Claescaster

Tag: Tusq

Bridge Pins

Most guitars come with plain plastic bridge pins and I never really thought that changing them would effect the tone, but it does. To be honest I wasn’t sure how much difference it would make to change the nut or saddle either but there I was proven wrong straight away. I’ve heard so much talk about how superior bone is to plastic and thought it was nonsense, until I actually tried for myself. Now most of my guitars have bone or Tusq nuts, both electrics and acoustics. I changed to Tusq on my Claescaster and was sold straight away, it really felt and sounded different. The only acoustic I’ve had to change nut on was the Suzuki and that guitar sounded way better with a bone nut. It’s weird but acoustics for me, up until the last couple of month, have always sounded good or bad but without any nuances. I guess what I’m trying to say is that just like with a fine red wine you need train your pallet to really understand and appreciate all the flavours and subtle differences. I have been buying more acoustics lately and really listened to them while playing and have come to realise more and more what I like and not like with acoustics. It’s not just down to brand, shape and woods, no guitar sounds the same and there is a lot subtle differences. I think that age is very important factor, I really do believe that wood needs time to open up and that it affects the sound a lot, hence why a lot of modern guitars sounds more or less the same to me. I ordered 12 bone bridge pins and 12 ebony from rockcarvings a Chinese eBay seller that was really cheap, $9.90 for 12 ebony pins. I changed the pins on my Morris W-40 first and made a little sound clip with the plastic, bone and ebony bridge pins to really be able to hear the difference. There is a difference, maybe not as big as changing the saddle to bone, but still. In my opinion the bone pins sounded too clear and sparkly on that guitar, they lacked a bit of bottom which could be more about the quality of these Chinese pins than the material itself. The Morris has a lot of warmth and bottom, which is the reason why I love that guitar so much, so I wanted to keep that rather than give it more treble. The ebony pins were perfect, they just gave such a solid tone, both playing chords and solo. I changed my dad’s Levin LT-16 to ebony as well and put on a new compensated bone saddle, which made wonders to the tone and playability. I will try the bone pins on some other guitars but I have a feeling that I will order more ebony pins in the near future. Here is a list from Maury’s Music with the tonal qualities of different bridge pin materials. I wish I could have found Mammoth or Walrus because that seems awesome but eBay only allowed for Tusq, bone, ebony and horn.

  • Tusq can add a moderate amount of treble, sustain, clarity and volume to your guitar.
  • Bone offers everything Tusq provides, but in bigger doses.
  • Ebony can add bass and warmth to your guitar, along with a signifigant increase in sustain and volume.
  • Buffalo Horn sounds almost identical to bone, and is a great choice if you want a dark looking pin with bone tone.
  • Walrus Jawbone offers the fundamental tone of bone but with better overtones and fatter harmonics.
  • Mammoth Ivory can add sustain, volume, and a transparent richness to your guitar, with an increase in harmonics and overtones.
  • Walrus Ivory provides the greatest increase in volume, sustain and clarity among all the pin choices.

1973 Morris W-40 and 1966 Levin LT-16 with new ebony bridge pins
1973 Morris W-40 and 1966 Levin LT-16 with new ebony bridge pins

How to… change the nut

I have never been too impressed with the cheap plastic nut on the Claescaster. When I first got it I brought the guitar to work and used it as my office guitar and after six month of heavy playing most of the string buzz was gone, but not all. I truly believe that if you do any changes and things doesn’t sound perfect straight away then just ignore it for a week or two and let the guitar settle a bit. If I get any slight buzzing or things feels weird after I have adjusted the bridge or saddles on my guitars I tend to leave it until the problem disappears, which it almost always does.  However, after two years of playing the Claescaster like crazy I felt that the last bit of buzzing wouldn’t go away unless I changed the nut. I have drilled, soldered and screwed in my guitars, adjusted necks and changed things around but I have never dared to remove a nut. It just felt like one of those things you couldn’t do by yourself. After 3 glasses of cava at work I felt I had the Dutch courage needed to take on this daunting task so on my way home I went passed Herrera Guitars,  my favourite guitar shop in Barcelona, and bought a TUSQ PQ-5010-00 slotted nut for Strat and Tele. I started with removing the old nut, something that was way easier than I expected. I took some watch tools, finally I found some use for those, and just lightly tapped the nut from one side with a watch back opener and small hammer, it came loose straight away. I cleaned the slot a bit, removed some left over glue with a knife and then sanded the sides to make it slightly wider to fit the new nut. The TUSQ was a lot bigger than I expected, I did measure the old nut a couple of days ago but maybe I mixed up the measurements or I got the wrong nut because this one was almost 3 mm longer than the existing one, even though the string spacing was the same. I took the old nut as a reference and made a mark on each side and then just cut off the excess with a knife on the chopping board, it’s a very easy material to cut and work with. I filed down the edges with a sandpaper and also scratched all sides so the glue would stick better. Now it was just down to put some super glue in the slot, probably not the best glue for this but the only one I had at home, and then gently tap down the nut in its place. Done. I have to say that this was way easier than I expected and everything went really well. I should of course have masked off the wood with some tape not to scratch it but I was too excited to take those kind of precautions. Now with the new nut fitted this neck is a joy to play, it’s a world of difference. I feel that both tone and resonance has improved a lot and I can easily recommend TUSQ.

How to change the nutThe old plastic nut that this cheap neck came with

How to change the nutA watch back opener and a little rubber hammer turned out to be excellent tools for this

How to change the nutIt was way easier than I expected to remove the old nut

How to change the nutI scraped off some leftover glue with a knife

How to change the nutSome sandpaper got the surface smooth and I also needed to widen the slot a bit to fit the new nut

How to change the nutNot the best cut nut slot but I didn’t really expect more from this neck

How to change the nutThe new TUSQ PQ-5010-00 only cost 8€

How to change the nutPerfect fit

How to change the nutA tiny bit of glue and then just gently tap the new nut in it’s place

How to change the nut All set, a new nut is fitted on the Claescaster