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Old 06-04-2011, 07:37 AM
iknowjohnny iknowjohnny is offline
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Default Bridge pins DO change tone

lets face it, not everyone's sensitivity to hearing tonal changes is the same. Add to that the fact not every guitar is going to change to the same degree with different pins. But the fact is, they CAN make a very notable difference. Of course they won't change a D18 to a 000-18 or make a great sounding guitar sound like a lam top junker. But I experienced this for the first time yesterday. I've never experimented with pins before for some reason. But i bought some stewmac ivoroid unslotted pins which arrived yesterday. Turns out they are larger in both head size, top diameter and weight. I measured mine and the stewmac specs showed the same measurment, but they weren't. They are heavier and harder and i think that makes a difference.

Anyways, i was afraid to ream the holes because this guitar sounds perfect. I hate to use that word because I know no guitars can, or at least thats always been my belief. But i honestly can say that what i want from a 000-18 style guitar is exactly what this delivers, and as perfect as the sound i hear in my head when i think of what the perfect 000-18 should sound like. Maybe thats why it was so obvious to me, because when something that right changes even a bit, you hear it big time. Anyways, i reamed the E, B and G strings and slotted then. At that point i played it a bit before i did the rest to see if it was sounding any different. As much as i love this guitar's tone, the change horrified me ! No, it wasn't nite and day, but when something sounds perfect then changes just enough to where it no longer does, THAT is horrifying ! I figured i ruined it because of the slotting and reaming. I was heartbroken until i replaced the old pins using the backwards so the slots were opposite of the string to make up for the slotting. The tone was back ! I was relieved Big time. So i left the 3 remaining holes unreamed and played it a while.

Now i'm no beginner when it comes to A/B'ing tonal changes due to mods. I've been doing is forever. So knowing how ears can be fooled and being more familiar with placebo effect than the back of my hand, i decided later that nite to put the 3 pins where i had reamed the holes. The change was definitely very apparent. So they're out and the old pins are staying. Since then i keep listening to hear if theres a difference from having reamed the 3 holes and slotting them, but so far i don't think so. At times i feel there may be, but thankfully if there is it's so subtle that it's negligible, at least so far. Fingers are crossed. I'm bothered some by the fact i have 3 slightly larger and slotted holes now, but thats a lot better than the alternative, the tone i heard with the new pins.

anyways, i broke my #1 rule, a rule that i foolishly ignore now and then even thos i know it well and have screwed myself many times ignoring it..."if it ain't broke, don't fix it" ! may advice to those considering reaming or slotting.....don't. Barring the NEED to do it because of issues wroth the ball end chewing up the plate, leave it. Tone is tricky and one thing i have learned is that the changes often don't reveal themselves to you much when you first make a change. But often going BACK to the old setup makes the change much more apparent. So often you go on with a change to the bad not even realizing it then down the road you start feeling something ain't quite as good as it used to be. Anyways, i do expect the typical internet forum bashing for suggesting i hear something that others are sure can't be heard. But Thats my story and i'm sticking to it.
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:44 AM
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Dru Edwards Dru Edwards is offline
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Hey iknowjohnny- I'm glad you were able to tell the difference and improve the tone of you guitar. That's all that matters.

There have been lots of debate on this forum about bridge pins alerting tone. Some agree, others don't. I imagine this will be a 'heated' (i use that term loosely) thread.
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:48 AM
iknowjohnny iknowjohnny is offline
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I'm sure you're right. But what i wasn't able to improve ther tone, that was th point of the post. It got worse. However, now that you bring it up i suppose i should have mentioned that if pins can change the tone, then it could obviously go the other way too. But rather then do an irreversible change like i did i would suggest just new pins. Had i not reamed and slotted E, B and G I'd have endured a lot less worry, just the loss of $14 which i don't care about.
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:51 AM
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I'm dubious of anything above the nut or behind the saddle having any great effect, but anything is possible. What I wonder about this. When you change out something like bridge pins, you would likely also be changing to new strings, so wouldn't that play into it?
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:57 AM
Gypsyblue Gypsyblue is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HHP View Post
I'm dubious of anything above the nut or behind the saddle having any great effect, but anything is possible. What I wonder about this. When you change out something like bridge pins, you would likely also be changing to new strings, so wouldn't that play into it?
Not if he first changed all six pins and then went back hours later and switched three back to stock again. At least the OP was willing to put what he heard to the test. I did much the same thing when I made my first bone saddle and felt the tone of my guitar improved dramatically: I left the strings on but but the old saddle back on again. Yep: didn't sound as good as it did with bone saddle. So I put the bone saddle back on. Got real good again!

I think switching from plastic pins to bone pins does make a very small improvement in tone if the new pins have a very good fit. Perhaps, since the OP isn't impressed, he has less than a perfect fit?
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Last edited by Gypsyblue; 06-04-2011 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:59 AM
Bikewer Bikewer is offline
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That's pretty much my thought.... Are there folks who are capable of recalling EXACTLY what the instrument sounded like when the last set of new strings were installed, and then capable of aurally making an exact comparison of this remembered tone with the newly-installed strings and bridge pins?

I have no pretensions in this regard. Frankly, I have pretty poor hearing. I'm 65, have hearing loss from shooting in one ear, and tinnitus to boot. I'm no judge.
Just from the physics of the thing, it would seem that unless there were a substantial change in mass in the bridge pins, to the extent that it would contribute to a change in the entire vibrating mass of the top of the guitar, there could be no effect.
So, go from plastic to say...Brass. Sure. You might get a couple of percentage points more mass. But plastic to....Bone? I don't have a guitar top structure lying around, nor a precision scientific scale. But I would wager that the difference in total mass would be near-undetectable.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HHP View Post
I'm dubious of anything above the nut or behind the saddle having any great effect, but anything is possible. What I wonder about this. When you change out something like bridge pins, you would likely also be changing to new strings, so wouldn't that play into it?
Hi HHP…
It sounds to me like what was done to the bridge and pins improved the tone, and likely more than the pins themselves.

I had three of my guitars converted to slotless pins (the 4th will be at the next setup), and that always produces the best seating and contact with the bridgeplate which should maximize the tone.


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Old 06-04-2011, 08:03 AM
iknowjohnny iknowjohnny is offline
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Same strings....i've been around the old modding block far too many times to make that mistake. I would never change more than 1 thing at once or you invalidate any findings. You can't possibly be sure which caused any change you hear. When i hear of people doing that it always surprises me they don't see this.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:49 AM
zmf zmf is offline
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Darn. I have a Lowden. No pins. What can I do to improve the tone?
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:51 AM
HHP HHP is offline
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Darn. I have a Lowden. No pins. What can I do to improve the tone?
Try different materials for the ball end on the string.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:52 AM
Gypsyblue Gypsyblue is offline
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Quote:
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Darn. I have a Lowden. No pins. What can I do to improve the tone?
Trade it for a Martin or Taylor? Just kidding - I've owned and played some great Lowdens that needed no improvements to the tone.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:57 AM
iknowjohnny iknowjohnny is offline
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Quote:
Darn. I have a Lowden. No pins. What can I do to improve the tone?
Well, tho you're being sarcastic, let me answer anyways. I did NOT change pins to get better tone. The stocks are cheap plastic that look cheezy and one even is a different pin than the others. (don't ask me how that happened on a new guitar) and i just wanted a better looking and quality pin. Thats all. I reamed and slotted them because I bought unslotted pins on recommendation here because it was said the proper way for a bridge to be is slotted with unslotted pins. Otherwise i'd have just bought new and nicer pins and left it at that. My post here about tone was done because of the difference i heard, not because i was LOOKING for a difference in tone.
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:08 AM
zmf zmf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iknowjohnny View Post
Well, tho you're being sarcastic, let me answer anyways. I did NOT change pins to get better tone. The stocks are cheap plastic that look cheezy and one even is a different pin than the others. (don't ask me how that happened on a new guitar) and i just wanted a better looking and quality pin. Thats all. I reamed and slotted them because I bought unslotted pins on recommendation here because it was said the proper way for a bridge to be is slotted with unslotted pins. Otherwise i'd have just bought new and nicer pins and left it at that. My post here about tone was done because of the difference i heard, not because i was LOOKING for a difference in tone.
Guess that did sound sarcastic, so let me respond.

I've put ebony pins on a 514ce in an attempt to warm it up a bit, and I think it worked.

I've put buffalo horn pins on a D-18V because the plastic pins were wearing out, and I think it made the sound "bigger" and warmer.

So I'm not a skeptic. But at the same time I don't fully trust my ears or my expectations. Glad your mods worked.

But it just struck me that you can't try these mods with a Lowden.
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:17 AM
iknowjohnny iknowjohnny is offline
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LOL!! You guys must not be reading my posts because you're the second one that said you're glad it worked for me ! Point was, it DIDN'T work for me. Messed the tone up in fact. But the point is a change be it good or bad. Mine happened to be bad.
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Old 06-04-2011, 10:08 AM
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Default I am curious

So how can you really tell if the tone changed or if there was a noticable difference from before, so many things change and effect the guitars sounds that I always wonder,not saying that you can't hear a difference but how on earth do you go about proving that you did find a difference. As was said before is it the pins that made the change noticable to you or was it that the new pins seated better causing more effect on the top that was the coulprit?
Me I am always going to be one of those thats says nay to getting any difference from pins, but hey thats just me.Ship
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