I'm trying to solve a years-long battle.... and that's the use of 3-degree vs. 5-degree bridge pins. The  LMI catalog has a fair breakdown of their respective uses, but it's a bit vague. So what's the "norm" these days?

This comes from a repair angle. Most of my pin-replacement is done on 5-to-20yr-old Yamahas, Guilds, Martins, Gibson and asian imports. It's tough to find a consensus on which pin angle works best for any given particular guitar.  

If the job is a bridge replacement, then it's easy to drill and hone the angle ... but what's the standard?   Anybody here have a good handle on this one?

Views: 1988

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I've always figured 3 degrees = Asian,  5 degrees = US.  That rule of thumb worked for decades, although things are getting a bit scrambled these days. . .

Good rule of thumb.  Here's the blurb that LMII publishes... which I find a bit scrambled itself, but still useful.

3 Degree: 3 degree bridge pins are used as replacements on most production guitars (Taylor and overseas made instruments, for example) and on pre-1994 Martins and pre-2002 Collings guitars. 3 degree has been a popular choice with many of the high-end custom luthiers as it has been commented that it is easier to provide a good fit with a wider variety of strings with this taper.

5 Degree: 5 degree pins are a common replacement for most modern Martins and many older Dreadnoughts. They were used commonly in the past and are often termed ”vintage style”.

Unslotted:Some believe that by slotting the bridge and using an unslotted pin you create greater coupling between the string, pin, bridge plate and soundboard, which improves tone. Others say the difference is negligible or non-existent. Nonetheless, unslotted bridge pins are popular with some luthiers and players. There are varying reports about whether or not different pin types effect bridge plate damage over time.



I am waiting on a reply from Allied Luthier Supplies about just what taper they use. The fellow wasn't sure and is looking into it. Their web site said they were Gurian pins and 5degrees but Stew Mac says about their reamers "The 3-degree reamer tapers from approximately .312" to .150", with 3" cutting length, and is suitable for many bridge pins from Gibson and Gurian.

The 5-degree reamer tapers from approximately .312" to .135", with 2" cutting length. It works for our vintage-style pins, as well as modern Martin bridge pins."


So they say Gurians are 3degrees. I am confused.

I need to buy a reamer and can't afford two. Stew mac is $61 and LMI is $45, plus shipping,duty to Canada makes it a pricey item.  Anyone have an opinion on the quality of these tools? And can anyone clear up the contradiction about taper? 


Hi Fred,

I use a Stew Mac reamer which is 4-5 years old and has done a fair amount of work. The one I use has a large bearing surface to support the cutting edge as opposed to the standard reamer style with lots of cutting edges and minimal bearing surface.   The Stew mac design eliminates a lot of chatter (important when doing hard wood like ebony for instance) when making new holes and also it self centers very well when touching up existing worn holes (especially when there are string groove in in them).   I do not know if the LMI unit is the same but I can  recommend the Stew Mac product.

Regards, Rusty.

thanks for answeringRussell. Is your reamer a 3or5degree?


© 2018   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service