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


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I've read this thread with great interest. My Martin is currently in the shop getting the action adjusted. I'm contemplating a bone saddle (and now after reading this thread, a bone nut and different pins!). One thing that was lightly touched on in a couple of comments, but not really elaborated on was: has anyone considered what the manufacturers intentions were? Are Martin and Gibson using plastic bridges because they are cheaper, or because they think they sound the best? My Martin was very expensive when new and I'd like to think they weren't being cheap with the materials! (but would not be surprised if they were).

 

Well, I just checked my guitar specs - looks like it came with a bone saddle, nut, and bridge pins! Maybe that answers the question? (mine is a D-28 Marquis)

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Well, I just checked my guitar specs - looks like it came with a bone saddle, nut, and bridge pins! Maybe that answers the question? (mine is a D-28 Marquis)

The pins as well !?!, , , aha. I allow myself to doubt that, but could be wr. . .

 

The topic has been touched earlier in the common section.

Some had the idea the plants use plastic so people can upgrade themselves (if it is an upgrade - as we know tusq is more even than organic bone).

Another thought could be the cost, , , and of course the possibility to present bone on deluxe versions as known with the Gibson TVs.

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  • 4 months later...

I've recently been using D'Addario 85/15 light medium strings on my J15. I really like the extra bottom end and the feel that comes with the slightly heavier 4th, 5th and 6th strings. I may at some point experiment with using a 13 and 17 with this set. Next up though I intend to try Rotosound Tru Bronze which have the similar gauages but in my long time favourite 80/20 material. I'd say these are well worth a try if you are looking for more bottom end and than 12-53 give and like to dig in without moving to true mediums.

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  • 3 months later...

Never thought it would happen, , , , or did I.

Was there a clue, , , a tiny spot somewhere inside that knew it should be tried out sooner or later :

The effect of brass pins.

Well, here we are after 3-4 days with them in 3 guitars. Both contemporary Birds and the 2005 Custom Martin D-18. But only for A and low E.

Went back and forth several times and it was hard to judge.

Still it felt as if the bass came on a hair louder thus clearer, , , without losing thump or Gibson character, which of course would have been a no-go.

 

Not thought with this. Have to experiment further and ordered 4 sets more the day I got the first. The material is simply too otherly not to investigate.

And if it's placebo or the change is almost none, , , , it would be strange too. .

 

Takes a pair of mind-shades to see b[r]azz-pin E and A shine there on the bridge - but assume time will dampen them down.

That look will actually be rather cühl. .

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Never thought it would happen, , , , or did I.

Was there a clue, , , a tiny spot somewhere inside that knew it should be tried out sooner or later :

The effect of brass pins.

Well, here we are after 3-4 days with them in 3 guitars. Both contemporary Birds and the 2005 Custom Martin D-18. But only for A and low E.

Went back and forth several times and it was hard to judge.

Still it felt as if the bass came on a hair louder thus clearer, , , without losing thump or Gibson character, which of course would have been a no-go.

 

Not thought with this. Have to experiment further and ordered 4 sets more the day I got the first. The material is simply too otherly not to investigate.

And if it's placebo or the change is almost none, , , , it would be strange too. .

 

Takes a pair of mind-shades to see b[r]azz-pin E and A shine there on the bridge - but assume time will dampen them down.

That look will actually be rather cühl. .

I wonder if you could speed the aging process - Overnight in some sort of brine or whatever else might not be great for brass?

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I wonder if you could speed the aging process - Overnight in some sort of brine or whatever else might not be great for brass?

Hereby done = 2 brass pins now swim in a bath of saltwater, organic lemon and vinegar-acid.

Will they still exist when I wake up tomorrow. .

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  • 2 months later...

Here there are my opinions on the matter:

 

1) Generally the denser and more homogenous material for nut and bridge is the better it is...I use fossil ivory (I don't want any elephant killed for my guitars) when available on my good guitars. TUSQ is IMO better than soft bone.

 

2) Pins have no influence whatsoever on the sound, but the string angle has, Ovations don't have pins and some like the 40th anniversary Balladeer are excellent guitar on the level of my Martin HD28V for instance. However I like fossil ivory because they look cool on Martins while as Gibson usually have rosewood bridge I tend to use rosewood and they look better IMO. Yes I usually source them from Colosi and I like my pins as low as possible on the bridge, so I usually make countersunk collars.

 

3) Strings: I don't usually like PB unless the guitar is very bright, my favourite make is John Pearse, caliber 12-56. Unfortunately they are hard to procure and they last not too long, one of the few guitars I like with PB is my 1981 Guild D25. I also tested the new nickel brass D'addario and they are quite good, a sort of middle ground between PB and 80/20.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

For the record - I was playing with string life.

 

Input I had is the only real reason you need to change strings is they're about to fail, so I figured I'd leave a pair till they failed, lasted close to 6 months when I finally decided to swap them out. No issues, sounded fine to me... and then I changed them. Ooooooh do new strings sound good!!! IMO gives the guitar life. I personally prefer them after a couple of days of playing where the big chimeyness is gone, but still got the new string sound. I'm giving 2 mo a try and will see how big the delta is when I put a new set on.

 

Just saying.

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For the record - I was playing with string life.

 

Input I had is the only real reason you need to change strings is they're about to fail, so I figured I'd leave a pair till they failed, lasted close to 6 months when I finally decided to swap them out. No issues, sounded fine to me... and then I changed them. Ooooooh do new strings sound good!!! IMO gives the guitar life. I personally prefer them after a couple of days of playing where the big chimeyness is gone, but still got the new string sound. I'm giving 2 mo a try and will see how big the delta is when I put a new set on.

 

Just saying.

 

non coated strings with my hands are ok for about a 6 to 8 weeks.. then it's time..

 

Coated, I can get 4 months easy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’ve also purchased from Bob Colosi. Have a couple sets of bone pins and I bought a matching strap button for my Martin D18. Great stuff. 

I was surprised that my J15 came with bone pins. I still replaced them with a Colosi set I had that had abalone inlays, just for looks. But agree on the nut/saddle upgrades. 

As for strings I cannot stand Elixirs. Don’t like how they feel or sound and what tone they do have seems to die after about 3 days. I use Martin PB 12 or 13s on basically everything. Although I would like to try the Santa Cruz Parabolic tension strings on the J15. I tried them on the D18 but they were too mellow for that guitar (an already very mellow toned 1968 model). 

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On 5/20/2019 at 11:54 AM, kidblast said:

 

non coated strings with my hands are ok for about a 6 to 8 weeks.. then it's time..

 

Coated, I can get 4 months easy.

My experience has been the opposite with coated strings. 

I change my strings about once a month, regardless of what I’m using because I like the freshness of the sound.  And I play a lot so they need it. 

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I have owned over dozen Gibson Acoustics over the years. I think I’m the minority here when I say this but all My Gibson’s thus far sounded better with TUSQ saddle. I tried bone many times only to return to TUSQ. Maybe because I’m just a strummer but TUSQ to me sounded more crisp and woody which my ears prefer. 

I just bought a Songwriter Deluxe and it came with bone saddle. Guess what? I have custom radiused TUSQ on order. 🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...

I recently bought a 2019 J-45 Standard. I read mixed reviews about nut, saddle, & bridge pin replacements and their affect on tone. My guitar came from the factory with a tusq nut and saddle and tusq bridge pins (I've read tusq compliments the factory LR Baggs Element UST best). However, I'm replacing the Element with a K&K Pure Mini and ordered a Bob Colosi bone saddle to not only replace the tusq one, but also compensate for the loss of slight height from the UST. In addition, I just swapped out the tusq bridge pins for Waverly ebony pins. I haven't even had the bone saddle installed yet, and the tone is so much warmer and more natural. I liked the sound of the guitar before, but the ebony pins have really scaled back the brightness of the 'off the rack' tone. I know people argue against pins making much of a difference either way, and I know it can vary from guitar to guitar, but in my case  the difference I've noticed is way more than subtle.

Edited by GreyGrayDays
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  • 3 weeks later...

Ditched the  plastic pins on my 64 J-50  a few years ago.  Replaced the ceramic adjustable saddle with a bone replacement from Philadelphia Luther Tools.

Sounds great with the phosphor bronze D'Angelico strings no longer available.  Had the same address as GHS on last package.

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  • 1 month later...

On my guild, had a pin fail and in a pinch used a chopstick to fill the need.  Filled the need with respect to making the guitar usable, but geeze did it kill the string...  muted compared to all the others.  Just got a new pin though - so all is fine with the world. 

Posting because I was amazed at the impact of the pin alone, I really had not expected that...  

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  • 11 months later...
On 10/13/2017 at 10:52 AM, E-minor7 said:

The pins as well !?!, , , aha. I allow myself to doubt that, but could be wr. . .

 

The topic has been touched earlier in the common section.

Some had the idea the plants use plastic so people can upgrade themselves (if it is an upgrade - as we know tusq is more even than organic bone).

Another thought could be the cost, , , and of course the possibility to present bone on deluxe versions as known with the Gibson TVs.

Another reason could be customs restrictions on animal products and the need to provide paperwork for what is entering countries when you are selling internationally as Gibson does.

Thats before we get to plastic being almost infinately cheaper to churn out of an injection moulding machine compared to processing raw animal bones into shape.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My hd28 had plastic pins but bone saddle and nut. It has bone pins now and what a difference it made. So now I will replace the pins on new Southern jumbo. Anyone know the specs for string height at 1st fret. Seems to be a lot of space in between. I was thinking remove the nut and take some off the bottom instead of working the slots individually.  Like the bridge. How about the angle on the bridge? Never saw that before but this is my first Gibson. Anyone know how much it is? The whole set up is a bit high. Its has factory specs now 6/64 on bass 3/64 on treble. I have no experience setting up an acoustic  and am gonna let it settle in for a while. I would appreciate any advice.

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  • 2 months later...

The standard doesn't come with a bone nut. I read gibson says it sounds better with whatever they are using. The 50's  j45 does come with a bone nut as well as my brand new Southern jumbo. ( had to say that)I am really happy with it.              I have heard the nut is a major tone factor.  Are you doing anything about your pins?    I can't say I am happy with the plastic pins  on the SJ. I'll probably go with bone too as I have on my Rosewood guitar from a different maker but this is my first mahogany guitar  other than my electrics. Maybe I will try an ebony pin.  I kinda like the Idea of ivory or water buffalo.  They have everything you can imagine even fossilized mammoth.with a big price!  I would welcome any thoughts from those that know. Congrats on your 45 studio. Great guitar.

Edited by 12MoreGuitars
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  • 2 weeks later...

J-45 Studio Walnut Burst, manufactured August this year.

Replaced "man made bone" saddle and plastic bridge pins with bone.  Left the OEM nut and kept same strings.

The tech and I both feel it has more bass response.  Happy with the result.  Might change nut out at next string change, might not.

All parts where off E-bay, just cow bone.

(I could see no change in the pick-up response.)

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  • 4 months later...

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