Monday, May 29, 2006

UMGF Weekly Summary #3 May29

Guitar pickups, strings, how to improve flatpicking speed and rosewood vs. ebony fretboards are just some of the issues that were covered this week on the forum. There's also a great story about playing the One Millionth Martin.


14. 00 VS 000 SLOTHEADS
24. 000-28H

I have an LSV with an under saddle pickup. It sounds good but I know it would sound better if I added an onboard mic.I would like to be able to blend the two from someplace on the guitar, but I would like the preamp to be outside the guitar.

sdelsolray: Pendulum Audio SPS-1 has some controls at the guitar and most controls on the outboard racl unit.

66d35: That will do it... but if $1500+ is a bit steep, you can obtain similar functionality with an external mic, a small mixer and a Baggs Para-D.
Use the Para-DI on your PU output, send that to the line level input on your mixer, and send the mic output into the mic level input of the mixer. You can blend, pan, EQ, etc. If you use a small 2/4 channel mixer you can often mic-stand mount these and they're very accessible/convenient for on-stage control - better than guitar mounted, IMHO. You get real knobs/sliders not tiny ones.

sdelsolray: The Baggs MixPro is an inexpensive solution (about $150). It's a two channel unit, that clips to your belt, and is designed to handle two pickup courses, including those with an internal condenser mic. It has basic eq of two types, set and forget and on the fly adjustable. The preamps used in the MixPro are the same that is used in the PARI DI.

I have a MixPro and use it when I'm not carrying my full rig, for open mics and the like. It will handle a pickup and internal mic just fine. It has internal set and forget eq for each channel, and bass and treble controls post-blend on the outside of the unit. It clips to your belt. It uses the same preamp (it has two identical preamps) that is used in the Baggs PARI DI, for what it's worth. Not a bad product for $150 or so.

I wouldn't recommend blending a pickup and internal mic in the guitar before any eq was available. There are some products that do this. They basically suck the life out of the potential for a pickup/internal mic combination.

Now a UST/SBT or SBT/mag or UST/mag, that's a different story, sorta. Those pickup combinations can often handle the same eq, so it isn't as ncessary to eq each pickup separately before blending. Still, having separate eq before blending is a good thing, better to have than not. With a pickup and an internal mic, it is absolutely necessary.

Since you want two pickups blended in the guitar before your PARI DI, you should avoid a pickup/internal mic combination.

I have a '77 D28 with the oversized Rosewood bridgeplate. Should I be worried about a K&K Pure Western?

kkchristy: The larger bridgeplate will not be a problem for the Pure Western though I definitely recommend the mini size.

The Pure Western is the model of pickup, both the standard and mini size are still available. There has been a bit of a rumor that K&K will discontinue the standard size. This in inaccurate, it's just recommended with the silver tape installation rather than superglue gel as this makes it easier to control output volume and balance on guitars with a big, low voice. Both models are supplied with the items to install with the tape or superglue.

Buzzard II: Just an FYI, I have a HD-35 (deep throated cannon) with the larger Pure Western super glued in... sounds great... maybe just a little finicky with feedback in a full band setting.

kkchristy: The standard size is more sensitive with the larger transducers which results in stronger signal. The prominent bass response is not in the pickup, but the lower end frequencies have a tendency to dominate if given a chance and some guitars have a strong low end response. The standard is a great pickup, but more difficult to eq in certain applications. The modified mini is something K&K can recommend across the board, confident the musician will achieve great plug-n-play sound by itself or even better with a preamp.

There are many musicians who have used the standard size Pure Western with no difficulty at all. The pickup response has a lot to do with voice of the guitar and signal chain. It is difficult to give a definite recommendation per guitar as playing style, musician preference, voice of guitar and equipment used is all part of the big picture. The effort to provide a general recommendation is what prompted the modification of mini size to improve passive volume output. There is a significant difference in volume and tone with tape or superglue gel installation. The superglue gel provides a superior result.

I have been reading more about the K&K Mini on this forum than the standard K&K Pure Western. What is the reason for this?

matthewrust: From the K&K Site:
Pure Western Mini - We now recommend the mini pickups for all acoustic guitars. Permanent installation with superglue is required for optimum performance. We are proud to announce that our engineers succeeded in raising the output level of the Pure Western Mini by about 15% which makes it now almost as powerful as the bigger Pure Western Standard Size - removable pickups. This pickup system will fit ANY guitar! It features absolutely balanced and linear sound transmission all over the guitar's frequency spectrum.

funckyfinger: I've owned a two 000-15 guitars .One had the mini, one the regular version. There is no question about it. The mini sounds much more natural. With the regular version I had to roll off most of the bass and mids for it to sound good.The mini needed only very minor eq. I don't think there was any noticable difference in output.

dave42: My partner and I just had 'minis' installed in our Martins. Her's is a OM-28V, mine a D-16TR.

A friend installed them, as he has installed 8 K&K pickups. We've only tried them through a small acoustic amp, but very natural sounding.

Delving into the musical delights provided by Rice, Sutton, and Grier, I seem to have reached a wall. I know that there are things that can be done to the guitar, and obviously lots of practice doesn't hurt, but I was wondering if the pick makes a difference. I've noticed that Grier and Rice seem to have picks that are different from most of what I see.

Stokes73: I don't use a pick but my teacher does. At a recent lesson he had a huge (thick, triangular) pick on the music stand. I asked him about it. He said it was made of Buffalo horn. When I asked why it was so thick this was his explanation.

If you use a thin flexible pick it will slow you down. He demonstrated this by using the pick on his index finger and showing how much the thinner pick had to flex before it actually picked the string. The thick pick doesn't flex at all and allows for faster picking. He then demonstrated the difference by pick some leads. I have to say he was right.

nilejam: I'm not that fast yet either, but one thing that has helped is going to a thicker pick with a slight bevel to the edge. Lately I have been using the Clayton Ultem Tortoise picks. The larger triangles in .94 thickness. I have a Wegen 1.2 that is nice for leads, but not as nice for general rythym to my ears.
I take a metal fingernail file and bevel the tips. If you are right handed, bevel that right half of the side facing you (from the middle of the point to about 1 file width to the right), flip the pick over and repeat.
You get the benefits of a stiffer pick with a quick, smooth release.

This has been working for me so far, but I keep experimenting. Picks are one of the cheapest mods to make. Its also easy to A/B them.

lkb3rd: I definitely feel that a stiff pick adds to your control and speed. I also bevel the tip of my picks with a fingernail file if they aren't beveled already.

But more important than that I think is practice and consistency, starting with an efficient technique. Watch fast players closely, ask around of people you know and teachers who play fast, and develop an efficient technique of holding your pick and right arm. Also using a metronome and starting slower than top speed with an emphasis on perfect clarity and smoothness is an immense help when you speed it up. Little imperfections when speeded up can cause you to crash and burn, and ironing this out at slower speeds is helpful.

geeterpicker: I advocate thick picks and prefer the shoulder on regular picks. I now exclusively use Dawgs, which are pretty much a heavy with three shoulders. One's tone is infinitely stronger and richer with a heavy pick. After many years of playing of playing too fast, I've come to the conclusion speed isn't as important as timing, tone and taste. I guess when one gets older you realize your limitations and exploit them.

6stringrelief: I use a thick triangular Clayton 1.2 on my D18 GE. I've found that a thick pick can help with speed, but not as much as a relaxed, practiced up and down motion with the thumb, forefinger, and wrist. For me, the more relaxed my up and down motion, the faster the pick speed. The more I practice, the more relaxed I get, but progress is slow, real slow.

Beveling a pick helps too, although, after a while, my attack on the strings bevel the pick and I can tell which side of the pick should be facing me.
Gotta practice those arpeggios and cross picking songs daily!

rustyweaver99: When I asked Dan Crary about velocity he said first, just try to play it smoothly and slowly. Later, get yourself a metronome.

ncfiretiger: I use a thick "horn" (of some sort) pick now. the old guy that sells them used to be a recording artist and he calls them "unicorn horn." I've also noticed that as I play, the pick gradually rotates in my fingers. I'm not sure why because my fingers don't feel sweaty, but I was wondering if this is a technique thing, i.e. not holding the pick correctly (pretty sure this isn't the problem), striking the strings too hard, bad hand placement. i watch Rice, Grier, and others, so if this is a problem, it must be very subtle. any suggestions??

Ozark1951: While I am no expert on this..for me it has helped to either use the shoulder of a regular pick, or more commonly, I round the tip significantly and bevel it. I am using .96 these days. A smooth material seems to help me as well. A round tip helps me stay higher off the fretboard and not to dig in too deeply which requires more effort to move around. Steve Kaufman says."Want to play fast? Play fast" The way I read that is practice a LOT and actually play fast while doing it.

Does anyone have experience with this series? I'm looking for something to help me start learning how to flatpick and get past just strumming chords.

Lefty00042: Fretboard Logic was great for me - for the first dozen pages or so! After that it was all barre chord shapes that required me to spread my fretting hand in ways it just wasn't meant to spread! Like, barring with the index finger, then making a chord shape starting with my second (middle) finger two frets away. My hand doesn't do that!

ncfiretiger: I have used it several years and I find it to be an excellent tool for learning the guitar as an instrument of music. Fretboard Logic shows you how to become essentially "self-reliant" in your playing by grounding a person in the subtleties of the instrument and the reasoning behind chord construction based on the guitars construction and tuning. It basically explains how and why things work on the guitar. It will not make you a better flatpicker though (or better any kind of player for that matter) - just a more knowledgeable one.
If you are interested in flatpicking, i recommend something by Steve Kauffman, which I use; and/or Orrin Starr, which i haven't used but have heard nothing but good.

Kauffman's "Songs Every Parking Lot Picker Should Know" is great because he starts with a basic version that he works you through via a CD, followed by intermediate and advanced versions (also on the CD).

fsusubdad: I wouldn't say this book will help you learn to flatpick and play leads, at least not initially. It will help understand the fretboard better which I think would eventually lead you to be able to do more with whatever style you are playing, but as far as learning to flatpick leads I would recommend:

1. Steve Kaufman "20 Bluegrass Songs Every Parking Lot Picker Should Know" Volume I. (
2. Adam Grangers, "Fiddle Tunes for Guitar" (
3. Orrin Star's DVD "Flatpicking Primer" What the Tab Won't Tell You. (

All three are great, rich treasure troves of flatpicking knowledge!

jefe46: I had the books and then got the video. The books have good info available elsewhere the videos...could they be worse.. hokey electric guitar and D E A D pan delivery you'll be comatose long before you get anything out of them
I gave them away. Good material poorly presented..

longboardsurfing: I don't think Fretboard Logic is going to help you learn to play a particular style (flatpick, fingerpick or other). But I think it is a good primer to learn the CAGED system. I have found that this system helped me to unlock the fretboard into a series of components that could be used to play different voicings of tunes up and down the neck. Similarly, once you get a handle on the positions of chords within the CAGED system, playing tunes in other keys becomes fairly easy without using a capo. There are other books that discuss this system, but Fretboard Logic is pretty easy to digest.

In the June 2006 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine Ernie Hawkins talks about his exposure to the CAGED system. He says finding it earlier, "would have saved myself years of fumbling around in the dark." While I still find it pretty dark when it comes to my complete understanding of the is getting brighter every day.

fleiger: I have a copy of Fretboard Logic along with every other self-help instructional manual on the planet. Fretboard Logic was no more help to me than any of the others I have attempted to teach myself from. I was basically lost after the introductory paragraph. But I'm a talentless idiot with the IQ of a mushroom. Your mileage may vary. Best of luck. BTW, I have heard good things about Fretboard Logic for anyone who has a modicum of intelligence.

Now that the warm and humid weather is approaching (at least in NJ) I was wondering if there are any general recommendations for controlling for high humidity situations, e.g, using some type of dessicant in the case. Any opinions?

matthewrust: I used to humidify at all times--summer and winter. This was mostly thanks to the guy at Guitar Center who told me it was wise to always humidify. Thanks to his recommendation, my D15 sounded like it was "full of pudding" according to one of my picking buddies.

When I realized that it was not necessary (and potentially harmful) to always humidify, I got an in-case hygrometer for each guitar and one for my guitar room. I live in the muggy midwest but the air conditioning usually takes care of the high humidity. I'd be hesitant to de-humidify because in general it is less harmful to have a little too much humidity than to have too little. Knowing my luck, that sucker would suck ALL the moisture out of the case and leave me with peanut brittle.

lkb3rd: Air conditioning makes an effective de-humidifier, and I think that putting an in case humidifier in the case, dry, will suck up some humidity, but I've never tried it with a hygrometer myself

TChristianHD28: Desiccant in the case is likely to be futile. If the RH gets way too high, in spite of your air conditioning, you may consider a room dehumidifier.

I've always been a fan of DR. I personally think that they keep their tone the best out of all I tried. However, recently, I had a few issues with DR (not sure if they changed their winding process)? My action was all goofed up, so I threw on a set of GHS. Nice sounding strings, but I'm surprised at how fast they are loosing their luster. Only seems like after a month or so the sound dead (moderate playing 1 :30 min session per day).

grababanjo: I will never use Elixer nanowebs again - I have a heavy hand and I broke too many G strings with those.
The D-Addario EJ-17 are convenient because up here in Winnipeg I can find them anywhere and they come in packs of three. They don't last forever but I notice when they die after a week or so they take on a really old woody sound. They don't usually break and they sound amazing when they are new - usually the first 4 days are the best. They corrode easy (my fretting fingers eventually turn green from playing them but my girlfriend doesn't care thankfully).

I would like to venture into DR land and try some sunbeams - I have some Tony Rice Daquisto's on order from Elderly. I ordered them and then read some old posts on here where everyone was bashing them. That was a scary thing - but it's only 10 bucks so who cares?
I think D-Addario phosphor bronze are the industry standard. Most people use them and with good reason.

CountrySquire: Aside from string life, which can vary from player to player (based on PH, style of play and the actual design of the strings), matching the optimum combination of: string set, bridge saddle type, and flatpick (if used) to the specific guitar is the key. From most of the past and present forum feedback pertaining to strings, one can assume that they all have their good points and vary in terms of string life while flatpick material and thickness also play major roles in achieving the desired tones.

As far as bridge saddles go, it seems that FWI, elephant ivory and bone are the preferred materials while Tusq, Micarta and Corian are the least desirable. It's a mix and match operation and you (as a player and listener) will always be the best judge.

From personal experience, I like Thomastik-Infeld Spectrums (80/20), GHS Signature (Phosphor Bronze), Martin SP (80/20) and Firewire (80/20). D'Addarios (both the EXP and regular uncoated) seem to lack brilliance and to me they are mediocre strings at best.

brazil66: Martin Fingerstyle SP .012-.054 They last as long as they're supposed to I guess. Big thing is they work well on all my acoustics, unlike some of the others. I wanted to try the new Martin Clapton's Choice, but can't see what the difference is from the regular SP lights.

fleiger: Like everyone else I bounce around from string to string...but I always seem to drift back to D'Addario's. I use the EJ-16's on my small body guitars and the EJ-17'S on my dreads. I just don't think you can go wrong with D'Ads, they are a great all around string if you ask me.

The only downside I can see as stated previously is that they do seem to corrode a little faster than other brands but strings are cheap so I just change them a little more often. And I really like those cool little colored coded balls on the ends of the strings too.

Carped35: D-35: D'Add EJ-17's
HD-28: the new Martin Marquis SP's (PB). Unlike others here, I don't find them harsh. In fact, they seem to mellow out the HD a bit. Hard to get locally here in central MD.
Medium gauge for both.

TerryB: Try a set of Dean Markley Alchemy Gold Phos strings !'ll love the volume, tone and feel...and they are supposed to last .....

thenikonguy: I keep coming back to John Pearse lights, and either Martin SP 3100 or 4100.

jackhall99: I've used GHS True Mediums for years. However, I need to change strings out tomorrow. After Max's recommendation today, I'm going to try a set of D'Angelico P-B mediums.

Gulfstrings: Seem to have settled on John Pearse PBs. Mediums on the dreads, medium lites on the OM and the Gibsons, and lites on my wife's H&D OM.
Would say out of the many dozens (?) of sets I've used over the years, maybe one or two didn't meet expectations.

fleiger: I currently have my OM-28V laced up with a set of John Pearse lights and I definitely like what I'm hearing. I too have tried the Martin Marquis SP's Phos. Bronze and as Carped 35 has found and many others as well, they just present too harsh a tone, at least on my OM-28V and my 000-16SGT.

ASC67: I recently switched to GHS Infinity Bronze coated strings after using Elixers for years and I highly recommend them. They have the tone and feel of uncoated strings but have the longevity of coated strings, they're also cheaper than Elixers.

Al U: John Pearse PB lights are my favorite strings.

jeffnles1: I bounce back and forth between Martin SP phos bronze and DR Rares and DR Sunbeams. I've been on a DR Sunbeam kick lately, but the standard for me is Martin SP Phos Bronze. Those are the strings I compare all others to.

Right now, I am leaning toward the DR Rares as giving the best tone on my HD28V and the Sunbeams for my SPD-16K2. But ask the question next month and I may well be back to the Martin SP strings.

Carped35: My experience with the Marquis SP PB's (MSP 2200) was "unlike" other folks' here, who found them harsh. I felt they warmed up my '01 HD-28. Go figure.....

dhcrow: I'm still using Clapton's Choice. They simply work well for me. What else can you ask for?

Has anyone tried these? I have had bad luck with Elixirs breaking on me (G and D string), so I decided to give these a try, the phosphor bronze medium guage on my D42. I put them on last night and man they sound great. They seem to settle in and tone down quicker than the Elixirs. Now it will just be a matter of seeing how long they last tonewise and their durability.

MaxwellSmart: I haven't tried the GHS or the D'Addario's, but I LOVE the Dean Markley Alchemy strings - they don't feel coated at all, and man do they LAST!

cb00ne: I tossed on a set of D'Addario EXP coated PBs a few days ago... lights (12-53)... I really like them. (Not sure how long I've had the package; found them in a drawer... could have been a year or more!)

Anyway, they're great; quickly get and stay in tune; I love them. They say "Extended Play" (EXP), and the pack says they last 3-4 times longer than traditional strings. Obviously, time will tell on that one.

Martin Ping: Enjoy them if you like them...Strings are so subjective...I am a die hard Elixir fan and really didn't connect with the EXP's...
You would think that one string brand would rise to the top and all others would go out of business, but not so...Thank the Lord we all agree on Martins, just not the same models...

Durbin: I tried them this winter, they are good strings. I did not get longer life out of them vs. the EJ-17s I had on before them. I prefer the uncoated sound on my dred. But they did have a good sound, and seem to be great strings. I would recommend them.

cat322: I like polyweb Elixers. With all the talk about strings it seems that many folks really like the nanos but the added slippery feel makes it easier for me to play and like I always say, I need all the help I can get.

fchas: I like the d'addario exp coated string, I kept breaking elixirs also, doesnt happen with the d'addario.

Andrewrg: Martin, polywebs have a significantly thicker coating than the nano`s but last just as long. Before the nano`s were available I used them and had a set on a D28 I played daily. They lasted three months and I only needed to change the plain strings as they aged. I changed the set when the coating started to fluff up where I picked the string but they still sounded ok.

Currently I use nano PB`s which I think are the most natural and uncoated sounding-for my taste anyhow.

Atlasheating: I used them for about a year. They seemed to last a long time but I think they sounded a bit rubbery and subdued. I am using newtones right now and I love the sound. They seem to last OK. My next set will be the new elixer Phospher bronze Nano web. My only complaint with the old elixers was no Phospher Bronze.

MAF51: I use the D'addario EXP-PB lights on my M-38 (spruce/rosewood) and EXP-80/20 lights on my M-18. I like the way they sound, feel and last. I've had nothing but positive experiences with D'addario strings (both coated and uncoated) for years.

Buzzard II: I also like the D'Addario EXP in PB Lite gauge. I have had a set on for about two months and they are ready for a change... yep another set of the same going on.

The thing I like about the D'Addario's over the Elixers is that the don't have that slick plasticy feel like coated strings sometimes do... they still have a feel similar to an uncoated string... Elixers definately have a totally different feel about them... either you like it or you don't.

Haven't tried the EXP mediums... I've been on a lite string binge for the last year... was always a mediums guy before that... I have a set of EXP mediums and will eventually throw them on.

MikeHalloran: I get the same life out of the D'Addario EXPs that I get out of the Elixir. I don't seem to break as many D and G strings either but that may just be the way I play.
I do not install non-coated strings on my guitars anymore.

Stokes73: I just replaced a set that I had on my OM-42. Initially I liked the sound, but they didn't hold up any longer than the EJ-16s I usually use. I particularly noticed significant wear on the strings over the sound hole where I pick (fingerpick). What was interesting is I noticed the guitar wasn't holding the tuning. Everytime I took it out of the case I had to retune. With the EJ16s the guitar stays in tune while it's in the case. Not sure why that might be.

BobAtlGa: I tried a set of EXP-17 mediums on my HD-28V. Like Stokes73 I initially liked the sound, but they had lost a lot of their brightness in only a week. I took them off even though I could have lived with them longer. I went back to regular EJ-17s. They last as long and cost much, much less. The coated strings for me were not worth the cost.

TerryB: I'll second the comment on the Dean Markley Alchemy GoldPhos strings...outstanding tone and liveliness . I put a light gauge set on my '57 D-18 and they are surprisingly loud and beefy. Even louder than Nanos, which was at the top of that scale, for me.

The mediums are the larger gauged ones, like GHS. I didn't want to have to lower my action , so I threw on the Lights. I head about these thru a pro Nashville picker and now I see why he's so crazy about them. Supposed to last a good while , too. Cheaper than Elixers. You owe it to yourself to try them once!

cb00ne: They be dead now. Muddy, sad, depressing.
Lasted 14 days. Figure about 1.5-2 playing hours per day, on average... So, what, around 24 hours, give or take? Is that any good?

Big Bad Bill 2: I've used D'Addario EXPs for a couple of years, and was reasonably happy with the sound and the mileage I got out of them. A'Bd them towards Elixir Nanos a little while back and decided that the Elixirs sound a tad better - the EXPs do have a somewhat rubbery quality to the sound.

I also quite like Newtones, I am unsure wether they last as long as a pair of coated strings, I haven't really put them to the test. If they do, they are a great alternative to Elixirs.

One other thing I noticed about D'Addario EXPs: While they last a long time for me for playing at home or in the studio, they are dead after one 2,5 hour gig. When I unpack my guitars the morning after a concert the EXPs are completely dull and lifeless, probably due to excessive hand sweat on the strings and fretboard. Have not had the chance to use Elixirs for a full gig but I hope they will survive a full gig.

jhall10: Quote: "they had lost a lot of their brightness in only a week."

I have heard this comment mentioned several times regarding the EXPs. If extended playing time means the strings remain in a semi-dull state for a longer period of time, they might not be worth the extra money.

This pretty much sums up my experience with the EXP's too...

flashfingerpicker: I have found 3 things regarding EXP strings:

(1) they sound much the same as uncoated strings
(2) the "new' tone only lasts a little bit longer
(3) because I love that "new" tone, it's FAR more economical for me to get uncoated strings and change strings often.

Also, the availability of super cheap, high quality bulk strings these days has, for *me*, made the idea of longer lasting but more expensive coated strings, a redundant idea. I'm not well off, but I can still easily afford to change strings after every 20 or so hours of playing........ thanks to cheap, bulk strings

I just got my '77 D28 back this afternoon after a neck set, refret and a new carved, intonated bone saddle.
So, it looks like a really good job, but I have found a couple things that concern me:

1) high e and b strings are sharp at 12th fret. I was hoping to have *perfect* intonation when I got it back... I know, no such thing. But shouldn't my repair guy have mentioned that they're still sharp?
2) I can see a little bit of space between the neck and side of body where the dovetail slides in. Is this a problem in the long-term? It's not that obvious, but there definitely is a gap there.
3) The frets are well crowned and leveled, but the fret tangs don't go as far into the old grooves in the fingerboard, so I can see a gap there. It isn't open space --it's filled in -- but the tangs don't go all the way in.
What are your thoughts?

StringFive: Sounds like the work is of questionable quality. You should have perfect intonation, and no gaps or other flaws. If it was me, I'd take it back and have him make things right.

ramblinick: I believe that the problem with the intonation was that it was so off in the first place that they couldn't just "carve" it back to where it should be. They'd instead have to put a whole new bridge in with a better relationship between the bridge pins and saddle...

And regarding the neck set, if it already has a gap, so what could they do to fix it? It's about large enough to slide a piece of computer printer paper in there...

fireproof2000: I got my 66 D-35 back from a neck re set, fret job and new nut. The only thing that was done any good was the fret job. The saddle was so high that it broke the front of the bridge out and the neck wasn't completely seated, so he put a shim between the fret board on the top. He wanted me to bring it back to him but my thought is that is not a good idea, I don't want any more damage to the guitar. Now I'm having problems getting them to refund me.
I sent the guitar to Steve Kovacik and it should be back in a month or so.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "the fret tangs don't go as far into the old grooves in the fingerboard, so I can see a gap there. It isn't open space --it's filled in -- but the tangs don't go all the way in."

If the gap is at the bottom of the fret tangs, then there is no problem....the new frets have shorter tangs. As long as the crown of the fret is seated against the fingerboard face, it is OK.

Quote: "So what would be the effect on the guitar's playability in the long-run?"
It depends. If the heel gap is only on one side, it simply means that the heel wasn't fitted correctly, or the neck was reinstalled crooked. If properly glued, the dovetail joint is plenty strong.

Quote: "I believe that the problem with the intonation was that it was so off in the first place that they couldn't just "carve" it back to where it should be."

It can be 'carved' during the reset if the intonation is flat, since the neck needs to be shortened. But the cure for sharp intonation is to lengthen the distance from the nut to the saddle. That can't be done during the reset, unless a shim is added between the neck heel and the body....a shim that would be visible on the neck heel. The other option, which is not normally done on a reset, is to completely remove the fingerboard and move it up a little bit.

I believe this is the luthier who told you that the reset would cure the sharp intonation? A simple measurement of the relationship between the saddle location and the frets would have revealed if the problem was really due to a high neck angle.

Quote: "And regarding the neck set, if it already has a gap, so what could they do to fix it? It's about large enough to slide a piece of computer printer paper in there..."
Rub some wood glue in the joint. I don't normally do it, but Martin does it at the factory.

CountrySquire: Neck resets though a standard procedure, can vary in terms of their final appearance and the same goes for fretwork. Unless the original bridge placement was way out of whack and not re-positioned, there is no reason for the new compensated saddle to be as off as you say it is.

I bought a used Martin, which I really like, but the guitar and case smell like cigarette smoke. Any advice on how to deal with it? I have cleaned the guitar with naptha, cleaned the fingerboard, changed strings, etc, cleaned the case, used Febreze inside, have dryer sheets inside, etc. I need some more suggestions. Right now I am airing it out (guitar and case). Not super strong odor, but enough that I notice it. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

matthewrust: I've heard that setting the guitar and case outside in the shade to get some fresh air helps. A lot of people will toss the case and replace it. Cedar balls can be bought at most stores next to moth balls and will help absorb the stink.

jackwhiskey: I haven't used this stuff but I'm thinking about trying it in my '59 Chevy:

jzach46: Air and time.

11. SCALE?
Short scale?---long scale? I am a little ignorant on this one.
Are we talking the length measured from the saddle to the nut? What exactly is the scale of a guitar?

cb00ne: Martin's full-size guitars come in two different scale lengths: 24.9" and 25.4".

Buck49: The scale length is twice the distance from nut to 12th fret. The distance from nut to saddle is just a touch more. That extra length is added as part of the intonation compensation.

In other words, they figure out where the saddle should be, then add about .80 (that's just from my memory and could be wrong) to it to make the notes all come out right..
So a 25.4 scale guitar will have just a bit more than 25.4 from nut to saddle.

rrussell8: The short scale is easier to bend, due to lower tension required for concert pitch, and so can be favored by blues players. There may be some playability differences associated with the smaller gap between frets on the 24.9 scale but whether that is positive or negative probably depends on the individual.

jzach46: The 25.4" scale was introduced in 1903 with the 000 body size. 12-fret 000's are still 25.4" though 000's in the 14-fret Standard series are 24.9."

Arnoldgtr: Quote: So a 25.4 scale guitar will have just a bit more than 25.4 from nut to saddle.

That is generally true, but not for Martin scales. The 25.4" measurement is with compensation. The nut-to-12th fret distance is 12.66". Double that is 25.32". Add the compensation (0.08") for a total of 25.4".

chickenpicker: I don't know if this is true on acoustic guitars, since both of my Martins are 25.5 scale, but on electric guitars the difference is quite striking. Most Fenders are 25.5, and most Gibsons are 24.75. Fenders are snappier, with more high end clarity, and tend to be harder to play, especially bending notes. Part of that is the single coil pu's too. Gibsons sound fatter, are easier to bend, but have a tendency especially with humbuckers to sound darker, muddier etc.

I play a Tele and a P-90 equipped Les Paul (both single coil), and love them both. But they are very different playing and sounding guitars. A perfect guitar IMHO, would probably have P-90's with a 25.5 scale; fat and bright at the same time.

Broktun: I have a non-Martin with a shorter scale then 25.4, that is set up the same as the Martin. The non-Martin (IMHO) is easier to play, but doesn't sound nearly as good.

danieljf: This has been mentioned on this forum before, but you can shorten the scale of any guitar by putting a capo on the first fret (or whatever fret) and tuning the guitar down to EADGBE when the capo is in place.
A capo on the first fret of a 25.4" neck will make the scale a bit shorter than 24.9" - but you'll get the idea.

Is there a way to adjust the resistance on my Waverly 4060 tuners? Do I just tighten that big screw in the center of the brass gear until it is at the resistance I want? 4 of my tuners are fine, and one is too loose, and one is too tight.

jzach46: I assume these are a version of the open geared tuners. You need to tighten the retaining ring at the top of the shaft. This requires a small spanner wrench. StewMac has them, though I haven't seen them in the catalogue.

Arnoldgtr: The slotted ring can be tightened or loosened, but it is installed at the factory with Loctite. This is to prevent the tuner from falling apart. Stew Mac recommends that the tuner be disassembled, clean the threads with solvent, and apply new Loctite during reassembly.

Martin Ping: I would get in touch with Stew Mac and ask them...Maybe under warranty...

Why is ebony the generally favored fretboard material? I know it is a harder wood - is that supposed to give more definition from string to string than a rosewood board?

TChristianHD28: I have ebony on my HD-28; and rosewood on my D-18, Alvarez, and Dano. Other than the obvious visual difference, I'm not sure that there are tonal differences one can attribute to the fingerboard material.

MartinD18: I read somewhere, someone wrote they could hear the difference. Something about nuances like the way the string sounds when you fret against ebony instead of rosewood.
I have guitars with both. Don't hear the difference, but of course I'm old

jackhall99: As with Chris, I've had Ebony, Rosewood and Maple on my various guitars. Other than the visual differences, and the Maple on my Strat being super slinky, I'm not sure that there are tonal differences between fingerboard material. Jack

MichaelBT: I think ebony's slightly easier to play; it feels like there is less resistance to finger movement. But I've got no scientific evidence.

DogbiteOW: Other than visual esthetics there are three possible differences: playability, durability and tone.
The arguments for playability are generally that the harder ebony plays more slickly, more quickly. The argument against is that hey, you've got your finger on the string, not the fingerboard. Personally, I know (from my groovy calluses) that my finger touches the FB -- but I myself don't perceive any difference that I can link to the material.

The matter of durability is fairly straightforward for anyone who has an old rosewood fingerboard once (or still) played by someone who sometimes neglected to trim the nails of the fretting hand: the rosewood can develop pits and grooves and large indentations as a result of wear. Yes, ebony can wear too, but is much less prone to grooving because it's more durable.

Tone is, like most matters regarding tone, muchly in the ear of the hearer. Dana Bourgeois discusses the tonality of fingerboards I think the important consideration is that it makes a difference, but on a scale that can be overcome by other design and implementation decisions. But it makes sense that if, at one end of the string, the saddle and bridge material can be important, that the materials at the other end of the string will also make a difference. (If the transmission of vibrations from the fingerboard to the body are not important, then neither is the type of neck/body joint.) Dana's words make good reading.

djp183: Katalox, baby! While not as dark as ebony, it feels the same and it looks like rosewood + it is sustainable. The only fingerboard material I hate is that micarta stuff b/c I think it dampens the sound, but I only have played 2 guitars with it, so I can't really judge.

GCEA: This thread is a classic example of Guitar Weenie Mythology. I'd venture to say that the fretboard material used (including Micarta) will not make an iota of difference in sound, tone or playability for 99.9% of UMGF members. It comes down to cosmetics and price...what are you willing to pay for your fingerboard to look the way you like.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "If the transmission of vibrations from the fingerboard to the body are not important, then neither is the type of neck/body joint"
Transmission of vibrations through the neck is not the only consideration. Vibration is not a one-way street. As in solid body electric guitars, the vibration of the end points of the string will interact with the string's vibration, causing a change in tone.

Ebony is considerably harder, denser, and closer-grained than rosewood. I have replaced rosewood fingerboards with ebony and I do believe it changed the sound. Ebony feels smoother, wears better, and holds frets better than rosewood. The black color also provides better visual contrast with most inlay materials. Unless the guitar has extra tall frets, the fretting fingers do contact the fingerboard.

rosemag: I don't really know for sure why ebony is the preferred wood, but I can venture to guess that it is the mostly for aesthetic purposes. Most of the "factory grade" ebony fretboards from Martin are dyed jet black with a stain and are probably flatsawn. I am sure there are some nice quartersawn pieces here and there that may be perfectly black, but it's rare.

Even my D-18 GE had a dyed fretboard.
Ebony is unstable when it comes to seasonal changes, and is difficult to refret without chipping out.

I like ebony better on bound fingerboards so I don't feel the sharp fret ends during the winter when the wood shrinks.
Rosewood, especially Brazilian makes a better fretboard IMO. It is prettier, more stable, and oftentimes perfectly quartered--therefore stronger and more resistant to the upward forces of the string tension. This equals a more stable instrument that doesn't require as much truss rod tweaking thoughout the year. I prefer the sound of brazilian rosewood for a fretboard. In terms of tone, there is a difference between the two. Ebony is brighter, and "snappy" if that makes any sense.

Indian rosewood is just cheap, though. These fretboards only cost like a dollar a piece. Found on all the budget guitars no doubt. Not a bad wood for the job, just too common and inexpensive to put on a good guitar.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "Most of the "factory grade" ebony fretboards from Martin are dyed jet black with a stain and are probably flatsawn."
The vast majority of the higher grade ebony fingerboards I see are quartersawn, including those from Martin.

Quote: "Brazilian makes a better fretboard IMO. It is prettier, more stable, and oftentimes perfectly quartered"
Availability of quartersawn BR, even in fingerboard widths, is declining sharply every year.

Quote: "perfectly quartered--therefore stronger and more resistant to the upward forces of the string tension."
I know this has been repeated a lot, but I don't believe it is true. I have tested several diffuse-porous hardwoods (ebony, rosewood, mahogany) and I see no relationship between stiffness and being quartersawn. Strength and stability, yes; stiffness, no. In many cases, I have actually found slab-cut wood to be stiffer.

Todd Stuart Phillips: I do not know if they make much or any difference in sound. I would think that they might, since a dovetail neckjoint certainly allows vibration to move from the neck to the body and back again. Perhaps the density of ebony does make a difference. Dana Bourgeois is convinced it does even in bolt on necks.

Where the difference clearly does matter is the bridge. Martins with a rosewood bridge definately sound different than very similar models sporting an ebony bridge. In this case, however, the string vibration terminates at the saddle and pins and it is transfered into the top wood directly from the bridge itself. But one rarely sees a guitar sporting a rosewood bridge but a non-rosewood fingerboard. Only the orignal M-38 and M-36 had the rosewood bridge and ebony fingerboard, that I know of.

Tony Burns: I have noticed that on a lot of the older guitars I have seen that the fingerboards are made from Rosewood, show a lot more groves from wear than comparable ebony fretboards - I know thats more of an assumption than a fact , but Ebony is a harder wood. Brazilian rosewood fingerboards have not been used much since the early 70's .( when used at all )

yelob: Bryan Kimsey is a big believer in rosewod bridges, particularly Brazilian and Madagasscar (sp?)

twelvefret: Ebony is the preferred fret board material used on higher end violins. There might be a traditional connection there. I am not a wood expert, but I think that it is more dense than rosewood

I prefer it and have always specified it on all on my instruments. I think it looks better or maybe I just have an association with higher end instruments.
Tony Burns: I have heard that philosophy about Brazilian rosewood being a great Brige wood ( some say the sound is sweeter than a Ebony Bridge ) in fact Guild has used it in the past on the bridges of the D-50 and D-55 ( my '71 D-55's bridge is Brazilian rosewood ) and it has a very unique beautiful sound , as a rule Classical guitars use rosewood on their bridges ( many are made with Brazilian )

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "Why the switch to striped ebony on some newer models?"
Reduced availability of high grade black ebony in sufficient quantities.

Quote: "Any difference with the dyed black ebony? Why didn't they dye the striped ebony black?"
The main difference is the color. I think the natural striped ebony is attractive. I guess Martin does, too.

14. 00 VS 000 SLOTHEADS
I am considering buying a new 12 fret slothead guitar, while I really like the 00 size I am afraid that the small body may be too small to really give good dynamic range and contrast. Would appreciate comments from the players that have lived with both sizes for a while.

12fretsrule: Don't worry about that one bit. As an owner of a few guitars of various sizes, I'll say with a high degree of confidence that the way you play has much more to do with the contrasting tones you can get from your guitar. That's not to say there aren't differences between guitars, but even the volume differential between a 00 and a dred is subtle until you are playing in a group. And nowadays, amplification pretty much makes that moot. If you love the 00 size, you can find something that will work for you. Good luck.

66d35: As long as you don't expect them to sound like a dread.... obviously, they sound like a 00, but in terms of richness, dynamic range (and even volume) they're really all there. Love mine.

cat322: My 00 is actually louder than my J45. My J45 is not overly loud but my 00 is very loud for it's size.

brazil66: I have several 000's and a 00. 12 fret Slotheads and 14 fret solid head.(See Gallery post). Volume/ Dynamic range is exceptional on both models. I DO recommend you go for a 12 fret slothead!

bodegahwy: Tone and volume...... Tone and balance are the reasons I prefer 12 fretters to 14 fretters and 00/000 to Dreads and Jumbos, but I don't agree on the volume thing. I can get a lot of power out of any of them, but side by side the Dreads are louder. I suscribe to the theory that the bridge placement and the extra two frets of body on the 12 fretters is a major sounce of balance in the sound of these guitars. I also suspect that the shorter neck is somehow more stabil in the connection to the body contributing to tone.

Comparing the 00 to the 000 (I have owned three of each): The 000 models have more head room.. I can drive them harder before the tone breaks up. The 00 has, perhaps, the ideal balance and sweet tone for my ears, but if I really want to thump the bass out with my thumb and drive the top with power the 00 will reach it's limit while the 000 has a ways to go yet.

Tone woods and appointments play a big role as well. For my ears, Rosewood and Sitka are the way to go on these small bodies. Bone nut, EI saddle and various pins round out the sound. I do have a 000 hog as well (000-16SGT) but when I find the righr rosewood model to replace it as my travel/camping guitar it will go on the block.

Todd Stuart Phillips: Do you play on your right knee only? Or do you play left knee, ala Classical? I find 12-fret 000s to feel awkward because I play right knee only but 00s fit much better. However I am of average size at best. Larger people may not notice such things.
When it comes to sound I think the 00 is perhaps the most perfectly balanced guitar of the traditonal Martin designs. The 000 is bass heavy, not unlike how a 14-fret dread is bass heavy.

Dave R79: In my experience, which is not limited to Martins, I have found some 00s (but not all) to lack the presence or fullness of sound that I look for.

D15LSU: I'm sure some of you have read this article but I stumbled across it surfing the web and thought I would stick it on here for those that may not have seen this. Great article Mr. Kimsey. Not only is our Bryan Kimsey a guitar hot-roder and a flat picking son-of-a-gun, but maybe he's ready for a Pullitzer (is that the correct name for the writing award?) also.

I have a D-35 and the standard thermoplastic case. I am thinking of upgrading the case but am not sure about the Martin line and how the cases are numbered. I can't find anything on the Martin Web site.
Which Martin cases are an upgrade? What other cases should I look at?

jscio: Martin's Geib style cases are considered the upgrade. Its an archtop, five ply, plywood case.

There are other case companies out there depending on your needs and bankroll. Here are a few links:

Cedar creek:







Golden Gate Cases at Elderly:

Kingham Cases:

Colorado Case Co.: Soft cases:

Blue Herron softshell cases:

Small Dog Case Co.:

That should keep you busy for a minute or two. There are a lot of great choices available.

Jscio: I believe its a 535 or something like that. Mac would probably know.

I'm fairly sure their cases are made by Cedar Creek or TKL (Same company different division I think)

From The FAQ:

Martin Case Model Numbers

500 Series Cases
The 500 Series Martin cases are Geib style cases. They are 5-ply wood and are manufactured by TKL. Other than some specialty cases, they are Martin's most expensive case.

515 - 12 or 14 fret 0
520 - Classical
525 - 12-fret 00
533 - 14-fret 000/OM
534 - 14-fret 00
535 - 12-fret 000
540 - 12-fret D
545 - 14-fret D
570 - 14-fret 0000/M
580 - 14-fret J

600 Series Cases
The 600 Series cases are the Thermoplastic models. They are considerably lighter than the Geibs and are Martin's midrange cases in price.

610 - 12-fret 0 and 00; 14-fret 0
620 - 14-fret 00
630 - 000/OM
640 - 14-fret Dreadnaught 6/12 String
640 - 0000/M
640 - Jumbo

Note that the 640 is designed to accomodate three different Martin sizes.

300 Series Cases
300 Series cases are Martin's least expensive cases and are 3-ply wood.

320 - Classical
330 - 14-fret 000; OM
331 - 12-fret 000
341 - 12-fret Dreadnaught
345 - 14-fret Dreadnaught
350 - 14-fret 00
380 - Jumbo

400 Series - Other Instruments

412 - Standard Uke
413 - Concert Uke
414 - Tiple & Tenor Uke
416 - Baritone Uke
425 - Mandolin (A)

I was curious what parts of a Martin are made by hand and what parts are machined? I realized that many parts of the process are probably done by a bit of both and it also depends on the model.

Buck49: Define what you mean by handmade. If you mean no machine work is used on the entire part, then no part of a Martin is handmade.

Necks require very little hand work nowdays. Inlay routing is done by CNC machine as you suggested, but I believe inlays are usually purchased not cut by Martin at all, but that may depend on what inlays for what model you mean. Some fairly unusual inlays may be cut by Martin, but I'd be surprized to see them cut by hand.

Lefty00042: Scalloping braces and fitting dovetail neck joints are done by hand, as is seizing (*) during the finishing process, as well as grading and sorting wood stocks.

(*) I think that's the right term - I'm referring to the process whereby a person takes a sharp razor blade and scrapes away excess finish along the binding between coats of nitrocellulose lacquer.

mblankenship: Work such as shaving and shaping the scalloped braces, gluing them in place on the top, selecting, positioning and gluing on the bridge, gluing the back, sides and top together and securely binding it up, positioning and fitting the neck, and these are just a few that I can think of off hand.

There are a lot of work stations in the factory, where people select and prepare the wood for, say, making necks, heating and bending the sides, gluing on the bindings, gluing on the kerfing and neck block and end block, selecting and fastening the tuning machines on the headstock, inspecting and gluing the nut in place, selecting and fitting a saddle in place, and that's probably just a handful.

There's no doubt many more, but I won't into that because I don't know anything about the fine, fine art of guitar making.

Raider60: I thought the 18A's neck was completely carved by hand. No?

AAMMUU: I doubt if any guitar is completely ‘hand made’. Even custom builders use thickness planers and sanding machines and drill presses and power saws and random orbit sanders and routers. So maybe that line of demarcation we are all thinking about when we say ‘hand made’ are the CNC machines and that’s about it! And to be honest, a CNC machine can do a job so much better than a human being could, and especially so much more consistently, that the CNC machined parts should be held in higher esteem than the hand made part...

Todd Stuart Phillips: In terms of basic definitions, it would be easier to ask what is NOT hand made. Necks are no longer hand carved, unless it is a special custom of some type. But they do tend to carve the necks that the templates are made from and then used to set the CNC machines that now carve the neck shapes. Until recently the V necks were started CNC and then finished by hand with a drawknife. Now they are basically all done on machine except the final sanding.

These are just random off the top of my head...
Side bending is done by hand on the smaller body sizes and the cutaways. Otherwise they have machines they designed themselves, the guy puts in a side and pulls down the press and it presses the sides at a very high temperature. This is done one side at a time.

The sides are glued together with the neck block by hand.
The cedar kerfing and binding are glued in by hand and then they hold it in place with a number of safety pins, also applied by hand.

Braces are glued by hand and then they are put into a vacuum sealer that assures equal pressure as the glue dries.
Top, back, fingerboard and headstock purfling, markers, etc. are inlaid by hand.

Tops and backs are glued on by hand.
Dovetail neck joints are carved and fitted by hand. All guitars start out with a mortise carved by a machine. The M&T neck joints get that only. The ones that get the traditional dovetail are carved into the wider V shape by hand and then they have to fit the V shape tenon into it, which requires considerable hand carving.

Let’s see, what else do we see people doing by hand when on the factory tour? The sanding is done on sanders, but real live people stand there holding the wood. There is a buffing booth now but we still saw people doing buffing with hand buffers. And there are those ladies who sit there with razor blades slowly scraping finish or toner off of the all the binding.

The loneliest job I saw there was the guy sitting in a little room up on one of the catwalks putting mother of pearl dots into D-18, 28, 35 fingerboards.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "I'm referring to the process whereby a person takes a sharp razor blade and scrapes away excess finish along the binding between coats of nitrocellulose lacquer."

I believe the scraping process is to remove filler and stain from the binding, not lacquer.

"Sizing" is a term for sealing the wood. It is done for two 'freeze' the raised grain, and to prevent color bleeding from the staining process, or from natural wood extractives.

Irater than Thou: Those of you who are interested may find these Taylor videos worth watching. It is simultaneously surprising how much is done on machines, and how much still must be done by hand. I personally find the videos fascinating.

Also, here is a really neat video showing how they harvest top wood:

tmansonusa: When I was at the factory (I've been there twice in the last year) I saw people assembling the braces and installing them on the back of the top, scalloping the braces, applying the binding, inlaying the abalone, polishing the body (although I saw a robot doing it too), putting the sides in the bending fixtures and removing them, gluing and applying the kerfing (evidenced by all the wooden clothespins), assembling the neck to body and stringing. I'm sure there were other hand operations, but I don't remember seeing them.

mblankenship: Even if a CNC machine makes a part, someone still has to take that part, inspect it, and assemble it on the guitar. A CNC machine is just that. A tool. Just like a sander or a drill press.

Using a tool does not rule out a guitar being hand made.
Even the smallest luthier shop uses electric sanders and polishers. Now, some purists go by the definition of "hand-made" as being made with hand tools only. No machines, no electrical tools, etc. Having a guitar made like that would cost a gazillion dollars and take an awful long time to build. (Remember, the trees would have to be cut down and hewn with hand tools!)

Now, we could take that a step further, and rule out machine made tools (like hammers, screw-drivers, or even sandpaper.) If that's the case, then the only truly "hand-made" guitars would be those made using only your fingernails and teeth.

Todd Stuart Phillips: MANY of those small luthiers whose livelihood depends upon the mystique of the lone woodworker, sitting under a kerosene lamp turning a manual hand drill, actually use a lot of power tools. Many of them have assistants.

But even those power sanders and drill presses require a serious eye and touch. CNC implies and usually means you press the button and walk away while it spits out product. On the other hand, CNC can make sides the same thickness every time without fail or the same neck shape. They can also help companies like Martin meet our demand for their instruments. If Martin still made each guitar the way they made them in the 30s people would have a five year wait from the time the dealer ordered them their D-18.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "I toured the factory in 75. I thought I remembered quite a bit of the work was done by hand. Does anyone know how much of the guitar building was done by hand in the early seventies"

From what I have been able to learn, other than the use of hide glue, the differences between the 1930's and the 1970's were very minor. For example, in the 1930's, they used:
1) Electric shapers to rough out necks, rout dovetails, and cut binding channels.
2) Wide-belt thickness sanders to thickness the body woods.
3) Electric band saws, drill presses, and compressed air to spray the lacquer finishes.
Sometime after WW II (and certainly by the 1960's), Martin was also using electric shapers to cut bridges and bracing profiles.

Quote: "CNC can make sides the same thickness every time without fail or the same neck shape."

The 'big change' in Martin's methods came with the introduction of CNC machining in the late 1980's. But I doubt that it has had any bearing on thicknessing the body woods, since the thickness sanders in use previously were quite capable. The CNC's main contribution has been in shaping necks, bridges, and bracing much more accurately that what was previously done using shapers. CNC has also revolutionized the inlay industry, although much of Martin's inlay work (with the exception of the body borders) is from independent suppliers.

Could you please tell me the main difference between these two bracings? What effects do they have on tone?

rt1965: The thinner bracing allows the top to vibrate more, and contributes to the heavier bass response in the D-35.

om45dlx: 1/4" refers to the thickness side to side - not the height. 1/4" will almost always allow more top movement and therefore more top response IN THE IDENTICAL GUITAR. The exceptions would be if much stiffer brace wood were used. Since top stiffness varies widely between guitars, and there have been bridge plate changes over the years, some 1/4" braced Martins get less top movement than some 5/16" braced Martins of the same model.

RustyStrings: Sonically you can compare the 1/4" to 5/16" bracing pretty directly by A/Bing a D-28 and a D-35. There are other differences between the two models, but size of the bracing is the difference that most significantly affects tone. Others might argue that that the three-piece back also makes a difference but personally I think that difference is negligible.
When I compare a D-28 to a D-35 generally I hear very similar voices but with the 35 skewed more heavily to the bass end of the spectrum as if you were to take the frequency response curve and just shift the whole thing a notch to the left.

Arnoldgtr: I would never use 1/4" bracing on a 0000. The top is 16" wide on that guitar, wider than a dreadnought. There is no good reason to use bracing that is 20% less stiff, unless you just really like guitars that are overly bassy. Just one luthier's opinion.

Anyone ever seen an unmodified Martin with 5/16" X bracing and 1/4" tone bars, or vice-versa?

Todd Stuart Phillips: Well in the early 30s they did all that stuff by hand. But not just by hand, by touch and feel, by tap and stroke. It is quite possible you could find guitars form that era with different size braces all on the same guitar.

Arnoldgtr: Most of the original steel string 12-fret 000's and the original OM's I have seen have that configuration.

jzach46: The current 000-28VS has 5/16" braces and 1/4" tone bars, as did the 000-28GE.

Why is it that old growth BRW is straight grained, and extremely desirable, while "Stump wood" is figured and less desirable, while EIRW is straight grained and even less desirable? I know about the rarity factor, I'm more asking about the grain patern/wood structure.

Floyd1960: Old growth BRW because of its size, can be quarter-sawn which offers the classic straight-grained aesthetics/landscaping, as well as stronger & warp-resistant sides/backs.

BRW Stumpwood is usually slab-cut or 'partially-quartered' & tends to give off that wavy look.
Overall rarity makes BRW more desirable & expensive than EIR [...]

jscio: I think with BRZ its the history behind the wood, the coloration, and the perceived and obviously real desirability. The BRZ dread I have definitely has some snappy looking grain and it sounds great. The EIR dread I have sounds every bit as good and has some gorgeous chocolate brown coloration.

Given the history of golden age BRZ sound, the rising price of current instruments, and it's difficulty to obtain nowadays, the "Boy-Would-I-Like-One-Of-Those" quotient is going to continue to expand exponentially.

Forget stocks and T-Bills, buy '60's D-28's, 21's, double and triple-0's. The have the added benefit of sounding great. Try strumming a stock certificate.

Floyd1960: Quote: "is properly cut EIR more stable and better sounding that stumpy BRW?"

More stable? (in terms of being stronger, more crack/warp resistant)...yes. Better sounding? (as with strings, saddles & *gasp* bridgepins) your ears will always be the best judge.

Floyd1960: Quote: "If the newer BRW isn't stumpwood, then what is it...slabsawn newgrowth????"

Probably smaller trees with diameters incapable of yielding the more desirable cut.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "BRW Stumpwood is usually slab-cut or 'partially-quartered' & tends to give off that wavy look"

Wavy grain and slab-cut are two different things. All the stumpwood I have seen has been quarter sawn.
No stumpwood in any Martin, including the GE's.
In the good old days, Martin preferred straight-grained, quarter sawn BR, both for stability and sound.

CFMWoodbuyer said that Martin will not use stumpwood because of problems with CITES certification. I believe that is true, because I have never seen a Martin made from stumpwood.

For those of you that have problems telling slab cut from quartered: Follow the growth rings.

In quarter sawn wood, all the growth rings go from one end of the board to the other.
In slab cut wood, some growth rings will start on one end, but then turn 180 degrees, back to the same end of the board. In this area (called the heart), the face of the board is parallel with the growth rings. Depending on a variety of factors, the heart may be in the center of the board, or closer to one edge.

CountrySquire: So the question remains: Which one is better in terms of durability, 1/4 cut stumpwood or slab cut? From what has been discussed, it would seem that the stumpwood while wavy looking is stronger while the slab cut grain appears straighter but is not as strong as the stumpwood. Sound preferences aside, it would be safe to assume that both take a back-seat to the traditional cut of the old days.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "Which one is better in terms of durability, 1/4 cut stumpwood or slab cut?"
I don't believe there is one answer. I have cut over 500 sets of BR, and predicting the stability can be tricky. BR varies so much from log to log that the 'cut' (quartered versus slab) is almost meaningless. Suffice it to say that I have some slab cut new growth sets that are more stable than some of the quartersawn.

Some of the stumpwood I have seen has severe curls in it. In that case, I would be leery about using it because even if it doesn't crack, it is more susceptible to 'washboarding' after it ages.

All that said, there are a few 'rules' that I like to adhere to:

1) I don't like to see a lot of grain curvature along the center joint of the back. Some stumpwood has this, and some does not.

2) If the back is slab-cut, I much prefer that the heart (defined above) is as far from the center joint as possible. This tends to increase the stability, since the heart is most susceptible to cracking, and putting it close to the outer edge reduces the stress. Also I believe the back looks better when the heart is on the outside edge of the back.

3) Slab-cut back, but quartered sides. This is more practical from a yield standpoint, because the sides are narrower. It takes twice as big a tree to get a quartered two-piece back, versus quartered sides. Also, quartered sides bend better and don't ripple as much during bending as slab cut sides do. Finally, I like the appearance of straight-grained sides, since the edges of the sides are straight. Curved grain in the back can be aesthetically pleasing, since the edges of the back are curved.

Todd Stuart Phillips: As to the actual question, the reason it is desirable is because that is how Martin did it in the legendary days. Not every Martin from the 30s has perfectly quartered rosewood, but by and large they do.

Everyone wants to do it exactly the way they did it back then, as if they can recapture the magic of those craftsman by imitating them as much as possible. I used to think Frank Martin was a straight-laced guy who wanted everything just so and was too conservative to appreciate the wild patterns in the really cool Brazilian. So he ended up with boring looking backs and sides that people came to appreciate because the guitars happened to sound so good.

In other words I used to not believe a) quartersawn wood sounded different or better than non-quartered and b) there really was not much difference between the sound of Brazilian and Indian.

Now that I have been around it more and more in recent years I completely changed my tune. When Mandolin Brothers was ordering OM-28V customs with Brazilian and Adirondack and also ordering clones of the 000-28 Eric Clapton also with Brazilian and Adirondack and the addition of thinner, 1/4" bracing, some of them had really cool, wild looking grain. Others looked downright boring by comparison because of how straight the grain was.
There would often be four of each in the store at a time. It may be entirely coincidental, but the more the boring the grain ALWAYS sounded better than the ones with the wild grain. It was more resonant and just had more magic in them. I used regret that and wish the wild ones sounded better, but they never did.

Not that I could have afforded one back then anyway.
I also now know that when you really let your ear sink down into the details Brazilian and Indian rosewoods look much more alike than they sound alike.

Does anybody know the dimensions of the normal soundhole and the large soundhole (LSV, CW, etc.)? I couldn't find specifics on the Martin site. Does anybody happen to know the dimensions/diameter?

Additionally, what does the large soundhole do to the sound when compared to the normal sized soundholes? Does it project better? Louder overall? Any opinions on what it brings to the table I'd love to hear. I played a D-28 CW about a year ago, but it was a crowded area so I couldn't pick up the minor details.

tonguy: On a dread...

Normal soundhole - 4" across

Large soundhole - 4-3/8" across

The larger soundhole of my HD-28LSV helps tame the LSV's bottom-end "woof" by altering the resonant frequency of the guitar body. To my ear, my LSV sounds louder, is more balanced, less boomy, and more responsive that the similarly-braced HD-28V. YRMV...

Tim Porter: I had a pretty pearly day on Tuesday and thought I should report in.

A Canadian video production team was in Nazareth yesterday to film part of a series on high end, high roller and otherwise wild-*ssed stuff (like motorcycles that can go 300 mph with Rolls-Royce helicopter engine, or something like that).

In Martin's case, they focused on the production of the D-100, and #1 million model. Dick Boak asked me to come over to Nazareth to play the guitars on camera and be interviewed. The crew filmed a tour of the factory and spent some time interviewing the lovely lady doing the dovetail neck joint work on the D-100. Then they filmed me and Dick walking through the new museum, where I got to ooh and ahh over all the displays as Dick explained their significance. [That didn't take much acting talent, by the way.]

Whatever you may think about the ornamentation of #1,000,000 and the D-100, I don't think anyone would turn down the chance to play the Martins numbered 1,000,000 and 1,000,001 for over an hour and a half. They're both big, whomping dreads with the signature Martin sound. The D-100, not surprisingly, sounded very much like my D-45GE and was open and rich ("rich" is probably a good adjective here, given its price tag).

The millionth guitar literally has semi-precious stones inlayed in the top and back. I was worried about scratching my belt-buckle! I played it and Dick played the D-100 while we jammed on an old blues tune called Chump Man Blues in dropped D. You haven't lived until you've played the blues on a million dollar guitar. [That's irony, folks.] I kept tapping my thumbpick on the sound hole cover that looks like a baroque cathedral's rosewindow when I hit the bass strings.

The action on #1 million was quite low and it has the low profile neck. When you stop ogling the pearl and play the thing, it acted just like any ordinary guitar--it made music. The more distracting thing was looking across at Boak playing leads on the highly ornate fingerboard of the D-100. That brought me back to the reality of sitting in the Picking Parlor at the Martin factory with a camera three inches from my fingers while I played this iconic Martin. I am pleased to report that I did not freeze up or toss chunks.

KoaBoa: I'd heard the sound hole cover was just there for ornamentation and should come off when the guitar is played. You mean it still sounded great, and the cover didn't detract from the sound? With all that vibration, you should check your pockets in case some of those gems might have shaken right out of their settings.

Tim Porter: Dick and I both pounded on the guitar, i.e., played it really hard, to see if we could make the sound hole cover vibrate or buzz and it didn't make a peep. You're right that ideally the cover should come off, but it was a bit of a process that didn't make sense in the time frame we had yesterday. It actually sounded pretty darned good, which honestly amazed me. Maybe it demonstrates that the sound a guitar just doesn't pour out of the sound hole.

Todd Stuart Phillips: On a technical note, is it true that they are only semi-precious stones? If a ruby, saphire, emerald and diamond only qualify as semi-precious, what on earth is a precious stone? Or does that designation have to do with some jewler scale of quality? As in they are not high up the scale of purity, etc.?

Tim Porter: I probably misspoke (or mis-typed) on the "semi-precious" stones. I've always had this folklore in my mind that anything but a diamond is semi-precious, but I bet I'm wrong on that. Their expense is pretty precious, I garontee.

Stixx4: I had the pleasure of visiting for some time with the millionth , the D 100 , and the Celtic as well as the D 45 ML one weekend when I took a couple of them by car from Birmingham to Atlanta for the show and stole some precious hours with the Celtic forming a lasting desire for one. Alas that has not come to pass but the Mike Longworth has proven a worthy affordable (relatively) alternative for a really nice big Martin dread with bling.

I found of them all the Celtic was by far the runaway tone monster for me and playing the one I did ( number 2) was told it was Chris' personal so be careful.

To be honest the Millionth for me was artistically compelling and truly lived up to the hype and no picture can even begin to relate the effect of that one up close.

That said I found it totally dead the day I played it, Perhaps a bad setup and dead strings played a roll and I'm sure they have had time to tweak it . It was truly a work of art though
and for tone I'll take that one to hang and the celtic to play.

12barz: I also had the chance to play some down and dirty blues on the millionth, and also much prefer the Celtic. My strongest memory of The Big Kahuna was watching flakes fall from the neck, and hoping it was just my callouses shedding. I'm sure that you're playing was superior to mine, and I didn't even have a camera crew watching! Hope we get to see the show.

I have one of Buffalo Brothers 000-16k guitars. The back is nice, flamey with great figure. The thing I notice about all of the model 16 Koa Martins is they are darker then the higher grade models and any other makers Koa that I have seen. Is this strictly a grade of wood thing or does Martin do something different to the 16 models that makes them darker.

om45dlx: Martin used to fill their Koa with the same filler every guitar got - sort of a walnut stained filler. I still have a bottle of it around here straight from Martin.

The color depth depended on how quickly and how hard the excess filler was rubbed off after application. It flashed fairly fast, and so the colors varied. There were no natural rosewood or natural mahogany finishes back then, and probably no natural koa either - my 0-18K is darker than natural for sure. This may still be the case - I would like to hear from someone at Martin on this one. Koa varies widely in color as it is, and the filler used to make every guitar darker. It's probably color-matched these days though.

Dave Linehan: I have a Buffalo Brothers 000-16K2 and a D-42K2 and a 1980 D-37K2. The shadiness of the Koa on all three is pretty much the same.

24. 000-28H
Is anyone familiar with this custom model from Elderly?

powerandwisdom: I have a 2002 000-28H that I bought brand new a few years ago. It's a very sweet guitar. As I understand it, Elderly orders this model as a Custom with the exact same specs as the original production model 000-28H. The neck block will be stamped "Custom" on yours, instead of 000-28H.

Lefty00042: The scalloped bracing makes a huge difference in tone - to my ears, scalloped bracing makes more of a difference in openness and fullness and richness compared to non-scalloped bracing than does the difference between 1/4" and 5/16" standing alone, or the difference between long and short scale.

mrjcelica: Yeah I played a few and they were all great. You'll be very happy with your choice. It's a very open small body guitar.

Guitone: I owned one while they were still a production guitar, they are very nice. The only thing I really did not like were the tuners, and as long as Elderly is custom ordering these, if you want one get it with waverly tuners.. Nice guitar, mine was not as loud as the claptons I had played, it has a narrower nut at 1 11/16th and a very nice low profile neck. It has bright white binding as well, make sure you like the look. A very nice little guitar.
Also, get it with a Geib case, not the thermo plastic, a small upgrade.

DM3MD: what would a 000-28H sound like with a 25.4" scale? Is a shorter scale brighter in sound?

Select Hardwood: The shorter scale should be a bit of a trade-off: slightly easier playability for a little less volume and projection. A shorter scale translates to less string tension required for tuning to pitch, which makes playing a little more comfortable for me; however, the decreased tension also means less power to vibrate the top - decreased volume.

tonguy: One difference between the former production model 000-28H and the 000-28EC would be the Clapton's 1-3/4" neck width versus the 1-11/16" width of the old 000-28H.

wilson: They were a production model from the late 90's 'till around three years or so ago when Martin discontinued them. Joe McNamara, a forum member and Martin rep told me they were discontinued due to lack of sales.

They did come out, and into production, after the Clapton model was already established — so I think the lack of sales was more likely to do with the fact that at the time Martin had a pretty big inventory of rosewood 000/OM models in the mix.

But to the point at hand... it's a wonderful guitar. [...] I second the idea of ordering it with factory installed open-backed tuners as with herringbone, the zig-zag backstrip and volute it has a pretty vintage vibe going with it already. Waverlies would be my choice as this guitar is worth the extra $$$.

Now about the sound — this model sounds very sweet and balanced, the short scale is a delight (all three of my Martins are short scale) the scalloped braces IMO offer more "presence" and help contribute to that "lap piano" like tone of this rosewood gem.

I don't find the short scale to be having much less volume as some people often repeat around here. I suppose that technically that could be the case, but there are other factors at play and the individual instrument and certainly one's own "attack" may be just as much a factor.

MattLuczy: I think that as far as the short scale vs. long scale tone differences go, people (or at least me, but because there are 8,000 members on here, someone else has to think the same way) don't think that the short scale all by itself has a major impact on the tone. But when the long scale is coupled with 1/4" scalloped braces, the differences are heard easily. Two small things make the biggest difference when used together. Just my $.02 though.

RdgeRnner: I'm one of the guys that ordered the 000-28H from Elderly back on 3/24.

I have been in the market for a 000 for about a year. I played a 000-28EC about 6 months ago and loved it except for the 1 & 3/4 neck and the price. So, I started looking for something with the same specs with a 1 & 11/16 neck to match my D28 and without the Clapton price tag. I found it on Ebay in the 000-28H but lost the bidding. After a Google search, I found the Elderly 000-28H custom guitar and ordered one on the spot.

Archman44: I have a 000-28h I purchased it from Elderly last summer. It is an awesome guitar. I really love it. They are stamped custom on the neck block. It has a really balanced tone and the short scale neck and ultra low action really makes playing it a joy. I play different types of music from finger style to rock I have played it pretty hard and it holds up great. I also have a HD-28 from 2003 that I purchased from elderly both times they have been great to deal with. I would suggest upgrading to get the Geib case I did this with the 000-28h it was only $85 and well it. I didn't do this is 2003 when I purchased the HD I wish I had. You will get lots of joy from this guitar.

audiocheck: A friend of mine owns a 000-28H. He got it at Nazareth Music Center a couple of years ago. I understand that they regularly stock it as well. Custom order of corse. The 000-28H has a nice deep complex balanced tone. Nice volume as well. I don't think you would be disappointed.

Rich 2888: I have my 2001 model and its still my favorite.
I love the looks and the sound.
It is sort of in the middle of a standard 000-28 and an OM
I have put a bone saddle in it but yours will sound a bit different with a bone nut also.
Probably better with the sustain hanging in longer.
Elderly is also making the 0000-28H which is long scale but a bigger body. A Jumbo body with 000 depth. Which was made from 1997-2002 with less than 200 made.

The 000-28H was produced from 2000-2002.
2000- 66 2001- 272 2002- 54 total 392

hj28rules: I believe Martin quit making 000-28H as a standard production model about the same time they discontinued the HJ-28.
Both models sported scalloped braces if my memory serves me right. I played one in Austin in the late nineties. Great sound, great appointments and arguably one of the best all-around guitars of it's time.
I have it's big brother: HJ-28. Bought it in 1999. The finest and best sounding guitar I have ever owned.

I owned a Martin. I registered it with Martin and hold the warranty benefits. I sell the guitar. New owner has no warranty with it. Later, I buy it back. Do I still have the warranty?

This question prompted a lot of sometimes heated discussion (but then when the topic of the post itself says 'heated discussion' then it's almost like fanning the flames.) Anyway, it's obviously a rather interesting (and probably unusual) situation with multiple interpretations. Reading Martin's warranty seems to suggest that you are no longer covered. I think this is the important paragraph:


It says that all warranties expire with the transfer of ownership. Once expired it's like virginity; you can't get it back.

However the poster did eventually report that Martin at first said it wasn't covered, but then said that since they had him as the recorded owner, then they would honor the warranty if he were to need work done.

This is probably common knowledge with acoustic players, but I've been playing electric for years so never noticed before. I've been observing that my D-35 sounds much better when less of my body is touching the back. Apparently my body is having a muffling effect. So of course, this is most evident when I play standing with a strap.
I always thought that most of the sound projected from the top, but it is real evident that the back and sides need to vibrate freely too. I can minimize body contact while sitting, but standing with a strap, my belly keeps doing it's thing. How do you all deal with this, and is it more evident on some models than others?

matthewrust: There are things that people put on mandolins to keep the backs from contact with the belly. I would assume it does help the resonance of the guitar body. But I still play the way everyone else does.

johnreidL I can't stand for extended periods of time so I sit when playing. I also usually tilt the guitar slightly so I guess that there is less contact with me.

JBK I: I hold it by the neck and scream "play like Kottke's guitar" at the start of every practice session.

jackhall99: I play mostly standing rather than sitting, and never gave it a thought. Too many guys and gals stand when they are playing to make that much of a concern.

12barz: The trick is to take your bow earlier... Seriously, I think you can find a place where the back is on your hip bone, so damping isn't as great.

lkb3rd: I don't worry about it too much, but if i need some extra oomph I'll push it away from my body a little. If i was recording or in a situation where i wanted every last ounce of tone, I'd sit down, and angle it across my leg to body resting on the edges. I find it more noticeable actually on the mandolin, which I've started up lately. Since its so tiny it's easier to push away from the body. I also am more conscious of how tightly I squeeze(on guitar and mando) it between my right forearm and body, since I've noticed a definitely muffling effect if i use a "death squeeze"

12 Thumbs: I hadn’t really given it much thought until I read this yesterday. But after playing for about an hour and a half this morning, I noticed that (when sitting) my natural position is to keep it on the right leg and have the lower side a bit tilted away from my body. That way part of the lower body side just barley rests on my leg; and part of the upper body side barley touches one of my right ribs. That seems to work pretty well for me.

thomgs1: I guess I just try to get my hands in the right place and go from there. I have a tendency to let my left hand drop below the place where I can best cover the fretboard, and my right hand creeps up the neck too far and again drops below. So if I pay attention on the hands thing, my body just sort of arranges accordingly. And then, you know, relax a bit...

Can someone tell me when the next price increase is due to go into effect.

Bud0505: I think the increase is effective 1 June.

[Note: the increase is expected to be about $100-$200, depending upon model.]

The case that recently came with my OMC Aura appeared to be fairly loose, more in line with a 640 that a 630 even though the label on the case stated it was a 630 series.

I have just been informed by the dealer that when they asked Martin about this the reply they got was that the 630 cases have been discontinued.

Firstly does anyone know if this is in fact true and secondly, a question for OM owners with the 600 series cases…how snug is the fit of your OM series guitar in the supplied case?

Any help would be appreciated to determine if in fact I have a 630 case or if I need to pursue this issue further.

billwi: My recent OMC28 Juber came with a 533E and, by John West, it fits like a sardined glove. It really has nowhere to go. Maybe you could try a couple of varieties of Geib "style" cases if you can get your hands on them at a dealer, to see which one might be best.

desaljs: I purchased an OM-35 about 2 months ago. It shipped with a molded 630 case. I just pulled it out and looked at the fit for you. In my case, the guitar is snug and it seems like a good fit.

The contour of the inside of the case does look "dread" like, but the OM fits nice and does not move about. My serial number starts with 110XXXX if that helps.

jeffnles1: Call Martin's toll-free number and ask them if the 630 is discontinued. At least you will hear it from the horse's mouth and know if your dealer is being honest with you. It could be very good information for the future dealings (or lack thereof) with your dealer.

Martin Rookie: The case which came with my OMC Aura was a fairly loose fit, too. I think it was said "630" on the tag.

I didn't really pay much attention to it, however. I immediately sold it to get a case which I felt was more appropriate for a Martin of that value and quality. I'm not suggesting that you should do the same, just pointing out that you have that option if the sizing bothers you. It cost me about $60 to "upgrade" to a nice Geib-style hard case. That amount seemed reasonable to me for such a nice guitar.

One other nitpick: For some reason, the smell of the interior of the 600 series thermoplastic case doesn't ever seem to get mentioned here. For me, I really dislike my guitar having that chemical synthetic smell.

An interesting article on Bob Taylor prompted a short discussion on schools and support for music and wood shop, and this cool post:
feathers: The wood shop teacher (Kevin LaDue) at my high school alma mater in Vestal, NY began offering a guitar project in his class. Students take an entire semester to build a 'ooo' from scratch and some of the instruments these kids are turning out are wonderful to play and hear. Admittedly, they are a little rough in the details such as binding and inlay work but who cares about such things when you're building your first?!!! The instruments have bolt-on necks and most use ash for the body and mahogany or cedar for the necks. Wood binding is the norm.

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