End Pins

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    • #3414
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Do any of you play around with the sound of your guitar by substituting end pins, saddles, or strings?  I wouldn’t dare mess with the expertly crafted saddle on my Cruz but someone was telling me to try out other end pins… a fossilized walrus ivory I think.

      As much as I love the santa cruz strings, I often find 80/20 cuts down on overtones a bit which helps my cocobolo not be so indistinct on the lower end.

       

      Was just curious what you guys do to modify the sound of your instrument when it’s not quite there

    • #3418
      Chrisakadigdog
      Participant

      Yes.   I will almost always replace plastic bridge pins  and sometimes ebony for Bob Colosi bone pins.  I’d like to think it helps with improving the signal pathway for a better ring via the soundboard but it may very well be a placebo effect.

      Nuts and saddles are a more significant way of changing the tonal quality but have never had the need with my SCGC guitars. Bone is already in place.     I have noticed a very lively change when inserting Brass in place of bone or ebony at nut and saddle.   It can be a interesting experiment on occasion.

    • #3419
      zorro
      Participant

      Always use Bob Colosi Saddles on ALL of my guitars….even had SCGC fit Colosi Fossilized Ivory saddle on the 34 Zorro as extra….switch out with OEM every few string changes just to enjoy difference.

      Only Colosi on Martin HD-28 also Colosi Ivory Pins on this guitar.


      1993 Martin Custom HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC Custom F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC Custom OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC Custom OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC Custom 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa

      The Bay, The Gulf Stream, The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their Secrets with.

    • #3420
      zorro
      Participant

      Acoustic S,

      REALLY think you should try Colosi Fossilized Ivory saddle and brass pins BEFORE you sell your OMG…..you might find what you’re looking for.


      1993 Martin Custom HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC Custom F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC Custom OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC Custom OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC Custom 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa

      The Bay, The Gulf Stream, The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their Secrets with.

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by zorro.
      • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by zorro.
    • #3423
      Matt Hayden
      Participant

      I use good-quality bone for saddles – the Colosi material is nice but I’ve weighed it for a given dimension vs generic good quality blanks and there isn’t appreciable variance in either weight or hardness/density/workability.   I’ve used Colosi bone, other bone, fossil ivory, Tusq, Corian, ebony, mother of pearl, etc and good bone just plain works.  Plus I can make it at home – a well-cleaned beef shinbone saws up to a LOT of material…..though MOP makes a great nut because it doesn’t wear very fast (it is super hard).

      As long as bridge pin material is concerned, I haven’t ever noticed any difference.As long as they’re adequately stiff and well-seated, they seem to work fine.  Even heavy pins like brass don’t seem to affect much – maybe they damp volume a little bc of the 4-5x increase in mass – but it’s hard to notice.

      IME there’s more variance from changes in hand position or nail condition than nut/saddle/pin changes.  I’ve spent twenty-plus years figuring out how to get the best out of the OM (and other instruments) with my hands and an occasional pick.  That familiarity means I know what a given instrument will do and what it won’t, and how to address it to get the sounds that I like.

       

    • #3437
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Thanks for the inputs!  Brass pins – haven’t heard of that!

       

      What does the fossilized ivory do over the regular bone for the saddle?  What about the end pins vs the santa cruz wood ones?  My wood end pins always wear out

    • #3441
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

       

      Found that  video comparing bone and fossilized ivory… really good.  It’s funny my H13 I had first had the ivory, but when we built this one I didn’t think it would be a good idea to do again because I think the answer was that it adds top end brightness.  While it does seem to do that, and that is a concern for my OM Grand since the voice shifts to the top end… it kind of sounds pleasant in a drier airier kind of way that might allow me to use heavier picks for a more even sound without sounding choked on medium strings.

      Thanks for the input, anyone have anything else to add in light of this video and comment?

    • #3444
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Also (since I can’t go back and edit)…. what do you think the differences between fossilized walrus ivory, fossilized mammoth ivory, and elephant ivory are?  If you’ve done these to your guitars… Looking for more definition, fundamental, and depth in the lows… more substance, punch, and woody sound to mids, and for less shrillness or metallic sound out of the highs to be replaced by a more open chime.  Right now with plain bone my strumming sound sits too much in the trebles and is unbalanced.  Italian can be cold and stiff, more power and woody warmth (without losing clarity or air) could help.  I use blue chip picks but Im willing to try Colosi’s picks, pins, and saddles if that’s the case… though if I can get the shop to fabricate the exact bridge they just built for me as a fix to my guitar that had an issue and send it to me I will – or for that matter copy the one they just gave me.

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
      • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
    • #3446
      tadol
      Participant

      Well, end pins (the pin that goes into the heel block, normally used as an attachment point for a strap) are purely a practical, and aesthetic, item. I have a few guitars without them, a few that have a simple tapered ebony or bone pin, and a few that have a jack installed – I don’t think any of them have any effect on the tone of any guitar.

      This is, I think, a discussion of bridge pins, and, saddles too, I guess. I am strongly of the opinion that the only real effect bridge pins have on tone (assuming they fit correctly) are thru the mass they add to the bridge. There may be some collateral effect, like how dark back and sides give a guitar more bass, but thats hard to prove. I think you can effect more change in the tone of your guitar by tensioning (twisting) the strings to tighten the windings than by changing pins –

      Now, saddles are a completely different matter. They actually carry the string energy thru to the bridge and to the top of the guitar, so the density and material used for the saddle will definitely have an effect. What that specifically is, I’ll let the “experts” who sell fancy saddle blanks pontificate on that – but I have a Larrivee that came with a Tusq saddle, and I replaced it with a mammoth ivory saddle, and it did Not make it sound better – it lost a lot of the highs and clarity. Putting the Tusq back improved it immensely. I’ve also tried walrus ivory – ehh, looked ok, but no big whoop.

      Good bone – and there are a few grades of bone – but good, hard, dense bone – seems to have all the characteristics needed. Its very reasonable in price and easily available, so I’ve kinda given up searching for (and paying for) fancier alternatives. Yes, there may be some small differences in the tonal quality they can impart, but I think a change of strings, or even a different pick, can offer a lot more –

    • #3448
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      As an update I spoke with Bob Colosi today at the behest of recommendations.  I explained to him my guitar and everything in the situation, he said that fossilized walrus ivory would probably make it more metallic and if not it would at least make the OM Grand too bright especially with Italian.

      His suggestion was to opt for pre ban elephant ivory, that it would match well with a Santa Cruz OM style guitar as well as Italian Spruce.

      And yes I meant bridge pins, didn’t know the terminology.  Thank you

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
      • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
    • #3451
      tadol
      Participant

      I have some respect for Mr Colosi, but I have a hard time understanding how one distinguishes “pre-ban” elephant ivory from tusks taken by poachers and smugglers maybe just a few months ago. I have no problem with the material being used and enjoyed, especially on historical and restored objects, but its another thing entirely to continue making a living selling it for general use, and thereby potentially adding to demand for it.

      I am in NO WAY suggesting that Bob Colosi has anything whatsoever to do with the illegal trade, or knows anything about it, or has any influence over it, or anything even vaguely like that.  But I do have a hard time with it continuing to be recommended and pursued –

    • #3454
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Based on your question, I asked him today if he has documentation and he does have the corresponding articles for his ivory.

    • #3455
      Matt Hayden
      Participant

      What do you want out of a nut or saddle? As long as the material is adequately dense and the saddle/nut are well-fitted and well-constructed, they’re going to work.

      I have used MOP nuts once or twice to see how they wore, and wear they do. Each took a while to make (LOTS of filing) but they’ve held up for a long time.  But as Tad says, bone works in the vast bulk of cases. Ivory was used because it was prettier, I think – I mean, it IS beautiful – but it’s softer than bone a lot of the time and steel strings will cause it to wear hard.

       

    • #3456
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Matt, it was suggested by multiple forum members for me to try out some ivory in the saddle and checkout Bob Colosi.  Thank you for continuing to monitor the discussion and exchange back with me.

      I didn’t necessarily come up with the idea myself, but after hearing one or two youtube videos that exist on the subject and have a demo I thought why not.  The voice of my guitar just is always a little off… either I use a .88 mm pick and it’s too cold/stiff and metallic/treble shifted on a strum, or I use a 1.5 mm and it is a bit choked/closed off but with an even EQ and response.

      I would say there is the EQ/balance of the guitar, the voice/character accompanying it, response, and then this thing that smaller guitars do – especially Santa Cruz ones – and that is to shift everything up to the trebles and become focused there with a more metallic sound.  I like openness, chime, and air on the top end, but not that dominant focused metallic part.  My low end is a little vague also and could use some definition. General woodiness, punch, and air mixed in slightly would be a shorthand way to describe it.

      Bob Colosi said he doesn’t have the FWI/walrus, he said the FMI/mammoth would make the voice more metallic and shifted because it’s denser (and not compliment cocobolo if my guitar is the way it is sounding), but that elephant is softer than the bone plus it works well with Italian spruce and SC OM guitars… which is exactly what I have.  It sounds like he really thinks the elephant will help the top end, but we are undecided on what will happen on the bottom and mids.  My concern is it might become too dark in an overly rounded kind of way, but he didn’t think that would be an issue.

      The other clips I have put up do not feature medium strings and the 1.5mm pick which is the solution I typically use for this guitar to sound it’s best to me.

      I thought these pieces were like 150+ but they’re not.  I think I may just get one of each and compare bone/elephant/mammoth or whatever is the third one.  That might be fun for people to see if anyone else besides us cares lol.

      I figure since I’m going to do a pick comparison, string comparison… might as well do a before and after of bridge pins and saddle too?  Only problem I’m running into is that Carolyn sent me some strings to help out with it, but to do the comparison I’m probably going to need more.  Not sure I want to spend money on the parts and the strings.  If I don’t change the strings the detensioning and retightening of the strings to swap the saddle will likely effect the results.  I thought I may just do from darkest to lightest saddle material to compensate.  To do it right I would need 3-4 sets of strings, all the parts, and to pay my tech the time to do all the swaps exactly not to mention cutting them. Weighing it all out to see if I think it’s worth it or not.  I would LIKE to document it though and I think other customers and forumites might think it’s cool.  Right now I have just enough for the pick and string comparisons.

      I think in short, I’m trying to liven up my guitar dynamically, and get a bit more woody punch and dry clarity… not a lot just a bit in that direction because I’m almost there… accompanied by a less focused more open airy sound.  Maybe overall a 5-15% shift.  A lot of that I accomplish with pick and string and adapting to the guitar.

      FWIW , Bob Colosi also said that 5 years is not much on a guitar like this.  Even with break in techniques and lots of playing, it’s STILL going to sound a lot better in 5-6 more years.  Santa Cruz cut me a taller saddle this spring when they serviced it because it had some issues from birth apparently, and it did get louder, more powerful from the fix and then more punchy and responsive to strumming with the taller saddle… (I tested with a tech in person A/B blind with shims and without and he spoke with Richard H. on the phone).

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
      • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
    • #3458
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      The particular woods I have were supposed to have been chosen to the highest specifications, and I think they were.  But this Italian can tend towards coldness/stiffness and the Cocobolo can tend towards overly dark bell that is a bit too goopy on the lows and metallic on the highs.  When you combine that it’s something I like to work against.  By using mediums and 1.5mm pick I accomplish a few things… I’m driving it harder – it really really likes to be driven hard and has the headroom up until the point I’m just bashing it… that makes it woodier and more defined.  The 1.5mm is a very nice even sound out of it.  The Jazz LG bluechip brings in some chime and bloom which really helps.  With all of that the downside I get is it gets a tad choked or compressed and loses that air and some dynamic.  My wife says it sounds “professional” though when I use that setup 😀 😀  I try right….    I think I forgot to mention I wouldn’t mind a slightly chunkier woody attack like you get with adirondack.

      Having said all this I DO like the guitar , it’s just that bit that I can’t shake or change makes me want to forfeit to someone for at least 7k and buy my RS ‘Southern Deluxe’ as I’ll probably call it – which I’m sure will clock in 11-13k.

       

      If over the next few years however the guitar gets a bit chunkier in the attack from the top, more loose and punchy, more air, and just a bit drier then it would be cemented as a no sell.  It’s hard to tell because when it was new it was so bad my guitar mentor was feeling bad for me guessing as to how much it possibly could have been and being upset that I was taken advantage of.  Now he has even admitted to me that guitar has surprised him more than any and actually sounds quite decent now, on the way to really good and possibly super musical.  It really to me sounds like the whole thing needs to just dry out some more – if that makes sense?  The fundamentals need to be clearer and more dynamic and the overtones just need to move and swirl a little more, they’re too heavy

      Bob agrees with you I think on putting elephant ivory in the past… but in the case of a musician with a super expensive instrument that’s almost there and has tried everything else he then at that point seemed to bring it forth. I didn’t even see it expressly priced and advertised much on the site, just some pics that he has some.  He said in those cases it tends to be his favorite as long as it’s compatible tone wise, but it should only be used when you just can’t get it from bone.

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
      • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Acoustic Soul.
    • #3460
      JeffH
      Participant

      Hello first post hopefully relevant recently acquired my first Santa Cruz an Om sitka over Cocobolo #5084 as seen in a video on both the SCGC website and Eddies YouTube channel. Being a bit of a tinkerer I’ve experimented with both Tusq and FWI pins both produced an overly aggressive and yes more metallic tone with harsh overtones that took the guitar in an unpleasant direction. I am using scgc mid tension strings and the stock pins even things out producing a wonderfully balanced and nuanced tone. This is the first guitar I’ve owned that is so totally dialed in I’ve been unable to feed my tinkering impulse so I’m left with just playing and enjoying this amazing instrument. Should mention l play finger style only.

    • #3462
      indexless
      Keymaster

      Welcome Jeff, Thanks for joining the conversation, hope to see you around these parts often

    • #3463
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Hey Jeff, WELCOME!!!  Thank you for joining us!

      Yes, the FWI I was told would do exactly that and exacerbate the metallic sounds of cocobolo… so that’s really cool to hear someone relate their experiment also.  He suggested that I go in the opposite direction of that.

      I agree mid tensions are wonderful and really balance everything out.

       

      Isn’t it remarkable how you never get tired of hearing a Santa Cruz and can play it for hours and hours and everything is at your fingertips?

      Yes, I think you should mention you only play finger style 😀  Here’s why. . . my guitar when played with fingers or finger nails shines in all it’s glory.  The OM ones from Santa Cruz do a lot of things to compliment finger style that can work against you when you’re strumming IMO.  ESPECIALLY with the cocobolo and italian spruce, their attack response, balance, tone, and non linear responses on an OM Grand is a perfect choice for playing with a slight nail.  I mostly play with a pick and strum though … I like a guitar to accompany singing.  I think the OM Grand does come very close to straddling that line… one thing is using different strings and picks can drastically change my guitar which is both cool and kind of a pain when you don’t know how to get what you want haha.

      I may skip out on the FWI in the comparison based off of your feedback and Bob’s.  Thank you again for joining us on the forum and in this discussion my guitar friend

    • #3464
      bert
      Participant

      Welcome Jeff..

      To the OP, one thing I might add is that Euro Spruce (Italian, German, Norwegian, Carpatian etc same species) is commonly stiff the first year or two, can be much like red spruce (adi).  Once it opens up, you may find that to have been your issue.  I’m currently on my 3rd Euro which at eight months old is kinda stiff.  Euro is good from day one but excellent when it opens in my experience.   .02c

      bert


      SCGC VJ, Collings CJ mhA, 89′ Martin 000-16M, Eastman AC630 jumbo & El Rey4 archtop, bottleneck reso.

    • #3465
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Totally agree bert, when mine was new it was soooo stiff.. I’ve had it five years and it has improved a lot

    • #3466
      tadol
      Participant

      Hey Jeff – great post!  I have to say, if there were a simple and inexpensive way to make a major improvement in the tone of a SC, Richard would have done it before it left the shop. But, there are small changes that can really tweak the tone – strings, pick, pins, saddle, and ultimately – technique.  It’s hard to really know what each little change will produce, especially if its a new(er) guitar, and is still opening up itself.  Having just gotten my first truly new SC, I am becoming very aware of just how much they change – from the minute you pick it up, to even now, just a few weeks later – plus, I’m still really listening to it, and getting to know it – I’m not very “quick” when it comes to these things –

      Bit it sounds like you (Ac. Soul) have a good ear for these things – and also have some very strong desires in terms of tone and response. I’d just be concerned about trying too many things – changing too many things – its an equation with too many variables. Especially when the results are so very nuanced, and very subjective. And even worse, the results are very personal – we do not have a simple and accurate way to document and quantify any of it, that can be shared and evaluated. I think some of these choices we each have to hear and evaluate for ourselves, on our own guitar.

      I can’t imagine trying to evaluate a whole bunch of changes – I’m still evaluating how my guitar sounds in different rooms – just trying different strings, with different picks, would be more than enough of a challenge for me –

       

      • #3468
        zorro
        Participant

        Well said Tad.

        My 1934 is the only “New” Sc I have ever owned.

        All my others have been purchased pre-owned.

        I do have to say that the very personal experience of what each of us hears in a particular instrument is so variable.

        I am almost totally deaf in my left ear and my right ear has compensated but also aged.

        I don’t know that I could even hear the things that Ac S. is describing. and I wonder about T.M.I. overload also….but I wish him luck.


        1993 Martin Custom HD-28 IR/Sitka
        2001 SCGC Custom F Cutaway Maple/German
        2008 SCGC Custom OT Madi/Italian
        2015 SCGC Custom OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
        2016 SCGC Custom 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
        2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa

        The Bay, The Gulf Stream, The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their Secrets with.

    • #3467
      indexless
      Keymaster

      Hey Bert!   Hope you are OK down there, you are in our thoughts

    • #3469
      JeffH
      Participant

      Thanks all My OM purchased used looks like it went unplayed and fully tensioned so required a truss rod adjustment and lowering the saddle a bit. The only other change I made was improving the break angle on the high E, B, and G strings. It’s true the Santa Cruz is a revelation every time I pick it up.

    • #3470
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Tad – different rooms, strings, and picks make a huge difference !  I have a handful of blue chip picks and routinely try out things over and over.  I’ve been on a journey for 8 years with new santa cruz guitars… I’ve not been able to find a used one for me.  Even the first 2-3 months, first 6 months, first 14 months, and first 2.5 years for me they always shift.

      I do think if someone can hear the audio that they can hear in the context of the guitar + the player + the song an objective conclusion.  That may not be applicable to a different situation, but it’s still a bit of information and after years of doing it, it tends to help you become more informed and I’m all for sharing that.

       

      Zorro, my brain loves to mull over things and perfect them… that’s why I like to do mixing and mastering… but yes even I get to the TMI point.  I’m still young so I like complexity… every year I like simpler living (although I promote it’s not due to age but the stress of material responsibilities)

       

      Jeff, so glad to hear you’re having that experience.  Playing a Santa Cruz guitar is a very special thing!

    • #3604
      JeffH
      Participant

      Reviving this thread as l happened to find a great deal on a 2000 SC 000 bone stock Sitka/EIR and decided to try out the FWI pins and on this combo they shine adding a bit of sparkle focus and depth. The Tusq pins though are still too much. Pretty weird and amazing to end up with two Santa Cruz guitars in just a couple weeks.

    • #3608
      bert
      Participant

      Congratulations Jeff, SC did not just start building great guitars.  I’ve owned a couple from that era, my current VJ is a 2001 model.  how sweet it is.  🙂  bert


      SCGC VJ, Collings CJ mhA, 89′ Martin 000-16M, Eastman AC630 jumbo & El Rey4 archtop, bottleneck reso.

    • #3609
      zorro
      Participant

      Ahhh Jeff …..Your SCGC Ramuda grows quickly.

      I agree with Bert about that vintage of SC guitars……My F Cutaway would even make the guru of Fs (Tad) smile with its’ voice.


      1993 Martin Custom HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC Custom F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC Custom OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC Custom OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC Custom 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa

      The Bay, The Gulf Stream, The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their Secrets with.

    • #3610
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Wow Jeff, thanks so much for trying it out with me and joining in on the conversation – and congrats on the purchase!!

      Did you get them from Colosi?  I’m guessing not unless you already had them as he doesn’t sell FWI anymore.

      Lucky to get a Santa Cruz that’s already had 15 years of time to it!!!  I prize used guitars

    • #3612
      JeffH
      Participant

      Thanks yes the 000 has a dramatically different voice than my OM not sure if it’s age or just shape, wood, Cocobolo vs EIR or a combo? One thing is for sure though between these two and my Bourgeois slope D adi/sinker hog life is good.

    • #3613
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      Age, shape, and wood will definitely all shift it.  The OOO is a lot different from the OM, I love it.  Cocobolo will have a slight difference from EIR, top wood would make more of a difference… I’d say you’re mostly hearing age and shape of 12 fret

    • #3635
      tadol
      Participant

      Cocobolo – that’s gonna really sharpen up the sound, so sitka isn’t a bad way to go on top.  I haven’t spent any serious time comparing pins and saddles, but have tried a few strings and alotta picks.  I rarely hear things that are “bad”, but it is fun to hear the differences these things seem to make.  Maybe I’m just not picky enough, but a good guitar is gonna generally be a good guitar regardless –

    • #3638
      Acoustic Soul
      Participant

      That’s true Tad, I don’t hear many things that sound bad.. just things that might catch my ear a little more or work more for what I’m doing.  I can actually solve problems with the guitar I have, but it seems like it just creates another one to deal with.  Circles back around a lot of times to having a larger body than what I have, adi/mahogany.  Noticing I tend to like short scale and 12 fret also, so I think a RS will one day give me a closer palette to work with to what I want

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