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

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After fitting my J45 standard with a bone saddle from Bob Colosi I was like ”meh”. - It brought some modest clarity and definition I had not experienced with tusq but nothing really ground breaking. To be honest I was kinda surprised because I’ve had good experiences swapping to bone on other guitars. Then I put on some new JP 200Ls and ebony pins…

 

I am pretty sure the old dull strings ”camouflaged” some of the tonal improvements from Bobs beautifully crafted saddle, because now my J45 sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard from it before! I’m not even exaggerating, the volume is WAY higher, the string separations is vastly improved and it really has that brilliant vintage j45 “spikyness” to it. Fingerpicked it still gets real mellow and sweet, but when digging in with a pick this thing is a BEAST. I am completely stunned.

 

Now, I know what some of you are gonna say and you are of course right; NEW STRINGS make a huge difference. Also, the change from bone pins to ebony may have affected the tone. However, I have experimented a lot with these kinds of variables and I have never experienced advancement this significant before. I’m guessing Bob’s saddle was the missing piece of the puzzle?

 

I am in awe.

 

Chris

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I just got some ebony bridge pins from Stewart MacDonald. I have some doubt. As you can see in the photo they look a little off. I pushed as much as I could but they do not go down more. Does this affect the sound or tuning? should return them? I did not notice anything negative but I'd be sure I'm buying the right product.

 

2557769F-0F0C-4680-876F-BDD24DAE1E67_zps7sa1uh57.png

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My personal opinion: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

 

I think Gibson put appropriate bridge pins on their guitars, either holding ball ends safely and sparing the bridge holes. Why press anything less suitable into them?

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My personal opinion: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

 

I think Gibson put appropriate bridge pins on their guitars, either holding ball ends safely and sparing the bridge holes. Why press anything less suitable into them?

Thanks, I just exchanged them for tusq in 3" taper.

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I read this whole thread though which convinced me to buy some Martin ebony pins, imported all the way from Mexico, for my HD-28V. I'm quite happy with the results.

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I changed the saddle and bridge pins in my new(to me) 2014 Hummingbird . I was getting a strange sound with the Tusq saddle from the B string. I got a fossilized walrus ivory saddle from Bob Colisi and it made a big difference took care of the B strings strange noise plus really brought out the bass and gave the Bird more sustain. The FWI bridge pins look great also. When I removed the Tusq saddle there was a groove under the B string .

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I changed the saddle and bridge pins in my new(to me) 2014 Hummingbird . I was getting a strange sound with the Tusq saddle from the B string. I got a fossilized walrus ivory saddle from Bob Colisi and it made a big difference took care of the B strings strange noise plus really brought out the bass and gave the Bird more sustain. The FWI bridge pins look great also. When I removed the Tusq saddle there was a groove under the B string .

I have had guitars with FWI saddles, they were all "groovy" too. Little drives me more nuts than a groove in the saddle in the wrong spot, messing up the string spacing. I'm a hack player, and don't need extra challenges thrown at me. Foer me, bone nut, bone saddle are important to tone, and the pins are all for looks.

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"I'm a hack player, and don't need extra challenges thrown at me. Foer me, bone nut, bone saddle are important to tone, and the pins are all for looks."

 

That's great we all like different materials and our ears all hear sound differently and it is subjective to the individual . I had the saddle and pins for 2 years bought them for my Custom J45 but liked the Tusq saddle and plastic pins in the J45 better. However for the Hummingbird they (FWI saddle and pins) made a big difference over the stock saddle and pins to my ears. I've owned many acoustics each has its own individual sound unique to the wood and glue it is made with. I'm still in the process of finding out what string brand and gauge brings out the best sound to my ears.

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i picked up pins and end button from Bob Colossi this morning for my 12 string (dyed dark brown bone) and a set for my blonde EC30BK acoustics today... I measured both pin and they both take 1T pins, basically at the neck they measured .2085 at the neck across the groove flat and .2095" (90 degrees off the groove flat). Both pins have a 3.4 degree taper based on the end measurement of .136" and the over-all length of the pin, (use the sin calculation + Build-up = angle X pi / 180 X pin length)...

 

These are years 2000 and 1997 Gibson Acoustics... See below pics of what I'm getting from Bob

 

O1T-33_zps7a2b3d09.jpg

 

O1T-35_zps45f3beaf.jpg

 

O1T-63_zpsc505d2f8.jpg

 

DYE_END_STR_zps3c3433bf.jpg

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I bought some bone and ebony pins on eBay, figured it was cheap enough to experiment and no big deal if the didn't fit my j45 standard. They both fit although I think the ebony ones fit the best. They seem to lock the strings in place, as opposed the bone ones that are kinda just there. With bone I have to push them down while tuning up a fresh set of strings or else they pop out. After experimenting a lot I've concluded I prefer the ebony ones especially with sunbeams on. More woody sounding and it feels like I hear more of the guitar and less of the strings if that makes sense. As I said earlier the colosi saddle definetly appeared to have brought more volume out of the guitar, but then again I removed the under saddle pickup so it might be a combination of things. Curious of how a new bone nut would affect the sound of open strings.

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Anyone heard of using antler? Would that be pretty much the same as bone?

My luthier sometimes uses moose antlers but he said they are a bit softer than cow bone so he prefers cow on acoustics to get the top to vibrate as much as possible [thumbup]

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Tested a set of DR RARE the other day, thought I put my experience of there.

To my ear they made my J45 so unbalanced it's not even funny! Lows dominated pretty much everything, whilst high end lost it's shimmer completely. Had them on for three days until I couldn't take it no more. Put on a set of JP200L's now and my guitar is significantly more balanced.

Anyone else got experience with the RARE strings? Given how much I love the sunbeams I was really disappointed.

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To me the DR Rares sound like EJ16s but dont last as long. Like the Sunbeams though. I did not find them any more or less balanced FWIW.

 

I still like Martin Lifespan PB lights on my SJTV, and Sunbeams and Elixir PB lights on my LG2 the best...

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I bought a set of Sunbeams for my Martin Jumbo and really liked the sound. I liked their rap on why they had a lot of sustain which they did. So I went and found a 10 set pack at a substantially reduced price on eBay. BUYER BEWARE! The high E, B and G strings on all the packs had significant lumpy oxidation (rust) on them. I cleaned them up as best as I could while installing and using each set. I didn't want to just throw them all away. They actually sounded okay but I could always feel the spots. It was hard to tell if the sound of the string had been effected. Now after several years I still have a pack or two left. I'll never buy like that again.

 

I just bought some D'Addario 12-53s that I will try next. Interesting that the DRs are 12-54 but the D'Addarios are 12-53. Also interesting is that the last time we hear our old strings, they are just that; old and played out, so the new strings we install always sound better. I'm always skeptical when folks say, "sound better," "more sustain," "more balanced" etc. It's all so subjective. I wish a serious scientist would do some actual objective studies and show us "artists" what an oscilloscope shows we are really hearing. Anyone out there hear of such a study? B)

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I bought a set of Sunbeams for my Martin Jumbo and really liked the sound. I liked their rap on why they had a lot of sustain which they did. So I went and found a 10 set pack at a substantially reduced price on eBay. BUYER BEWARE! The high E, B and G strings on all the packs had significant lumpy oxidation (rust) on them. I cleaned them up as best as I could while installing and using each set. I didn't want to just throw them all away. They actually sounded okay but I could always feel the spots. It was hard to tell if the sound of the string had been effected. Now after several years I still have a pack or two left. I'll never buy like that again.

 

I just bought some D'Addario 12-53s that I will try next. Interesting that the DRs are 12-54 but the D'Addarios are 12-53. Also interesting is that the last time we hear our old strings, they are just that; old and played out, so the new strings we install always sound better. I'm always skeptical when folks say, "sound better," "more sustain," "more balanced" etc. It's all so subjective. I wish a serious scientist would do some actual objective studies and show us "artists" what an oscilloscope shows we are really hearing. Anyone out there hear of such a study? B)

 

I've received several packs of strings with spots of oxidation on em, but I iusually just message the seller and get a replacement set. One time I even got my replacements directly from DR (and I live in Norway) so I can't really complain. When I had my OM I used to buy packs of dadario EJ strings and never had any issues with them what so ever.

 

In regards to subjectivity and the perception of sound I think you are right. Be it fine vine, placebo treatments and possibly also guitar string, our mind has a tendency to colour our perceptions. Im thinking a future study would have to study several guitars, shapes and tonewoods, so if anyone wants to do it you could justify buying a bunch of guitars in the name of science [biggrin]

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Great idea but my wife would see through that immediately. :---)

 

I've seriously considered getting into this topic in a scientific way but it would be a difficult experiment to design because of all the variables. Think of how many sounds we can make by slightly altering the strength of attack, shifting the angle of a flat pick or by how close to the bridge we pluck. Then there are the overtones and sub-harmonics sounded on other strings. The trick would be to keep all variables but one consistent, then change that one, say string brand, and make it repeatable. I'm afraid it would entail using some robotic string plucker. This then would all get fed into an oscilloscope and analyzed. If I got into that there would be no time to make music!

 

I had a similar discussion on the Epiphone board when some of those folks claimed their brand new Asian built, mass produced Epiphones sounded as "good" as any vintage or hand built guitar out there including Gibsons, Martins or "boutique" one-off custom guitars. One guy even claimed that since he was a studio "engineer" he had a special ear to detect those nuances.

 

It is of note to consider what guys like Robert Benedetto, the highly acclaimed archtop builder says about high-end custom built guitars and their components. For instance when he builds an archtop he does so with a solid wooden bridge and solid wooden tailpiece similar to a violin. He claims that these components transmit sound and resonate "better" than their traditional metal/wood counterparts. The tops and backs of his guitars are each "tap tuned" by ear like the masters of old did to guitars and violins. His guitars go for $30K+. They also sound to my ear, REALLY good for the music they are designed to play.

 

That being said, I long for some accurate way to measure what is being discussed in this thread other than somebody claiming that their bridge saddles made from fossilized T-Rex teeth make a their music sound better. Man, there is no accounting for cool JuJu. B)

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I'm pretty darned sure bridge pin material is virtually inconsequential to tone. At that end of the string it's more the bridgeplate that's interacting. I bought a set of camel bone pins to outfit my '30's L-0 12 fretter, though not to improve the sound. It was just that the black tusq pins that were on didn't match the orig shrunken but functional white buttons on the old Klusons. I saw the pre-faded bone ones at a good price and just thought I'd try. I've swapped them around a few guitars that all have bone nut and saddle with no discernible difference. So that's that for my ears on that subject. One good thing about tusq and bone...it won't curl up like plastic.

 

Next in line is the significance of the nut material. OK, less important than the saddle but more important than the pins. You can actually hear your guitar without the nut being involved by strapping on a capo. Then the nut becomes whatever material is pressed against the strings, probably rubber. You know the hardness of the nut is key because every capo robs a little tone over an open nut to saddle connection.

 

This guy has a theory about tone mechanics. Down the road I might try.

http://www.ebay.com/...K%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

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Hallo guys,

I would appreciate some suggestions concerning strings.

I have a new J45 Cobra burst.

Changed the tusk nut&saddle with bone and took out the piezo.

Currently expecting for the bone pins to come.

 

Please tell me what would be the best 12-54 or 12-56 strings for this baby.

The easiest thing for me is to put some Elixir 12-56 PhBr, but I don't like easy solutions...msp_sneaky.gif

 

Tell me what 12-54 or 12-56 would you put on your J45?

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Hands down, Gibs, Austrian made Thomastik-Infeld Spectrums. They don't start out bright so there's no break-in tone changes, and they last a helluva long time. You get what you pay for @ 20 something dollars a set. I couldn't afford to string all my acoustics with them but always kept them on my '57 J45.

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1427499977[/url]' post='1644325']

Hands down, Gibs, Austrian made Thomastik-Infeld Spectrums. They don't start out bright so there's no break-in tone changes, and they last a helluva long time. You get what you pay for @ 20 something dollars a set. I couldn't afford to string all my acoustics with them but always kept them on my '57 J45.

 

Thanks jedzep.As these are not available here in Sofia I have to order from internet.I remember some guys here talking about Thomastik for J35. Obviously have to try.

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I use Sunbeams 12s on my j45. They are very warm sounding and have longevity. I have tried 80/20s and find them not as warm sounding, though they have very good note clarity. To my ears the PBs have less clarity but more warmth and a rumbling bass (Tom's appropriate word is fuzzy). The highs are sweat and somewhat sparkling sounding verses trebly and piercing. The Sunbeams are round core and have a nice feel. The low E is a 54, but still has plenty of bass rumble. Another string that is very similar to the Sunbeams is Pyramid,Western Folk. They are PBs and sound very similar to the Sunbeams but with a little more note clarity. Around here they are about twice as expensive as the Sunbeams, but do sound good! My local shop does not carry them and I am satisfied with the Sunbeams.

 

chasAK

 

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Hallo guys,

I would appreciate some suggestions concerning strings.

I have a new J45 Cobra burst.

Changed the tusk nut&saddle with bone and took out the piezo.

Currently expecting for the bone pins to come.

 

Please tell me what would be the best 12-54 or 12-56 strings for this baby.

The easiest thing for me is to put some Elixir 12-56 PhBr, but I don't like easy solutions...msp_sneaky.gif

 

Tell me what 12-54 or 12-56 would you put on your J45?

 

If it ain't broke don't fix it - keep to the Elixirs

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I just put sunbeam mediums- 13-56- on my SJTV. I wanted to try a beefier string, and tune it down half a step. The guitar turned honky tonk ZZTOP growly in a good way. It's neat to experiment. I like the sunbeams because they are easy on the fingers too.

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I'm pretty darned sure bridge pin material is virtually inconsequential to tone.

 

 

 

 

This guy has a theory about tone mechanics. Down the road I might try.

http://www.ebay.com/...K%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

He definitely has. . . This is one of those cases where you really want a sonic test. Is there anything to be found on the Tube ?

 

Regarding b-pins, you'll hear a lot of people talk passionate about sonic changes from material to material. I'm one ;-)

but it primarily comes across when finger and flatpicking - are you a strummer. . ?

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Not much fingerstyle playing anymore, flatpicking and strumming these days, Em. My plucking hand doesn't last long in that quasi-claw position and I've never really found a comfortable style or rhythm.

 

I think you'd need a really fine sound system or a live experience to hear an actual difference just for bridgepin comparisons. I tried a little A-B with my old L's and a Martin 000 when I first got it. They have all been refitted with bone nuts and saddles, but the Martin has the orig dot pins on. Are they tusq? For a weekend, I was loosening the strings enough to slip the camel bone pins on and off a '35 L00 and the 000, not noticing anything much in the way of change. I keep the bone pins now on my restored mahog L0, a guitar I'm very happy with anyway. Not much of a test, I guess. I'm constantly on the prowl for affordably priced deals on Thomastik-Enfeld strings, 12's for the 00 and 000, 11's for the 0, and have been able to find enough to keep them on the latter two. I'm good with the Dunlop 80/20's on the L00. I especially hear the Martin loving those strings.

 

I would think the guys that sell the sectioned nuts and saddles have thrown up sound samples if there is any discernible difference. If the changes were undetectable they probably wouldn't waste the time.

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