The above image is a screenshot taken from GuitarWorld.com the morning of 29APR2023. It was apparently written for naive newbies or just gullible guitar players or maybe written BY one!
There is SO MUCH BS being peddled about guitars, you can only flush the occasional t**d. Some magazines/websites spew so much garbage that I rarely waste time countering them, but GuitarWorld.com! I love GuitarWorld! They often have great, informative articles. Their latest is a huge disappointment though, and I hope not the start of a trend.
The article title: “5 Ways to Improve Your Acoustic Guitar Tone”. Sounds clickable! But does it deliver?
#1 in their list: Bridge Pins.
Here’s what they say –
“Acoustic guitars sound their best when the ball-ends of the strings are firmly anchored under the bridge plate… With prolonged use, bridge pins become loose and at that point a new set of bridge pins may be necessary. Options include plastic, Tusq, bone, horn, wood and brass. All have different characteristics that may subtly modify and enhance tone, but the fit is paramount.”GuitarWorld.com
If you hadn’t had your coffee yet, it would almost seem to make sense. But what is the source of “guitar tone”? It’s the vibration of the strings, right? And where does that vibration occur? Between the nut and the saddle – period!
If your strings are vibrating outside that space, you have bigger problems than worn bridge pins! Even pricey Martin acoustic guitars use plastic pins!
If you say that the pins affect tone, although they’re beyond the saddle, and beyond the area of vibration, just because they’re connected to the strings, you’ve just opened a huge can of worms. The strings touch the bridge plate, which touches the guitar body which rests on your thigh.
Therefore, do you get a brighter or warmer tone if you have flabby or toned thighs? How about when you wear Levis as opposed to khakis? What about wearing shorts???
What kind of tone would a naked guitarist have? With that thought in mind, I may decide to skip Willie Nelson’s next performance!
Getting back to the “firmly anchored” part – it might seem that if the bridge plate is worn and “soft” enough to have indentations, that tone could be muffled. But the ball end only needs to be held enough to be “anchored firmly” against the saddle. If it is, then anything happening beyond that point is irrelevant. If it isn’t, you’re probably going to have obvious, terrible tuning problems.
#2 Saddle Swap
…Most high-end acoustics come with bone saddlesGuitarWorld.com
I’ve seen a lot of Martins lately with synthetic saddles, but I did a quick check on Sweetwater and randomly clicked on a $4,500 Taylor 814ce Builder’s Edition Acoustic-electric. Bone saddle? Nope! I’ll just let this picture save me a thousand words –
Of course nut and saddle material has a subtle effect on tone, but it’s not a matter of “better or worse”. It’s more like a matter of slightly warmer or slightly brighter.
#3 Brace Shaving
Mass-production acoustics do not have individually voiced tops. If you have a solid wood acoustic that feels stiff and unresponsive, it’s possible to get inside with a finger plane and carve the X-braces to free up the tone.
Rear braces can also be finessed. Some of those solid-wood Chinese acoustics can be massively improved by this procedure, but this kind of work is always best left to a professional.GuitarWorld.com
This one is total BS! Only an experienced luthier or properly trained tech can properly “voice” a guitar. Part of the process involves tapping the soundboard and judging, by the tone, whether to remove material from the soundboard or bracing, and how much. (a bit like the way we tune banjo heads.) GW even admits as much at the end of their paragraph.
So why include it here? It’d be fine to do an article about how to DIY your own guitar voicing – but the writer of this article doesn’t seem qualified.
#s 4 & 5 – Duh!
4 is changing strings and #5 is “practice”. Double-Duh!
GuitarWorld – you didn’t earn thousands of loyal subscribers by writing crap like this! Please get back to your usual quality material ASAP. GuitarWorld and anyone else is welcome to rebut my findings in the comments below, but only with facts and/or evidence, not solely opinion.
You can read the offending article here: GuitarWorld BS