After my luthier replaced my old saddle with a Tusq saddle
and I noticed a BIG difference in sound, he told me I should also change my
bridge pins to Tusq to hear even more improvement but he didn't have any in
stock at the time so I didn't have it done then.
I recently went through the process of trying to purchase & install Tusq bridge pins in a few of my guitars and ended up learning quite a bit about bridge pins in general. First of all at the time of this writing at least, I had a hard time even finding a music store that stocked the Tusq pins so I had to order them. They come in different colors and end decorations, so I tried to order new pins that resembled the old pins I was replacing to preserve the same look of the guitar. The standard sized Tusq pins seemed to fit in my Guild pretty well with only a slight amount of pin sticking up above the bridge. I also noticed a marked improvement in sound. When I tried the same sized pins in my old Martin D18, they were way too loose and the sound was worse. Then I remembered when ordering the pins at the store, seeing the words "Martin pins" out of the corner of my eye in the catalogue. Yep, the Martin pins are larger. When I finally reordered the pins in the Martin size they fit perfectly and I didn't think it was possible but they actually made my old Martin, the guitar I judge all others to, sound better! The trick is definitely in the fit.
As I started looking at other pins from different manufacturers like Alvarez for example, I found even more differences in size, taper, and groove. There IS a difference in the size, taper, & groove between the manufacturer's pins. It says on the package of the Tusq pins to have them professionally installed by a guitar tech. The pins can be sanded, etc.
I guess the trick is to find a music store that sells Tusq pins, has a guitar tech knowledgeable in the subject, and making sure the pins fit right. The store I ordered my pins from wasn't aware of the different Martin size for example.
In summary, I found the Martin pins to fit my old Martin very well with no modification, the standard sized pins fit my Guild pretty well. They only stick up a little. I guess they could be sanded a bit smaller but they are working fine.
If you try a set of Tusq pins, make sure they aren't too big in diameter. Install the pins one string at a time by gently pushing them in. If binding occurs part way in the hole, don't force them in or the bridge may be damaged. If the pins drop in too easy and can be easily removed after the string is tuned up, the pin is too loose. You may need the larger Martin size and then possibly have a guitar tech sand them to proper size afterwards.
Bob, Gman ( o )==#
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