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Bridge Pin Science
Author
Post
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
I ran into this article on Bridge Pins by the Ivory King John Mickelson and it intriged me. I'm not set up yet to start my builds, but I'm constantly gathering info from all kinds of sources and I test theories when I can and this is one I could play with...(No pun intended!)
I removed the pins on my HD28V and sloted the bridge and installed un-slotted ivory pins to see what would actually happen...of course sound and tone are subjective things but to me, the change was nothing short of amazing!
I thought this would be of interest to those who haven't seen or heard of the reasoning behind NOT using slotted pins..
Here are links to the theory and install ideas...something to consider during the building procedure IMHO!
What say ye? I would like your input...yea or nay..the down side to me is the possibility of screwing up the bridge...but the difference is shocking!


http://www.13thfret.com/bridge-pins.html

http://www.13thfret.com/articles/pininstall.html

Nov 04, 09 | 7:26 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Ray -- yes, I've experienced changes from vairying the bridge pins, slotting the bridge, ramping the slots, etc. I think the largest change I've found in tone/volume has been from ramping the slots to increase the string break angle over the saddle.

The weight of the pins makes a difference, too. I had some brass pins that weighed .7 ounce installed in my Martin Jumbo Kit for awhile. I replaced them with some bone pins and noted an instant increase in volume and bass response.

Freeman Keller, one of our members, did some sound tests on bridge pins last year. Maybe he'll chme in here; I've searched for the link but I can't find it.

Bill

Nov 04, 09 | 8:46 am
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
Thanks Bill, yeah...maybe everybody is already aware of A simple thing like this... but I was blown away with this info and a bit embarassed to think I've been playing for more than 50 years and never gave the pins a thought...hahahaha it just cracks me up...:) "Let's see...maybe this thing needs a new set of strings...uh...maybe THIS brand or type will do it...uhhhh...OK...uhhh...maybe a different gauge..." BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
at least I can laugh at myself!!!! :):)

Nov 04, 09 | 4:06 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Main reason to slot is of course to reduce the wear on the bridgeplate. and in the case of plastic pins, keep them from bending Ramping changes the break angle which can help with the way the saddle "rocks" the top. Opinions vary about the affect of pins - mass, fit, mojo, placebo.... But here was my take on it (click on Bridge Pin Test)

http://www.thekrashsite.com/annex/tech.htm

However, as I read your post, you changed two things at the same time - slotting (and maybe some ramping?) as well as the pin material. I hope you didn't add a third variable and put new strings on at the same time. Did you also ream the pin holes when you went to ivory? Stock recent model Martins are usually not reamed so you might have also changed the fit of the pin.

My feeble attemps tried to hold all the variables constant with only the pin material changing. I'll also add that for ethical reasons I cannot use any ivory products in my guitars - plain old cow bone is as close as I get.

I'll also add that UMGF tech forum recently had a very long and somewhat ugly thread on pins - you can go find it if you want. Lots of people have different opinions and you know what they say about opinions.....

Nov 05, 09 | 12:37 pm
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
Yes Freeman, I did change all 4, however for the sake of satisfying my curiosity, I did make the changes one at a time..:)
In responce to the "Ethical" use of ivory...my source are family members who happen to be Native Alaskans, who as part of their livelyhood and native tradition...harvest walrus on a "Personal use level", which of course includes small amounts of ivory...it's traditional, it's legal, it's minimal, it's NEVER sold..at least by my family... and they occasionally share with ME! :)
The Inuit people have hunted these animals long before records were kept...the "Ivory" is not the primary reason for the hunt..they are regulated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and their activities fully meet all CITIES regulations. :)
They also come by fossil ivory now and then too...and of course, the big White Bears aren't interested in Man's regulations...they LOVE walrus and they usually leave the tusks lay...the Inuit people don't!
Thanks again! :)

Nov 05, 09 | 3:54 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Ray, I have no problem with the use of ivory as you describe, however I have neither Native American family nor the ability to make bridge pins if someone gave me a hunk of ivory (do you turn them on a lathe?). And since there is still a very large market in illegal ivory (mostly elephant) I just simply steer away from all of it. As you know, the CITES regulations only allow commercial sales of "fossilized" walrus ivory - which I heard defined as "killed a long time ago". Of course there are some folks who have describe me as a fossil also LOL.

There are acceptable alternatives to ivory, tortis shell, CITES woods and other materials that we use in lutherie, I'm very happy to use them.

My other point is that it is so easy for a subtle change like pins to be overshadowed by other variables so in my test I tried to hold everything exactly the same. My old D18 already was slotted, ramped and reamed (which allowed me to do one test with NO pins). All the pins were 5 degree taper so fit was not an issue. I kept the same set of strings on - just loosened them, pulled the pins and replaced them. I used the same mic, recorder settings, pic, chords and single notes - I even tied a string on the mic so I could place it the same distance from the top of the git.

The best thing to do is listen to the clips "blind" - and to load two of them so you can A/B. It is also really interesting to use a graphical program like Audacity to compare intensity and sustain - IMHO these are two of the biggest affects that the mass of the pin will have.

Some people have heard a lot in the clips and used that information, others have heard nothing and also used that. In the end, that is the most important thing - what your ears say to you.

(btw - I did a similar test on some strings and posted the clips. I keep thinking I should add to that but never got around to it. I also thought about doing one on saddles but it is such a hassle to make saddles, and since I don't use ivory it would only be plastic, bone and something like Tusq)

pps - if you haven't read it, I highly recommend Seth Kantner's "Ordinary Wolves".

Nov 06, 09 | 6:02 am
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
Thanks Freeman, no.. the wife's Brother-in-law made them for me...(By hand...which is nothing short of amazing in it's self) I neither have the patience, equipment nor the skills to do such a thing....all you have to do is look at some of the carvings done to grasp the talent required,
Fossilized ivory often washes up on beaches...some of it is from old villages that are under water now..or other natural sources... theses pins were from individual teeth and the they have turned brown from time...look almost like wood..I also have a nut and bridge insert he carved for me...
I honestly think there must be other materials out there that sounds equally as good..or close enough that most of us couldn't tell the difference..the bottom line is...I just never thought of how much "Plastic" pins robbed from the tone potential... :)

Nov 06, 09 | 6:36 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
When I am old enough to be fossilized, I want my bones to be used as nuts, saddles, and bridge pins in my kids and grand kids guitars. Then they can always play with daddy or grandpa. I know. Its Friday.

Nov 06, 09 | 8:21 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
FWIW, here is the Pin thread from UMGF. It got a bit ugly and finely closed by the mods, but it is a good read.

http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/90241

There is another recent one on compensated saddles that is also a very good read, gets into all the issues of temperment and intonation and once again, opinions vary dramatically, I'll let you find it if you are interested.


Nov 06, 09 | 8:27 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Freeman -- what's the link for the one on intonation, etc. That's one of my favorite guitar subjects.

Ken Hundley -- I'm glad you aren't working past Friday. I can't imagine what else you'd come up with ... :-j ...

Bill

Nov 06, 09 | 1:06 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Bill, here it is. By the third or fourth page it is all over temperment and sweetening and fret spacing and saddle locations and compensation and technique and opinions really start flying

http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/91177

And to put this all in perspective, at least for me, is that last night I sat in the third row in front of Alex de Grassi. I learned (1) why some acoustics need a cutaway, (2) someone should teach Alex some first position chords (LOL) , (3) that a guitar is really a drum, (4) knee braces are completely cool, (5) if you want to play above the 5th fret, tune by harmonics.

And after 2-1/2 hours of some of the wildest acoustic playing you will ever see and hear, Alex's last song was the old Sam Magee (Leo Kottke) standard, "Last Steam Engine Train", played more or less in the "usual" fashion. My wife looked at me and said "don't you play that one?". I looked up a de Grassi taking his curtain bow and said "not really".

This has nothing to do with bridge pins, does it?

Nov 06, 09 | 2:09 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Thanks Freeman -- That's a great story about de Grassi. He is amazing.

I just waded through the bridge pins wars. Amazing. I'm curious about what Bryan K. kept posting and editing, and having removed.

Bill

Ps. Yeah, we're not in bridge pin territory anymore. Oh well.

Nov 06, 09 | 2:47 pm
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
Thanks to everyone for their input..I LOVE it...pins, chins who cares? Great stuff..! :)

Nov 06, 09 | 3:28 pm



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