Different Kinds of Acoustic Guitar Bridge Pins and their Effect on Tone

We all want our acoustic guitars to sound good. That’s why we have a hard time choosing the guitar we are going to buy. And the moment we bought our guitar, we upgrade some parts to make it sound better. And in this article, we are going to talk about a part of a guitar that you can easily upgrade and somehow change your guitar tone for the BETTER or WORSE! Let’s take a look at acoustic guitar bridge pin.

The Purpose of the Acoustic Guitar Bridge Pin

The Bridge of an acoustic guitar holds an important role in producing the sound. It is the point where the sound waves are transfered. When you pluck the string, the vibration will pass through the saddle and the bridge pins, and the bridge plate receives it. That is where the sound wave is transfered to the tonewood.

This is the Bridge part with the acoustic guitar bridge pins

However, since the vibration flows through the saddle and bridge pin before it goes to the bridge, some of the frequencies are being filtered out depending on the materials of the bridge pin and Saddle. That’s why, the materials of the pins and Saddle also affect the tone and sustain of the guitar.

But even it does have an effect, bridge pins have only subtle effect in tone. The saddle material can affect the tone considerably but not the bridge pins. There will be only a subtle improvement that can be heard enough especially on recordings.

One thing I would like you to take note of is that the all acoustic guitar Bridge Pins have different effects on every guitar so what I say in this article may have a slightly different effect to yours.

Different kinds of Acoustic Guitar Bridge Pins

Changing Bridge Pins will not change the tone considerably but it can help in cutting off some unwanted tones or increasing the clarity by using the right materials. Experimenting with it is also easy since you don’t have to use any tools to change the pins. Here are some Bridge Pin materials that you can try:

Make sure that you know the right size of Bridge Pin that your guitar uses. There are different sizes and having a wrong size can make a crack in your bridge if you force it to fit.

1. Plastic

Features:

  • It is very cheap and can be found easily
  • It will not expand and possibly crack the Bridge even if it is exposed to extreme temperature change. This is why most guitar are sold with plastic pins especially when it is delivered to different places
  • It is commonly found in the lower tier of acoustic guitars
  • Plastic tends to break easily
  • No effect on tone and poor conductor of vibration, meaning, less sustain time and tonal improvements

Plastic bridge pins are abundant and easily found in any music store. When you lost one pin or it broke, it can be used as a solution for the moment. Since bridge pins have only subtle effect on tone, you can always rely on the plastic bridge pins to do its job. However, if you have developed sensitivity on your ears, this is the least material you can use as it has little effect on tone only.

For a faster solution of a broken or lost bridge pin, plastic material is a go-to material, but the effects on tone will be limited compared to some materials.

For my recommended plastic bride pin, click here

2. Synthetic Material

Features:

  • Relatively cheap and a good choice if you are upgrading from plastic
  • It provides good sustain
  • It can be a good alternative to bone or ivory but it won’t be on par with both
  • Imitates the effects of a bone or ivory pins
  • Not recommended for bright sounding guitars
  • Recommended for quiet and dark sounding guitars. It will be more open sounding and clear with good lows, mids and crystal highs

Tusq, White Corian, and Micarta are some synthetic materials that are used for Nut, Saddle, and Bridge Pins. In my opinion, Tusq is the best in these three. Tusq Bridge Pins are easy to find and are the closest to bone or ivory. It is a good alternative since bone and ivory is a little expensive for just a subtle difference in tone.

If you want to upgrade from plastic and want the effects of a bone or ivory, Tusq is the go-to material for Bridge Pins.

These are my two recommendations:

Tusq Bridge Pin and Tusq Synthetic Ivory Bridge Pin

3. Bone

Features:

  • It provides a long sustain time
  • Improves the clarity and the quality of tone. It doesn’t mean that it will make a bright guitar brighter, but the quality of the sound will be more pleasant and pure
  • Increases the volume in some guitars
  • It is not affected by any environmental changes. It won’t expand and break because of a change in humidity
  • It is expensive and can be hard to find
  • Size may require you reaming out the bridge so that it will fit

Bone bridge pin is one of my favorite and it elevates the quality of the tone of the guitar. The tones that you haven’t heard in your guitar before will be present if you use the bone material but this is not always the case. Just like I said above, it may have a different effect in your guitar.

If you want to increase the quality of your tone, then the bone Bridge pin may be a good choice for your guitar.

Check this bone Bridge pin in Amazon

4. Fossilized Ivory

Features:

  • Ivory is not recommended because it uses the tusks and teeth of a living animal, while Fossilized are the ones that are already dead or extinct like the walrus and mammoth
  • Opens up the mids and adds clarity to the tone. You will have access to some tones that are not there before. It improves the overall quality of the tone
  • Sonically, it has the same effect you can get with a bone
  • Some may not fit to the pin hole and you need to ream out the bridge so that it will fit
  • Costly and hard to find

Fossilized Walrus Ivory or FWI, and Fossilized Mammoth Ivory or FMI, are two of the most common Fossilized Ivory that are used as acoustic guitar bridge pins. It is said that the Fossilized Ivory is one of the best material you can use because it truly brings out the best tone you can get in a guitar. The downside, however, is it’s very costly and often out of stock.

5. Brass

Features:

  • Very durable and it can probably last forever
  • Adds a lot of brightness to your tone but it can be too bright to most guitars
  • Cheap and easily found on almost any music stores
  • It provides good sustain

Right now in my acoustic guitar, I am using this brass acoustic guitar bridge pins. It really adds a lot of brightness on the guitar and it can be good or bad depending on your preference. In my case, I like the amount of brightness it added in the tone. It is crisp and open sounding.

If your acoustic guitar sounds too dark for you, then the brass Bridge pin can add significant amount of brightness

Here is my recommended Brass Bridge pin

6. Wood (Ebony or Rosewood)

Features:

  • High end tones are somehow lessen. This is good for those bright acoustic guitars since it will sound warmer and mellow
  • It has excellent vibration transfer and it means excellent sustain and tones
  • Cheap and a good choice when upgrading for the first time
  • Can increase in size if the humidity increases. It can be too tight for the pin slot

Wood is also a cheap, and good alternative when you consider upgrading your bridge pin. It mellows out the brightness of the guitar so it is a really good choice when your guitar is too bright. However, you must observe it carefully when it is subjected to a rapid change in humidity as it can grow in size.

For Ebony, click here
For Rosewood, click here

Final Thoughts

Acoustic guitar bridge pin is only one of the parts that can affect the tone of your guitar. If you really want to achieve certain tones in your guitar, then you also have to study the effects of different materials in guitar nut and saddle.

As I said, acoustic guitar bridge pin has a subtle effect only but it can be an important factor when you combine it with the guitar nut and saddle. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

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