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Old 11-14-2012, 10:58 AM
gstring gstring is offline
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Default Slotted vs nonslotted pins

What are the differences between using slotted and unslotted bridge pins.

I would like to upgrade and have no idea why I should choose one over the other.

Once again, thank you for your comments.

daniel
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:12 AM
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Daniel. In order to use unslotted bridge pins the bridge has to be slotted which involves cutting a slot along the side of each bridge pin hole (on the saddle side of the hole) for the strings to fit into so that they don't take up any space in the hole itself. When that's done a solid/slotless pin can fit into the hole which serves the purpose of holding the ball end of the string against the under surface of the bridge. When the bridge pin holes are not slotted, you need to have the slots for the string to fit into, in the bridge pins themselves. When this is the arrangement, the ball end of the string rides up into the pin and the hole, distorting the shape of the pin and eroding away the lining of the hole.

With solid pins and slotted bridge pin holes the ball end of the string rests on a flat surface. That gives it more solid contact with the soundboard and transmits the sound better than when it's trying to pull through the gap between the slotted bridge pin and the inside edge of the pin hole. As a result the tone (at least I think so after doing this on several guitars) is improved. In my experience sustain, clarity, and volume are often noticeably increased.

This says it better: http://www.bryankimsey.com/bridges/slotted.htm
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by oldrocker View Post
Daniel. In order to use unslotted bridge pins the bridge has to be slotted which involves cutting a slot along the side of each bridge pin hole (on the saddle side of the hole) for the strings to fit into so that they don't take up any space in the hole itself. When that's done a solid/slotless pin can fit into the hole which serves the purpose of holding the ball end of the string against the under surface of the bridge. When the bridge pin holes are not slotted, you need to have the slots for the string to fit into, in the bridge pins themselves. When this is the arrangement, the ball end of the string rides up into the pin and the hole, distorting the shape of the pin and eroding away the lining of the hole.

With solid pins and slotted bridge pin holes the ball end of the string rests on a flat surface. That gives it more solid contact with the soundboard and transmits the sound better than when it's trying to pull through the gap between the slotted bridge pin and the inside edge of the pin hole. As a result the tone (at least I think so after doing this on several guitars) is improved. In my experience sustain, clarity, and volume are often noticeably increased.

This says it better: http://www.bryankimsey.com/bridges/slotted.htm
Well stated. If you are not sure if you will have the bridge slotted, but might at a later date, you can still use the slotted pins by turning them around. For appearance sake better if you use pins without the slotted skirt. But pins are not a major expense - unless you are using one of the ivories.
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:12 PM
estayton estayton is offline
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I think those answers just about cover it.

My experience agrees that a properly slotted bridge plus unslotted pins results in better tone and sustain than using slotted pins. The direct vibration transfer to the wood of the bridgeplate seems to be important. The greatest benefit, however, may be in extending the longevity of the bridgeplate by preventing the string ball-ends from eroding away the wood.
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:16 PM
Misty44 Misty44 is offline
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A slotted (and properly reamed) bridge using unslotted pins is a good thing. Some pictures to go with oldrocker's words:

Slotted pins in unslotted bridges create big gaps at the plate for the string balls to wiggle up damaging the bridge plate and pins - preventing this is the main benefit of a slotted bridge:


illustartion by John Arnold




Slotted bridges and unslotted pins minimize this gap as Bryan's side-by-side demonstrates:


photo by Bryan Kimsey


Bridge slots are cut to individual string sizes; the slots in pins are all the same diameter: a cheaper manufacturing solution. A proper slot looks like this pin hole on a Martin D-18A:




Many quality manufacturers and luthiers slot and ream their pin holes as a matter of course. It's a good way to make guitars, and can easily be done to any guitar any time thereafter.
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gstring View Post
What are the differences between using slotted and unslotted bridge pins.

I would like to upgrade and have no idea why I should choose one over the other.

Once again, thank you for your comments.

daniel
Hi daniel...
I had all mine redone to accommodate non-slotted bridge pins (and in one guitar that is accomplished by rotating the pins so the slot is to the back).

I feel it provides a better 'fit' of the bridge pin and strings. Personal preference, and this is probably the second conversation I've had about it in 6 years.

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Old 11-14-2012, 12:45 PM
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My experience has been if you string your guitar well, placing the proper bend at the end of each string, they will seat will forward of the pin whether slotted or not.

On my BTO Taylor which is unslotted I can remove the pins and the strings will stay seated at tension. To be honest when I string my guitar more effort is put into it than is really neccesary as I always check with my mirror to verify the ball ends are seated properly, and not resting against the pin. If one is out of sorts then I correct it.

I slotted two Martins I owned using the loaner kit that was being passed around over at UMGF some time ago. It was neat to do, but rather scary. It is an easy way to mess up a bridge and bridge plate if you make the slots to large. (which I did on the first of the two). If you really want to do it and and dont have the ability to practice first on an instrument of lower value, I would recomend having a very trusted Luthier do it.

Also keep in mind even though it seems counter intuitive it will void the warranty on the bridge of your guitar.

Last edited by wooglins; 11-14-2012 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:29 PM
bwstl01 bwstl01 is offline
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Better yet, get a piece of harwood scrap, drill some 1/4" holes through it, and practice on those. The only tricky part is starting the cut.

No guts? Then let a luthier do it. Not expensive at all.
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:30 PM
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I'll defer to others who say that slotting the bridge improves tone but I'll confess t not understanding how this works. The string is stopped at the saddle, which is the primary point of vibrational transfer from the string to the top. I wouldn't expect the short length of string between the saddle and the bottom of the bridge to convey much energy to the top in comparison to the portion between the nut and saddle. Also, at least a portion of any vibrations propagating past the saddle along the short string length should get captured, I would have thought, by the contact between the bridge plate and the ball end. So, only what little energy is dissipated by the bridge pin should be lost (in my primitive and perhaps inaccurate model of how this all works).

I understand the argument that slotted pins can contribute to bridge plate erosion and I can imagine a bit more clearly how that might impact tone (if for no other reason than removing mass from a top "brace"). I also note that the most enthusiastic supporters of unslotted pins are people who frequently work on vintage guitars where bridge plates may have gotten pretty chewed up by poorly seated ball ends and insufficiently rigid plastic pins. Also, I have negligible first-hand experience with any of this and, as I said, defer to those who have tons of experience. But it would help if someone could explain how this all works and why my reasoning about the small impact on tone of the string beyond the saddle (on the short end) is incorrect.

I don't really see any downside to slotting the bridge and using unslotted pins. I'm just having a hard time understanding the downside of slotted pins when ball ends are seated properly and rigid pins are used.
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Old 11-14-2012, 04:14 PM
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I experimented with this the last time this thread came up and found (against my predictions) that under tension the ball end always rotated into the pin slot and therefore had less contact with the bridge plate - causing more "erosion".
(It's worth cautioning that bridge slots had better be a neat fit or erosion could easily be worse).
Unless your pins are made of soft plastic I can't really imagine how any difference would be audible, but ....

One other experiment I did was to put 6 carefully made holes in a very hard, reinforced but almost weightless old Ovation bridge shim that I had. That now sits between my unslotted bridge plate and the ball ends - no change or harm to the guitar. It can stay there if I don't take all the strings off at once. I can't even imagine a difference in what I hear .. arguments could go either way though - an extra thing in there vs. a more solid seat for the ball end. Maybe the bone pins have a role here.
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:09 PM
guitararmy guitararmy is offline
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So....would there be a benefit from threading the new guitar string through the ball end from the old string to try to minimize bridge plate erosion?
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:18 PM
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I bought stewmac's slotting set a few months ago. You have to make sure that you have enough space between the low e string and the saddle otherwise your break angle will be nearly 90 degrees.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by guitararmy View Post
So....would there be a benefit from threading the new guitar string through the ball end from the old string to try to minimize bridge plate erosion?
sorry - not sure I understand that - I may be dull today.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:53 PM
guitararmy guitararmy is offline
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I had heard that if one threaded a new guitar string through the ball end from the old string (after cutting it off of the string) it helped keep the ball end from digging in to the bridge plate, especially if it was already damaged....

So if one did this on a new guitar, would it help prevent damage to the bridge plate?
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitararmy View Post
I had heard that if one threaded a new guitar string through the ball end from the old string (after cutting it off of the string) it helped keep the ball end from digging in to the bridge plate, especially if it was already damaged....

So if one did this on a new guitar, would it help prevent damage to the bridge plate?
.. just had a look at how that works and it seems to me like it might keep more ball - ("ring" really) on the bridge plate. If the ring lies flat against the bridge plate less of it can slip into the pins groove. I want to put a mirror in there and see what actually happens under tension next time I restring something.
It's the same as putting a tiny washer on the string and it's easy to visualize a slightly larger washer having that effect.

There's definitely a point at which an imperfectly cut or worn slotted bridge will fail more quickly than non slotted - if its pins are ok.
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