Choosing the right bridge pins for your acoustic guitar may seem like a fairly trivial decision, compared to the strings choose. However, these minute tools are very important when it comes to the practicality and the aesthetics of the instrument.
There are several materials used to build high-quality bridge pins. Depending on the style of your acoustic guitar, some are likely to be better suited for your guitar than others. In the following guide, I’ll highlight the best options on the market for you to choose from.
6 Best Bridge Pins for Acoustic Guitar
1. Taylor Ebony
Taylor acoustic guitars are some of the most loved instruments around. They are renowned for their fantastic sound. This means that keeping that sound intact is going to be important.
Luckily, Taylor also makes high-quality guitar pins that are designed to keep their acoustic guitars sounding great. Their Ebony pins are a great example of their high-quality pins.
These pins add a nice bit of clarity and volume to any acoustic guitar. I was also impressed by how much sustain they add. The pins don’t change your guitar’s tone, but rather amplifies it and makes it fuller.
Their black look is great that will fit practically any acoustic guitar without looking out of place. The abalone dots are a nice touch that adds some flavor to the pins.
Being made from hard ebony means that they are also much more durable than plastic. It will probably be a few years before you need to replace any of the pins, if ever.
Their affordable price also makes them a great upgrade over the stock plastic pins that acoustics usually come with. If you are buying a Taylor guitar, I would recommend picking up a set of Ebony pins as well and putting them on instead.
The only issue is that these pins are really only meant for Taylor guitars. They might fit on other brands, but I would check with the retailer before buying these. Otherwise, going with different pins might be easier.
GraphTech specializes in a wide range of guitar components. They promise high-quality components that do exactly what they say they will. Their TUSQ acoustic guitar pins are a fantastic example of that promise.
Because they are made in very controlled conditions, every pin is the same. This gives them a high level of consistency which is very important to keep your tone consistent.
This is great if you lose or break one pin and just want to replace that one. Having consistent pins means you won’t have one that sounds different from the rest of the pins.
They are also made under these specific conditions to eliminate some of the drawbacks of bone and ivory pins. Whereas other pins can have dead spots or soft spots because of an inconsistent grain.
The high pressure, controlled environment, and organic polymers these pins are made under helps to even out the grain. This then helps to create a much more even tone.
This also means that they are much stronger than plastic pins. They will easily last years before showing signs of wear and tear.
These pins add a nice bit of clarity and volume compared to stock pins, especially on a cheaper acoustic. Although, I don’t feel like the change is as noticeable as some of the other pins on this list.
Adjustments are also fairly easy to make on these pins. They can easily be filed down for a better fit. Although, this will probably not be necessary since the TUSQs are designed to fit almost any guitar.
Apart from the standard white with a black dot, you can also get these pins without the dot. Both in black or white.
You can also get them in white with white dot, white with paua dot, and a variety of other combinations.My personal favorite is the black with paua dot.
Another brand that is well known for its high-quality instruments, Martin’s own bridge pins are just as well-made. Their Luxe range of pins sits right at the top when it comes to quality and craftsmanship.
Not only are the Luxe pins well-made, they are tough as nails, they also sound fantastic. They add some great top-end, making the highs on an acoustic much more shimmering and sparkly.
These are great for warmer or darker-sounding guitars. They really round out the sound more. And if you have an already bright guitar, they help to make it sound fuller and add some more dimension to it.
Installation is also hassle-free with these pins. They slid quite easily into my acoustic’s bridge and sat nice and snug.
They do feel a bit wider than other pins. I would make sure they fit before buying because they are quite expensive.
Because they are made from an alloy, they are also exceptionally strong. I would be surprised if anyone manages to break one of these pins.
While I personally like the chrome color, I know many people won’t be fans. The chrome is going to clash if some guitars or are just too flashy.
There is the darker Turkish Emery set if you are looking for pins closer to a black or ebony color. If you want the more traditional white, they also come in bone color. But fair warning, these are twice as expensive for some reason.
Regardless of which color you choose, they all come with a very nice little box to keep them in. Considering how expensive these pins are, this is a nice touch.
You aren’t going to want to leave these pins lying around. And if you swap them out for other pins, you won’t have to keep them loose in a random bag or cup. The box also makes for a nice little desk ornament.
D’Addario is one of the most recognizable names when it comes to guitar strings. So, it might come as a surprise to learn that they make other guitar-related products like bridge pins.
The good news is that their pins are just as high-quality as their strings. The Boxwood bridge pins are great for anyone looking for something different from ebony, ivory, or plastic.
These pins have a natural, warm tone that can be hard to get with other pins. Since their made from wood, their resonance is also excellent. The difference in tone with these pins is quite noticeable.
I really like their look as well. The natural wood finish of the pins makes them blend in very well on an acoustic. They are great if you are looking for something that isn’t as dark as ebony or as white as bone.
They also did take some more effort to get into the bridge. They fit very tightly once in, but I would definitely make sure they aren’t too wide before buying.
I think my only concern with these pins is the fact that they are made from wood. Wood isn’t the most resilient material and these pins might wear out faster than other materials.
Luckily, they are very affordable. I would pick up two sets when buying these, just in case.
Another set of Taylor pins, their Black Plastic pins are very much a budget option. These pins are designed as replacements for the pins of the Taylor 200 series of guitars.
That doesn’t mean that these pins will only fit a 200 series guitar. Their measurements are fairly standard, making them a great fit for almost any guitar.
Even though they are plastic, they don’t really feel cheap or fragile. I actually think they are some of the more high-quality plastic pins you can get.
They are pretty easy to install. They slide into the bridge easily and sit quite nicely, keeping your strings in place.
Because they are plastic, that does mean they don’t offer much in terms of tone. This might be a good thing if you don’t want the pins to affect your guitar’s tone. But if you want to shape the tone a bit with the pins, I would rather go with a different set.
Overall, these are pretty decent pins. And considering their price, they are a great and easy replacement in the event you break or lose a pin.
The D’Addario Ivory bridge pins are another great offering from D’Addario. Made to the same high standards as their Boxwood pins, but at a much more affordable price.
These pins are made from strong molded plastic. They also have a pretty natural-looking ivory color and not the washed-out white of other plastic pins.
But just because they are plastic, doesn’t mean that they are fragile. D’Addario has actually managed to make quite the sturdy plastic pins here.
I do appreciate that they also come with an end pin, as well as a spare bridge pin. So, if you lose a pin, you don’t need to buy an entire set just to replace the one you lost.
Just like the Boxwood pins, these are made to fit a wide range of different guitars. They are also very easy to install and sit nice and tight in the bridge.
At their low price, they are excellent replacement pins.
How to Choose the Best Bridge Pins for your Guitar
A sign that bridge pins need replacing is when they become stuck and difficult to remove when restringing your acoustic guitar.
This can also, in some cases, indicate that there is an issue with the bridge plate. But it’s more likely that the pins have simply become worn over time due to the tension of holding the strings in.
It's a good idea to check on the bridge plate because the wearing out of this mechanism can lead to further issues with your guitar. The majority of steel-string acoustic guitars use bridge pins for holding the strings tightly against the bridge plate.
Although all bridge pins essentially perform the same function, they come in various sizes and designs. The materials used to compose them also change from model to model, offering a range of aesthetic options to suit the design of your instrument.
The most common materials used to make bridge pins are:
In addition to the aesthetic qualities of bridge pins, they can also enhance the sonic performance of an acoustic guitar. The aforementioned materials each produce different results when in tomes to the effect they have on tone and sound.
Plastic bridge pins are usually the most cost-effective option. However, there are drawbacks to this variety. They have little impact on the tone and are prone to wearing out easily compared to other materials.
Wood bridge pins, on the other hand, do have a positive impact on tone. They promote sustain and add warmth to a guitar's sound. Wood bridge pins are often tricky to install and require the removal of the bridge to properly secure them.
Ivory is arguably the premium material for bridge pins and was traditionally used on the high-end models of years gone by.
As you might have guessed, there are moral and environmental issues surrounding the use of ivory, and this has forced manufacturers to come up with artificial alternatives that still offer some of the tonal enhancements and classy appearance of the genuine material.
As guitarists, we are prone to changing the obvious when trying to improve the performance of our instrument. Strings are often the first thing we consider, but bridge pins are also vital to shaping the whole tone. The high-quality offerings in this article will provide numerous benefits to your acoustic guitar.