#1
hey, i recently bought a martin 000-18 and it came fitted with plastic bridge pins so i was looking to upgrade them to either camel bone or buffalo horn, would this make a differance to my guitar(other than looks) and if so what would the differance between these 2 materials be.

thanks
#2
make them outta human finger bones...classy
"Spin the middle side topwise. Topwise!"

"And there's Jimmy Page, the biggest thief of American Blues music"
#3
I'm not too sure about the difference between camel bone and buffalo horn, but either way they should improve sustain and clarity. Even if only by a little.
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#4
Nope. The only influence will come from the mass of the pins. I reckon the horn will be a bit heavier than the bone, which might give a little less attack and a little more sustain, but unless you put in brass or bronze pins, the effect won't be too noticable.
Now it's always tricky to make predictions based on applied physics whenever naturally grown materials are at play, but I'd think you're fine if you make this decision based on fancy looks alone. Either material surely looks a lot better than regular nylon or celluloid, especially if they sport that little mother of pearl dot in the middle.
Last edited by Marcel Veltman at Aug 5, 2008,
#6
Changing the saddle material to bone [slightly brighter and a little more sustain] will have more effect on sound that bridge pin material. I wouldn't use metal pins into wooden holes, not ever. Just my opinion though. I've used a brass nut that was a pretty spiffy sound!
Last edited by Akabilk at Aug 5, 2008,
#8
Titanium's microcellular structure is extremely uniform. That is why it is so much stronger than steel. That is also why it transfers sound so well.

The titanium bridge pins I put in my Martin made a good sounding guitar even better!
Sustain and clear notes are amazing!

I got mine at www.tisonix.com
They are expensive - $68 per set, but I wouldn't trade them for anything else.

I don't know why anyone would put plastic pins in a guitar after hearing these...
#9
Nice.
Yet I remain skeptic. I can't see how bridge pins could play any role whatsoever in the transfer of sound waves. No vibrations from the strings to the guitar, or from the guitar to the air, are passed through the bridge pins. Therefore their sonic properties are completely irrelevant. If you notice a better sound, this will be due to their mass being different from the pins you used before.
The site you refer to doesn't mention 'Microcellular structure'. It's 'Microcristalline' of course. Tisonix also makes titanium saddle pieces, where sonic properties do matter. That they also claim an 'exceptional tonal transfer' for their bridge pins seems highly suspicious to me. Till I see solid evidence of the contrary, I rank all Tisonix products in the section Snake Oil, Homeopathics and Pear Anjou Audio Cables.

Sorry for that.

But for sure they look the bollocks.
#10
Marcel -
"It is the skeptics who are the latest to change, but the most confident when convinced."
After playing many instruments for decades, I too was suspicious of the changes.
That was why I took them up on their money back guarantee.

When they were at NAMM, they offered not only to refund the purchase price, but the return freight as well! (How could anyone go wrong?)

If they were that confident, I figured they were worth the try...
I love them, but I don't understand them.

There definitely IS something that is happening between the saddle, pin and soundboard. Otherwise, it wouldn't sound better.

Any reasons why?
- Lazy J

...just flat-picking my life away...
#11
Here is my understanding of the matter: Bridge pins do affect the transfer of sound waves, but they do not actually transfer sound waves.

Marcel, you are right about density being the key factor. Material is important though, as different materials and different kinds of wood have varying densities. The impact bridge pins have on tone is all to do with density.

All bridge pins are essentially the same size. There can be some size difference, but it is negligible. The density is not negligible, however. You see, the main transfer of vibration from strings to soundboard comes through the entire bridge ensemble, including the bridge itself, the bridge plate, the saddle, and the bridge pins. Although the bridge pins themselves do not transfer any vibration, they do contribute to the overall mass of the bridge assembly. The heavier the whole bridge assembly is, the less vibration it can transfer to the soundboard.

Adding and subtracting mass (i.e. switching between more and less massive bridge pins) from the bridge assembly as a whole can have an effect on tone. Think about how scalloped bracing affects tone.
#12
But...
When I go to titanium pins (greater density-more mass), I am getting greater sustain. So it must be getting MORE vibration to the soundboard.

How come?
- Lazy J
#13
Quote by Lazy J
But...
When I go to titanium pins (greater density-more mass), I am getting greater sustain. So it must be getting MORE vibration to the soundboard.

How come?
- Lazy J


The reason why the titanium pins give more sustain is because they have very high density. The mass, however, hinders vibrations.

So... If I'm understanding this correctly... The ideal pins are extremely high density and low in mass. High density pins make the bridge(and the parts that are part of the energy transfer) stay more together--more like one whole vibrating part--and therefore transfers more energy than than a bridge system with a plastic pin(because plastic is soft). Correct?
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#14
Something can't be both very high in density and very low in mass with respect to other like sized objects/materials. Density is mass divided by volume. So keeping volume the same, the more dense something is, the more mass it has.

As for the reason why something with extremely high density yields long sustain, more transfer of vibration doesn't necessarily equal more sustain. It's often true that the more dense bridge pins are, the more sustain you may experience. I'm not certain as to the density of titanium, though. I really have no idea, but I was always under the impression that titanium was not a dense material. I thought that was the appeal to titanium... that it is both very strong and very light compared to other materials.
#15
Perhaps mass was the wrong word to use. High density but light weight?

Titanium is actually very dense and light if I'm not mistaken.
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#16
Well for all intents and purposes, mass=weight. Weight is technically a measure of force, but for this conversation they are synonymous.

I was saying that you can't say a titanium bridge pin is very dense, but very light when compared to a plastic bridge pin. Since the two bridge pins have an identical volume, if one is more dense than the other, it must also be heavier AKA more massive.
#17
Titanium has density 4.5 g/cm^3. It is NOT particularly lightweight compared to wood or plastic, so yes, compared to standard bridge pins, it's more massive for an equivalent size. However, Titanium, being a metal, is arranged in a crystalline structure, thereby improving sonic qualities (in terms of vibration transmission) compared to another, more amorphous material - for example, plastic, as with standard pins. I reckon, however, that you could get away with using something a bit cheaper, like Brass, which has the benefits of Titanium without the expensive price tag. Difference in price is probably purely due to the increased material costs when working with such an expensive metal like Titanium, anyway
#18
We're not looking at titanium from a structural standpoint in order to determine how well it transmits vibrations. I believe it is a fact that bridge pins don't actually transfer vibrations. My understanding is that the only affect they have on vibration is their mass as a part of the entire bridge assembly. For example, brass bridge pins are more dense and more massive compared to plastic bridge pins. Thus the added mass on the bridge and bridge plate of the brass bridge pins hinders some vibration.

Where the hell is Corduroy when you need him? I bet he could clear this up.
#19
Quote by jimtaka
I believe it is a fact that bridge pins don't actually transfer vibrations. My understanding is that the only affect they have on vibration is their mass as a part of the entire bridge assembly.


You are right. The crystalline structure of titanium does nothing to alter the sound. When the strings are in place, the pins are essentially fixed to the guitar top (therefore they oscillate back in forth with the soundboard). The only noticeable change comes from the added mass. The structural integrity of titanium, brass, or whatever else the pins are made of doesn't change a thing.

In terms of density and mass, they are directly related as said above. Assuming all bridge pins occupy the same volume, the more dense ones (steel, brass, titanium, and so on) MUST be more massive (and heavier). I think a few of the posters above may be using the term density to describe the stiffness or hardness of a material, neither of which is directly related to how dense the material is.

Quote by fenderman0100
hey, i recently bought a martin 000-18 and it came fitted with plastic bridge pins so i was looking to upgrade them to either camel bone or buffalo horn, would this make a differance to my guitar(other than looks) and if so what would the differance between these 2 materials be.

thanks


And for you, I think there are few people in the world who would be able to tell the difference between camel bone and buffalo horn bridge pins. I'd recommend buffalo horn, just because buffaloes are cooler than camels.
Last edited by GC Shred Off at Oct 14, 2008,
#20
Ok, I'm confused as hell, but this thread is awesome, ahaha. This is exactly why I love the acoustic forum. I'll bet you that those guys over in electric never get anywhere near as in depth as this. Someone enlighten me
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#21
No, they don't transmit vibrations from the strings to the body, but they will affect the sustain, since they are in direct contact with the strings. So, denser metals will lead to better sustain.
#22
^-- I'm not certain, but I don't think the string vibrates once it gets passed the saddle. So there is no vibration in the string where it contacts the bridge pin. Denser saddle materials do seem to provide more sustain in my experience, but I believe it is strictly due to the mass and not the structure nor really the type of material.
#23
Quote by jimtaka
^-- I'm not certain, but I don't think the string vibrates once it gets passed the saddle. So there is no vibration in the string where it contacts the bridge pin. Denser saddle materials do seem to provide more sustain in my experience, but I believe it is strictly due to the mass and not the structure nor really the type of material.


Ah I see. I didn't know it didn't vibrate past the saddle and made an educated guess. If they don't vibrate, I guess you're right.
#24
There are 2 important factors when looking at bridge pins.

1, How hard is it
2, How heavy is it

What Marcel said to begin with was correct assuming that the guitar was strung up properly. All the pin does is push the end of the string forward so that it'll catch under the bridge plate. No sound is generated from this part so in theory anything of equal weight will sound the same.

In reality most people don't string their guitars correctly. The way most people string their guitars the ball end of the string is wedged between the pin and the bridge plate. If your guitar is strung up that way then the bridgepin does transfer energy but it will never transfer that energy very efficiently which means your guitar doesn’t sound as dynamic, doesn’t sustain, and isn’t as loud. Harder bridgepins are better at holding the ball end of the string forward which means it makes it easier to string your guitar correctly which ultimately means better tone.

Now for the issue of weight. Even if the bridgepins don’t conduct sound they to add weight to the bridge which is a moving part of the guitar. Heavy things take more energy to start them moving but they build momentum which makes them harder to stop. This means assuming you string your guitar correctly, that lighter pins will be more dynamic, give you more volume, and make the instrument more responsive. The heavier pins will give you more sustain your sound will carry farther, and you will cut through in the mix.

Density is only a factor for things that transmit sound. Because bridge pins only transmit sound when you string your guitar the wrong way, it means that the density of the pin is only relevant when you string your guitar the wrong way.
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#25
So would tone benefit from having a mix of bridge pins fitted? Say, three heavier ones for the Bass strings, and three lighter ones for the Treble strings?
#26
Quote by CorduroyEW
There are 2 important factors when looking at bridge pins.

1, How hard is it
2, How heavy is it

What Marcel said to begin with was correct assuming that the guitar was strung up properly. All the pin does is push the end of the string forward so that it'll catch under the bridge plate. No sound is generated from this part so in theory anything of equal weight will sound the same.

In reality most people don't string their guitars correctly. The way most people string their guitars the ball end of the string is wedged between the pin and the bridge plate. If your guitar is strung up that way then the bridgepin does transfer energy but it will never transfer that energy very efficiently which means your guitar doesn’t sound as dynamic, doesn’t sustain, and isn’t as loud. Harder bridgepins are better at holding the ball end of the string forward which means it makes it easier to string your guitar correctly which ultimately means better tone.

Now for the issue of weight. Even if the bridgepins don’t conduct sound they to add weight to the bridge which is a moving part of the guitar. Heavy things take more energy to start them moving but they build momentum which makes them harder to stop. This means assuming you string your guitar correctly, that lighter pins will be more dynamic, give you more volume, and make the instrument more responsive. The heavier pins will give you more sustain your sound will carry farther, and you will cut through in the mix.

Density is only a factor for things that transmit sound. Because bridge pins only transmit sound when you string your guitar the wrong way, it means that the density of the pin is only relevant when you string your guitar the wrong way.


Ohh my God. Enlightenment
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#27
Quote by CorduroyEW
Now for the issue of weight. Even if the bridgepins don’t conduct sound they to add weight to the bridge which is a moving part of the guitar. Heavy things take more energy to start them moving but they build momentum which makes them harder to stop. This means assuming you string your guitar correctly, that lighter pins will be more dynamic, give you more volume, and make the instrument more responsive. The heavier pins will give you more sustain your sound will carry farther, and you will cut through in the mix.

This is what I was trying to say.

Thanks for the info, Chris!
#28
Wait a sec... so what's the right way to restring an acoustic then? O__O
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#29
Quote by LordBishek
So would tone benefit from having a mix of bridge pins fitted? Say, three heavier ones for the Bass strings, and three lighter ones for the Treble strings?


In they kind of are fitted... Most pins have a 3" taper on them and the hole that it fit into have the same taper. The problem is that the notch in the side of the pin isn't big enough for the larger strings to fit into so you still can't get the pin in there right. What I like to do is get a small coping saw blade or a jewelers saw blade and cut little notches in the top of the guitar (You can see what I'm talking about in the link below) that the strings can fit into. In fact, I cut the notches large enough that I can install my pins backward and when my guitar is in tune I can even take the pins out if I feel like it.

Having the pins fit tightly isn't that important for tone but it does help hole the bridge in place and adds stability.


Quote by jimtaka
This is what I was trying to say.


Yea, thats what I figured

Quote by captivate
Wait a sec... so what's the right way to restring an acoustic then? O__O



Here is the best restring tutorial I've ever seen.

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Musician/Guitar/Setup/SteelStrings/Stringing/ststringing1.html
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Last edited by CorduroyEW at Oct 15, 2008,
#30
the ball's still wedged in between the pin and the bridge plate though... isn't it?
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#31
Cordury -
Thanks for the definitive information!

So if I understand it correctly, my titanium pins work better because:
1) If the string isn't seated properly, it still transfers more energy into the bridge plate.
(Is this because of the rigid properties of titanium?)
2) Almost as light as the plastic pins, the titanium ones respond 'faster'.

When I was just curious about why my titanium pins sounded better, I didn't know I get a physics lesson!

Thanks for making it clear!

Lazy J

...just flat-picking my life away...
#32
Just a thought, how about adding in some of these information into the faq?
#33
I still stick with the idea that any difference in material hardness between bone, brass, or titanium is absolutely negligible for the application of bridge pins. The pins are fixed to a relatively soft substrate (wood) and are not actively vibrating themselves (I didn't really understand the idea about improper stringing above.) The overall oscillatory behavior of a guitar top will not change to any noticeable degree unless you add or remove mass. I suspect that nobody can sense the change in vibrational damping between softer and harder bridge pins of the same mass.
#34
In terms of physics, any difference in materials would definitely affect the sound produced. The density, mass, young's modulus would be vary for different materials, hence affecting the sound. However whether the average person can discern such differences is altogether another matter. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to notice any difference, but perhaps a pair of trained ears or an audiophile might be able to notice it.