A few weeks back I started get tired and frankly a bored on my acoustic guitars tone during a recording session. The guitar is a long discontinued Fender DG-4, an Indonesian made Dreadnought. It was my first real acoustic guitar and I have owned it for about 11 years although the instrument is around 25 years old. Being a budget instrument it has laminate rosewood back and sides, a three piece mahogany neck but oddly a solid top. Whilst it isn’t glamorous, it’s mine.
Even though I’d never part with it I felt it needed some love to bring the best tones out of it. I gave it a fret level about 6 months ago so it plays OK and it is well intonated. When recording I usually mic up and live I use a Seymour Duncan Woody (single coil) so I wasn’t about to spend money in that area.
After some consideration the biggest problem I had was a boomy, undefined low end. When strumming or finger picking the bass notes just swamped the highs and it wasn’t particularly responsive to changes in attack. Not unusable just not very interesting.
Now the obvious place to start modifications would be changing the nut and bridge saddle. I have always found changing these parts can dramatically change the characteristics of a guitars tone, both acoustic and electric.
That said I was talking to one of my students, Pete, who let me jam on his vintage Yamaha acoustic on which he’d changed the bridge pins to brass. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it looked really cool but the guitar had so much sustain and a really satisfying string separation. Thanks for letting me try that guitar out Pete. After coming back home and playing my Fender with its worn out plastic pins I ordered a brass set from China.
Here is the old plastic pins and the new brass ones. The plastic ones are looking pretty worn and chewed up from 23 years of restringing.
A whole month later they arrived so I grabbed a set of D’Addario Phospher Bronze 12’s and set about restringing. One of the plus sides of delivery taking a month was that I’d forgotten most of my research about the intended shift in tone. So here is what I hear. The low end is brighter and refined and has cut back the booming lows. The high end is a still intact and noticeably fuller which is a relief. All in all the whole instrument is better balanced for both finger style and strumming. How much of the shift is down to the increased mass, more secure transfer of sound to the bridge, or the material itself is up for debate.
Anyone else try this mod? I’m curious to know if the change in sound is something others have experienced as well to help others quantify the choice for brass? Anyone try any other materials for bridge pins? Thanks for reading.