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View Full Version : *best* bridge pins-- ebony, bone, metal or plastic?



bellgamin
01-02-2018, 03:13 PM
As stated in the Topic line above, I am looking for the best material for bridge pins. By "best", I mean in terms of how each type of bridge pin material will affect my guitar's sound, resonance, and sustain.

Any & all comments will be muchly appreciated!

Booli
01-03-2018, 02:20 PM
I read some marketing materials from a company that makes brass bridge pins at over $100 per set of 6 that 'claimed' the added mass of metal in brass created a better sound and longer sustain, but I never tried them myself.

I consider myself to have a discriminating ear, but unless it was some vintage or high-end custom guitar, methinks one would perceive little difference. There are YouTube demos of said brass pins, but unless I hear it in person, I am skeptical as to the cost/benefits ratio.

I mean, with even a current USA-made (not Mexican-made) Martin dreadnought with all solid woods, would most folks actually be able to tell a difference in a double-blind recording test?

I dunno. I'm usually thrifty and have bought the cheap plastic pin set for like $10 USD and never had issues with performance or tone.

I think also it would be easy to be duped by confirmation bias if you spent over $100 on bridge pins, as in 'at that price it just has to sound better!' but I've go no empirical evidence either way...

BlackBearUkes
01-03-2018, 03:00 PM
The sound of your guitar has nothing to do with bridge pins. Use the ones that you like. There is no best pin for sound, period.


As stated in the Topic line above, I am looking for the best material for bridge pins. By "best", I mean in terms of how each type of bridge pin material will affect my guitar's sound, resonance, and sustain.

Any & all comments will be muchly appreciated!

bellgamin
01-03-2018, 07:23 PM
The sound of your guitar has nothing to do with bridge pins. Use the ones that you like. There is no best pin for sound, period.I suppose you are right. It just seems sorta logical that the pins anchoring the strings would have at least a little involvement in transmitting string vibrations to the tonewood. I gave me a birthday present of ebony pins with MOP circles on their heads. They look much much nicer than the bone pins they replaced and, to my ears, sound warmer. However that may seem that way for the same reason that I swear my car drives waaay better right after I have it washed and polished

Booli
01-03-2018, 09:28 PM
...They look much much nicer than the bone pins they replaced and, to my ears, sound warmer. However that may seem that way for the same reason that I swear my car drives waaay better right after I have it washed and polished

These conclusions in your comment above are both two examples of 'confirmation bias', see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

and

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201504/what-is-confirmation-bias

bellgamin
01-04-2018, 12:03 PM
These conclusions in your comment above are both two examples of 'confirmation bias', see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

and

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201504/what-is-confirmation-biasBooli! I hoped you would drop by. I enjoyed the links -- I had 3 years of clinical psych before I got tagged for military service.

Okay, so it might be wish fulfillment re the ebony pins, but I would very much appreciate your comments as to whether or not bridge pins are totally uninvolved in a guitar's sound, resonance, timbre, loudness, etc. And -- if bridge pins DO affect any or all of these factors -- wouldn't it stand to reason that the composition of the pin (wood, metal, bone, plastic) would also have some effect?

Booli
01-04-2018, 12:31 PM
Booli! I hoped you would drop by. I enjoyed the links -- I had 3 years of clinical psych before I got tagged for military service.

Okay, so it might be wish fulfillment re the ebony pins, but I would very much appreciate your comments as to whether or not bridge pins are totally uninvolved in a guitar's sound, resonance, timbre, loudness, etc. And -- if bridge pins DO affect any or all of these factors -- wouldn't it stand to reason that the composition of the pin (wood, metal, bone, plastic) would also have some effect?

Well I never really paid attention to all the details like on a steel string acoustic guitar. My guitar life was mostly spent either on 1976 Gibson "Firebrand" Les Paul electric guitar, or on various nylon-string classical guitars.

My steel string acoustics were a cheap Fender 12-string (long since bit the dust), and a cheap Synsonics 6-string acoustic that was ~$125 from the JC Penny catalog back in 1985.

If I needed bridge pins (lost one during string changes once in a while) because I am a thrifty S.O.B., I would always buy the cheapest thing I could find. I never had any issues with cheap bridge pins.

But, being that I never paid attention to those issues on a steel string acoustic (its been YEARS since I played one for more than 5 mins at a time), I am not the person to render an educated opinion here. I simply lack the experience.

Were I to speculate, it would likely be futile and not based upon any reality of my own, and only based upon heresay, which I loathe quoting information and repeating it, when in fact I've got no hands-on personal experience to back it up.

Not to defer you, but possibly some die-hards on an acoustic guitar forum could render a meaningful opinion. :)

sbanacho
01-04-2018, 03:20 PM
Just last week I changed the bridge pins on my guitar from plastic to ebony. I didn't expect any tonal change, and I can't say I noticed any either. I just prefer the look of the new pins. I think other materials appear nicer than plastic, and since it doesn't cost much to change I like to.

I originally bought the ebony pins hoping they would fit on my uke, but they didn't quite fit or look right there, so I put them on the guitar instead.

Alytw
01-04-2018, 04:11 PM
I’ve changed pins on a guitar and didn’t notice a difference other than they looked better.

Sharpshin
01-04-2018, 05:23 PM
I do not believe that the material of the bridge pin is relevant, assuming they are properly fitting bridge pins, of course. I understand why folks think it might make a difference, but my research says it ain't so. I will see if I can find the research that eased my mind on the subject and if so, I will post it. But I really put that subject to bed a few years ago and let it go after working on it a bit, so I might not have saved the compelling information. I really wanted to believe that a guitar would sound better with bone pins, or better yet, expensive fossil ivory! but in the end, I knew it wasn't so, and I compromised with inexpensive serviceable tusq, only because I hated the idea paying any money at all for light weight cheap plastic pins.

BlackBearUkes
01-04-2018, 07:15 PM
It would be so nice if bridge pins did contribute to the overall sound, that way we could adjust the various qualities of each different pin material to the best sound or the sound we like the best. Alas, it is just snake oil. Anyone who would spend $100 for brass pins has too much money.

Uke Don
01-05-2018, 08:37 AM
From a physics standpoint, heavier pins (i.e., brass) are going to add mass to the top and therefore reduce it's ability to vibrate. Even at that, I doubt you could tell a difference.