dosent make much difference would definately age better I’m sure I’d love some crazy exotic bone from a damn lion

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Asphaltcowboy said:

I been debating on putting bone everything on the new j45 but read dosent make much difference would definately age better I’m sure I’d love some crazy exotic bone from a damn lion

The pins/tones debate notwithstanding, in the very least, the Saddle will make a difference. Whether you hear that difference is dependent on how your ears are to detail. On all mine, there was a difference. That difference to me was aggressiveness in tone. Maybe some increased responsiveness. On one guitar I used to have, the bone was too much. I put the stock back in and ordered another for Summer months.

Whatever you do, don't detune Round-Wound strings and re-tune them with the expectation of anything but dull sounding strings.

Depending on where you live, this may be close to the perfect time of year to try a new saddle. I another month or so, I'll be switching them to my shorter saddles. I've now accrued tall and short saddles for 4/5 of my nice acoustics. Be sure to take a little mini-exploration with your picks and strings collections after changes. 

The nut does make a difference for me, too. Double that price above as everything's gone up. A custom made nut at Gibson R&R is something around $250. I think it's well worth it. There are three ways for tonal improvement with a nut. Just the act of replacing a nut means your guitar is set up properly. There is no guaranty, but a good tech/Luthier will likely make much better slots than a partially work is, and in too many case, it's better than even stock. Better slots, less interference, etc. Then there's the issue of playability. That can change, depending on what you and your Luthier decide.  Heck, if you go with a fret leveling, you and your Luthier could have that thing playing like buttah, as they say.  You may not like that tone, though. Some folks like it higher just for the sound.

In closing, it is good fun for me to explore all of this. From one perspective, there is never really failure. Just different to varying degrees.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/4/2021 at 6:02 AM, BoSoxBiker said:

The pins/tones debate notwithstanding, in the very least, the Saddle will make a difference. Whether you hear that difference is dependent on how your ears are to detail. On all mine, there was a difference. That difference to me was aggressiveness in tone. Maybe some increased responsiveness. On one guitar I used to have, the bone was too much. I put the stock back in and ordered another for Summer months.

Whatever you do, don't detune Round-Wound strings and re-tune them with the expectation of anything but dull sounding strings.

Depending on where you live, this may be close to the perfect time of year to try a new saddle. I another month or so, I'll be switching them to my shorter saddles. I've now accrued tall and short saddles for 4/5 of my nice acoustics. Be sure to take a little mini-exploration with your picks and strings collections after changes. 

The nut does make a difference for me, too. Double that price above as everything's gone up. A custom made nut at Gibson R&R is something around $250. I think it's well worth it. There are three ways for tonal improvement with a nut. Just the act of replacing a nut means your guitar is set up properly. There is no guaranty, but a good tech/Luthier will likely make much better slots than a partially work is, and in too many case, it's better than even stock. Better slots, less interference, etc. Then there's the issue of playability. That can change, depending on what you and your Luthier decide.  Heck, if you go with a fret leveling, you and your Luthier could have that thing playing like buttah, as they say.  You may not like that tone, though. Some folks like it higher just for the sound.

In closing, it is good fun for me to explore all of this. From one perspective, there is never really failure. Just different to varying degrees.

What is the best brand besides Gibson for bone nut saddle and pins? What animal is best lol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
On 5/6/2021 at 12:10 AM, Asphaltcowboy said:

What is the best brand besides Gibson for bone nut saddle and pins? What animal is best lol

I put a regular cow bone saddle and new bone pins on my J-45 Studio.  Gave me more bass response.  Left the OEM nut in-place.

I couldn't be happier.

I ordered off E-bay...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
On 5/6/2021 at 12:10 AM, Asphaltcowboy said:

What is the best brand besides Gibson for bone nut saddle and pins? What animal is best lol

Any bone, nut and saddle will be worth a try as long as it is the correct radius. My two Gibson acoustics are 12" radius, so I used to just confirm that before buying. Cow bone nut/saddles/pins are relatively  inexpensive so I would always buy 2 packs due to bone's density being variable among different pieces. That way I could test drive both and see if one sounded better over the other. One saddle might even have slightly different intonation than the other.  I've now created a fun little hobby of making my own.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...