When it comes to guitar care, properly pushing in your bridge pins doesn’t always make the list. But unless you want damage, it’s crucial to follow the easy-to-remember tips below.
The second acoustic guitar I ever owned has been in instrument heaven for decades. But in my mind, I still see the cracks trailing from pin hole to pin hole on the bridge.
No one was there to dope slap me into not jamming the bridge pins in too hard.
Thing is, bridge pins are tapered to fit in the pinholes with friction. It doesn’t take much pressure to seat them in enough to do the job. They aren’t glued or secured in any other way. So, if you have trouble lifting the pins out, someone, I won’t say who, put them in too hard last time.
They should slip out with little effort using the U-shaped notch at the end of a string winder tool. If you hear a sharp snap or loud BONK lifting them out, they were pushed in too hard last time.
You may notice, many bridge pins have a collar near the top. It’s not a gauge how far to jam pins into your guitar. So, don’t drive them in like a stake through Dracula’s chest.
Pushing in bridge pins too hard over time, even if it doesn’t crack the bridge between the bridge pin holes, will widen their diameter. That happens, and your pins stop holding the strings from popping out.
That ain’t good.
It’ll mean it’s time to pay a luthier to do surgery on your guitar.
Follow these 9 tips to keep your guitar out of bridge pin purgatory.
- If you have slotted bridge pins, make sure the string is inserted in the pin hole with the slot facing your guitar’s headstock.
- Gently push the pin in using only your thumb and finger.
- Slightly twisting the pin when inserting it can help set it, but make sure the slot is lined up 90-degrees to the saddle when seated. And take extra care to not put too much pressure on it while twisting.
- Alternatively, you can give the endpin the middle finger. Seat it with your thumb and pointer finger, then gently flick your fingernail against the top of the pin one or two times.
- Make sure string tension is completely slack when putting endpins in. Pulling the ball end up to the bridge plate after you’ve seated the pin.
- Never tap the pin in with an object.
- Don’t ram the pin in hard with your thumb.
- Glue it if it’s loose? Are you kidding me? No, never ever!
- Never shim the endpin for a tighter fit. Take it to a luthier if the bridge pins won’t keep your strings from popping out.
Follow these simple tips, and you should never have an issue with a cracked bridge, or worn-out bridge pin holes.