Bridge Pins Analysis: How Do They Affect Tone?


Bridge pins are small, and yet very necessary part of every acoustic guitar. Because of that, it’s natural to think about whether bridge pins affect tone of your guitar in any way.

Also, is there a difference between bridge pins on different acoustic guitars? Are they all the same size?

Bridge pins are not universal. They have different sizes, depending on the type of guitar.

Do bridge pins make a difference to the tone your guitar is producing?

Yes, bridge pins affect the tone of a guitar. Bridge pins filter certain frequencies and by that way they affect the frequency spectrum of the overall sound output of guitar. They are affecting the volume and sustain of the tone, also.

Different bridge pins act differently when subjected to humidity and temperature changes, and that also affects the sound of a guitar.

Here, in this article, we’re going to thoroughly analyse how different types of bridge pins affect the tone of an acoustic guitar. Let’s go!

Bridge Pins Can Have Many Different Sizes

Bridge pins are used to locate the string precisely in the horizontal plane on some musical instruments. They are usually made of bone, brass, or synthetics on acoustic guitars.

Bridge pins are of different sizes depending on the type of guitar. There are old pins that are no longer produced, custom pins, and pin sizes that are used for brief periods.

How Bridge Pins Make A Difference In Sound

Bridge pin upgrade results to increased clarity, the overall volume, and increased sustain.

Also, they steer a guitar to produce more tremble or more bass, depending on the material of the bridge pin. They are of personal preference, and it is not a must to choose what other guitarists have.

Hence, one can use bridge pins of different types and colors depending on his or her preference. Bridge pins don’t seem to be remarkable and are usually small, but regardless of their simple looks, they are crucial in determining the quality of the sound a guitar will produce.

Therefore, it is essential to replace them from time to time for better quality sound. Below are some types of bridge pins for guitars.

Bridge Pins Are A Cheap Way Of Shaping Sound

Many people spend more resources on making their guitar sound as pleasant as possible. For instance, installing new saddles of a substance can be a beneficial way of altering and increasing specific tonal property for the better.

This requires a good deal of work and costs a significant amount of money. To achieve a more similar effect at an affordable or reduced cost, it is advisable to simply change the bridge pins from their typical wood or plastic to a harder polished bone pin.

The bridge is the main point of sound wave transfer between the top and tone-wood and the played strings of the guitar. However, it is the bridge pins and the saddle that is responsible for conducting strings vibrations to the bridge.

The pins and saddle material has also function of filtering the vibrations with specific frequencies coming through clearly and others being muted. Therefore making saddles and pins to have a great deal to tonal properties of the guitar and how right notes will be sustained at a given pitch.

Bone Bridge Pins

Bone pins are cheaper variant of pins. They do not expand nor contract when exposed to extreme changes in humidity and temperature during shipping.

Because of that, they improve the purity of trebles, the clarity, and increased sustainability as compared to wooden or plastic pins. Bridge bone pins increase the purity of the essential notes, which helps out cheap guitars with bolt-on necks.

They are also increased to add a more focused singing up in higher harmonics and ring off the top voice.

Hanging the saddle of the guitar has more effect on the tone of a guitar as compared to bridge pins. However, switching the pins causes a considerable change that allows the guitarist to twist the voice guitar more accurately.

Some guitarist prefers both the bridge pins and the saddle to be of the same substance while others prefer them to be of different substance but complimentary materials.

Bone bridge pins are less expensive and offer the right amount of ring and clarity, which improves the quality of sound of the guitar.

See this cool video that compares bone bridge pins to plastic bridge pins, in terms of frequency, sustainability and volume.

Buffalo Horn Bridge Pins

The transfer of the string vibrations plate is usually affected by the type of the bridge pins because the strings terminate in the pin slots. Pins made from buffalo Horn Bridge are more unusual bridge pins.

They are an excellent alternative to most conventional plastic, wooden or black pins made from African ebony and provide a pin of black color.

A new guitar usually comes with pins that are made of lightweight plastic which is inert and doesn’t shrink and swell due to varying environmental conditions.

This ensures that these pins will not lead to a crack across the pinholes. However, plastics are poor conductors of vibrations. Hence, many players usually replace plastic pins, some with buffalo horn bridge pins or bridge pins made from other substances as soon as possible.

Buffalo horn bridge pins help a guitar to provide an excellent and improved volume. Guitars with buffalo horn bridge pins have a stark clarity, increased transparency, and a sharper sound.

When these pins are put in a guitar with mahogany back and sides, the effect is much noticeable than pins made of other substances. That’s because they help to increase the detail in a powerful voice that is otherwise denser, which could be helpful in definition department.

Buffalo horn bridge pins are a little bit expensive as compared to ebony pins, but they are worth it because they help to increase volume, sustain, and enhance the definition down in the voice.

Ebony Bridge Pins

Ebony bridge pins are completely handmade that are made from the wood. They are usually associated with those guitars that have ebony fingerboard, mahogany back and sides, ebony bridge, and a premium grade spruce top.

Ebony bridge pins do not only add visual accents to a guitar. They take part in contributing to how the guitar will sound, also. They typically offer refined deviation in the essential tonal variations, but cannot be compared to the voice alterations that result from changing the bridge and saddle.

Pins made out of wood and animal horn usually have a dampening effect and muting some types of frequencies that promote the use of other types of pins made from other materials making them more noticeable.

Ebony bridge pins may not perfectly match every ear or every guitar, but they have low risk when it comes to price because they are much cheaper as compared to pins made from other substances.

They are recommended to people who wish to add more woody texture to the edge of a guitar and reduce trebly shrillness from a guitar. They are also preferred because they are less susceptible to wear than other bridge pins.

Brass Bridge Pins

Brass bridge pins are meticulously made by use brass. They are used to add a crisp and harsh tone to a guitar.

They usually affect the tone of the guitar by adding additional mass to the bridge, which hinders the ability of the bridge to vibrate to its full extent. This makes a guitar produce a sound that is perceived to have more treble because the effect of these additional mass has a more significant effect on the treble.

Brass bridge pins reduce the tone instead of boosting it. However, brass bridge pins can help some guitars, especially the ones that are overly bass-heavy, to improve perceived treble sustain and response.

Brass Bridge is personal to every guitar, hence have different effects on the tone of different type of guitars. They are usually inexpensive as compared to some type made of other substances.

They come with a different color. One can choose the desired color that matches his or her guitar.

Walrus Jawbone Bridge Pins

Walrus Jawbone bridge pins are made by use fossil material, which is among the densest. That can improve the acoustical properties of most guitars.

Walrus jawbone is typically tan color or almond with small pores, natural micro-chips, and dark mineral speckles. They are believed to enhance the production of overtones, hence leading to a warmer tone.

Walrus jawbone bridge pins come with a magnitude of beautiful and patterns color and because of that it’s attracting more customers who wish to decorate their guitars.

Walrus jawbone bridge pins are very rare and that’s making them very expensive and very hard to find in the market. Due to its scarcity in the market and high-cost walrus jawbone, these bridge pins are separately sold if one accidentally lose one.

Walrus jawbone bridge pins are personal to every guitar and they have different effects on tone to a different type of guitars.

Plastic Bridge Pins

Most guitars are sold with plastic just because they are very cheap and very inert. This ensures the plastic bridge pins will not contract and expand, which can crack the bridge when they are exposed to extreme humidity and temperature changes during shipping.

Plastic Bridge Pins have strong impact resistance, superior scratch resistance, and high tensile strength.

Plastic bridge pins usually have an excellent fit, and that’s making them less likely to cause any problem with most acoustic sizes. They are usually inexpensive as compared to some type made of other substances; hence it can be an easily reversible modification if one wants to try it.

Plastic bridge pins help to improve the sound of a guitar by adding more clarity, sustain and punches and by this they are creating a brighter and stable tone.

Many guitarists usually replace plastic bridge pins immediately after purchasing a guitar. They are replaced by other bridge pins made of other substances such as wood, bone buffalo horn, etc.

They replace them as a way of attaining an increased sustain, more clarity, and improving overall volume. These result from the plastic bridge pins inertness.

In other words, plastic bridge pins have poor ability to transfer the vibrations from the strings to the bridge plate. Below are the reasons guitarists prefer plastic bridge pins.

  • they have excellent rigidity and density, which help to improve vibrations transfers.
  • they help to improve the quality of the sound by creating more brighter and stable tones.
  • plastics are rustproof, scratch proof, waterproof, and resistant.
  • plastic bridge pins provide a good fit for most acoustic guitars.
  • plastic bridge pins are excellent for improving the responsiveness of a guitar.

Martin Luxe Bridge Pins

These are types of high-tech bridge pins that are made by use of liquid metal, i.e., zirconium alloy that is exceptionally good at transferring energy from the vibrating string straight into the guitar instead of absorbing it.

The Martin Luke guitar bone bridge pins are incredibly durable. They last for a long time as compared to other types of bridge pins made by other substances.

Martin Luxe bridge pins target the use of advanced material to produce pins that provide a tonal enhancement and structural enhancement. They can aid a guitar to produce sound with increased sustainability and volume.

These types of bridge pins are highly compatible with saddles made of different substances. Bone bridge pins are less expensive as compared to some other type of bridge pins, but still offer the right amount of ring and clarity, which improves the quality of sound the guitar produces.

Martin Luxe bridge pins are both attractive and functional and are available in different colors, which include black, black and white inlay, plain white, white and tortoise inlay and bass black/white inlay. This allows a person to select the desired color that suits his or her guitar perfectly.

Persimmon Bridge Pins

Persimmon Bridge Pins are type of pins that add a touch of smartness to different types of acoustic guitar in terms of their tone enhancing properties and in terms of their looks.

They are handcrafted from beautiful solid persimmon wood to exacting specifications. They are highly recommended for professional-level guitars that produce a complex tone that result from how these bridge pins heighten the definition of both harmonic overtones and fundamental notes.

Persimmon bridge pins are finely detailed and symmetrical in shape and are designed to work with modern bridges. However, it is possible to insert them backward to work with vintage guitars that have their slots carved in the bridge itself.

They are ranked among the best type of bridge pins because they increase the definition in a way that amazes many guitarists.

Persimmon bridge pins bring out more detail from harmonic voice and guitar’s tonal pallet rather than thickening the voice a guitar or taking away the end (like ebony bridge pins do).

These bridge pins make harmonic sprites to be more defined and pronounced. Persimmon also makes sense of three-dimensional depth and space across the entire voice noticeable, especially in the presence of dry and woody quality.

Man guitarists believe that these persimmon bridge pins add something to their guitar, but the naked truth is that they add nothing. The only thing they do is to filter the tone producing energy in a way that could have gone unnoticed to emerge.

Best Bridge Pins?

As you can see from the article, different types of bridge pins affect guitar tone differently. There are advantages and disadvantages for every type of bridge pins.

I’d say that choosing a bridge pins for your guitar is a matter of personal preference. How do you want your guitar to sound? What genre of music do you usually play?

These are all details, and one can say that talking so much about bridge pins is just a waste of time. And there’s some truth in it! But, if you’re an audiophile, seeking for a perfect tone, this article may help you in finding it.

Let’s recap all the advantages and disadvantages of various bridge pin types.

Bone Pins

  • immune to temperature and humidity changes; bone pins do not contract nor expand
  • they provide stable sustain and clarity to the tone
  • they improve the sound of a cheap, low quality guitar
  • they’re cheap

Buffalo Horn Bridge Pins

  • they are increasing the volume of the guitar
  • they provide a sharp, clarified sound
  • they are a bit pricey

Ebony Bridge Pins

  • cheap
  • dampening effect on some frequencies

Brass Bridge Pins

  • they provide the crispier sound to the guitar
  • they hinder the vibration, thus increasing treble
  • useful for bass-heavier sounding guitars
  • cheap

Walrus Jawbone Bridge Pins

  • densest bridge pins of all
  • they enhance the production of overtones, thus making sound warmer
  • very rare
  • expensive

Plastic Bridge Pins

  • rigid and dense, they improve vibrations transfers
  • they provide brighter and stable tones
  • rustproof, scratch proof, waterproof, and resistant
  • they fit good for most of the acoustic guitars
  • cheap

Martin Luxe Bridge Pins

  • made by use of liquid metal
  • extremely durable
  • stable
  • expensive

Persimmon Bridge Pins

  • handcrafted
  • high quality, durable
  • do not thicken the sound
  • expensive

Conclusion

I hope this article provided a valuable information and insight about bridge pins. If you enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it, I’m more than happy about it!

Don’t forget to check out some other interesting articles from this site about various guitar topics and issues!

Cheers, and rock on!

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