Custom-fit your bridge pins for better sound

Issue 45 October 04, 2007

Bridge pins: the better the fit, the better your sound.

Photo: bridge pin

Custom-fit each bridge pin.  The point where the string connects to the top is no place for a loose fit!

A good-fitting acoustic saddle is a must, but what about those bridge pins?

Nearly every acoustic guitar coming into my shop has pin problems of some sort. The very spot that the string meets the guitar top is no place to get sloppy!

Drawing: bridge pin slots

I like to fit the notch in each bridge pin to the size of the string it holds. Preslotted pins are fast and convenient, but if a customer brings a guitar to me I figure it’s my job to sweat the details for him — and a slot that fits the heavy Low E string will be loose on the unwound High E.

A bridge pin slotter on my drill press lets me fine-tune the fit for each string. It’s a sliding carriage that holds a single bridge pin. It holds the pin level and feeds it into a round-end cutting bit to create the slot. By raising or lowering the cutter, you change the size of the slot. It's like a milling machine for bridge pins.

Photo: bridge pin slotter
Photo: bridge pin slotter
Photo: bridge pin slotter
Photo: bridge pin slotter

You can make the slots deep enough to hold the entire string, but I prefer to make half-depth slots, and saw a similar notch into the bridge itself. The result is a precision slotted pin that fits the string gauge perfectly. You’ll like the improvement in tone from custom-fit pins.

Bridge pin slot

When your pins are custom fit, you need to know which is which: make a notch on the back of each pin to show which string it’s for. This way, you won’t get them mixed up when you put on a new set of strings!

Photo: marked bridge pins

So today’s lesson is: good hardware coupling means a good transfer of string energy. Better fit gives you better sound!

Photo: marked bridge pins

We interrupt this broadcast for a First Dibs! product announcemnt:

Photo: clear builders template

NEW Clear Builders Templates See-thru Mylar® shapes with pencil slots for brace locations and other specifics. Dreadnought, 000 guitar, and F-syle Mandolin. Trade Secrets readers are the first to know: these are being introduced right now as we e-mail this issue!

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