What would the difference be between brass and bone bridge pins? I'm asking because I'm trying to find out if I should keep my brass ones, or switch to bone. I would like whichever one has more sustain and overtones. I love that type of sound in a bright guitar like mine.
This is an interesting question. Brass pins may slightly brighten your tone. I think the difference is just personal preference. If I was in the situation I would avoid brass pins most guitars I have played have the bone or a synthetic material.
The GraphTech Black TUSQ Nut is your best bet. Since its known to increase sustain.
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Pins will not have much effect on the guitar except for weighing down the soundboard a little more.

From a physics point of view, most of the energy is transferred at the point of contact closest to the body of the guitar, the saddle(since the body resonates to amplify sound). There may be some slight difference in sound due to the pins, but the difference should be close to negligible.
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We just had a long and involved discussion on this on the Acoustic Guitar Forum. One member did some actual testing with electronic equipment.
Brass, being considerably heavier than plastic, bone, ivory, or ebony ( which are all very close in weight) had a noticeable effect on the resonant qualities of the instrument.
However....It was essentially impossible to predict what this effect would mean as to how the guitar sounded.
Try 'em.... If you like 'em it's a cheap enough mod.
So brass is brighter than bone? If so, I'm keeping the brass. I like a bright tone that has good sustain. So there's no other bridge pin that will increase the sustain and brightness more than brass?
Brass shouldn't change the tone in the slightest. If anything, it makes sustain worse. That is all.
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I'm guessing that means I should go with bone...how does brass worsen the sustain? Is it because it is heavy?
The difference isn't THAT significant. If you're fine with the sound now, leave it be, I'd say.

And yes, the reason is only because the pins are very heavy in comparison to bone.
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Then I should switch to bone if the sustain is actually worse...I'll try them and see what happens.
@ captivate, you are very incorrect. Vibrations are actually transferred through the pins, and they "sing" so to speak. Why don't you try different bridge pins in some A/B comparisons and tell me the tone difference is "negligable". I have heard HUGE differences in tonal quality in my shop by changing out only saddles or pins. Brass will definitely INCREASE your sustain. Why do you think fender adds a chunk of heavy brass to their tremolos? Or that the "fatfinger" sustain block is made entirely of brass. I work on guitars everyday, don't listen to this guy. Little things can make big differences. And some people (captivate) apparently aren't good at hearing those. Pins are cheap, I recommend getting a few sets and seeing what sounds best to your ear. Fossilized Walrus Ivory has been the most popular in my shop, and is being used by lots of custom shop luthiers. And contrary to popular belief, bone will typically yield better tonal results than Tusq. I don't even stock tusq anymore, because it just sits. No one wants it once they hear the bone.
Anyone who can hear the difference between brass and bone bridge pins has WAY better hearing than I do.
i thought that my hearing was fine...apparently i need to make an appointment at Miracle Ear. with all the string pressure on the saddle and nut anyting else would be a miniscule change if any. i hear so many guitar snobs claiming that they can hear the differences in bridge pins. i stay away from those people as i know they are much better humans that I .
need more gear and a lot more talent(courtesytuxs)
I think a lot of people don't really listen for the difference. Ppl aren't good at paying REAL attention to little things. You hear a guitar you hear a guitar, you don't listen for the subtle differences that are there. Like people saying that Spruce topped guitars sound the same as Cedar, or Mahogany, or Koa. Why don't you try recording your guitar, open tuning, full and loud chord, then pick through the open strings one at a time, and then change the pins, go from say, cheap stock plastic, to fossilized walrus ivory. Same mics etc, same open tuning, same strum and single notes, and really listen for the difference in E.Q. I guarantee, if the only thing you watch are the volume levels, if you don't adjust anything, fossilized walrus ivory will be noticeably louder than plastic. If you think of it as "E.Q.ing" your actual guitar itself, you may start to notice. Brass pins will sustain more, and bring out the highs in your guitar. Bone adds body, Ebony warmth, etc.. The differences are subtle, but they are very noticeable, and you can really taylor your sound to be what you want to hear, if you can listen.
Last edited by guitarmutt at Nov 12, 2013,
There are psychological factors at work as well. "I paid good money for this (insert item of your choice here) and by God, it's gonna sound better!"

We have expectations of a difference, and hopefully an improvement. I think that's what often happens with strings... We don't change strings till the old ones are really ratty, and then when we put on a set of shiny new ones....Well sure, they sound a lot better.
Do we really, accurately remember what the old ones sounded like when we put them on the guitar 5 months ago?

I, being an old skeptic, have often maintained that the only way to objectively test such things is with electronic measurement.... Run a passage with the instrument through a recorder/wave-form analyzer or something similar, then put on your new accessory and try it again.
Is there a difference? Is the difference within the range that would allow it to be detected by human ears?
And finally, if both of those criteria are positive....Is the difference perceived as "better" than it was before?
One factor stands out, when you slacken and re-tune your strings, they wear out rather quickly. You can't really replace the bridge pins without slackening the strings. (This applies more so for a saddle or nut).

Because of this, you'll never be able to detect, or even measure, the absolute difference between the sound of the other parts, if the sound of the strings has changed in the meantime.

I expect you could measure the deterioration electronically, through several tuning cycles and subtract the differential from the actual results, But, that would require a substantial investment in equipment, and an obsessive compulsive disorder to go along with it.
I bought a Voyage Air VAOM04 and it had plastic bridge pins. I changed nothing else but the bridge pins to ebony and it the change in clarity and bloom of the strings was marked. I didn't imagine it because I spent a whole $10 for bridge pins. I also got a bone saddle for it later and the change in tone was almost nil from whatever was in there, can't remember if it was tusq or plastic. The bridge pins made the most difference. I have found this to be true on every cheap guitar I've setup where I've replaced plastic bridge pins with ebony.

If you hear a difference then there is a difference, if you don't then there is no difference. If you can't hear a difference that is YOUR experience.
Last edited by dragonfly66 at Feb 16, 2015,
Try it and record the difference. Get a fresh set of strings and mount em first with the brass and then with the bone pins. Record each with a decent digital mic and see if you can hear a significant difference in tone. Trust your ears and go with the one you like best.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

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Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
The main difference is likely to be due to mass, that is, you could get the same affect with bone pins and a ballast weight. Which you would prefer would be a matter of taste, but brass will probably moderate the high end a bit. - I have three brass pins in the treble side of my kona to soften the very bright "up front" sound.

Another way I have altered tone is by hardening the contact between the string balls and the bridge plate with brass washers. I thought it sounded brighter, but it could be confirmation bias. The Stewmac "Plate mate" will do this, and also add some mass, like brass pins.

EDIT. I just realised this thread is three years old.
Last edited by Tony Done at Feb 16, 2015,