View Full Version : Bridge pins, anyone change them out?

the flat tire
10-07-2015, 12:20 AM
Did changing out your bridge pins make any difference?
I'm not liking them plastic ones and got some ebony pins from Stewmac but I need to ream out the holes for them to fit.
Is it worth it?
Supposedly the bridge pins make a difference in sound.
Makes some sense as they are in contact with the strings and are transmitting some vibration to the top.

To ream or not to ream?
Ebony, snakewood, ivoroid, bone, etc?
leave it be!

10-07-2015, 01:07 AM
All bridge pins are tapered and are either at 3 or 5 degrees. You might need to ream the holes in your instrument to fit the new pins though. Stewmacs are at 3 degrees I believe from memory. The reamers are quite expensive, and this job needs to be done right, or you have just made yourself a nice wall hanging if you stuff it up. I've had a few of them come across the repair bench.

As to whether it will make any difference in the tone, I'll be totally surprised that you would hear anything between different timbers. And even with the plastic ones. But they would certainly look better.

10-07-2015, 05:10 AM
Seriously doubt pins will make any difference in sound. You'd be money ahead if you just buy pins that fit in the first place, but only change them out for looks.

10-07-2015, 05:52 AM
I changed out some plastic end pins for ebony ones on a Kanile'a 6-string uke. I thought they looked a lot nicer, but I didn't hear a difference in the tone of the instrument.

10-07-2015, 06:24 AM
I changed out some very chewed up plastic pins on a Martin D-35, using ebony replacements. I did hear a difference in sound, but the new strings installed at the same time may have contributed to the improvement.
The real test is to just change the pins and nothing else. Even then you have removed and reapplied tension to the strings and reseated the ball or knot end of the string under the bridge, so a tonal change may not be due to the material the pins are made of at all.
In the end, the only person these minute tonal changes matter to is you. If ebony makes you happy, then by all means install ebony. Or snakewood. Or bone. Or get a set of each and change them once in a while... says the guy with two spare sets of ebony pins in his string drawer.

10-07-2015, 06:59 AM
I went from cheap plastic to ebony because they look nicer. Oddly enough over the last year so so I started breaking strings at the bead. Tried various strings, and knots, smoothed the bridge plate and pins the best I could in case there was a sharp edge. Put the plastic ones back in and so far so good. Have no clue why.

I couldn't tell any difference in sound.


the flat tire
10-07-2015, 09:57 AM
Thanks folks! Snake oil I suppose; also reaming out the holes probably kills whatever warranty I have.
Sounded like a good idea.
Sort of.

10-07-2015, 10:50 AM
I changed out my plastic ones to Tusc (Fake bone) on my guitar and noticed a difference in sustain. maybe I wanted to hear it, but I think it worked better. plastic dampens sound, stone will transfer it better. IMHO.
BUT, I would modify the pin and not the uke.

10-07-2015, 11:49 AM
I changed out the plastic bridge pins that came on my Kanilea ukuleles to koa ones I bought years ago on StewMac. I never noticed a change in sound, but they sure did look better.

10-07-2015, 06:34 PM
As most have said, the difference in sound is likely not noticeable with various pins, an important consideration if buying from StewMac though is the slot in the pin. Generally these are cut for guitars that use ball end strings, so with the thin strings it may be difficult or impossible to tie a big enough knot to keep from slipping right through the slot in the pin. If your saddle already has the relief slot, then this won't be an issue since in that case you should turn the slot in the pin away from the bridge slot when these is one. I machined slots myself in pins I purchased from StewMac to get them the appropriate size for my own instrument.

the flat tire
10-07-2015, 11:01 PM
I got some ebony pins from Stewmac but they don't fit. I don't remember what angle I got so maybe I'll just order another set.
Even if just for aesthetics it's worth the change.
I have hard time with the plastic pins, I mean seriously, they couldn't spend another five bucks and put ebony pins on my $1200 instrument? I would have gladly paid $1205!

10-08-2015, 01:48 AM
I admit that I regularly drank the koolaid when I played a lot of guitars. I regularly changed out the saddle and bridge pins to bone, tusk or ivory(recycled piano keys) from Bob Colosi in Georgia ( http://www.guitarsaddles.com/products.asp ). Whether 'better' pins would have much affect on the sound of a small instrument like a Uke is doubtful but changing out the saddle, IMO, would. There is a great variation in opinion on what the best saddle material is but that's a topic for a separate thread.