Wednesday, June 07, 2006

UMGF Weekly Summary # 4 Jun 5

It’s week four of the UMGF Summary.

Pretty much most of my summer is ruined now that all has been revealed about the new summer NAMM Martin models: Normally we’d have to wait until the middle of July for the arguments to begin about who deserves a signature model, who doesn’t, and whether you like having someone’s signature on the 12th fret. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get enough of those discussions.

Meanwhile, this past week there were a lot of discussions relating to pickups and recording, with one discussion devolving into an argument about where best to spend your money; mic, preamp, or sound input card.

And a discussion about guitar sound muddiness quickly turned into an argument about tuning; whether it’s better to use a tuner or your ear, and which is more accurate. Now personally, I think it’s a good skill to be able to tune by ear, but I see nothing wrong with using a tuner. Of course, if you are dependent upon a tuner, then don’t forget to use the damn thing!

Finally, for those interested in the new Mark Knopfler signature edition, the discussion of the benefits of the 12-fret design, and how to restring a slothead will be invaluable.

1. Pickup or mic on D41
2. OM18V will Baggs m1 work
3. Fishman Aura
4. Acoustic Pickups
5. Which preamp should I buy for home recording?
6. I can't hear my high E string through my pickup!!
7. Do guitars have bad days?
8. Opening up
9. My HD28 sounds muddy...suggestions to improve the sound?
10. Martin's tone braces pattern question
11. scalloped braces = muddiness?
12. Changing bridge pins and to my surprise...
13. Sweetening up the aroma
14. Personal In Ear Monitors ???
15. D-1 neck: was it cedar from the start?
16. What are the advantages of a 12 fret neck?
17. For those of you with a Long Drop-In Saddle...Questions.
18. Dylan's Martin at Kerouac's grave?
19. Superfine wood grain VS. honkin' wide grain...
20. Rosewood bridge on Adi top
21. Grooves in the bridge
22. Important case supplies; picks, strings, capo...........
23. Info on Martin 00
24. Questions on Martin upgrades - bone end pins/saddle, etc...
25. Taping Cheat Sheet to Guitar
26. LX1: Opinions for a travel/camping guitar
27. Do Martin 'Customs' get more attention to detail?
28. It's 110 degrees with no humidity-to play or not to play
29. Martin killed my D-18A
30. First string change on slothead -- ugh!
31. Label Removal Anxiety No More
32. Intelli IMT-500 Tuner
33. Black Micarta
34. What kind of adhesive for pickguard.
35. Rattle
36. Improving Speed Tips
37. Your favorite live effects for acoustic

1. Pickup or mic on D41

I want to mic my D41. it what are your recommendations for a mic that will do the job while not taking me to the bank. Also if I were to install a pickup what would be your choice?

dhcrow: AKG c1000. That's what I use and it's a killer. Picked mine up on ebay for around $125.00. Perfect!

6L6: I really like the Fishman Matrix pickup system and have it installed in four of my acoustics. It includes a 9 volt battery (installed inside on the neck block) which is mandatory if you plan to use a guitar cord over 6 feet in length. The battery prevents signal loss. Even with gigging two or three times/wk, I find the battery lasts a minimum of 6 months.

I also recommend putting the signal through a BAGGS PA-1 pre-amp to smooth out the sound if you're going through a PA system. The BAGGS is not required, however, if you play through something like my Fender Acoustasonic Jr. DSP amp.

2. OM18V will Baggs m1 work
Can someone tell me will the Baggs m1 fit the soundhole of my OM18v seems I read the m1 was no recommended for smaller than 4" soundholes, my om measures 3 7/8" Thanks frank

talon5550: I owned an M1, for awhile. It's a cumbersome monstrosity, that produces a totally unnatural sound, no matter how you preamp the thing.

If you require a removable pickup, for about $40 you can get yourself a Dean Markley ProMag Plus, that'll give you far better sound, and offers much easier installation and removal.

sdelsolray: The M-1 is just fine, for those that like a mag sound. Darrell doesn't like that sound, which is a perfectly valid opinion. You have to decide what sound you like, which may be different than what some of us like or prefer.

Visit Doug Young's site and take an hour or so to listen to the 5 dozen (that's right, 60) different pickup examples:

Because you are playing in a band situation (drums, etc.), your choices becomes somewhat limited. A microphone (internal or external) is probably not advisable. And a SBT alone will also have feedback issues. That leaves a UST or mag for a single source setup, or a dual source setup that can include a SBT.

Here's what will work best, given your "band" situation:
ust/aura or mama bear

3. Fishman Aura
I just got an OMC Aura. The Fishman undersaddle sounds very good. I can not get even a remotely usable sound out of the Mic models. I see a lot of people saying they use 100% Aura...I don't use more than 10%...what am I doing wrong? I play in larger clubs at very high volumes (for an acoustic.) Could the volume level make a difference? Perhaps, the Aura is geared more towards quieter venues???

leeplaysblues: Firstly, did you change the saddle? when I installed a bone saddle the Aura sound went ape.... put the tusq back in and it was heavenly.

Secondly, when you use 100% Aura cut the bass back to less than 25% this cleans up the sound of the images, it took me awhile and a lot of research on the net to find this tip and it works! If you set the switch to edit then set the EQ then switch back to play the settings will be stored in that particular image.

Also, try setting 4 when playing live, in my opinion this gives the nicest sound through a PA. Also, try reversing the phase setting (see manual) and if playing in a loud venue you must use the auto notch filter.

Finally, set the volume at 60% or more on the Aura and get the sound engineer to set the trim and the volume from the desk, if using an amp set the volume After setting the guitar.

Believe me, the Aura is currently the best electronics out there and a little time tweaking the settings will get you the sound you are after.

If it still is a problem then maybe a trip back to the dealer may be required... Hope it works out.

4. Acoustic Pickups
I recently purchased a 2005 HD-35. I am looking into putting a pickup in it. I have been thinkking of getting the Fishman Elipse installed. I primarily play Bluegrass/Gospel music at Church. I don't fingerpick; I strum or flatpick. I would appreciate any advice!
I also have a D-45 that is about 14 years old. I bought it from Carl McIntyre when he had a shop in Charlotte. He installed a "Duel rig" pickup he designed in it. I have not had any problems with it, I was just wanting some advice about newer puckups.

denison329: Personally, I like the K&K pickup. But here's a site with a lot of pickups to listen to.

Atlasheating: I hava a HD-28 and I installed the ellipse myself a year and a half ago. The sound is superior. I like the controls in the guitar, not cut into the side. The sound is very usable without any external preamp setup. I would have a technician install it if you are not comfortable doing it yourself. I already had half the setup with the Fishman Gold UST. I then had to solder a chip into place and route the wiring and mount the mic and circuit board. I think that it is the best thing out there. My musical styles are very similar to yours. I was using a different guitar last night that has the KK pure western pickup. I didn't use a pre amp and my sound was not that good. On Sunday Morning I will be using the Martin.

5. Which preamp should I buy for home recording?
As suggestions for popular yet relatively inexpensive cards:
EMU 0404 and M-Audio Audiophile 2496 are each feature-laden and $99.

Unfortunately there are LOTS of possibilities and it can be very confusing. Either one of the above will be a fine start and won't get you too deep into investments. You'll get too deep into investments soon enough if you stay on the recording road! You'll be wanting better preamps ("at least $500 per channel"), better (and more) microphones, better reverb, etc. The sky (or your wallet) is the limit.

66d35: Get a decent little USB or Firewire audio interface unit. These include decent mic preamps, and most will also supply +48V phantom power allowing you to add in much higher quality true condenser mics (think MXL/ADK/SE) in the lowish price brackets.

That kind of combination will produce VASTLY better results than your SM-58 with your existing sound card (even if you did use a separate preamp, which frankly, would be wasted on a regular PC soundcard). Look at models the suggested by flatpicknut if you want an internal card, or external models by Tascam, M-Audio, etc.

flatpicknut: External boxes (or more specifically, "audio interfaces") work well, but be aware that USB can be touchy (depending on many variables, including how many other USB devices you have). I spent a year trying to get an M-Audio USB box to work, but I never could get it to work reliably at the advertised sampling rates. I finally bought a firewire box and have been quite pleased (but then it cost me $500, so I SHOULD be pleased).

External audio interfaces do allow you to more easily move to another computer or laptop, and the connections might be easier, since you can put the audio interface a little bit away from the computer (I keep my firewire box by my mixer). External boxes also tend to have knobs to adjust gain and maybe headphone output, and it is nice to have a hardware control of those items. You do have to worry about what other devices you have of that type, such as external hard drives. A firewire harddrive that performs wonderfully might not have the bandwidth you need once you put an audio interface on the same chain.

Internal cards can also be touchy. You might have to experiment with locating the card in different slots to make it work; you might have PCI latency issues or conflicts with other hardware. On the other hand, you tend to get higher performance than either USB or firewire, and you don't have to worry as much about problems with other external devices.

I don't know how much computer experience you have, but any PC hardware or software can bring you maddening struggles. On the other hand, a beautiful audio recording is well worth the struggle.

66d35: You CAN do it with something as simple as a USB mic like the Samson CO1U (no additional interface needed) and a free program like Audacity. That's about as simple and cheap as you can get, what's more, you CAN produce very decent recordings with no more than that.

The downside is that if you get do bitten by the recording bug, thereafter, you can kiss your $$$ goodbye. After a while, a $500 mic seems cheap, and even $20K to build a studio seems like a good deal

bodegahwy: I use an Edirol UA-5. Works very nicely and allows for a wide variety of connectivity.

Rick Ruskin: After the microphone itself, the mic pre is the most influential link in any signal chain. The preamps built into sound cards are adequate at best and their performance leaves much to be desired. If possible, spend some time auditioning some really good dedicate mic pres and hear the difference for yourself.

vallguy: You already have a decent mic and the K&K. A decent preamp will get you pretty good results, even if you have a basic soundcard like an Audigy or Soundblaster live. You didn't mention what your computer is and whether it even has a soundcard. This information is crucial to determine your next step.

When you plug into the computer, if it is a desktop, it will have two input plugs, one for microphone, one for line-in. The microphone plug is always going to give you terrible sound, as the preamp in the soundcard is usually very cheap. You need to plug into the line-in plug, which will require a preamp between your mic/K&K and the soundcard. Actually, the K&K may have enough juice to use the line-in?? For $100 and under you can get very acceptable preamps, in fact K&K has one that accepts mics also.

Need to know what your PC has...

Dadsbones: I'd attack the soundcard first as well. Then I'd replace the SM58 with a small condensor, and then I'd do the pre. Problem is, I'd want to do all three at the same timer. But if I was going to start anywhere it would be with the soundcard or interface.

d28andm1911a1: Cheap $50 mixer RCA out to Y to line in on the sound card. Don't make it so fancy for the guy.

sdelsolray: Forget about the soundcard. Instead, purchase a recording "interface". It will do the following:

1) Replace all functions of your current soundcard for recording;
2) Provide two microphone preamps, two line ins and digitial ins (if you ever need them);
3) Provide signal out jacks for your speakers and headphones
4) Provide all the software you will need to record, mix and finalize your recordings.
5) And a host of other things.

The question then becomes, "Which recording interface should I get?" Well, there a perhaps two dozen of them out there, from a couple hundred $$ to about $2,000. It's a pretty each thing to reasearch. COmpatibility with your computer is a must. Features (hardware and software) should be studied too.

OK. Now for the next question, "What else do I need?" Well, unfortunately, there's more gear you need to have a home recording setup. You need microphones (notice the plural). You need a pair of reference monitors, headphones, cables, a table and, most important, you need a ROOM.

6. I can't hear my high E string through my pickup!!
I was in rehearsals last night when I realized that my high E string on my SJ200 was not being "picked up" by my fishman matrix pickup. Any suggestions?

Dadsbones: My guess is there's something under the saddle at the #1 string position, or the strip, itself, has broken or cracked.

Put a capo on fret 8 or so...
Loosen the strings
Pull the pins...
Take out the strings...
Lift out the saddle...
check it out.

Alternately, your saddle may not be flat or chipped at that posistion.

The only other think I can think of is a phase cancellation. Perhaps your set-up at practice was such that the high "E" was cancelling due to parrellel phase between your monitor and the pick-up. Did you try to reverse the phase? Try it in another amp or PA as a test.

7. Do guitars have bad days?
Picked up my dread yesterday and was really surprised to find that it sounded totally uninspiring. (usually this thing knocks my socks off!!) Is my guitar having a bad day?

Jumbaught 28: I have found that, at least with my guitar, these bad days are 100% due to slight imperfections in tuning.

lkb3rd: I've noticed this. Sometimes for me it's the strings, other times I think it might be the humidity, other times I’ll be damned if I can figure it out.. ear wax maybe?

dreadnot28: I notice it a lot when winter comes my guitars don’t have the same tone, even with the electrics. For example, back when I had a band, we would have to move the e.q. all around on days when the temp. or humidity changed.

larryrickenbacker: Rooms can sound bad. Strings age. I just moved into a new house and it makes my electrics sound huge, but my D28 seems to like medium to smaller rooms.

geeman28: I've noticed that my rosewood guitars don't like humid days, but the difference is usually minimal.

Fred aka George: I think there are three factors:
Our ears hear better on some days than others.
Barometric pressure.

My guitar and ears sound best when the barometric pressure is high, and the humidity is moderately low.

Rosewud: Boy am I embarrassed! Got the dread out again tonight and it sounded a little better, but still not up to par. Then my son asks me to jam with him a bit, and what do you know - I'm about 1/2 step low. Tuned 'er up and suddenly the magic returned.

8. Opening up
Anyway, the issue of "opening up" is mentioned quite a bit herein and I was wondering just what that was all about.

pickngrin99: When not playing, set it in front of a stereo speaker to simulate playing. When you can feel the wood vibrating real good, you're "makin' bacon".

BTW, this is an unproven suggestion but it makes sense to me. My new Adi top gets the treatment quite often.

grababanjo: I think leaving it out of its case helps as well - as a guitar ages the lacquer dries out and the guitar sounds more open - it takes years.

jscio: Keep playing it. It just kind of sneaks up on you.

leeplaysblues: With all my guitars I found the biggest improvement is during the first year then it tapers off. They still continue to improve but it’s that first year of playing that does the most to open up the guitar and get those timbers vibrating

Floyd1960: Some of these mind-boggling claims pertaining to a new guitar miraculously 'opening-up' after only a couple of months can often be traced to a bone saddle simply 'settling-in'.

9. My HD28 sounds muddy...suggestions to improve the sound?
I recently bought a used HD28 and find that its sound is disappointing. The low end sounds pretty muddy to me. I'm using Martin SP lights because the mediums bring out the muddiness big time. Yes, the guitar is loud but not clear. The treble side is fine. It has a B-Band internal pickup installed.

dmcowles: My first question would be regarding what guitar are you accustomed/comparing it to? If it is your only rosewood, and you have been playing mahogany guitars, the rosewood dread will be so laden with overtones that it may well sound muddy to you. I'd also suggest giving it a couple of days or weeks of playing-in time, and acclimating to its new environment. Changes in humidification will do wonders.

grababanjo: Humidity makes rosewood dreads change in sound more than mahogany I've noticed. I think a FWI saddle and Bone pins from would brighten it up a fair bit. You can try some different strings - John Pearse medium phos bronze are pretty bright.

TerryB: Yep, fossil walrus ivory tusk or jawbone will open up the muddiness . also try bone or FWI bridgepins.
A bright string, such as Pearse..or Dean Markley Alchemy Gold Phos will help, too.

TChristianHD28: Start with the obvious: strings. Get mediums on it. Then try different kinds.

riley stokes: If the guitar has a moderate amount of bellying below the bridge (and a moderate amount is a good thing) it's possible that the bridge has been influenced by it. Sometimes a bridge will bow a little bit to conform to the bellying (it's either conform or bust loose on the bridge wings, right?). If the bottom of the slot in which the bridge saddle sits has bowed even the tiniest amount, you'll have a situation in which the saddle is being "fulcrumed" in its center, and isn't seating properly at both ends. The strings, particularly both "E" strings, won't be exerting their full downward pressure into the guitar.

The cure is easy. Take out the saddle and sand or whittle (using a sharp knife) a few thousandths of an inch out of the CENTER SECTION OF THE BOTTOM, the span running from the 5th to the 2nd string. You don't want to make the saddle shorter; you just want to give some "air" in the center, to make the bottom concave, in other words. If you've done well, you should be able to place the saddle on a very flat surface (countertop, sheet of glass, whatever) and pass a piece of magazine paper under the center of the bottom. I'd work the saddle's underside till I could slide a piece of the cover of a TIME or Newsweek (.005") under the center of the bottom of the bridge.

Now when you replace the saddle, you can be confident that both its treble and bass ends are making solid contact in the saddle slot. Clarity of sound in the middle strings should not be affected.

rijulu: Coyote, I had the same impression when I bought my HD28 last year. Although I didn't feel the bass was muddy, I did want to brighten up the sound a tad.

I added bone pins & nut and bought Daddario mediums for strings, but I think the biggest change happened when I reluctantly took the suggestion of a fellow UMGF'er and went from heavy picks to medium picks. I say reluctantly because I'd been using heavies on my 1978 Ovation since...well, since 1978, and hey, y'know how it is when you've grown accustomed to something.

10. Martin's tone braces pattern question
I take that they stiffen the trebles side of the soundboard more than the bass side. Am I right or is this the other way around?

I have been guessing that a wide grain top (more flexible?) favors the bass and a narrow grain top (less flexible?) favors the trebles so the pattern allows a bookmatch soundboard (given that the grain is even) to vibrate more freely on the bass side to keep some balance across the range.

Am I into something or did I misunderstood the purpose of tone braces?

How would sound, say a dreadnought, without tone braces (with an hypothetic soundboard that won't belly)?

Threadbare Cat: Yes, that is the intent of the tone braces, to allow less overall vibration in that area of the top and hence allow a bit more of the treble notes to be heard. And the wide grain tends to favor all fundamental notes, not just the bass notes.

The wide grained tops act like more of a filter than them actually creating a certain tone. All tops, be they wide grain or tight grain, are subjected to the same vibrations from the soundboard, but a tight grained top has the ability to flex in a more localized and tighter pattern so to speak, and that allows both the fundamental tones and sympathetic overtones to propagate, whereas the wide grained tops that favor the fundamental notes more and will tend to only propagate those notes while attenuating the higher frequencies. Since everyone’s ears and appreciation of the tones a guitar produces is different it only makes sense that some people will favor wide grained tops and others tight grained tops.

Arnoldgtr: Actually, removing tone bars does not increase belly very much. The tone bars are the only braces on a Martin that don't have a significant structural contribution. But a dreadnought without tone bars will have very little treble.
The tone bars are angled closer to the bridge on the treble side. This stiffens the treble side of the top, especially in the bridge area.

There are some builders that prefer straight-across tone bar or bars. This tends to increae the midrange, and reduce the low bass boom. Depending on the overall construction, this can be good. It won't sound like a Martin, but not everyone is after that sound.

A guitar is the sum of all the elements. Bracing design is an important factor in shaping tone, but the types of wood used and appropriate thicknessing are equally as important.

SteveKrasnow: Quote: “There are some builders that prefer straight-across tone bar or bars. This tends to increase the midrange, and reduce the low bass boom.”

Exactly why many people say that symmetrical bracing brings out a more overall balanced tone to the guitar. Larrivée guitars are prime example. I have both Martin and Larrivée guitars the Martins have a deeper bass for sure but there is positive things to say about balanced sound from an acoustic guitar.

rosemag: Also I would like to add that there is really no absolute generalization that wide grain wood is somehow less stiff than narrow grain. That is a myth. Some of the stiffest examples of spruce that I have ever encountered was some wide grain Engelmann that I got from guitarmakers connection. The guitar produced the loudest bluegrass jammin' banjo killer I have ever come across. On the other hand, some of the least stiff woods I have ever found was some extremely tight grained Sitka that was more than 60 grains per inch. This stuff was like a piece of flimsy cardboard and had the tap tone of wet particle board.

The Engelmann mentioned above rung like a piece of glass and was stiff both across the grain and with the grain.
Wish I could get more...

11. scalloped braces = muddiness?
Someone recently made the comment on another thread (I did not want to hijack that thread) that muddiness has been attributed to scalloped braces (I am not saying this previous poster endorses this idea). As a happy recent owner of a scalloped braced martin I would be interested in any opinions on this matter. It is commonly mentioned that scalloped braces enhance base (and midrange?) response. Any correlation?

Rod Neep: Scalloped braces give a more instant (gratification) open sound, and the top is capable of also being successfully driven with light gauge strings.

The opposite to muddyness.

Lefty00042: I own three scalloped-braced Martins - a long-scale 5/16" scalloped braced Custom D-18VS, a short-scale 5/16" scalloped braced 000-42 and a short-scale 1/4" scalloped braced Custom 00-18VS. None of them can be fairly described as "muddy" sounding.

riley stokes: Take any guitar (not really -- I'm speaking hypothetically), reach inside the soundhole with a rasp or sandpaper or whatever and reduce the bracing effect by removing material from the braces and you are reducing the top's stiffness, allowing the top to vibrate more. This is likely to enhance the bass response just as surely as if a kettledrum player relaxed the tension on his instrument's drumhead, thus lowering the pitch. It may or may not steer the guitar's tone in a direction you want it to go, however

FRETS: Depends on the person speaking. That's right, it's semantics:

"muddy" = "full"
"tubby" = "bassy"
"loose" = "woody"

"tinny" = "bright"
"tight" = "trebly"
"shrill" = "brilliant"

. . .like that, ad nauseum. . .

woody bee: One persons "muddiness" is another persons "strong bass response"

Zoot: I think also, that anything that tends to allow the top to vibrate more freely, like the reduction in stiffness created by lightening or scalloping the braces, will result in greater emphasis on overtones and harmonics that, because of their lower energy levels don't have the same power to move a stiffer top as do the fundamental tones. A stiffer top might be described by some as clearer, because it emphasizes the fundamental tones at the expense of everything else.

Arnoldgtr: Scalloping braces is a delicate operation. Remove a few thousandths too much (or in the wrong places) and a formerly balanced guitar can become bass-heavy.

The most heavily scalloped newer Martin dreadnought is the HD-28. For some reason, Martin chose to scallop this guitar much more than the prewar herringbones. Not only that, but the scalloping is shorter along the X-brace. This tends to loosen a smaller area of the top, but it can also make the guitar unbalanced.

12. Changing bridge pins and to my surprise...
I really didn't think it would do anything, and was preparing to try to convince myself tht I could hear the difference. After all, I put a very expensive set of gorgeous FWI pins (given to me) into my M36, and while they LOOK great--I can't tell the difference between them and the old plastic ones.

But I wanted to try to "warm up" my HD-7. Yes it has great "jangle" from that Octave G, but the guitar seems just a bit thin, even after a string change.

So even though I wasn't fond of the idea of Black (pins) on Black (Ebony bridge), I ordered a set of seven ebony with abalone dot pins from Maury. I installed them yesterday, keeping the same strings on for comparative purposes, and I was immediately shocked and PLEASED! Though a little of the jangle is gone, it is indeed warmer, and "fuller", with what I would call "better balance"--more definable lows and mids.

RenaudB: It's been some times now so I don't remember if it was a OM-28V or D-18GE. Anyway I was hearing overtones, on the trebles mainly, with the stock plastic pins. Once I put water buffalo horns pins I didn't hear the overtones anymore, it was pure fundamental notes instead, subjectively louder. The overtones were audible again once I shifted back to plastic pins.
As I kept the same set of strings on it I take that the difference in sound was the influence of the pins.

d35d42man: Buffalo horn pins helped my D-18V a lot. Ebony seemed to dampen the sound. On the other hand, bone pins on my other guitars made no noticeable difference.

johnreid: I found that bone pins made my D-28 way too brite and jangly and ebony made it dull so I kept plastic on my D-28. However, on my Mahogany bodied guitars I found that ebony seemed to bring out the mid tones and bone was again too brite. I do believe bridge pins make a noticeable difference, but the material of choice might differ from guitar to guitar.

d35d42man: I have come to think that the reason Martin still uses plastic pins, other than being cheaper, I think plastic pins make for a neutral sound, not too bright and not too muddy. They do get chewed up over time though.

cpmusic: One day I swapped out the plastic pins in my Tacoma EM9 for a set of ebony pins, and the trebles were reduced tremendously, as if the strings had gone dead. When I put the plastic pins back, the trebles came back with them, and I was "converted."

I've since replaced the cheap, ill-fitting plastic pins in my Baby and my wife's Big Baby, and in both cases the trebles were tamed. The difference wasn't quite as dramatic as with the EM9, but the results were favorable, so the ebony pins are still there.

Zipster100: Tonight I installed some ebony pins, also acquired from Maury the Amazing, in my D-18V. It definitely knocked the brilliance factor down some and I’m not sure I like it. I’m going to give it a few days to see if my ears adjust or if I can notice a difference.

fleiger: I swapped out the factor plastic pins on my D-18GE for a set of ebony with abalone inlays and man I definitely can tell the difference and prefer it over plastic. I have tried FWI pins on my guitars and for me it produced a much too "jangly" sound be it rosewood or hog. As a matter of fact, I have a set of $150 FWI pins in my guitar junk drawer just sitting there collecting dust. I really don't like them on any of my guitars but of course that is personal preference. For me, ebony pins and a bone saddle do the trick. I don't especially like the black on black pin/bridge combination, but the voice difference I'm hearing and enjoying will keep my ebony pins in there.

GH724: I tried FWI pins in my D-18GE and didn't like it at all - the beautiful clear tones I was used to with ebony pins just disappeared. I'm going change my HD-35 to an FWI saddle and I'll try the FWI pins on that. I'm hoping for stronger trebles, more clarity and better sustain.

13. Sweetening up the aroma
Bought a used guitar that has an unusual smell from the sound hole. Not sure what it is, and it's not real strong, just annoying. What have you used to sweeten the smell on the inside of a guitar?

markt9151: Do you notice it in the case? If so maybe leave it open for a few days with the guitar out of it.

martinslinger: Lots of the boutique specialty shops in malls have scented wood chips in little bags....rosewood, cedar, etc.

A day or two in the case usually "scents" both guitar and case. If you've got a Kirkland's or Pier One locally, they're normally good places to look.

Flat5sub: I bought a small vial of rosewood oil on eBay for about $3. Couple drops on a cotton ball, dropped it inside. Not bad. Maybe too strong, really.

soundnpix: I've always wondered what a drop of Chanel #5 (made from rosewood oil) would do. It would definitely be a bit strong at first, but perhaps it would settle down after a bit.

14. Personal In Ear Monitors ???
I have decided to buy/use an In Ear Monitors for our duo. I was wandering if anyone had any input as to Brand and model, and why.

soundnpix: In my experience (YMMV), the actual ear plugs are more important than the receiver. I have a Nady system, not the cheapo one, but not as good as the Shure. I've used both the Shure plugs and Futuresonics. The Futuresonics disappear in your ears better. One of these days I'll have a set molded.

wpstanton0: Unfortunately it all comes down to how much money you want to spend like with most good gear. The Shure PSM 700's are nice as are the new Sennheiser Evo G2 IEM's. These are all wireless but you might want to look into wired monitors like the Shure PSM 600HW. I use a lot of these at work.

66d35: We use the Sennheiser's. Very nice, and definitely overcome some of the problems of regular stage monitors. All of the UHF diversity systems seem to work pretty well, in my experience. Never had any interference issues, or any other problem.

J40M: I just bought the Shure PSM-400 system. Used it for the first time at a gig we played Sunday. I went home for the first time with no ringing in my ears! They have never had it so good. We do classic rock and can get loud at times.

I bought the system with the 4 port mixer so I was able to tailor my monitor mix to the PA monitor send, and my vocal mic, and my guitar set higher so that I could hear myself.

I chose the PSM 400 over the PSM 600 because of the number of channels available. The PSM 400 has 8 channels and the PSM 600 only has 2 channels. With all of the wireless gear that we have on stage the more channel flexibility the better.

Depending on features, the decent wireless systems start at $750 and go up to about $2k. I paid just under $1k for my Shure PSM 400 system. Depending on the system that you choose, additional receivers start in the $350 range and good ear buds start at about $175. The no ringing in my ears is priceless.

12fretter: I know I'll catch a lot of flack for this, but when I play solo, I use a pair of Sony ear buds that you can buy at Walmart for $9.95 and plug directly into my headphone out jack. I hear the exact mix of the mains.

When I play with a duo or up to 3 extra people, I use my Mackie 1604 with 4 AUX sends, and a 6 channel Rane Headphone Distribution Amp to port up to 4 different monitor mixes to four people. All mixes are completely independent.

Headphones - $9.95
Rane distribution Amp - $150
Perfect mix every time - Priceless

Instead of a typical amplifier, I use a headphone distribution amp. On this device, you have 6 channels, with 6 input connectors and 6 outputs (which you connect your headphones to). So I take Aux 1 Send and connect it to channel 1 of the distribution amp. Aux 2 send to channel 2 and so on. Now I have 4 Aux Sends going to 4 channels on the distribution amp. 4 people connect their headphones. And I mix each persons headphones completely independently of the others by adjusting their respective Aux knobs for each channel.

To summarize, if my guitar is in channel 1, vocals are in 2, and my partners guitar is in 3, and his vocals are in 4, I connect Aux 1 Send to channel 1 of the distribution amp, and Aux 2 Send to channel 2. He connects his headphones to Channel 2 of the distribution amp, and I connect mine to 1. When I want him to hear his guitar, I turn the Aux 2 knob up on channel 3. Aux 2 knob on channel 4 will give him his vocals. If he wants to hear a little of my vocals, I send him Aux 2 of my vocals, channel 2. So far, I have only touched the Aux 2 knobs. That's because I am adjusting HIS headphones for mix. When I adjust mine, I adjust all the Aux 1 knobs for each of the 4 channels to get exactly what I want to hear.

Once you get used to in-ear monitors, you can hear everything exactly the way you want, you will NEVER, EVER o back to floor monitors.

15. D-1 neck: was it cedar from the start?
Has this model always had the Spanish cedar neck or was it mahogany at some point? Also, some of the pictures of recent ones seem to be less tinted w/ aging toner, or maybe not at all?

Geez45: My first Martin guitar was a 1996 D-1 and it has a Mahogany neck. It was not until around 2001 (if I remember correctly) that Martin started using Spanish Cedar for necks. Yes,the D-1 is now discontinued.

secondroy: I think the 16 series did the 1 series in. Too bad cause it was a great guitar but so is the 16 series.

16. What are the advantages of a 12 fret neck?
never owned one, and have always felt like a 12 fret neck was just limiting your range. I know that 95% of the fingerstyle music out there doesn't need the extra two frets, but sometimes they are nice to have. Can any of you give me the reasons you prefer a 12 fret neck?

GrrArghh: IMHO a 12 fretter (at least the 00 and 000 sizes) gives better note-to-note separation than the standard 14 fret designs. I'm almost entirely a fingerpicker, and that's the sound I'm aiming for. Closer to a classical guitar, maybe. To my ear the notes from 14 fretters blend together more. Better for strumming maybe. 12 fretters tend to provide a bit richer bass response, too.

I count at least 3 major structural differences that could account for the difference in sound. First, the 12-fret neck is shorter and stiffer. Second, the 12-fret body is longer. And third, the bridge is usually a bit farther south on 12 fretters, although not as much as you might guess. Only about 1/4" as I recall.

I also find them to be a bit more comfortable than their 14 fret brethren. The shorter neck/longer body combo seems to put the nut just a bit closer to my body when I play sitting down. It makes 1st position chards easier to reach.

woody bee: To my ear most 12 fretter's have more treble and equal bass to their 14 fret equivalent. The perfect example of 14 fret vs 12 fret tone is an HD28V compared to an HD28VS. To my ear the HD28VS has nice rich trebles that are missing on the HD28V but they both have great earth shaking bass.

poorbs: Better play one before buying it though. I found that my right hand position changed with the 12 fretter vs. the 14, and my picking fingers were over the fretboard to the left of the soundhole.

dreadstrum: Play one for a while first. They sound fantastic, but I had one and definitely did not like the reduced access to the fingerboard. It moves the heel up a lot (for my playing) and I ultimately sold it, as thunderous a guitar as mine was.

tonguy: ...Another advantage of the 12-fret body style is the more central bridge location, which to my ear produces a more natural full bottom-end than forward-shifting or scalloping of braces. 12-fretters usually sound a little larger to me than their 14-fret counterparts, and they never really sound like they are working hard at all.

The downside is that you're trading away 2 frets of access for these benefits. If that upper-fret access is important to you, you be be better served by a 14-fretter. Another option is a 12-fretter with a cutaway, but not many of those are around. The only production Martin 12-fret cutaway that comes to mind is (was) the 000C-28SMH Merle Haggard limited edition.

Rod Neep: The advantage is that the body is two frets longer at the neck end. That's a LOT of additional volume inside the body! (Up to 36 cubic inches more!). Then, the bridge is set in a much better position on the belly.

Those two factors are what makes them sound different to the equivalent 14 fret model.

jzach46: add [to that] the fact that the neck is shorter/thicker(usually)/stiffer. This, of course, means it absorbs less of the string's vibration. A long, skinny neck can be thought of as something of a sound sink. Less to the neck, more to the body.

rocknrollrjm: ...and I'll add to this list that 12 fretters will almost always have a slothead(I've never seen one without)--Slotheads have an increased break angle from the nut to tuning posts and although it's been debated, most agree that that this improves the overall sound.

EScottG: I notice a difference in where my picking hand falls in relation to the bridge and soundhole. Holding my 12 fret D naturally seems to move my picking hand away from the bridge and closer to the soundhole. I feel like this has actually helped my playing by relaxing my hand a bit. I guess the guitar the body size and shapes would also contribute to the arm-hand-bridge-soundhole relationship.

I also like the shorter reach for the fretting hand to grab those first position chords.

1.) Missing that 13th fret clear of the body.
2.) Missing that 14th fret clear of the body.

17. For those of you with a Long Drop-In Saddle...Questions.
How does one lower the action with a long drop in saddle?

Randal SS: Take it down from the top. I don't think you can really mess it up (tonally) by sanding the bottom, but it won't look right because the wings will be below the surface of the bridge.

D28CWB: Slow sanding from the top should be fine.

rosemag: If you are gonna sand, then use a 20 inch radius sanding caul for Martin instruments. First make some accurate measurement on just how far you want to go down, then sand. Otherwise you will be chasing the wind and ultimately be replacing the saddle you if go to far in either direction (that is too much on the bass side or the treble side).
A good action is 3/32nds on the bass side and 2.5/32nds on the treble but no further than that. I like 7/64ths bass and 3/32nd treble myself.

The top of the saddle must then be re-crowned. I use a fret file and a piece of sand paper in progressively fine pieces until the saddle is polished. the top of the saddle should be a perfect semi circle like the top of this letter e
There is a learning curve BTW, so if it is an instrument that you care about, then better have another saddle on deck in case you are not satisfied with the final outcome.

sherbie: I've learnt from experience - it is best to keep the original saddle untouched and use it as a template and point of referral and then make a brand new saddle from a blank or buy a new pre-shaped one to practice on. It is very easy to lose the shape when sanding down from the top and very small changes to the saddle make big differences to the feel of the guitar. If it’s a glued in saddle I wouldn't touch it unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing.

DSilber123: I have an HD28-LSV with a glued in long saddle that I have done major work on. I have lowered the action and compensated it. It can be done, but carefully and in incremental stages as there is an element of trial and error. Just err on the side of needing to go back and take more down.

I used 200 grit sand paper and carefully followed the saddle contour making sure not to alter it.Once you're done you can use auto finish compound paste to repolish the saddle to a nice gloss. Compensating the saddle is more tricky and requires some small files, judicious resanding and finally repolishing.

18. Dylan's Martin at Kerouac's grave?
There is a pic of Dylan and Ginsberg at Kerouac's grave, and Dylan has a small Martin...size 5 something?

Buck49: If you mean it looks too big for a 5. Looks like an 0-18 to me. Kerouac's grave is in front of them, and doesn't show in this picture...the one that showed the grave didn't show the guitar as well.

mlamags: It looks like Dylan's Martin 00-21 he used in the early-mid 70's. It has the modified pickguard and woven strap that I usually associate with that guitar.

19. Superfine wood grain VS. honkin' wide grain...
A question about visual appearance of grain in tops turned into a discussion about the effect of grain on tone.

JWS LO3: I read an article recently -- I think it was by Dana Bourgeois -- in which he said that wide grain spruce vibrates more freely than tight grained spruce and that is why wide grain tops have better tone.

twelvefret: Better bass tones is what I have heard folks say.

paulw1149: I also read an article some time ago by George Gruhn who stated the wider grain tops shift the response to the bass end and the narrower grain tops are brighter. he mentioned a couple on instruments that had very mixed grain tops that he said were not cosmetically desirable but were very good and balanced sounding instruments

RenaudB: There is an article (I think it's about a mandoline with wide grain on the bass side and tighter grain on the trebles side. This is like the 'perfect' combinaison, the wide grain enhancing the bass and the tighter grain enhancing the trebles.

oltimeyrider: I have always been under the impression that the ideal top has tight grain under the bridge (the idea being that it's stiffer and will handle the tension from the strings) and wide grain as you move out to the edges of the guitar for increased vibration. If you look at Martin tops (before they seemingly downgraded the spruce grade on the standard series) you'll see this trend.

Arnoldgtr: Reaction wood, or compression wood, is characterized by thicker latewood (the dark part of the growth ring). This can make spruce resemble yellow pine. Martin's common name for it is 'racing stripes', and it generally occurs in bands that are 1" to 2" wide. It is considered a cosmetic defect, and is typically seen on Martin's lower models, particularly the style-18's.

Reaction wood is harder, denser and stiffer than normal wood. If those characteristics are taken into account when building the guitar, the results can be outstanding. Before I started using red spruce, I primarily built with Engelmann. It tends to be soft and weak, so I preferred it with reaction wood. IMHO, one of the best sounding guitars I have ever made is a BR "M" size guitar with a 'racing stripes' Engelmann top.

20. Rosewood bridge on Adi top
Just curious -- anyone here played a Martin or custom with a rosewood bridge and adironcack (red spruce) top?

There's been discussion before about how the rosewood bridge gives the Martin D-21 with sitka top a different sound than the 28 with ebony bridge.

So I wonder what you get mixing rosewood bridge with adi top?

fir28: Judging on opinions coming from experts, the good stuff is Brazillian, Honduras, and Madagascar rosewoods. These give better treble, volume, and shimmer than Ebony. Indian is not so good but adds clarity when compared to ebony. Ebony gives thicker bass.
Putting braz on adi would probably make a 'too crystal palace' guitar though I think I'd like it...

UK luthier Ralph Bown uses Braz bridges in many of their guitars and they sound fantastic. Good Spanish and classical guitars have Braz rosewood bridges.
In my opinion Brazilian or similar bridges should work very well for a fingerpicker on MARTIN guitars as you have naturally a good thick bass compound but generally they are a bit lacking on the sparkle department ( mainly Sitka ones ).

If you use a flatpick you can achieve that sparkle easier, even with ebony in some guitars.

BrazAd: Yes, I have a brazilian bridge on 2 of my custom guitars. One is an AJ built by James Burkett, the other is an 18-style dread in mahogany/red spruce built by Marty Lanham (NGC - Nashville Guitar Company).

Both are outstanding guitars in every way. When I had Leo Posch build me a dread earlier this year, though, he strongly recommended an ebony bridge for tonal purposes. I let him do what he wanted, and the guitar is just amazing.

I don't think you can go wrong with either one. There are so many other parts on a guitar that affect tone, that the differences in bridge material only colors the overall tone, nothing more, IMO.

21. Grooves in the bridge
It seems that my strings have worn slight grooves in the bridge where they run parallel to the bridge pins and up to the saddle. Nothing really deep but I've noticed it nonetheless. Is this something I should worry about? If so, how do I correct it?

RP89d28: Not a big deal, unless the bridge happens to be a bad piece of wood. They'll set in a little but shouldn't get much worse. I don't think you want to sand the bridge, maybe slot it but not sand it.

Lefty00042: I've got a few minor nicks in the bridge pin holes of a couple of my guitars too. I've never really considered them very serious.

kens d28: They're natural and expected. How much the saddle grooves depends on what it is made of. The harder materials (FWI, bone, FMI) groove just a little and don't noticeably get worse for a long time. The softer materials (micarta, tusq) groove comparitively easily, and after a few years, start to look a bit rough and you may want to replace it.

I would leave the grooves alone. They actually help hold the strings in place side-to-side, on the harder saddles. Also, if you smooth the saddle surface again the strings will just start new grooves right away.

tomcatbubba: I'm sorry to have phrased the question poorly. What I meant to say was the bridge pin holes have some grooves worn in them from the strings.

talon5550: Not a's just something that can't help but happen. The edge of the hole is softer than the string, so it basically dents, a bit. No biggie.

22. Important case supplies; picks, strings, capo...........
Besides the list of things above, does anyone besides me keep a church key (bottle opener) in their guitar case? For emergencies of course.

rsdean: No church key, but I do keep a polishing cloth in each case to wipe down the guitar after I play it.

Buck49: I do keep a diamond nail file in every case.

lathem: I always have a Swiss Army Knife in my pocket. Not only does it do a great job opening cans and bottles (to include wine bottles), but it also handles emergency nail touch-ups.

ScotsDave: Capo, strap, endpin, cloth, tuner, picks, spare strings, side cutters and pinpuller/bottle opener...

nilejam: picks, strings, capo, plus polish cloth, clay pot humidifier, nail clipper, strap (when I'm going out)

cb00ne: Small wire cutter.

2002D18: Am I the only one who keeps a tuner in every case?

Fingerstyle2: For those of us who play guitars with banjo tuners, a small screw driver is required equipment. Nothing worse than tuning a string and having it go completely slack.

peterbright: Picks, strings, capo, side cutters, bridge pin puller, polishing cloth, tuner, metronome

david515: I generally cram this stuff into the trap case (does anyone still call it that?):

Picks, Capos (one Shubb Deluxe, one Shubb Partial), Tuner, Strings, String Winder/Clipper, Emery board, Leatherman-type multi-tool, Pearse Swipes, Truss rod tool, Clean wipe-down cloth for the neck.

23. Info on Martin 00
In Martin's history (past and present) what 00 models were produced with 14 fret necks. It seem that all I could find are 00-15, 00-17, 00-18. All other models had 12 fret necks. I know there are some new limited 16 series that had them, but I am unsure of models.

Mac Carter: I'm pretty sure there was an 00-1 for a little while, but it was discontinued early on. There are/were some 00 cutaway models in the X and 16 Series as well that were 14-fret.

But as you say, most of the 00's, particularly the higher end ones, are 12-fret.

Threadbare Cat: All the 00-16DBx models are 14 fret slotheads.

24. Questions on Martin upgrades - bone end pins/saddle, etc...
I currently have a D-1 that I'm very happy with. I've had it for 10 years now, and it's tone has never disappointed. I've recently read several posts that suggest bone endpins/saddle/nut would improve the sound of the guitar. So my question is this: Does it make a great sounding guitar even better?

matthewrust: These changes will make things sound different for sure. But you won't know if they are changes that you will prefer until you try them. I just recently put a bone saddle in my D28 and was a tad disappointed at the sound. I lost some of the throatiness of the sound but it seems to be coming around (my guess is that my technique is adapting).

I like bone in all of my guitars because it is the cheapest and has the most improvement over plastic. I'd start with a bone saddle if I were you. That will make the most difference.

geeterpicker: I have had some upgrades done on two different guitars that I had for a number of years - bone saddles and pins to match the bridge - ebony and rosewood. I found the change to be very subtle. They were both great sounding guitars before. If you like the way it sounds, let it be. If you want to change it, feel free. It's not going to be earthshaking. I think too much of it is made around here. Cosmetically, I think it is a huge improvement.

rocknrollrjm: Specifically, the improvements I and most others comment on is improved sustain and string definition through all frequencies.

The negatives I've heard is the highs sounding thin or brittle.

As suggested above, I also suggest going with a bone saddle and pins. Try one then the other then both together.

You also have Fossilized Ivory from a number of different animals. It's really an endless journey.

As an example, there have been certain strings that I wanted to like because they had a nice full tone but were a bit muddy. After boning, those same strings didn't sound as muddy. Likewise, I've put FWI(fossilized walrus ivory) on a IR/Ad OM and improved the overtones, string definition, everything-it was a very black and white difference. The same change on my all mahogany made it sound thinner than I like.

Floyd1960: As the others have suggested, replacing a stock plastic saddle with bone is often the first step taken towards improving a guitar's tone (in terms of increased volume, sustain/clarity & tonal separation). If you play (or aspire to play) further up the neck, you might want to opt for a compensated one. I've never been an exotic bridgepin me, the differences between plastic, bone & FWI pins are negligible. The strings vibrate between the nut & saddle & the pins are mainly there to keep the strings properly aligned with the bridgeplate.

RP89d28: Every guitar I put a bone saddle in (replacing Micarta), cleared the mids and tightened the bass.

Andrewrg: Tone modifiers in order;pick, strings, saddle material. Anything else is snake oil for the gullible.

rocknrollrjm: I took my custom OM 28V into the shop where I purchased it. It was a stock IR/AD with slotted pins and bone nut/saddle.

I had the bridge slotted and then did the following. I had three people listening, one was the shop owner, one was the counter guy, and the other was my father who is not a player and barely a listener.

I used the plastic pins reversed, FWI, Bone, Ebony, & Water Buffalo Horn. I played the same tunes at random with each while making note of the order naming the first "A", the second "B", etc. When I was done with "A", I asked them to note the characteristics and rate it 1-10. I repeated this randomness so that each pin would get played on three times.

Then I handed the guitar over to the owner and he did the same thing with me and my father listening and making our notes while he kept a list of the order.

Then the counter guy repeated this.

When we finished this 2 hour process, the results were black and white.

The plastic finished surprisingly well. The Buffalo Horn had the greatest sustain but thin, the bone had less overtones then the FWI.

In the end, this is how they fell for each of us without looking at the other's and furthermore, most of the reasons and general characteristics for each material were described the same by each of us.

Buffalo Horn

I don't think all guitars are made in such a way that certain changes will make as noticeable a difference as seen/heard in our little test but there was, without a doubt, a difference heard between these 5 pin materials.

Big Fretty: I would only advise that when you change saddle and pin materials, don't do so simultaneously and use the same string type before and after so that you'll know where to place the credit/blame.

thermality: After using Martin plastic pins for decades, switching to bone pins on my 73 D28 made a noticeable, and positive, difference (I already had a bone nut and saddle).

But the posts thus far are overlooking an important detail -- not only did I switch to bone, but I also switched to unslotted pins. The pin holes on my 28 were already slotted a little bit, but I had to deepen the slots slightly to make room for the unslotted pins.

The result is more sustain and string clarity. To my ear the bass and midtones benefited more than the treble tones. The overall tone is so improved that I intend to do the same thing to my 12-string.

gr8tful1: For those using Undersddle pickups...I have noticed that you could have a string volume-balance issue if you switch to a bone or ivory saddle. The density of plastics is much more consistent than any natural material and thus string volumes are much more consistent.

25. Taping Cheat Sheet to Guitar
I'm playing my first party with my band on Saturday night. I'm afraid my mind will freeze up and I'll forget the chords to some of the newer tunes we've added to the set list, so I was thinking of writing them down on a small piece of paper and taping it to the top side of my guitar. Is there any danger of the adhesive in Scotch tape reacting negatively with the glossy finish on my OM-18V?

mblankenship: Use Scotch matte finish magic tape. It works just fine, and is a lot more gentle than the gloss finish transparent tape.
After your gig, wipe the area you taped with a clean, damp rag. Or, you could use a little bit of lighter fluid, followed by just a touch of polish.

Atlasheating: I like a music stand for all of my stuff. I am forgetting more and more key words and phrases, so I am better off with the whole song in front of me.

MartinD GibsonA: If you're going to use tape on your guitar, it needs to be painter's tape. This is the stuff painters use on drywall when they're masking off baseboards. It comes off without leaving ANYthing on the finish. Any good hardware store will have it.

TChristianHD28: Another possibility would be on your monitor. I used to keep the set list, and the lyrics to any recently learned and not-yet-memorized songs, taped to the grill of my wedge.

bassectomy: A good picking buddy of mine has an old Martin that he purchased from a guy who used to play bars and it actually has holes in the side where the guy had stapled-yes, I said stapled, his song list to his guitar!!! That's no lie-the guy even admitted it to my friend and I've seen the little staple holes myself. Sounds to me as if the guy did more than just play at bars.

26. LX1: Opinions for a travel/camping guitar
I am looking at buying one for travel and camping. We usually camp in a travel trailer and I sometimes take my HD28, but it never leaves the inside of the trailer. I was looking for an LX1 that I can take out and sit around the campfire to play and also on vacation sometimes. I played one at a local shop one time. I am not expecting it to sound anywhere near my HD28, but just something to have fun with.
I have only been playing guitar just less than 2 years, so is it going to be a big adjustment going between the 2 guitars?

Lefty00042: Last year I bought an LXBlack for the same purpose. With solid-HPL construction it's even more weather-worthy than the spruce-topped Little Martins.

I love mine as a travel/office/beater guitar. I play it at the lake, at the beach, outside during my lunch breaks at work, etc. The biggest structural difference between Little Martins and Martin's other models is scale length. I think the LX models have a 23" scale length versus 25.5" for long-scale models like your dread' and 24.9" for short-scale models like the 000-28EC, 000-42, and some others.

As a result, the LX models are VERY easy to play. They're not particularly loud guitars, especially compared to long-scale dreadnaught models, but they are well-built, durable, and most important they sound like Martins - I find mine has a strong fundamental tone, very simple and direct, much like a laminated mahogany guitar sounds. It has surprisingly good sustain and, believe it or not, sounds pretty darned good tuned to Open G and played with a slide. But it's definitely made for standard tunings - with the very short scale it is designed to be strung with mediums for optimum tone and volume.

TChristianHD28: The shorter scale's lower tension makes the LXM effortless to play; which I suppose could cause problems going back to the dread if you played the LX too much. As long as your expectations are for a worry free, fund to play, travel guitar, you will be quite pleased.

James Hunter Ross: Its sounds good for what it is, its rugged, and fun, fun, fun. The best money I ever spent, since it lets me keep playing, even in situations where I would never think to bring another guitar.

paulkris: I have had the Felix 2 guitar for a few weeks now. When I first got it I had a little trouble with the neck width but now I've adjusted and really enjoy hauling it around the house or deck and annoying the cats.
It definitely does not have the brightness of the D18GE or the D41 but it sounds purty up and walkin' good for a small guitar.

martinlover: had an LXM once ....really liked the tone and the indestructible nature. But I had a hard time getting used to the shorter scale..and switching back and forth. A standard size dread. like DX-1 works better for me when I'm roughing it.

Chuck40: For your stated purposes, the LX is perfect. I switch back and forth between mine and my D-15 with no problems. In fact, I wish my D-15 played as nice at my LX!
Fun to play, easy to tote, and sounds pretty good for a little laminated box.

csuits: I love the X-Series Martins. I have the LXM, LX1, and DX1R. The latter two have spruce tops so you'll want to avoid exposing these to extreme temperature swings. A spruce top might crack in too hot/cold conditions, but the LXM may handle these conditions better.

Overall, the X-Series make ruggged outdoor guitars.

Laura153: You might want to try the LXM instead. Personally, I find they sound better, even though they are all HPL. Plus, they are totally impervious to temperature & humidity fluctuations. Mine "lives" in my classroom, where the heating system in winter can drive the humidity to sub-Saharan, and the lack of AC regularly has the humidity at 90%+ in the fall and spring. Their gig bag is really great too!

lathem: I will, however, cast my vote for the LXBlack as a fantastic travel guitar. A wee bit more durable than the LX1, and better looking (IMHO) than the other all-HPL Little Martins.

gitpik: When I started buy a guitar for each grandchild I gave the Baby Taylor a good chance but decided on the LXM. Especially liked the way the Taylor was built but guess the Martin sound has me spoiled.

petertheleader: I currently have two (2) LX1's. one I travel with and the other is at me daughters house in California.....I used to try and travel with a traditional D size guitar going back and forth from coast to coast. Lot's of worry about security, damage, etc. I tried an LX1 and.... "case closed". Very good sound with the mediums that it comes strung with, has the Martin sound for sure.

It did take a little getting used to the fret board. In my opinion, the LX1 is a great value for the money and be taken just about anywhere. Also. it's a fun little practice guitar. I'm a big supporter of the LX series and I also think that the Baby Taylor is way over-rated. Go for the any of the LX series guitars and you won't be disappointed. Enough said.

oldacousticplayer: I have an LX1 and love it. It goes with me when I travel, and is also a great guitar to use while sitting at the computer working on tabs from the internet. Before I bought I was able to A/B with the LXM, baby Taylor and Yamaha travel size. Both the LX1 and LXM sound very "Martin". I thought the real wood top added some openness to the sound, and chose the LX1. The baby Taylor sounded like an Esteban with worn out strings. The Yamaha, which was half the price, actually sounded decent. Brian

suewright: I've owned two Baby Taylors (spruce and mahogany tops), an LXM and now the LX1. The LX1 is most satisfying to me. I don't think any of these guitars sound good strung with anything but silk and steels, and tuned up a fret or two. I grab my LX1 all the time - it's so sweet sounding. I think it's even stopped my GAS for a Collings Baby! I've also carried it on planes of all sizes with no problems.

Check out the sound files for the LXM vs. LX1 that Maury has on his website

I found the LXM I owned to sound more muffled and less lively compared to the LX1 and I think Maury's sound files back that up.

27. Do Martin 'Customs' get more attention to detail?
Rod Neep: The custom guitars go through the same normal production line process as the standard models. Just that the specifications change.

jeffnles1: I would answer the question with a maybe. From what I've read here and in conversations with those "in the know" yes, they are made in the same factory by the same employees and on the same line as standard production runs. In that regard, the answer to your question is no, they do not get special treatment.

However, being a custom, the specs sheet will be different. The employee at each station where the guitar is getting something different than normal specs will have to look more closely at the build sheet and do their operation a little differently (different binding, different fretboard inlay, different wood combination, etc.).

This will slow them down a little because it is different than the last X number they have done that operation on. So, yes, there may well be a little more attention to detail not because it is "custom" but because it is different.

The worker in the factory will be doing pretty much the same thing all day and gets into a groove. When something comes along that is different, the groove gets a little off. They will have to pay more attention while they're working on it so as not to mess it up.

[From another thread]
Joe McNamara: I hate to bust in here with the facts, and I'm probably jumping the gun, but the Custom Shop that I hope you'll visit soon is indeed changing. As of a couple of months ago, once a guitar comes out of finish, it goes to a separate line, where the best of the best complete the instruments. Plans are for the entire custom build process to be on this new, dedicated line before the end of the year.

I have probably pulled the wind from the Marketing Department's sails, but I confirmed all of the above during a conversation with VP of Manufacturing, Fred Green, on my birthday, 4/28/06. (Am I correct to assume my birthday present from you was lost in the mail?)

The "oops factor" you refer to will hopefully reduced to nil as the new system comes fully on board, with total accountability and control. Build times should be significantly reduced as well.

I can't reveal production numbers or dollar figures, and while I agree with you that a custom ought to be as problem-free as humanly possible, if I could quote numbers, I think you'd see that the "oops factor" is a tiny part of Martin's custom shop business. Shouldn't be "any", I agree, and we are working towards that goal. This isn’t some marketing BS, it's the truth.

28. It's 110 degrees with no humidity-to play or not to play
I have an upcoming gig outdoors in Scottsdale. It has been 110 degrees with no humidity, and this will continue for a day or two. What are the ramifications of playing outdoors under these conditions? (The party starts at about sundown, but the heat and humidity will still be the same for a few hours.)

mulrich: I think that you'll be a lot more uncomfortable than your guitar. Living in Texas, my guitars experiences very warm temperatures every summer without problems. They've also experienced very low humidity while traveling throughout the west. The only precaution I take is to try and keep the guitar out of direct sunlight for extended periods, particularly if it has a black pickguard (and especially if its in a black case). Also, keep it in a humidified case when not in use. My old D-35 spent a summer in the desert, without A/C, and was none the worse for wear.

jscio: Dampit before. Play. Dampit after.

onoitsmatt: Just take some precautions and it should be fine. I'd also make sure you run the a/c in the car before you put your guitar in it so it's not exposed to the 150 degree heat in there. Also keeping a humidifier in the case and the guitar in the case while not being played is a very good idea. I haven't had too many problems with the conditions here except when I've been overly neglectful of keeping the humidifier full of water for extended periods of time (like a month). And even then it's been a pair of Guilds that suffered the damage (one or two small cracks and a lifted bridge). The Martins have never given me any trouble.

Howard M Emerson: I'd suggest that if George is going to be outside and plugging in, that he put a humidifier sponge inside the guitar and use a soundhole cover while performing.

It won't help the fingerboard, but it'll certainly take care of any concerns about the top possibly splitting. Then just put it in the case in between sets without the cover.

howlin2: I'm no expert but it would seem to me that a properly humidified guitar could safely be out of its case and played out of doors for any number of hours and suffer no ill effect. The wood in a guitar does not gain or lose humidity like a cotton tee shirt dipped in a pail of water then hung to dry. I say play then put back in case with a humidifier and don't worry.

Chirpy72: I have no problem playing outside as long as I stay out of direct sunlight and I properly humidify before and after.

My Martins seem to hold up well to the low humidity levels, but my Taylor really gets dried out quick.

I like to keep a wet sponge in a perforated plastic sandwich bag in the case ( under the headstock ) in addition to a planet waves in hole unit.

grababanjo: I live in Manitoba where it's bone dry all winter - you get static shocks in mid air and most people I know get cracks in their guitars but only because they were stupid and didn't slap down the 15 bucks to buy a dampit

29. Martin killed my D-18A
I have had a D18-A sunburst on order with MFG for 4 months now(was to be here next month) and Martin has just informed Jon that they will not build any more sunburst A’s. Details are sketchy as to why, but that is the final word. Bummer I was really looking forward to that guitar. Just an FYI for you guys gassing for the dark side.

myfavoriteguitars: I was informed by Martin by telephone last Friday that they will NOT be honoring dealers' orders for Sunburst or Amberburst D-18 Authentics (INCLUDING THOSE IN PROCESS) due to the fact that the guitars apparently wouldn't be "Authentic" if they were built in sunburst. In my opinion, Martin SHOULD have honored existing dealer orders for these guitars and THEN decided to stop making them if that's what they wanted to do. If you think my customers aren't happy about this, you can include me among the disgruntled, believe me. I did receive and ship one or two 1935 sunbursts (including Rudy's) prior to Martin's change and I'm sure other dealers did as well. Very strange, indeed.

30. First string change on slothead -- ugh!
Tried three different methods on different strings. None of it was easy or neat. 1) tried wrapping first like I use on the paddlehead and then throught he tuner hole - no go - wraps were not neat; 2) the Martin method [Care and Feeding] -- couldn't get the large strings to bend correctly; 3) finally, just put the string through the tuner hole and turned the tuner - works fine, but had inconsistent wraps and wasn't too neat.

1. Painter's tape is your friend if you want to prevent scratches and nicks around the slots. It's low-tack so there will be no residue when you remove it.

2. To get the "right" amount of slack to wind, do the following. Turn the tuner buttons so that the slot is more or less perpendicular to the headstock. Feed the string end down through the hole and pull the string fairly taut. Grasp the string at the nut and pull back just a bit past the first fret. That's how much slack you'll want. Now crimp a bend into the string where it goes down into the hole, and another at the bottom of the hole where the string comes back out. These will serve to hold the string in place while you wind up the slack. I don't bother wrapping the string around itself or locking it in any way. Just wind it tight and snip off the excess.

3. Re-string from the outside in. I do the 6th, 5th, and 4th stings, followed by the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. This will keep the strings from getting in each others' way while you re-string.

4. While winding, I make the first winding pass on the inside of the hole toward the center of the headstock, and subsequent windings pass on the outside. Cross-over after the first winding. If you've pulled as much slack as I indicated above, you should have enough for about three windings total, one to the inside and two to the outside. Some people like to reverse the windings for the 1st and 6th strings - the initial wrap would be to the outside followed by two more to the inside - in order to keep the string further from the edges of the slots, but I never bother with that.

LittleAnna: I have printed out and keep Frank Ford's instructions with my extra strings. The first page deals with classical bridges, but the rest applies to slotheads.

GrrArghh:Here's a link to Taylor's method for re-stringing.

Slot heads are dealt with on the 3rd page. I used this method on my 000-16sgt this weekend, and it's the easiest/quickest technique I've found so far. It's a lot like the method Herb describes, but with photos.

One suggestion, though. The Taylor pdf shows all 6 strings wound to the "outside". You can see that the 3rd and 4th strings are really pulled over at sharp angles. I like to wind them so that these 2 strings wind to the inside. It looks neater.

ProfStack: I take off the three low string first and replace them as stated above, followed by the three high strings. This really is a great method, and the string is resuable later if you're caught in a pinch and have to use an old string.

grababanjo: With no strings on the guitar - put all the strings in at the bridge first -
Pull said string out along the headstock to about 3 inches past the tuning post and cut it there -
Pre Bend the end of the cut string into a "V" shape with fine pliers approx one inch from the end - put the end in the tuning post and tighten it up - easy as pie.

To remove strings loosen and cut the strings around the nut area use pliers to push the end of the string through the tuner shaft and then pull the whole string out from there. Remove the pins and take the strings out.

3fangers: I agree with what Herb, Lefty said. However, I change mine from the bottom of the slots up- -like 6th & 1st, 5th & 2nd, 3rd & 4th. Remove the strings in reverse order from top down. This way, you are working above a string each way.

The blue painters tape is a great idea, too.

31. Label Removal Anxiety No More
A tip of the hat to Rockradstone (Rick Radcliffe) for his advice on removing the interior label from my D-18GE. Last night I changed the strings on my D-18GE and took Rick's advice to just go ahead and lift a corner of the label and gently peel it off. He said it would come right out no problem because the glue used on these labels isn't really industrial strength super glue or anything. Yup, the Rickmeister was correcto-mundo! After the string removal I stuck my grubby little paw in the sound hole and picked at one of the corners and began to gently and slowely pull it back and that label came out of there like there was nothing holding it. Absolutely no glue residue remained and no wood damage. You couldn't even tell there was ever a label in there.

32. Intelli IMT-500 Tuner
Well, I got mine in the mail from today. I really like this tuner. I didn't realize how small it would be but I sure don't have any problem seeing it.
On my rosewood guitars, it works like a champ but on my Johnson, it seems to have an issue with the low E. I found that you really need to hit the string for it to register correctly. I was hitting it lightly and it would see it as a B but when I attacked the string a little more aggressively it found it ok.

denison329: I really like it so far. Very steady and easy to tune to. Small, light, easy to read.

cpmusic: I got one recently, and my impression is mixed. It works pretty well on some instruments, but it doesn't register well or at all on smaller instruments. When it works, it seems kind of sluggish, and I have to keep plucking the string about twice a second to keep the needle in play. I like it better than the Intellitouch, but not as much as the Korg CA-20, which is faster and works well with all instruments.

flatpicknut: Where you place the tuner on the guitar head can make a difference on the low E. Also, some folks tune the low E by using the harmonic at the 12th fret. Also, soft pluck (without a pick) seems to work best (fewer overtones to complicate matters).

Dadsbones: I agree with cpmusic. My intellitouch is slow. It takes a bit until it registers. I've often wondered if this means the tuner simply neglects those first overtones and the full range of vibration isn't as true as it could be.

Plus the harmonic at the 12th fret for the low "E" is bothersome.

I have a Yamaha that registers instantly, and while I like the idea of the intellitouch I rely more on the Yamaha.

Martin Ping: Check the battery...May need a new one...

Once I got used to my intellitouch it works perfectly on all 6 strings...I use my thumb on the big E...

The IMT -- 500 is a nice tuner but nowhere near as accurate as the intellitouch IMO...

watsonwannabe: I have 2 of the IMT-500's and an Intellitouch with a brand new battery. If I tune with any of the three and put one of the others on to check, I have yet to see the readings change between the tuners. If you are seeing a difference between them, you may have either a battery issue or a calibration issue. Both brands allow you to change you pitch reference (Intellitouch uses different frequency centers, IMT allow you to set a range of sharp or flat).

This does not mean that if you check against a good strobe that you will be absolutely in tune - just that my three tuners all read the same frequencies the same. I actually prefer the IMT-500 - smaller and is lit and had a needle to center instead of the arrows. However, I think either is a good tuner and a better solution in a group setting than any of the mike-based tuners.

whizfish: The best price I've seen for the Intelli IMT-500 is $19.99 plus shipping at They were out of stock for quite a while, but not any more.

33. Black Micarta
I have a D-16GT and fingerboard has a white material comming out of the micarta, what is this, and how to I treat the micarta?, can I use lemon oil?, what is it treated with etc...

Joe TN: I wouldn't think you need to treat micarta with anything. Does the white material wipe off with a damp cloth? Any chance it's something coming from your fingers rather than out of the fingerboard? Salt from sweat, maybe?

EddyMc82: It wipes off to an extent, not totally, its at the higher register of the guitar where I don’t play, its actually in lines, like it is coming out of pores of wood, but there is no wood there so I have no idea, is Micarta even porous?.

moocatdog: There should not be anything coming out of the Micarta and it doesn't need to be treated with oils or such. I would wipe the fingerboard down with a clean, soft cotton cloth, slightly dampened with water. If the foreign substance remained or returned, I'd take the guitar to a Martin authorized service center and get their opinion on how to proceed.

Papamonty: Micarta: Fiber-reinforced plastic consisting of paper or fabric manufactured from cellulose, glass or synthetic fibers and bonded with phenolic or melamine resins at high temperatures.

riley stokes: Micarta is a high-quality plastic with many uses (including custom knife handles and pistol grips, believe it or not). Martin has elected to use the material as an ebony substitute in fingerboards on some of its mid-priced guitars. It looks good, feels good, and won't shrink like rosewood and especially ebony will do (thus exposing jagged fret ends and costing you some money at a repair shop).

But there shouldn't be any whitish gunk, or anything else, coming out of it. Call Martin at 800-633-2060 and ask for Customer Service, and ask them about it. If the white stuff is in an area where you never play, that rules out any reaction from your fingertips. Did you buy the guitar new? Could the white stuff be some kind of polish that the original owner used?

MikeHalloran: I had to have warranty work done on my Cowboy X due to some shrinkage in the micarta fretboard. My Cowboy II, on the other hand has shown no signs of this so it is possible that Martin had a bad batch.

34. What kind of adhesive for pickguard.
I took the PG off my J45 to re-align it properly. What kind of adhesive should I use? I have some Scotch mounting tape it looks like it's about 1mm thick though so I was not sure if it would squeeze down flush. I can't find the tape Frank Ford recommends anywhere local.

matthewrust” Lots of craft stores have double sided sheets. Or you can go HERE to get it from Stew Mac. But the shipping cost kind of makes it a bad deal.,_adhesives/Pickguard_adhesive/Pickguard_Adhesive_Sheet.html

jbbancroft: I use the StewMac products, either the wide double stick tape or the pickguard adhesive for attaching guards, both work well. With the wide double stick tape you have to apply two strips to cover a guard. Jim

cat322: I tried some 3M double sided tape but it's too thick and it won't allow the guard to sit flush. Is the stuff from StewMac thick like that....this stuff is almost like a thin foam.

matthewrust: According to the specs listed, the stuff at StewMac is only .002" thick. I think that's a safe bet.

Bluegrass Baby: A small tip, buy a backup sheet or two! I bought the StewMac stuff and must have had a bad batch, (some missing areas of adhesive).

Also, the pre-formed Greven's backing adhesive, seemed smoother, better quality.

I just used some rubber cement that is safe enough for photographs. I tested an area and it has no effect on the finish. It was easy to reposition till I got it right and now it's solid.
The main reason [I added a bevel] was not for looks but because when I am really strumming away sometimes the pick goes a bit below the guard and then get hung on the edge on the upstroke. I noticed this does not happen on the 0018V with the bevel, which is why I did it. Looks good too.

35. Rattle
My D35 has developed a slight rattle. It sounds as if it is coming from the neck area. Is it possible it could be the truss rod? None of the machine heads are loose. It's odd. The rattle is only noticeable when the guitar is in a horizontal position, not vertical. Any hints?

DM3MD: bring it to someone....probably just needs a truss rod tweak...maybe a bit more relief...

take a look at and the "big buzz index"

however, there are a plethora of things that could be wrong, but probably nothing serious.

johnreid: My D-28 was like that and it actually was one of the nuts on a tuner that was not very loose at all therefore I swore it was not that. It wouldnt hurt to check with a wrench, just dont over tighten,

jbbancroft: If it's not the tuners I'd tighten the truss rod slightly and see if it goes away.

TChristianHD28: Are you able to feel the end of the truss rod through sound hole, to see if anything is completely loose there? My LXM arrived that way.

desaljs:Just to be sure, take the tension off each string. Use a 10mm (?) open wrench and snug up the nut on each tuner. Make sure the screws on the back of the headstock are snug also.

The truss rod end is hard to get at on the Martin's I have. I wound up buying the special tool they sell to make truss rod adjustments. It is a 5 mm hex. If you can find the right tool, get it in there and loosen the rod a touch, then snug it up a bit. Without the special tool, I was not able to do this.

Use a mirror to make sure no loose ball ends inside the box. Then re-string and see what happens. Hopefully that will solve your problem. Good luck!

36. Improving Speed Tips
chukarwalker: Steve Kaurmann uses a relatively thin pick and obviously has no trouble with speed. He also advocates that speed is a "forced" thing, developed by intentionally trying to play at speeds that are a little faster than one's present capacity. I have found that pick thickness, within reasonable parameters, isn't really a major factor. Practice is.

1. practice and technique are most important
2. pick thickness doesn't seem to matter
3. pick shape may have an impact

How important is practicing with a metronome in increasing speed? Kauffman refers to using one on one of the CD song tracks. are they all pretty much the same? what are some good ones?

A good rhythm machine or metronome is very helpful. I've got a drum machine that you can set at different tempos and different time signatures. So when I start noodling around at a song, I start out playin at a nice and easy tempo. As I get more comfortable with the basic melody ,ect., I'll kick it up a notch or two. Then you just keep on playing faster and faster, until you get it as fast as you need it.

66d35: Practice. Much more important than picks.. That said, I find the Clayton's excellent.

thegreypicker: About 45 years ago I met an old German mandolin player. He had amazing speed and the sound just rippled.

He taught me to relax my grip on the pick and take the tension out of both arms. Speed and sound improved almost instantly.

He played with a small teardrop pick - real tortoiseshell, I expect - but I prefer larger, more-rounded ones.

Bryan Kimsey: The pick helps, but really, it's all in the right hand. Within certain parameters, I can play just about as fast with one pick as another. I basically need something between .80 and 1.2 mm with slightly rounded tips.

There were several things that got me over the hill. In no particular order:

1) a well setup guitar! If I'm fighting the guitar, I can't play well. Action around 3/32" low E, 2.5 on the high E, flat neck, nut height set correctly.

2) quit playing memorized breaks and play my own breaks. I found that a lot of my speed problem was trying to remember what I was supposed to play. I'll also change the breaks depending on the speed.

3) lots and lots of "noodling" practice where I just sit around and play- scales, licks, rock 'n roll riffs, fiddle tunes, chord snippets, chromatic runs, whatever pops into my head and fingers. I like to do this while watching TV or reading a book or both. Really helps develop a subconscious feel for the instrument.

4) this may sound stupid, but to play fast, you have to play fast. Slow practice is great for locking in a feel, but at some point, you've got to pick up the pace. I say this a lot, but at speed, a lot of things change and the only way to play fast is to practice fast. Pay attention to what breaks down at speed and work on that.

5) I don't "dig in". I used to, but now I"m a "hit the top of the string" guy. I try to skip the pick over the top of the string. The motion is just like a strum only in a much shorter arc.

37. Your favorite live effects for acoustic
What combination of effects to you find gives you the best sound for accompaniment?

ketchbob: I use some chorus and that's about it. I don't like a lot of stuff. Well, maybe some reverb, if I had it.

Drurylane: When I play my D-45V in church, I just add chorus with a Boss pedal. When I play my 12 string, I run it through my Behringer amp and put in on effects 1, which is a combo chorus, reverb, and delay, and the mic the amp. Sounds like an entire choir of guitars. Anyway, either a simple chorus or reverb pedal will fatten up the sound enough to sound sweet in church. Good luck!!

sammi4259: Less is more. I like a little compression and reverb an thats it.

denison329: What would compression do - besides keeping it from getting too loud? Doesn't it just kind of boost the lower dynamics and restrict the louder dynamics?

Jim Vondracek: Here's another vote for the Boss chorus - its the only effect I use and I only use it sparingly/occasionally/hardly-ever

geeterpicker: I've used a chorus on portions of tunes to get a quasi-12 string effect. I've also experimented with a little bit of slapback delay on rock-a-billy type songs, but rarely use it anymore.

Dadsbones: Touch of compression. I use a rack compressor from dbx

Touch of TC reverb
Touch of TC delay
The TC M300 is a great rack unit. I use the MoneXL

At church each Sunday I have no sound guy. I have a small mixer and rack unit near me.

Guitar straight to the board
Insert the compressor. I run a touch of compression to squash the powerful lows and expand it a bit to average out the highs on my HD28

A bit of mid roll-off on the EQ

Then an aux send to the TC
I run the hall reverb and short delay in serial routing

I take the feed from the TC and bring it back into another channel
I EQ the highs and lows out of this -- meaning I only reverb the mids. It seems to help the clarify the tone in this particular room.

I then wet or dry the acoustic tone by adding more or less of that fader into the mix.

This signal is mixed with vocals, or bongos, or slide, or whatever we're using and sent to a Bose PAS.

It's simple and sounds pretty good.

The best way I can explain compression and expansion is visually. Think of your sound as a little graph. Loud tones show up as spikes, Not so loud tones show up as valleys. These are called waveforms.
You bang a big 'ole "G" Chord. On the graphic representation those bottom strings (5 and 6) show up a bit louder than the mids and highs (4321) But suppose you'd like to hear more balance between low, mid and high frequencies? In other words, you'd like the trebles to be as powerful (loud) as the bass. Well that's the job of the compressor/expander. (yes, many people try to attack this issue with EQ alone -- it's not as effective)

The compressor takes those bass frequencies and limits how much they can spike (how much VU they have)

The Expander takes those lower power mids and trebles and boosts (expands) them in volume.

The end result is that the little visual representation of your sound has lower peaks and higher valleys. It's closer to being flat. Every frequency is closer to the other in terms of overall volume. You hear more notes in that G chord.

sdelsolray: I've used a TC Electronic M2000 for about 4 or 5 years. Excellent stereo FX unit. You can only use two efects at a time, but that's hardly limiting for my uses. Although it has parametric eq (stereo), I use the eq on my preamp instead. Usually I'll just use a stereo reverb (there are hundreds and hundreds of them on the M2000). Sometimes I use reverb/delay, dealy/chorus or reverb/chorus. There's a pitch FX on the unit that is like chorus, but more tweakable. I use that instead of chorus usually. You can save 128 presets, more if you add a memory card. The M2000 is also good enough to use in a studio, with tracking or on mixdown, and provides analog or digital connections to your recording gear.

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