Tuesday, June 20, 2006

UMGF Weekly Summary #6 Jun 19

I thought it was a quiet week, but there's twice as many topics as last week!

Safety is this week's topic of choice; how to safely remove labels and pickguards, install jacks, and how to ship your beloved Martin. Insurance alternatives are also covered.
There's lots of tips for guitar cleaning, and if you don't know if your pins are seated, then you'll want to read "Have YOUR Bridge Pins Been Properly "Seated"??"
For Flatpicking Newbie's, there's some Internet resources, and we conclude with a comparison of the D-18A vs. D-18GE.

1. FWI Bridge Pins?
2. Adirondack Tops
3. When did Martin introduce M&T neck joints?
4. Fret Wear ( B STRING )
5. How to remove D-18GE label?
6. Will Martin do changes to Signature models?
7. 000-15S How long have they been around?
8. Question about a D-21
9. Does anyone insure his/her guitars?
10. Martin factory service.
11. Martin Books
12. 1980s Herringbone D-18?
13. MC-37K
14. Will a short scale help tendonitis?
15. Martin to treat 'pickguard on the side' as custom order
16. Removing pickguard from ambertone finish - considerations?
17. Recommendations on custom pickguards
18. Dealers & Freq. Shippers - how do you ship?
19. D-16A questions...
20. One more cure for the 'Dreaded Forearm Smudge'
21. 60's v's 70's Martin's
22. How to keep a new Martin finish spic & span?
23. OMJM?
24. Can You Stop a Finish Crack?
25. Compensated Saddles, ALWAYS a worthy upgrade?
26. Does it make sense to change the saddle?
27. Who has installed Waverly's on their Martin dread??
28. Did Martin J40's always come with bone nuts?
29. Strap button coming off
30. Have YOUR Bridge Pins Been Properly "Seated"??
31. Slab sawn vs quarter sawn vs etc
32. Intelli IMT-500 Tuner (redux)
33. Koa woods
34. Do I need a neck reset?
35. B string driving me nuts
36. String height?
37. Long-Term Storage: '65 D-28
38. T.J. Thompson
39. How can you tell genuine tortoise shell picks?
40. Great New Jim Dunlop Picks
41. To Drill or Not to Drill a jack
42. Any Tips on Recording a Choir?
43. Flatpicking Newbie: Internet resources?
44. Another D-18A vs. D-18GE review

Previous issues are archived at umgf.blogspot.com/

Did I miss anything? Email me any interesting items you think should be included in the next report.

1. FWI Bridge Pins?
Currently I have the factory plastic bridge pins on my HD28 & OM28V. I tried bone pins on both a couple times and find I prefer the original plastic. what tonal differences could I expect from
FWI pins?

rocknrollrjm: FWI had more overtones, more sustain, and slightly thinner high frequencies when I compared it to bone. This was on an OM with IR/Ad and bone nut/saddle I would also say that the bass was fuller with the FWI.

Bryan Kimsey: I've found bone to be very close to FWI, so if you didn't like bone, I don't think you'll like FWI. Stick to plastic.

Just MHO, but I would slot the bridge and turn the pins around backwards, or use some of Stew Mac's slotless ivoroid pins.

talon5550: I personally didn't care for the sound of FWI pins on my VS. Plastic pins aren't all that bad sounding, compared to all that I've tried.

I currently have converted to FWJawbone, however. I prefer these to ebony, bone, and FWI. I do, BTW, hear differences in each material, and still am not opposed to the tonal qualities of stock plastic pins.

2005 HD28: I swapped out the stock plastic pins for a set of FWI (tortoise inlay, from maury). Reamed the holes just a bit for proper seating, and BAM: tone so clear and strong it's downright beautiful.
i did a little test, recording 3-4 minutes (korg D1200MKII, sm57) of the HD28 with the plastic pins, then doubling over that track with the FWI pins installed.
And when I go back and forth between the them, the FWI is more true/transparent sounding. you can hear the top vibrating more, it has better defined high end, tighter bass and more throaty mids.
I'd recommend them to anyone thinking about switching out.

Waverly's should be here tomorrow for her. I'm interested to see how they affect the tone. i know they'll look sweet!!

johnreid: My D-28 sounded like a banjo with FWI pins, it works best with plastic. I am still wondering if this is a guitar to guitar thing. What works for one, might not work with the next. Its fun to experiment, I play with a pick and wonder if that has something to do with it too. Fingerstyle might work better with a different material. I dont think the Waverlys will change the tone, but they sure are nice to look at and do tune better, I guess being in tune better affects tone though.

My D-18wannabe kit sounds great with Ebony, as did the 000-16SGT I used to own. I have heard some HD-28s that sounded different with bone etc, I wonder of the scalloped braces have something to do with it on them? I still think it might be on an individual basis. I guess I am lucky, plastic is a lot cheaper to buy too

Martin Ping: I think it's just a personal thing...I have FWI on all my guitars and it's always great...I like the snappier tone, especially on RW...

2. Adirondack Tops
Do Adi topped guitars take longer to open up compared to Sitka? It seems like my OM-28 Marquis is still not completely open. I have only had it for a week, but with my previous Sitka guitars, thats all it took. Has anyone else experienced this?

66d35: They do seem to take a while, and a fair bit of regular, hard playing. Judging new ones is not easy, they change so much later.

twelvefret: Someone gave me the analogy of bending a stick as a representation of how an instrument over time begins to flex more. The more that stick is bent the more flexible it becomes. In the case of my two red spruce instruments the grain is so tight that I suspect that it will take several years to see a difference.

I also think that the bracing is going to predict how much flexing will eventually be able to take place.

rj623: My OM-18V, w/ a sitka top, took 2 years of daily playing to really open up. (To my ears anyway)

jiml2: I know it has been mentioned before, but ...
I have a Santa Cruz OM with a Sitka top -- very light and resonant. One day, while comparing it to my other instruments I noticed something about my playing style -- my forearm was resting on the top of the guitar, muting the volume and tone. When I picked it up, the OM really sounded great. That smaller top can be easily deadened by poor playing posture.

That's one of the reasons classical guitarist have such a strict posture. Not only does it help the player with "proper" technique, the instrument is free to vibrate like it was designed to do.

My point is, there are a lot of factors that go into a guitars overall sound. Certainly, guitars do open up, but some of the changes we hear are more than likely changes in our playing style, different rooms, furniture reflecting sound, humidity and just perceived differences --oftentimes, we "hear" things we want to hear.

MikeHalloran: Also, never underestimate thae damping power of our bellies against the backs of our guitars. For some of us, it can be a real bass killer (still not enough motivation for me to lose those 40 pounds, though).

Anyway, on the subject of opening up: Nitrocelulose lacquer will lose most of its mass over the years, especially in the first two. This accounts for part of the opening up process. As the lacquer thins, the top and back will resonate more freely.

Fiddle makers use the speaker trick and swear by it.

3. When did Martin introduce M&T neck joints?
Anybody know?? And, will all 16's before that have a dovetail?

Fstpicker: The D-1's came out in 1993 with the M&T neck joint.

tonguy: The D-16T came out in 1996. 16's prior to that had dovetail

4. Fret Wear ( B STRING )
All my guitars suffer from wear on the 1st fret under the B sting.. Would using a wound B string prevent this, I use light gauge
stings but I'm a little concerned how quickly the sting has worn the fret.

Am I pressing to hard on the string's?

I have only had my D45 a few month's, bought new in Nov.05
OK, I play it most day's for at least an hour or two.

Fstpicker: My local luthier told me that having to replace the frets is like having to replace the tires on your car. Eventually they will have to be replaced if you use them, so go ahead and play to your heart's content and get it re-fretted when the time comes.

MikeHalloran: Plain strings wear frets faster than wound strings. Wound strings wear nuts faster than plain. Coated strings significantly reduce nut wear but I don't know anything that reduces fret wear except harder frets -- and those have drawbacks, too.

gtrjames: I believe it's mainly due to the fact that the second fret , B string, gets the most pressure applied to it in everyday playing.The keys of G , D and A all press on that particular fret either in front of or behind it. The rest of the frets get more rest.

ScotsDave: Next time you change strings, get yourself a fret shield from Stewmac and give the fret a rub with extra fine steel wool - polishes the fret and removes what looks like wear. Apart from that, you are playing and enjoying your guitar for a couple of hours a day - be proud of that and enjoy the guitar...

5. How to remove D-18GE label?
Perhaps a stupid question, but I hate the inside label and would like to safely remove it. Any successful experience out there? Hints on how it can be removed would be appreciated? I don't suppose it would void my warranty, would it?

fleiger: Remove all strings, stick your hand inside the guitar, gently lift up any corner of the label and s-l-o-w-l-y pull the label away from the wood. The glue holding it in is not super glue or anything close. The label will peel right off. You can even keep it and put it back in later if you decide you want to. I was reluctant to do this with my D-18GE but after I did I couldn't believe I had put it off for so long for fear of damaging the interior wood or leaving little pieces of label that would have to be scraped off with a knife of something. No way will that happen.

benguin: You don't even need to wait until your next string change... I actually removed the label in my guitar yesterday. Loosened the top 3 strings and slowly pulled at one corner. Came off in 20 seconds, label unharmed (the corner is a bit folded, but not even torn) and wood unscathed.

slottedhead: If for some reason there is any gummy residue left on the wood, try Zippo Lighter fluid. No I am not joking. I learned this trick from a vetern guitar store owner. When used gear would come in, I would clean it up this way. It can get that Dead Kennedy's sticker off the surface of a strat without touching the finish, or remove 30 year old masking tape from the inside of a dread without staining the raw wood. Amazing stuff. Just don't light it. [No problem using it inside the guitar, It quickly evaporates and no lingering odor either.]

twelvefret: Just a word of caution. If I was in the market for your guitar and it did not have the label attached, I would be wondeing why. I initally rejected to buy my D-18 because the dealer had lost the original case. Changing pickguards, even the ugly ones, deminish the originality and effect my buying decisions.

Other's have suggested to retain the label in the case.

lathem: While naphtha is great for getting stuff off finished guitar surfaces, I wouldn't personally use it on the unfinished interior of a guitar. You said you've used it on guitar interiors before--didn't it take a while to get rid of the smell?

Bryan Kimsey: I've removed 1/2 dozen labels and only 2 of them came out clean. The others came out in little pieces. Don't count on being able to reuse it.

cat322: I removed a label that was stuck as stuck could get. I peeled what I could and then wet my finger and rubbed the rest untill it was gone. It took a while but I did not have to scrape. You can't tell it was ever there.

6. Will Martin do changes to Signature models?
I am interested in one of the new signature models that were recently announced. Does anyone know if Martin will do any changes or custom options on their limited edition signature models.

Raider60: In a word, NO! One year from the date the guitar was issued, you can duplicate it, or do whatever you want to it, but there will be no signature. It will be called a Custom.

ccliff: I am pretty sure that Martin will not duplicate the inlay designs of a Signature model. In other words, you could not order a custom guitar with the planet inlays found on the Eric Johnson model.

way2paranoid: I have a DVM (Veterans Edition) which is a special edition. I had called Martin to ask if I could add the Vietnam Campaign ribbon next to the National Defense ribbon. They told me that they would not make any changes at all to the guitar. I couldn't even order it as a custom. This may be something that has to do with Congress approval or something, I don't know, but I suspect the limited and special editions are what they are and will be nothing else.

7. 000-15S How long have they been around?
Anyone know when Martin introduced the 000-15S? Mine made in 2000 is a bit of an oddball. It has a factory gloss nitro finish, and has no rosewood headstock overlay and has the old style decal instead of the gold foil. Its a great little guitar that has just kept getting better....just wondering if anyone had additional info on factory gloss models like mine.

telepbrman: There is an old press release on Harmony Central from Sept of 98' about three new Martins, 00-15, 000-15, and DC-15E, if that helps any.

Mac Carter: The 000-15S was announced at the January 2000 NAMM and is mentioned, but not pictured, as a new model in the February 2000 Sounding Board.

RED51: I special ordered mine the first week it was introduced back in Jan 2000, serial # 764xxx. It is full gloss as well, with the old style logo and mahogany neck. You might find it interesting that the first few made had Waverly tuners. I still remember seeing a picture of one with the Waverlys and being a bit upset when mine came without. Love this guitar anyway!!

Another silly fact. Initially Martin did not have the correct size cases for the 000-15S....they were too tight. After 6 months or so Martin notified me that got in the right cases and I exchange mine

8. Question about a D-21
I stopped into my local used music store to get some strings on Friday. They had just gotten in a D-21 and I was unaware of this model.

steviedeeny: They were produced for a brief time in the '50 and '60s (about 3000 made between 1955 -1969) as a sort of low-end version of a D-28. Yes, they are Brazilian b/s, with sitka tops, with rosewood fingerboards and bridges. Price depends totally upon condition and age, as with any vintage axe. I recently saw a very nice '56 for about $4500, if that helps. They are very cool guitars, IMO, and obviously a bargain compared to '28s of similar vintage.

D35s: The D-21 was created to bridge a perceived gap between the D-18 and the D-28, but it never really caught on. It didn't have the cache of the D-28, but sound-wise they're right up there. You don't see too many of them, so if you can swing it, you might want to go for it.

gtrjames: Jim Croce had one, and recorded a lot of his songs with it...they're great.

Todd Stuart Phillips: Style 21 is the oldest existing "style" at Martin. It is also the only Style continually available from the era of C.F. Martin Sr. and the American Civil War to the present day. But it was at first left behind when they went to 14 fret guitars. It was only available in the "Standard" 12 fret models until 1937, when they introduced the 14 fret 000-21. That was the only 21 in 14 frets until the introduction of the D-21 in 1955.

The D-21 originally cost $200 as compared to the D-28 at $250. It was primarily a way for them to use all this rosewood they had that did not meet with Fred Martin's extremely conservative views on boring grain patterns. As such, D-21s often have some very cool and arresting backs and sides. Some just have anomalies in the grain or tilt off to the edges. But some are as wild as the stuff often seen today, but rare for a Martin from that era.

The rosewood bridge certainly has something to do with why they sound different from the 28s, the rosewood fingerboard likely contributes as well. They do tend to have a lighter, more open and airy quality to them. As I like to say, 21s have a sunny disposition.

I have heard it from two different men of supposedly authority, with the gray beards and guitar shops to prove it, that the rosewood on the D-21 was shaved thinner than the other rosewood dreads as a means of mimicking the less-dense quality of mahogany. People inside Martin laugh at such a suggestion, however, as being complete horse feathers.

MikeHalloran: I have seen a few D-21-45s. These were D-21s with the bling added by Martin. Anyone know how many were "officially" converted? I remember playing one at NAMM in the late 1990s

A lot of D-21s were converted by private luthiers as well. Mike Longworth was well known for doing this before he was hired by Martin to revive the D-45 and create the D-41.

An unconverted D-21 may become the second rarest Martin dred out there if this keeps up. The rarest, of course, is the pre-war D-42 of which only one was made and it's a lefty. The D-21 is probably the third rarest after the PW D-45. (Now let us open our Longworth bibles to the back and see if my guess is right)

BTW, the 00-21G is the rarest Martin gut string model. Only four were made (I am not counting private models such as the 00-44G).

MikeHalloran: Quote: that the rosewood on the D-21 was shaved thinner than the other rosewood dreads as a means of mimicking the less-dense quality of mahogany.

The 00-28G gut stringed guitars have thinner rosewood than their steel stringed counterparts so we know that Martin thinned the wood for some guitars. Hmmm... If I had one of each (D-21/D-2 , I am sure that I could rig up a way to measure the difference without taking it apart.

I have already figured it out using a dial micrometer (MOOG sells one that attaches to Vise-Grip pliers for measuring ball joints) and a drill press. Now if I just had the guitars...

Arnoldgtr: I rebuilt a D-21 that had been severely modified. My rebuild included a new red spruce top with scalloped forward-X braces and a new 1 3/4" neck.
When I had the guitar apart, I did not notice that the rosewood was any thinner than a D-28.

9. Does anyone insure his/her guitars?
I'm wondering how common it is among guitar owners, especially those of you who have several high-end guitars, to add a special rider to your home owners policy? How expensive is it to add such coverage? Is this the best route to take?

LesM: Check your home policy. Mine covers each guitar up to $5000 each with a total coverage of $25000. I have a special rider to cover my "holy grail" which is worth more than $5000.

But if you are a "professional" (for any money whatsoever), your home policy doesn't cover them and you need "special" insurance. There is a company out of Pa, Clarion that offers that kind of insurance. Hope this helps.

ronsongz: Heritage Insurance
Ellis Hershman www.musicins.com

Good company who really understand our guitars.

1. The correct term for the coverage is Personal Articles Floater (PAF), Scheduled Musical Instruments. This is an optional endorsement to the Homeowners policy and ridiculously inexpensive to add. You can also add other scheduled items such as jewelry, furs, golf clubs, etc.

2. While some HO policies may include some automatic coverage, the PAF is generally broader and without a deductible. Homeowners policy deductibles are getting higher and higher, sometimes exceeding the cost of a typical guitar.

3. One downside to the scheduled PAF approach: Coverage is usually Actual Cash Value (replacement cost less depreciation) so settlements can be tricky. If anyone tells you they're straightforward, they're wrong. Best to insure for full replacement cost, even if the amount seems high. Your odds of a favorable settlement are much higher. Adjusters reading this may disagree but an awful lot of claims get settled for fair market value anyway.

4. As Les said, if you play for money, all bets are off, and you need a specialty property policy for paid professionals. We direct people to Clarion or Heritage.

(Techie exception note: If you are fortunate enough to have a Homeowners policy that uses the newer Homeowners 2000 Form, you get a $2,000 exception to this - your gigging is not considered a business unless you make that much. PLUS, you can add Replacement Cost coverage for the first time, eliminating the worry about depreciation. Ask your agent and get it in writing.)

I still think one of the bigger nightmares involves gigging musicians not carrying commercial liability insurance. Think Rhode Island Station Nightclub fire. I sell this stuff for a living and it's not readily available at affordable prices, although some sources do market it on the internet through musician organizations.

ronsongz: Heritage charged me a flat $ 250.00 for up to $ 25,000 worth of guitars at agreed value. The difference in their policy is it is at an agreed value (like a marine policy).
I asked for $ 4,500 coverage on my '67 D-28, and they said no, that's too low. We will list it at $ 5,000. If I have a claim, they will send me a check for 5K. No questions asked. No depreciation, etc. If you have a guitar you treasure, you had better check this out, because the horror stories involving home owner's policies are frequent and depressing.

ihearok: Heritage here too. $250 for $25K of coverage. They know guitars and are very easy to work with. The only thing they don't cover is if you leave you instrument in an unlocked car and its stolen. There must be forced entry into the vehicle. Well worth it IMHO.

MartinOMGuy: I also insure with Heritage. My policy is actually written by The St. Paul insurance company. FWIW, I asked Nationwide for a quote and it was identical to Heritage. I suspect they just call St. Paul as well. I have my auto, home, etc. with Nationwide and was curious.

fattdad: Just a minor contribution: The PAF covers peril that is not covered by a typical homeowner's insurance policy. If I have my guitar at somebody's backyard picnic and it gets stomped on, my homeowner's policy coverage would not cover that peril. My PAF would. Owing to the fact that I have a PAF for several (most) of my instruments, when I ship them via USPS or UPS, etc. I am not compelled to use shipping insurance - they're already covered for this too! (This came up last week when I sent out a mandolin to a luthier for some tune-up work.)

10. Martin factory service.
I'm shocked to see on the Technical Forum that Martin factory warranty service would keep a customers new guitar in the shop for several months to address a finish problem before returning it. Can you imagine that happening on a new car or refrigerator?

Lefty00042: Martin's internal repair department is quite small, which is why they refer most work to authorized warranty repair personnel.

pickaguitar: I'm not a luthier however I believe nitro finish can take up to 2-4 weeks just to cure. Maybe someone more experienced/qualified can chime in...

JazzyO: Actually, that is 8 days. My D-42 Custom had spent 4 days of its designated 8 in the acclimatised room so Martin was reluctant to let it go, but they eventually agreed to release it into Maury's care because I had a plane to catch.

Threadbare Cat: It takes about 6 weeks to finish a guitar in with non-catalyzed lacquer.

BobAtlGa: I called Martin and they said that was not an option on finish repairs. It must be sent to them according to "Mike" in Customer Service. Yes, there are many repair centers that do most of the other work, but not re-finishing the nitro.

cshlittle: I think normal martin service repairs go smoothly and I've been impressed with my warranty repair work (crack in the bridge). I think where the situation got complex was with the bad batch of lacquer -- that's just a non-trivial situation. I've only ever dealt with the local authorized Martin luthier and that experience was AMAZINGLY GOOD. A high-water mark in my experience with any product purchase at any price.

From what I've read in this thread, lacquer work takes awhile and it probably has to be fitted into regular production runs, too -- I doubt they have a separate curing spot for the service department, etc., etc.

Peter Cree: Finish repairs are one of the hardest and problematic repairs a person can tackle. I do it for part of my living and nitro can be the biggest pain in the butt.................especially on rosewood.

Sometimes all the chemistry is right and repairs are fast and trouble free. Other times a full repair takes months on a small spot that won't accept the lacquer well.

When I respond to my clients too much, not enough repair work gets done. And lacquer is a real bitch when it gets problematic.

In fact I was thinking yesterday that Martin has chosen to stay with lacquer when other companies have switched to UV poly. They keep that headache for the sake of the sound quality. And they pay for it with these repairs.

I've got MartinPings OM Marquis in that should have taken two weks and its been months due to a tiny spot that doesn't want to keep its lacquer on. One can work for hours on a spot and then watch all the work go down the tubes in the final stage of polishing. and you guys think waiting is frustrating.

11. Martin Books
I've enjoyed "Martin Guitars" by Washburn and Johnston - any other recommendations?

Lefty00042: Dick Boak's "Martin Guitar Masterpieces" was excellent and if you're a Martin history weenie, Philip Gura's "C.F. Martin & His Guitars" is an incredible slice of mid-19th Century Martin lore.

Todd Stuart Phillips: I was reading The Martin Book by Walter Carter this morning on the subway. It is concise, with nowhere near the information those other books have. But it is a good overview. The real plus to that book are the photos, which show many models in their back, side, front view. It has some centerfolds even, filled with serious guitar porn. They also have some fact tables in the back covering things the other books do not have, like the chronology of sizes and a short but complete list of every known model they ever made up to the time the book was published, each with some tell tale physical characteristics listed.

12. 1980s Herringbone D-18?
I recently saw a nice looking guitar for sale online that was listed as a 1987 Herringbone D-18. Would it have been a custom order? I've never seen one before.

66d35: HD-18LE guitar of the month, October 1987. Only 51 made.

egordon99: There is also the D16H, made in 1992 and 1993 (might be more years, but these are the years I'm certain of)

Herringbone rosette and backstrip, tortoiseshell body binding, mahogany B&S (just like a D-1 , rosewood fingerboard/bridge (just like a D-1 , but it has the forward-shifted scalloped bracing (like a D-18V I believe).

EhLEFTtb: An Elliot Easton signature model D-18 with herringbone trim is coming out soon. You may want to wait to see what it has to offer you before you buy.

13. MC-37K
Anybody have any experience playing an MC-37 koa model?

Todd Stuart Phillips: My Longworth says 9 were made in 81, 9 in 82 and 1 in 86.

But it is an old copy and the tables only go til 1987. I do not know therefore if they made any others after that, but likely not.

As an update, apparently they made 35 others between 1988-93. But many or all of those may have the modern cutaway, which does not go down as far and has a round soundhole.

gtrdoc: My wife owned one when we met. We play mostly bluegrass now and it was sitting. It sold about a month ago.

I re-set the neck and re-fretted it. It had a huge voice that rivaled our "Ds". There wasn't much flame in the Koa, but it was still easy on the eyes. Not your "run of the mill Martin" that's for sure!

14. Will a short scale help tendonitis?
I recently developed some mild tendonitis between my knuckle and wrist on the top of my hand. I currently own a regular scale Larivee and I believe my injury was a result of some of the strength-building exercises I was doing to gain better fretting control of my little finger.

The tendonitis is in remission, but I was wondering whether switching to a short scale might help keep it from coming back.

desaljs: It might help a little. The thing to do is let your hand/wrist and forearm recover first. I have read some posts about using exercises and "devices" to help build up hand strength. Those posts all reported problems from that approach. As you have found out, it is not right for you.

The only way I know to build up the strength in your hand and arm is to play regularly. Do it in steps, and slowly build up the stamina. There is no other way I know of.

I am a short scale fan, and do find them a little easier to play. For me, it is more about reach between the frets, than the pressure needed to fret the strings. So, a short scale might not be the ticket for you.

Good luck recovering from this. Rest, and some anti-inflammatory meds should be the answer. Then, when your symptoms resolve, you can get back to playing.

bobdcat: Go easy on the anti-inflammatories. While useful for reducing pain and swelling, they carry the potential for serious side effects, the fact that some are available over the counter notwithstanding. Check with your doctor first before starting any prolonged use of those drugs.

tonguy: Rest and proper posture did more for me than altering the scale length. You also might consider a lighter string gauge, which also reduces the string tension you feel at a far lower cost than the price of a new short-scale guitar.

That being said, you might have discovered a bona-fide medical justification for a short-scale guitar purchase...

SleepingRust: Splurge for the best setup you can find. That will make any guitar easier to play.

15. Martin to treat 'pickguard on the side' as custom order
I have been told that I received one of the last Amberburst (000-18GE, in this case) with the pickguard uninstalled. Apparently, if you wish to have this from now on, it will be a 4% premium, and considered a custom order, complete with 6 to 8 month wait!!

Threadbare Cat; Back in 2004 I asked Martin to include the pick guard on the side for a custom, and they refused to, saying that they didn't want any liability should I install the pick guard poorly. They said I would have to take the guitar to a certified Martin repair shop to get a pick guard installed after the fact. Since then I have heard of folks that could get the pick guard on the side, and now you tell us that Martin has imposed a 4% extra charge for one on the side. Sheeeeze... Make up your minds, Martin! And besides, most of the pick guards that Martin supplies are just plain fugly!

16. Removing pickguard from ambertone finish - considerations?
I just picked up a 00-18V ambertone and I really don't like the look of the pickguard. Plus, I play exclusively fingerstyle and don't have much need for it. I've removed pickguards before and feel comfortable doing it. My question is, any greater or lesser chance of a shadow or other visible reminder of a previous pickguard given that the finish is sunburst?? Any other considerations in light of this particular finish?

pongpickin: I have an OM-28 Marquis amberburst from which I removed the ugly stock pickguard. To my eyes it looked almost purple against the burst. Yuck!

Anyway, I would have liked to leave the top naked, and there was no discernible shadow (the guitar was brand new, however). But the original pickguard had left an indentation in the finish, and the finish was sort of ripply underneath the guard. You had to look pretty closely to notice, but it bothered me. I made a Greven 50's guard for it, and now I'm happy.

sykofiddle: When you cut a Greven from a piece of tortis how do you get the nice beveled edges that their precut guards come with? Light guage sandpaper? I would think that would leave marks??

pongpickin: Yes, I used sandpaper, and while the edges beveled easily this way, I spent a lot of hours and elbow grease polishing out the scratches. I have since seen Frank Ford's (I think) recommendation that you use a razor blade to bevel the edges, and then super-fine sandpaper to smooth it out, then the scratch-x or polishing compound. This seems more sensible.

17. Recommendations on custom pickguards
I've placed an order for a custom D-41 Special. I'd like to find a company that makes custom pickguards. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations on where I could procure one. I want to order one with the MOP vintage inlays that I've seen on other 40's series guitars.

rsdean: Try John Greven for the MOP inlayed guards.

18. Dealers & Freq. Shippers - how do you ship?
To help with the flow of information, maybe dealers and frequent shippers could describe...

- what shipping carriers they use;
- if there is a preference for one carrier, why;
- how fast they ship (overnight, 2-day, ground, etc.)
- do they insure, and how;
- any other advice or tips.

MauryOM28V: Maury's Music uses UPS because we've found them to be more reliable than USPS, we can insure the guitar for complete and proper value, and with UPS's software our customers are automatically notified with the tracking details. We ship ground unless the customer chooses a faster method, but since almost all orders ship the same day, very few customers require the 3-day or 2-day upgrades. We do insure everything through UPS.

We pack our guitars with commercial grade inflatable foam inserts that mold around guitar's case to securely hug the cargo in a custom-fit "glove". We use Martin's heavy-grade shipping boxes, and we place shock-watch labels on the outside to deter rough handling. We also take a snapshot of the guitar right before it gets boxed up, and in the event that any damage would occur in shipment we would immediately revert to the way the guitar looked when it left. The only advice we have regarding when to ship, is that we follow Martin's lead. If the weather is too hot or cold for them to ship, we halt our shipments too.

Bryan Kimsey: For the past 6 years, I've shipped over 100 guitars/year. That's over 200 transactions/year (arrival and departure). I use 98% UPS for no other good reason than they deliver and pickup to/from my remote rural location. Fed Ex comes in, but I can't make arrangements with them for outgoing and since they transfer packages once a day via van-to-van meetings, any package I would give them is going to stay with them until the next day. I could drive to town (35 miles) and get faster Fed Ex, but I'd have to sit around at the hospital waiting from them to show up. Hassle. UPS comes to my house every Monday afternoon on their way back to the depot. The other carrier I've used is USPS and they have worked great for the limited packages I've shipped. I like USPS for electric guitars and mandolins, and have used registered mail for certain customers. No problems there.

With UPS, 80% is via Ground, 15% via 3-day Select, and the remainder via 2nd Day Air. Prices are usually $30, $65, $100 respectively, so Ground obviously saves $$$ and since Ground gets pretty much anywhere in the country by Fri, I rarely see the need for 3-Day Select which will arrive Thurs.

I carry insurance with Heritage and I also insure packages with UPS. I've had 2 damage claims with UPS (out of 600+ packages), one of which they paid, the other they did not. The first was a broken neck on a Proulx guitar which they paid $500 and we replaced the neck. The second was a damaged Martin case with a D1 inside. The spear missed the guitar but punched a 1" hole in the case. The case was only $50 to replace so I didn't battle UPS for it. My Heritage deductible is $500 so I just pretty much keep $500 ready to cover any major damage loss. After the case damage, I also insure every outgoing package for $1000- this way, the UPS driver has to sign that they rec'd the box in good shipping condition.

I pack in Martin, Guild, Gibson boxes with styrofoam peanuts. Guitars inside are packed with lots of neck and headstock support. After the case incident, I've been using extra sheets of cardboard between the guitar body and box. On an OS1 box you're billed for 30 lbs weight and most packed guitar boxes will go 24-25 lbs, so I figure I've got an extra 5 lbs to play with and the extra cardboard doesn't really cost anything. I have even been thinking about using 1/8" fiberboard inside the box. Most of the time, though, peanuts are fine- the provide good bounce absorbtion and insulation. I always work some under the butt of the case and usually pad the top with either thick bubble wrap or a foam padding.

If you can't find free guitar boxes, you can buy them from www.uline.com Their boxes are OS1 and have a little less depth but a little more top/bottom room.

19. D-16A questions...
I bought a D-16A new in '89 (Sitka top, ash sides and back, high gloss NC). Have any of you folks heard of this particular model? And is there a reason ash is so rarely
used in acoustics?

tonguy: Aside from its ash back/sides, there are two other features that make it special - it is an early 16, which means it has a dovetail neck joint, and it has forward-shifted scalloped bracing. These were made as trade show special models back in 1986 in a few tonewoods - I believe there may also have been a koa and walnut model along with the original mahogany. Ash doesn't rise too high on anyone's common tonewood list, but the D-16A offers a nice crisp voice and plenty of volume. Enjoy yours, and let me know if you ever think about selling it.

20. One more cure for the 'Dreaded Forearm Smudge'
musicguy123: Can't find the previous thread on this, but I use a clear guard called "guitar guard" (go figure), and it isn't glued to the top, but held there statically. I use them for pickguard, cut them to fit, depending on the guitar, some are smaller than others. I also fit one right where my forearm rests on the guitar. I don't know how anal this makes me!!
They are transparent, easy to clean and take off.

21. 60's v's 70's Martin's
I know there are always exceptions, but we're sure its the 70's that quality suffered?
I had a 66 D-18 that sounded as though someone poured tar in the body. I had a 69 D-28 that was a little better but not by much. I did everything I could think of to try to improve the sound but had little success. I now have a 66 D-35 which I must say, sounds pretty good. I now also have a 76 D-76, which is probably the best sounding Martin I have ever had or have. This guitar is incredible and just plain blows me away.

grababanjo: I think legend has it that 1 out of every 4 Martins made in the 70's had improperly placed bridges creating a tirade of poor intonation. This coupled with the enormous demand and output from Martin in that era paved the way for quality control issues. Martin also shied away from specs they used on 50's and 60's Martins for some reason - so black pickguards were all the rage later on!

tpbiii: The primary change that effected sound occurred in 1969 when Martin switched from small maple bridge plates to large rosewood bridgeplates. That changed the very basis for good sound because the large bridge plates damp vibrations.

jscio: In the same vein, I've played D28's from the 30's through to the present. Some of the well played 28's from the 70's sounded every bit as good as their brothers from earlier or later eras.

matthewrust: I've played a great many 60s and 70s D28s that sounded like butt. But I don't blame it on the year that the guitar was built. I blame it on the fact that most of those guitars are way overdue for a neck reset or have shaved bridges, very low saddles, or old strings in general.

gtrjames: My '69 D-21 (with large bridgeplate) sounds better to me than my '65 D-28 which has the smaller plate....I've heard some great '70's Martins...the main thing is the set-up...a guitar with poor intonation isn't gonna please anyones ear.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: Was there a binding problem in the 60's?

Martin changed to Boltaron (PVC) binding in the mid-1960's. Boltaron seems to be more difficult to glue than celluloid, evidenced by the number of Boltaron Martins I have seen with loose binding. This is particularly true with the rosewood bodies. And the neck binding is almost invariably loose on the older 35's, 41's, and 45's.
I have reglued so much Boltaron binding on bodies and necks that I have no desire to own a Martin with that stuff on it.

jbbancroft: The only production problem, that I see, from the 70's era is the occational misplaced bridge, causing intonation problems. Otherwise 1970's Martins are built as well as any other era Martin. There were dogs, if you want to call them that (soundwise that is), from every era.

MikeHalloran: ...the black pickguards and the boltaron (sp?) bindings were introduced because these new plastics didn't shrink with age -- which, of course, they did anyway.

22. How to keep a new Martin finish spic & span?
I have a brand new Martin Sting Mini that I want to keep in great condition. Where can I go to learn how to take care of the finish?

HD28HLA: You can start by reading the "Care and Feeding of your Martin Guitar" that should have come with your guitar. If it didn't I believe it's available online from Martin's website.

Generally, all you'll need to do is hit it with a soft, damp cloth followed by a soft dry cloth. If you have a tough smudge that won't respond to the damp cloth, then try some naptha(Ronsonol). It is kind to nitro finishes and cleans them up well but be sure to follow it with the damp/dry cloth treatment. There are some excellent cleaning and polishing products out there but use the smallest amount that gets the job done. I prefer the Virtuoso cleaner and polish system but there are others that do well also.

Just remember to avoid anything with silicone or lemon oil.

twelvefret: Personally, I have never used anything except a clean cotton cloth. Some use a damp cloth. Never use anything that is not intended for your guitar.

Todd Stuart Phillips: You should take naphtha (lighter fluid) and bath it every so often (maybe every three months). Just a small amount will do, using a bit more on any grunge. Follow that up with a wipe down with some water and then a dry cloth and you are ready for polishing.

You may want to use a finish restorer of some kind before the polish. These are basically polishes with more grit and will work wonders on things like pick scratches.

My guitar tech uses Meguiar's (meguiars.com) automobile polish. He uses #4 for if he wants to get out scratching, etc. He uses #7 for a basic polish. He swears by it, as do many people.

Oh and when it comes to polishing, Rudy Pensa (who made guitars for people like Mark Knopfler and Lenny Kravitz) told me the secret to a great finish is to rub the polish in with your bare hand. The reason being, rubbing in the polish squeezes the water out of it, which beads up at first. If you use a cloth at the start it will soak up all that mosture which is best left in the polish. If you use your hand that mosture gets mixed back into the polish where it belongs. Once it is well rubbed in you can take a cloth and buff it.

gr8tful1: I like the Petros kit....a Finish Restorer for scratches, a Polish, and a Fretboard Oil that I use sparingly every 3 months or so. Other than that I wipe it down with a Googalies cloth after every set.

Arnoldgtr: I use 3M Imperial Hand Glaze on new Martins. It works very well, no silicone (or the semiconductor silicon, either), and it is easier to spell than "Meguiar's".

kens d28: While it's new and still very clean, I'd rub a coat of Virtuoso or Gerlitz #1 polish into the glossy parts of the finish. It adds some protection; makes it a little easier to clean off the smudges you'll pick up down the road.

mblankenship: Quote: >>the secret to a great finish is to rub the polish in with your bare hand. <<

Yep. This really works. My guitar salesman hand-rubbed my HD-28V with Virtuoso polish, then buffed it off with a clean cotton rag. This was done before I took the guitar home, so I figure I'm good for quite a while. At least five years.

The comment about using lighter fluid for difficult smudges, followed by a damp cloth, and then a dry cloth, is the way the pros do it. Just remember not to light it.

When C.F.Martin IV shipped your guitar out the door, it was ready to roll. It already has a genuine lacquer finish, and not much more than a damp cloth is needed to keep your guitar as good looking as it needs to be.

SkyShot 1: 3M Imperial Hand Glaze is the stuff for me. I've used the others, including Petros restorer and have found they leave a bit of haze. For deeper marks I may used those, but will always finish with the 3M.

It's the only product I've used that brings back that factory, mirror finish.

dschmude: What I do that really works is just wipe the guitar down with one of those lint free cotton guitar polish cloths each time I finish playing it. I wipe until I can't see the smudges. If any smudges from sweat don't come off with just the cloth, I exhale a bit on the smudge and then wipe again. The little bit of moisture in the breathe is enough to get the smudge out and the shine back.

johnreid: To be honest, if it is in like new condition to start with, you need two soft cotton cloths. When finished playing and you notice not perfect gloss, slightly dampen one of the cloths, wring it out good you do not want wet, and wipe the guitar off, Follow up with a dry cloth and kind of buff it.

Occasionally you might desire to use a squirt of Martin or Gibson Pump Polish ( my favorite ) to give it that extra shine. Avoid materials that harm the finish, and enjoy your guitar. Eventually the lacquer might just wear some because of old age, but in fact that is desirable so when that happens ( 20 or more years from now ) just continue caring for it as described above. I seriously doubt that anyone will disagree with me. Most abrasive finish restorers are there to return a slightly damaged finish to the point that the above described routine will be enough to care for it.

jscio: One thing you don't want to use is Martin's spray polish. It builds up over time.

Another really good product line is Virtuoso; both the cleaner and the polish. I used the cleaner to get the Martin polish build-up off and then Virtuoso Polish. I just touch them up once in a while and they look great.

23. OMJM?
Can someone direct me to some reviews on this model?
I really like the neck profile and the nut width. I like to learn more about Engleman top versus Sikta top. Also, it seems to come with a Martin pick-up, I wonder how does it compare to a K&K western.

Mr Funderbunk: I have the original limited edition OM28JM and it is a great sounding guitar. As far as the new special edition goes there have been a few changes on the new one like the absense of the dovetail neck joint in the back, a no-aluminum headstock, and "select hardwoods" used (on the neck instead of the the all mahogany neck used on the limited edition).

The limited edition also has Mayers actual signature instead of the "printed" signature on the newer special edition just like on the Clapton special edition. This as well as the minor cosmetic differences on the fretboard of the limited edition and the better collectibility of the limited edition make the limited edition a better choice considering it can be found for only $300-500 more (or the same price if you shop around!) than the special edition.

Keep in mind that the limited edition will also retain its resale value much better than the special edition because it is more collectible and not a regular production model. The newer one is basically a downgrade that doesn't have all the features of the original limited edition.

My limited edition Mayer is the loudest small bodied guitar I've ever played. Most of the small bodied guitars I've played have no muscle but this is definitely not the case here. This is clearly a players instrument. The Engelmann top acts very much like Adirondack top and helps maintain the clarity of the rosewood. It is a very versatile guitar that responds very well to fingerpicking, strumming, and believe it or not....flatpicking as well.

Havana Moon: The OM JM is an excellent choice when playing finger style. To me it all boils down to its' Engelmann top. It's a very very responsive sweet sounding guitar with a wide range of dynamics all the way from subtle to loud.

Mr Funderbunk: ...While I agree that the neck is a tad thin, I think the Mayer model is an acoustic guitar for electric players accustomed to playing the thinner neck on an electric guitar. There is no doubt (for me anyway) fingerstyle is MUCH more comfortable to play on this guitar. I attribute that NOT as much to the smaller OM body but to the neck which is quick and easy to play on.

cva238: I have had the OM28JM since Dec 04 and totally agree with the other owners. The sound has been incredible since day one. For me the neck width takes a few minutes to get used to when I pick it up. My others are 1 3/4" or more. After awhile my fingers quit bumping into each other and i am OK.

Played an OMJM today just to hear if I could tell any difference. The mid and highs were a little darker sounding than mine. The salesman said that they had just gotten it a week ago and hasn't been played much. It is also very hot and humid today (95 degrees and 80+ humidity) and inside the store wasn't much better with all their students coming in and out to take lessons. I would imagine after a short time it will sound much better. I am going back in a couple of weeks to try out some Taylor GSs on order. I will try the OMJM again if it is still there.

I know that it is all about the tone and sound but the OMJM looked pretty naked with out the trim of the OM28JM.

24. Can You Stop a Finish Crack?
I've got 2 small ones at the base on the side of the neck on my Froggy guitar. Is there a way to stop them from spreading?

jscio: I don't think you can remove or eliminate finish crack but I believe you can stop their spreading with proper humidification during the dry winter months.

jbbancroft: They normally won't spread. There are repair techniques to eliminate them, but I would have professional do it. I wouldn't worry about it personally. Jim

talon5550: I just unexpectedly found a 3 inch long finish crack along my VS's neck, where the ebony meets the mahogany. Don't know how long it's been there.
I sanded it smooth, with some 1000 grit paper, and then ScratchX'd it to get the shine back. It's still visible, but you can't feel it, anyway.

25. Compensated Saddles, ALWAYS a worthy upgrade?
I have a guitar buddy friend of mine who claims that you generally won't benefit from a compensated saddle if you are a fake, phony, fruad guitar player like myself who makes your home in the first three frets. He claims a compensated saddle only benefits players who play up the neck.
I was wondering if anybody can verify his opinion on the compensated saddle.

Floyd1960: your friend does have a point but don't let that deny you of having compensated saddles on your Martins. Compensated sadddles look better than regular saddles. A compensated saddle can only correct about 1-4 cents sharpness or flatness @ the 12th fret...& 100 cents equals a semitone (or a half-note) Unless one has the hearing of a bat, most cannot differentiate the minor correction. Nevertheless, it can be a psychological barrier at times...wondering if a trivial variation in pitch is adversely affecting one's performance.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: "A compensated saddle can only correct about 1-4 cents sharpness or flatness @ the 12th fret...& 100 cents equals a semitone (or a half-note)"

It depends on your starting point. If you are compensating from the center of the saddle, then you are correct.
The 12th fret width is about 3/4 of an inch. If you figure compensation from the front edge and leave 0.025" width on a Martin saddle (which is 0.105"), that leaves about 0.08" for compensation. That is 10 1/2 cents @ the 12th fret.
Although it figures to be half that much in the first position, I still believe 5 cents is worth doing. It saves some retuning every time you change keys.

Bryan Kimsey: Why wouldn't you want to compensate a saddle? I mean, if your current action is fine and the saddle is good, sure, leave it alone. But if you're making a new saddle for any reason, it doesn't take 1 minute extra to compensate the top.

johnreid: Everyone knows that the asymetrical look of a compensated saddle looks far more complex than a plain old straight saddle ...

DSilber123: I have compensated all my saddles. The benefit can be heard up and down the fretboard, in my experience. Of coarse the effect becomes more noticeable at the higher registers where scale length accuracy is more critical in achieving ideal intonation.

jiml2: My new D18 GE is the first acoustic I bought that plays in tune "out of the box". This includes a Martins (HD-28, D-16 and CEO-5), and Gibsons (J-100Xtra, L4-A). I have a Santa Cruz OM which was 6 months used, but played in tune(I believe it was a stock saddle).

Saddles should be compensated as needed. Why wouldn't you want to have an instrument that plays "in tune"? If you use a capo, barre chords, or play solos up the neck -- it should play in tune. AND -- it SHOULD come that way from the factory, but usually doesn't.

johnreid: What I always was told that at one time people didn't think it really made that big of a difference, so why bother. Now when they try to recreate the guitars that sound so good because they are old, they copy the mistakes too. Some improvements came about by making mistakes, worn templates etc and other improvements were made by dispelling myths, like compensated saddles being no big deal myth. At least that is what I have been told, so a V or GE might not get a compensated saddle, am I wrong?

26. Does it make sense to change the saddle?
I really like the looks of the long saddle, and since the GE and Vintage line and other high-end Martins are being made with those, someone must think they may be a bit better.... My question, how difficult is it to convert a bridge with the standard saddle to a long saddle? Or would you have to replace the whole bridge? Would love to do this to my D-42 and maybe even my D-35

Is there an advantage to either style for energy transfer to the top; or I guess a better question is what, if any, difference in sound do you get from converting from a short saddle to a long through saddle?

Bryan Kimsey: Fill the old slot with ebony, shave/sand it smooth, cut the new slot. It's virtually impossible to drop that router bit in EXACTLY the same spot and you'll likely end up with a .002" ledge one way or the other. Plus, you have to match the depth, or go deeper. It's just so much easier to fill the slot and then recut it. Then it's _your_ slot all the way. I do it all the time.

Well, just like the pins debate, the bone vs. plastic debate, the tuner debate, and all the other sonic debates, you're going to get varying opinions. Having done lots of conversions and playing with these things (and comparing to a control guitar) here's what I think....

Given the same materials, of course, shorter saddles tend to produce a tighter, punchier, more focused sound. Longer saddles tend to do the opposite- warmer, fuller, bigger. Think about the extremes- what would it sound like if you make an upside down triangular saddle that focused all the strings on a single grain line? Conversely, what if you made a saddle that ran from side to side across the top?

However, as John pointed out above regarding the depth of the vintage saddle, there's also depth to consider. Short saddles tend to be deeper than traditional long saddles. IMHE, the deeper the slot the....well, I dunno....the sound changes. I think we hear less of the wood of the bridge and get more of the saddle's sound. My "Modzilla" D-28, for instance, has a Braz RW bridge and ran a vintage depth saddle for a year or two. It was a little harsh and jangly. One day, I decided to punch the saddle slot down deeper and make it into a long drop-in saddle. Did that, put the same material saddle back in, and the sound seemed less harsh and bit more powerful. Small difference that probably only I would notice, but it's something to watch in the future and see if it holds true.

Overall, I think the long drop-in is my favorite saddle and I still put a little glue on the pin side of the saddle. I like the looks of the longer saddle and the depth of the drop-in.

Arnoldgtr: If you are replicating the old style through slot, then you have to fill the slot, at least partially. The short saddle slots are deeper.

jbbancroft: I think the drop in slot is superior to the through slot. Why, because it supports the saddle better, you have bridge material on both side of the saddle slot, which holds the slot together and add strength. Another plus is that many through slot saddles are glued in, while the drop in type needs no glue, makes things easy for changing saddles.
I notice no difference in tone between the two, but I'm sure many will debate that.

thermality: I don't want to hijack this thread, but I guess this answers a question I have about sanding down my D28 bridge a little bit for the sake of lowering the action (I've already lowered the saddly height about as low as it can go). I would have already done it but worried about how to lower the saddle slot as well. Sounds like it would be tough to do ... and then there's also the matter of reshaping the pin holes.

Bryan Kimsey: Quote: Neck resets are always more expensive when the bridge needs to be replaced also.

Agree!!!! Please don't sand the bridge down.

Quote: the bridge seems to be unusually thick, especially on the bass side.

Measure it and get rid of the "seems to be". You're right- I _would_ shave it down if it were big, but I'd measure first and be sure.

If you can stand a caliper up in front of the E's, they should be .320" at the low E and .280" at the high E. No less, though.

(20.5 / 64ths and 18/64ths)

Arnoldgtr: Many features that are superior structurally are not necessarily superior sonically.
A short saddle is not bulletproof, either. I have seen plenty of short saddle bridges that are split at the slot. The most important factor is the saddle height and the resultant string break angle.
It is a very rare occasion when I glue a long saddle. In most cases, I see no reason to do it.

27. Who has installed Waverly's on their Martin dread??
Just need to know if the Waverly's will cover up the existing screwhole from the Martin tuners... i just ordered a set for an HD28('05).
i have installed the Grovers on a D28 with perfect results, but they are a bit wider than the Waverly's.

talon5550: I did........however, the VS comes with Waverly's, so I merely switched one style for another.

strngbndr: I switched out the original tuners for Waverly's on a '90 D-28. Had to drill new screw holes, but the Waverly's cover up the original holes. Pretty easy to do, and much improvement.

DM3MD: I swapped out the stock Martin butterbeans for Waverlies on my DM3MD. They were an exact drop in. If you are putting them on an HD-28, some modification will be in order.

jscio: I traded out the Grover Fatlines (The old box shaped POS tuners that came on my '70 D35-S) for Waverlys.

jbbancroft: The shafts on waverly's are 1/4", so if your holes in peghead are 1/4" they will work fine. Some tuners have about a 3/8" housing, if your guitar came with those tuner and you want to convert to Waverly's then you have to plug peadhead holes and redrill to 1/4". Jim

D28CWB: I think you can order a bushing from Stewmac to make up the difference and plugging would not be required.

Trap646: I just replaced some old sperzels with 3/8 holes in the head stock, ordered the 3/8 to 1/4 bushings from stewmac. The fit was perfect.

28. Did Martin J40's always come with bone nuts?
I'm trying to sell one and I noticed on the Martin site how it lists the J40 as having a bone nut. Mine is from 2002 so I don't know if that's something they changed or what.

musicguy123: No, I had a 1998 model and it was not bone, but either TUSQ or something else, can't remember now, but definitely not bone. I changed it to bone, it sounded better.

Mac Carter: J-40's came with a Corian nut and Micarta saddle. The first J-40 with bone nut and saddle was S/N 1014181.

My source is our FAQ section, information supplied by Joe McNamara, a Martin sales rep.

29. Strap button coming off
I went to pick up my D18GE last night and the strap button was loose. Loose to the point that hanging on a strap may have been dangerous.

Is it best to just screw it back in and keep an eye on it, or would adding a spot of wood glue help?

Dr L J: If it tightens down OK, it probably will be fine. You might put a small sliver of wood, like a toothpick in the hole and then tighten it down. The extra thickness of wood sometimes helps. I have done that to stap buttons and to the screws that are used to attach tuning gears and it has worked well.

Bryan Kimsey: I'd add a dab of glue to the screw. You can always unscrew it and I like the security of the glue. Get in the habit of checking it.

Rider: I had one luthier screw on a strap button with the button free to spin on the screw in order to prevent it from working loose. It seemed to work OK.

lkn2myis: Unscrew the strap button and stick a wooden toothpick or two in the screw hole. Break it off just below the top. Screw the button back on.

The toothpick(s) will allow the screw to grip REAL solid without messing with glue.

I think Frank Ford talks about this on his website. I've used this on machine head screws, and it's flawless and easy.

30. Have YOUR Bridge Pins Been Properly "Seated"??
When I finalized my most recent acquisition with the dealer, we were at the "what kind of set up do you want?" phase of the discussion. And like the good dealers will do, he asked all the right questions about action, playing style, string guages, etc. As we were finishing, he said, "Do you want your bridge pins seated? Martin doesn't seat their bridge pins out of the factory and we offer this as a standard setup feature."

I wasn't quite sure what he meant, but he further explained that properly seated bridge pins will sit flush with the bridge when the strings are in place. He suggested I look at some of my other guitars to see what he was talking about. And lo, he was right - the pins on my other Martins sit at various heights in the bridge (none of them are high enough to worry about, but none of them were flush either.)

When my guitar arrived (an OMC-18VLJ), sure enough there were the "properly seated" bridge pins, all perfectly aligned in their respective holes. Each pin slides down all the way to the underside of round pin top (they have little ridges on them, like a visual separation between the pin top and the tapered stem). On my first string change, I noticed that these seated pins just slip right into the hole...no pushing needed. Kinda freaked me because they didn't feel stable, somehow. But they work well, no string accidents, everything works and sounds great, and it's really a nice little cosmetic touch.

Have any of you folks either heard of this and/or had it done? Comments? Rants? I'm considering having it done on all my lap pianos....

rrussell8: I have never bothered because the unseated (standing?) pins do the job perfectly well and I don't change things that work.

cashmoneymac: Lots of discussions have taken place on correct seating for pins. I think the current Martin practice of having pins stick up as much as an 1/8 or sometimes more, looks like a hack job. But I am seriously OCD about my stuff. Opinions vary.

Also lots of discussions on sanding pins down to seat "properly" versus reaming out pin holes in the bridge. Given the fact that some folks like to change pins from time to time (and pins are relatively cheap) the consensus suggestion seems to be that pins should be sanded to fit the guitar rather than the other way around.

Then there is the slotted vs unslotted bridge pin hole threads - also a fun read. I am a fan of slotted bridge pin holes but at least for modern Martins, it does represent a relatively permanent modification to the bridge of the guitar. Surprisingly enough opinions seem to vary around here.

lkb3rd: The reason is that it's fast and easy to drill straight holes, and they expect dealer's to do a final setup, including tapering the holes.

Bryan Kimsey: My counterpoint to the question asked above is "What's the purpose of the collar on the pin?" The purpose of the collar on the pin is to prevent it from being pushed in too far and that purpose is null if the pin is sticking up 1/8" from the collar. Plus, unseated pins wobble in the hole.

I seat 'em. In fact, I just finished seating, slotting, and water buffalo pin-izing a GE. I've also pulled 2 popsicle braces today and am getting ready to shave the back braces on the GE. Seating pins is kind of [easy] once you've pulled a hundred or so popsicle braces.

alancline: There is a video from some years back where Chris Martin mentions that seating the pins is part of the "dealer set-up" along with lowering the nut slots and saddle height.

The combination of an un-tapered pin hole and a less than fully seated pin is just asking for a chewed up bridge plate.

At least seat them for the aesthetics - it just looks wrong having 'em jut up in the air like that.

Take a look at a Collings or SCGC for an example of properly seated pins (the Collings are unslotted as an additional bonus).

Martins are awesome guitars, but they need set-up and detailing when they are new.

alancline: Quote: the concensus suggestion seems to be that pins should be sanded to fit the guitar rather than the other way around.

It may be the consesus but it is completely wrong. The correct way to seat the pins is to ream the holes with a correctly tapered reamer.

There is a right way and a wrong way, and sanding the pins IS not the right way.

EScottG: To the question posted, I like a lower bridge pin. I do a lot of damping with the heel of my picking hand when doing alternate bass with the thumb. The low pins, at least for the top three bass strings, seem to give my hand a better place to rest for this style. Of course, I can’t say that my technique is textbook.

Bryan Kimsey: You just slightly ream the existing holes and most all after market pins will fit very well. After I've fit my bone/buffalo pins, Stew Mac pins will drop right in, too, as will most of the other pins I have laying around.

FWIW, when you put the 5 deg reamer in the pin hole, you can feel it wobble around. I used to mark the reamer for depth but now I can feel it- when it stops wobbling, it's there. I usually have to touch it another time or two, but it's awfully close.

jsalmon: In newer Martins anyway, the pin hole is very nearly cylindrical. So when you touch them with a reamer, you're just taking "a little off the top" -- the size of the hole at the bottom bridge plate is basically the same as at the top of the bridge. Something like this:

Before reaming:

| |
| |
| |
| |

After reaming:

\ /
| |
| |
| |

By reaming a bit at the top, you can get most 5-degree pins to fit snugly at the top of the hole, but the shaft isn't quite in contact at the bottom edge of the bridgeplate. At least this is what my observations suggest...

Bryan Kimsey: That's pretty much true, but if you go any smaller on the bottom, the string balls won't pass thru. On my custom bridge/bridgeplates, I drill to the size of the ball end and some brands- like Martin strings!- are a pretty tight fit.

Arnoldgtr: Here is a drawing of a Martin unfitted pin, as it leaves the factory today:

Notice the space around the pin at the bridgeplate. The string ball will force the end of the bridgepin against the back of the hole, resulting in tilted bridgepins:

When the bridgepin tilts, it can allow the string ball the climb on the edge of the hole, resulting in bridgeplate damage. Also, the unfitted pin is smaller in diameter where the string ball contacts it, making it more vulnerable to failure. Bent or dimpled slotted plastic pins are the main contributor to bridgeplate damage.

Bryan Kimsey: You can easily tighten them even further by coating the hole- esp. at the bridgeplate- with glue and dust like John mentioned and re-reaming. However, I have found that well-seated pins fit pretty snug already and if the fit any snugger, I think people will complain that they can't get the pins out. Or they're going to struggle with getting the ball ends in and complain about that. Plus, I like to allow a little room for humidity expansion/contraction. So, overall, I want my pins snug, but not necessarily perfectly 100% air-tight fit.

Arnoldgtr: Martin stopped taper reaming the holes in the 1990's.
A 1970 Martin would have taper reamed holes, with a slot for the string. The bridgepins in use until the late 1980's had a shallow string slot, requiring the slots in the bridge. In many cases, these slots are over cut, allowing plenty of space even for unslotted bridgepins.

I believe this is the main reason Martin started using pins with a deeper slot, negating the need for slotting the bridge. An overzealous worker would slot the bridge too deep, ruining the bridge and the bridgeplate.
The irony is that the bridge slotting operation could easily be automated with CNC.

Bryan Kimsey: Quote: Would it be best for the bottom tip of the pin to be flush with the bridge plate

If it did, then the ball end would eject the pin. The pin has to go at least past the ball end.

Black Hole Gang: Maybe it is just another thing for me to fret about, but I got this reply from Elderly today:

"...My understanding is that Martin intentionally leaves the bridge pins protruding a bit so that, as the pinholes wear and get larger with string changes over the years, they continue to do their job of holding the strings securely. In general, we do not notice a big problem with uneven heights on the pins, but can certainly pay particular attention to this on your guitar, if it comes to us here...."

Arnoldgtr: Quote: the pinholes wear and get larger with string changes over the years,

Highly exaggerated, IMHO.
In a way, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy based solely on the ill-fitting straight holes.
The pin holes don't wear if the taper matches the bridgepins.

31. slab sawn vs quarter sawn vs etc
Would someone please explain to me what slab-sawn vs quarter-sawn vs all of the other-sawn means? And how can you tell this looking at a picture? This typically comes under the brazilian threads, and I'm clueless.

Under FAQ there is a great explanation. Here is the link.
Quarter vs Slab

Arnoldgtr: More links:

Watsonfan: With what confidence, then, can one say that a guitar back or sides is slab vs quartered just by the appearance? Do wavy lines/growth rings always = slab, and tight parallel lines/rings always = quartered? Probably not, true? And thanks again for the help.

Arnoldgtr: Wavy grain by itself is not an indicator. If a tree grows with wavy grain (like stumpwood), then even perfectly quartered wood will exhibit curvature of the rings. In order to get straight, parallel rings, the wood must be straight-grained AND quartered. The true test is that all the growth rings of quartered wood go from one end of the board to the other. In slab-cut wood, the rings in the heart will change direction, forming ellipses or parabolas. The heart is where the face of the board is tangent to the circular rings.

Floyd1960: Quote: In order to get straight, parallel rings, the wood must be straight-grained AND quartered.

This is the 'traditional' Martin BRW appearance...add 'old-growth' characteristics (i.e. dark reddish or rich caramel colorings, detailed landscaping, distinct purplish-black veinings etc.) & you essentially have the pre-70 BRW 'look' though every now & then there will be some exceptions (e.g. wavy but quartered).

Question for John/Arnoldgtr (if he returns to this thread)...why doesn't CFM simply 'stain' the drab, brownish newer-growth BRW they are currently using to match the colorings of the older BRW used during the earlier periods? Granted they cannot 'doctor-up' the detailing (well actually they probably could) but it seems most of the newer BRW models would look less mundane if CFM did some cosmetic enhancement.

Hankak: Now I'm curious about book matching which I assume is universal but in the process on side is bark side and the other is heart side. Does anyone make both halves heart or bark side?

32. Intelli IMT-500 Tuner (redux)
thenikonguy: Thanks to a previous thread, I opted for this brand and I got it at the lowest price I've seen at that time ($19.99).

If anyone remembered my post about a month ago, I asked if these clip-on tuners can do a good job even with a slight touch. I play guitar during mass and would like to be able to tune very quietly without disrupting the service.

With a short test right out of the box, the IMT-500 seems to be getting a reading without the string being plucked too hard. And compared to my other tuner, it's bang-on.
Bought it online from sharmusic. It's still $19.99.

fleiger: I got mine from Elderly a few days ago and man I'm loving this thing. So easy to use and unobtrusive too. Excellent backlighting so no problem seeing the digital readout. Accurate as hell too. I think this is definitely superior to the Intellitouch Tuner. And no frigging goofy arrows to try to figure out either. Highly recommended.

SteveKrasnow: Someone compared these with a Peterson Strobe at the APM forum and it came out almost exactly the same. That's saying a ton for a tuner under $20.

Gasee: It has great backlighting and very easy to use. Well worth the 19.99 - all though I just purchased the Planet waves tiny strobe tuner - And was not that impressed - you have to have good eyesight to see the dual beams bouncing off the string - My eyesight is just not that good anymore.

33. Koa woods
Koa is a beautiful wood. How does it compare to rosewood, maple, and mahogany tonewise?

jsalmon: Quite similar to mahogany in sound. Maybe a little more "reverby" tone. I doubt I could tell them apart by ear...though maybe some can.

jscio: The Koa guitars I've played brought to my mind a mahogany like sound with a little maple brightness. Very full and rich as well.

Trap646: I have a D37K from 81. It is light, loud and very bright. Plus the flamed KOA is hard to quit looking at. Every where I take it someone tries to buy it.

jeffnles1: I have an SPD16K2 with koa top. This model was discontinued last year, but there are still some to be had. I love it.

It does not sound like a 15 series at all (the mahogany comparisons). I think it sounds somewhere between rosewood and mahogany. It is a tone all its own.

KoaBoa: Like Jeff, I have an SPD16K2. I have come to realize the more I play it among my other guitars that it has a drier tone, a bit like strumming closer to the bridge on another guitar, but full in its own way. I've grown accustomed to its voice and pick it up at certain time in favor of what it delivers. I couldn't have posted on this subject a few months ago because I was still searching for a way to describe it. I think it has a sound that takes time to sink in, but when it does, it's very addicting.

34. Do I need a neck reset?
I lowered the action on my D-28 (from 5/32” to 4/32” on the low E 12th fret), which is still a little too high for me. I would like to take it down to 7/64”, but the saddle it already too low (hardly pokes up more that 1/16” above the bridge).

Neck relief is fine, and nut height also looks fine. My concern is with the neck angle.

My understanding of a proper neck angle is that the plane of the fingerboard generally just overshoots the top of the bridge. Ideally, a straight-edge laid across the top of the frets should land right on top of the bridge. In my case, the straight-edge laid across the top of the frets lands about 1/8” below the top of the bridge.

Seems like a neck reset is in order, but this is a 2004 model. Am I missing something?

Buck49: Sounds like a reset is in order, as long as there are no other problems like extreme belly or way too tall bridge.

smoky59: I also have a new J-41 that was doing the same thing as yours. The action was constantly climbing on me! I finally took it in to a authorized inspection. Yes, a neck reset and fret leveling was in order. I've been waiting 4 1/2 months and am getting antsey. Called yesterday and was told it would be another 2 months. Whow! a pretty long wait for warrenty work. best, smoky

35. B string driving me nuts
I'm sure this has been covered before but I think it's been too long ago to search for it.

The setup on my OM-28 Marquis seems perfect and the intonation at the 12th fret is good but the B string in the first 2 frets is sharp. I've been tuning the open B string flat when I play songs in A to make it work. I have the glued in FWI saddle and my setup man piddled with it to compensate for my problem but it didn't help much.

I can continue to work around this but I sure would like to solve it or at least help it so that I could tune the B string slightly flat for all songs.

MikeHalloran: Put a capo on the 2nd fret and check the intonation at the 14th. If good, the problem is likely to be the nut.
Mike Halloran__'49 00-28G, '63 000-28C, '69 N-10, '71 N-20, '03

pickngrin99: Hey thanks Mike. To my surprise, the notes are a tad sharp at the 12th fret w/o a capo. I also tried the capo at the 2nd and I got the same sharp reading at the 14th.

The Martin SP4100s are 3-4 weeks old with about 2 hours playing per day. I suppose I need to replace them, wait a couple of days and try this again.....you agree?

Martin Ping: I firmly believe they are all sharp on the B strings...Everyone I have played...Even the ones people say are not...

I have IMO the best setup guy in the biz and my guitars are sharp on the B string...

Most think it's just me and my lousy finger pressure...They think I pull it sharp...Oh well..

I fret it on the 2nd or 3rd fret and tune it there...Works for me...

d28swdlp: Fret positions are just averages seeing that all the strings intonate differently.
Flatten the B bit...........the guitar is not a perfect pitch instrument.

Fogducker: I have a tape where Norman Blake goes over the tuning thing and then to "sweeten" things up, he sharpens the B string just a little. I guess its up to each indivdual. Boy, amd I ever glad I don't have "perfect pitch" and end up chasing the tuning constantly. I think a perfect ear is a a curse in a way.

Some of those old golden era Martins didn't even have a slanted saddle much less a compensated one,----they sure sound pretty good to me though.

I want to make it clear that I am not denigrating or knocking anyone's tuning standards here. Good luck on your quests! Fog

pharmboycu: FWIW, I have a tuning method (just like all the rest of us-- everyone has his or her own) that seems to help... I use a 440 fork to get the D string 7th fret harmonic in tune. The I tune the B string by fretting the 3rd fret (the D note) and tuning it with the D string. Then, I get the G string in tune harmonically with the D string by fretting it at the 2nd fret. Then the A string gets tuned with the G string fretted at the 2nd fret. Finally, the E's get tuned up until the entire G chord is in tune.

Basically, I tune where a D chord is in tune, flatten the A string just slightly, and get the E's in tune and it's a pretty good compromise.

Hope that helps rather than confuses!

36. String height?
Right now I'm at 3/32 at the 12th fret. Can I go lower? Is anybody set up lower than that? Mostly flatpick - strumming and some fingerpicking. Thinking of going down another 64th.

flatpicknut: "Normal" height is 3/32 for the low E and 2/32 for the high E, both at the 12th fret. Some folks prefer lower, some prefer higher. How low you can go depends on your guitar's overall setup and your playing style. Going a bit higher than absolutely possible allows some margin for the changes caused by changes in temp and humidity. Some folks have summer and winter saddles to compensate.

d28swdlp: To be more precise:
-Medium action is 8/64" on the bass side (measured above the 12th fret) 6/64" on the treble
-7/64" Bass and 5/64" treble is low
-6/64" (3/32") Bass and 4/64" treble (2/32" or 1/16")
is quite low.

Classical action is 10 and 8............

jbbancroft: Any lower than 3/32" on low E on an acoustic guitar is too low. You will definitely have a loss in volume and string rattle, going lower, I don't care how well the guitar is set up. Jim

37. Long-Term Storage: '65 D-28
A dear friend of mine (actually taught me the G-run) passed away recently. His adult and responsible daughter is aware of the value of her dad's prized '65 D-28. As of now, for better or worse, she has decided to keep the guitar in hopes that she will someday have a child who will carry on her dad's avid interest in acoustic music.

My obvious question is, what steps should she take to ensure that the instrument has the best chance to survive 15 to 20 years storage? Temperature and humidity control will be key. What about reducing string tension? Other issues?

bobdcat: She should go take guitar lessons herself. It would help keep her connected to her father's memory and would be good for the guitar. It would also instill the love of music in her that she could pass on to her children. That's much more likely to cause her children to see the guitar as a link to their past than as an asset that could quickly be turned into cash.

matthewrust: Loosen the strings. That won't cause the neck to "bow back" or anything.

Keep it in a safe (not under a bed), cool place (not a garage) that is not susceptible to extreme temp and humidity swings. Inside closets are a good choice.

Check the humidity levels periodically throughout dry months. I'd think that as long as she lives in a normal climate, she could check the humidity every few weeks in the winter and humidify when needed.

Most damage is caused by extreme changes in humidity and temp. And keeping the strings loosened will give the neck joint a rest.

jimlanderson: Please make sure NO STRAP is on the guitar, and the strap is removed from the case!

38. T.J. Thompson
Is this legendary luthier currently taking orders? How does one get in touch with him? He appears not to have a website.

Thompson Guitars
(97 369-3359
43 Bradford St
Concord, MA 01742

Todd Stuart Phillips: You will have to discuss that with TJ I think he takes on orders when he feels he can. He spends most of his time working on vintage guitars for some very serious clients.

There are people still waiting years for theirs and have years to wait more as I understand it.

MojoDreads: TJ has worked on many of my instruments over the years. He is the ONLY person I would ever let look at, never mind touch, my prized vintage guitars and mandos. He has the most knowledge, AND has the best eyes and hands in the business. I am the fussiest of the fussy, and I can honestly say that this man is a true modern day genius. You could entrust your pre-war D-45 with TJ and not lose a single wink of sleep, (and yes, he has worked on many pre-war D-45's). Every time I go to see TJ he has MANY beautiful pre-war 000s, OMs, and D size Martins in the shop. The people in the know bring their vintage Martins to TJ... but be prepared, if you want the best, you had better be prepared to pay for it. Don't bring your 70's Martin to TJ, he is not the guy for that... but if you have a pre-war 18 or 28, TJ IS THE MAN! PERIOD!

Oh yeah... he builds the most incredible new guitars you have ever seen, played, or heard too!

OMpicker: I had the immense pleasure recently of playing three TJ-made guitars, each a unique jewel unto itself. In particular I was stunned by the sound and playability of one of his OM-45s...just amazing. Not only that, but I had the opportunity of doing so while also playing an amazing array of vintage Martins -- so there was an opportunity to hear the mature sound of some great "premier age" guitars as well as the young upstarts who it is quite clear have inherited that same path.

As has been noted, artistry such as this does not come cheap or fast, but i have no doubts that both the wait and the investment are more than worth it.

Fingerstyle2: T.J. takes orders [edit: actually a lot of orders] but doesn't go out of his way to seek them out--hence no website, no ads in guitar mags, no booths at guitar festivals, etc. And the other way he tries to keep his waiting time somewhat reasonable is to limit demand by raising his prices from time to time. I think his base price is now around $20K and the waiting time is three+ years. I haven't heard of anyone who thought he didn't get his money's worth or that it wasn't worth the wait.

39. How can you tell genuine tortoise shell picks?
I know if it's made of plastic a pick will melt, the pin trick. But I'm wondering how to distinguish, say, a tortis pick (like Bryan Kimsey sells) from a genuine one. One seller told me you could see the grain under a 10X microscope. I've never seen the real thing but I'm interested in getting some so help me out.

flatpicknut: My tortoise pick has faint hexagon-type shapes that don't seem to show up in Tortis or any other man-made picks. (I have to hold it just right under a light to see the shapes.)

Fogducker: The "pin trick" ain't about melting being plastic, its the resulting SMELL of the slight burning of the material!

Cooper Cecil: A slight rub of sandpaper on the edge followed by a light taste will be SALTY AS HELL!

Bryan Kimsey: Assuming the Tortis isn't labled "Tortis, C medium, Speed Bevel", I look for very fine spider-web scratches. Tortis tend to develop these after awhile, while real TS does not. Other than that, look for chips in the picking tips. Real TS tends to chip and has to be re-shaped, Tortis lasts much longer (I've never had one chip, and I generally have touch up my TS after every gig).

I have some earlier Tortis that look VERY much like TS, but the spiderweb gives them away.

tonyricefan90: You can drop one on a table or some other hard surface and hear the tick.Try dropping it next to a plastic of about the same thickness.Believe me, you'll hear the difference.(And if you don't,please contact your nearest ear doctor to schedule an appointment! ) If thats not enough,play with one. You'll hear the difference. Final words of advice: Don't buy tortis that has "Fender" printed on it.

Bryan Kimsey: It won't affect anything and you can buff them out if they bother you. They're probably due to a reaction between the material and your finger chemisty. For awhile I thought it was due to string scratches, but I have some laying around on my bench that have never been stored on a guitar and some of them have developed the little webs, too.

40. Great New Jim Dunlop Picks
I have been using the new (think they're new) Dunlop "Ultex" picks. Man, these are great! Find them better than the Tortex line. Picture of a rhino on the pick, but I don't think any were harmed in the fabrication of the pick!

EScottG: They have become my favorite picks! I like the 1.14

Martin Ping: They are great...I use the .60, .73, & 1.0...I have started using the TRI model and just noticed a .88 in that model...Bet that's a good gauge too...

Heres is the link for info...


folkdog: The Triangle 1.14 is my standard pick, though occasionally I use a 1.0. IMO, these are the best picks on the market. I've tried all sorts of boutique picks, and am still tempted by them once in a while. I even have a real TS to use for comparison. There are lots of good picks out there, but IMO none is better than the Ultex. Heck of a lot cheaper than the boutique ones, too. My only complaint about them is that sometimes, depending on humidity and whole host of other factors, they can be a little tough to hang onto.

FYI, the Claytom Ultems are made from basically the same stuff (or perhaps identical). I prefer the Dunlops, though, because I think they do a better job finishing the edges and tips.

woody bee: I like the ultex picks but they don't make them thick eouugh. 1.14 is the thickest I've found

41. To Drill or Not to Drill a jack
I know, I know. This has been discussed at length here and I'm just diggin' up an old topic. But, I did want to get some advice on how I should proceed with setting up my vintage Martin '48 00-17 for occasional playing out.

I'm set on using the LR Baggs M1 for a variety of sonic reasons and this pup delivers what I'm specifically looking for compared to others I've tried and sampled. However, I'm debating between the Active and Passive versions. The Active will omit any use of an external preamp but require the not-so desired drilling; the passive will allow me the desired temporary installation out the soundhole, but would require me purchasing a preamp for additional gain.

Here's the kicker: I've got a chance at purchasing the expensive Active version for the same street price as the Passive. So, although this route would save me a little out of pocket, I'd have no other option than to drill out the endpin on my vintage (yikes!). Unless, of course, I go with the vintage jack offering from Tapastring. But, I've yet to see any user comments on these. Any help would be appreciated!

VinceM: I just had a vintage jack installed in my (non-vintage) D-28. Keith Gipson at Tapastring is a great guy with a lot of integrity. The vintage jack is a beautiful product and appears to be a solid solution for those of us who don't want to ream the endpin. Check out his FAQ page for more clarification on the product, if you haven't already. My tech and I are both impressed with this product.

He is also now offering the jack prewired to a PUTW #49 pickup system. I put the #49 in my guitar and combined it with the PUTW stealth undersaddle and it sounds great.

I mention the pickup alternative because I have been using the M1 passive and while it sounds very nice, the only reservation I would have on a vintage instrument such as yours is the potential to mark up the soundhole, which I have done with mine! I think I did it when I first got it because I wasn't careful and stepped on the cord hanging out of the soundhole. It's a pretty light mark, but it still bugs me! The PUTW solution would only involve sticking a couple of tiny strips underneath the soundboard, which are easily removed.

However, if you do a "permanent" M1 installation via the Vintage Jack, there shouldn't be too big of an issue with messing up the rosette like I did. And the active version would remove the need for an external preamp, which you would need with the #49.

As far as the jack staying in place, I can only offer this perspective. When my tech installed mine, my tech put a little wood glue "just to be safe." Unfortunately, we needed to take it out later but couldn't!! It turns out the pressed-in taper fit is quite secure without glue, and Keith recommends not to use glue - only the rosin as you saw. So surprisingly, the tricky issue for this jack is more of how to get it out, rather than the worry of it staying in!! Keith has since developed a specific procedure for removing a stubborn Vintage Jack. Just follow Keith's installation notes - make sure you don't use glue when installing it and just use a simple push and twist - then you'll be able to get it out if/when you need to.

I later found out in some discussions at work here that this type of taper fittings are very common in industry because they are very secure and don't want to come apart once they are in.

Buzzard II: I have a friend lookng into the Vintage Jack for his Gibson "Vine". How do you connect a standard 1/4" cable? On their web site I see a "L" shaped thingy that looks like you plug a 1/4" cable into then plug it into the 1/8" mini-jack on the end pin.

Any feedback on how this works? Any snap, crackle, pop? Whats the quality of this connection? Durability? Toughness? Etc.

VinceM: You can make a cord with a mini-jack on one end and a standard 1/4 inch cord at the other. It's a nice Kordex cable.

42. Any Tips on Recording a Choir?
Yesterday a friend of mine told me that the choir at his church wants to record a cd,and he wants me to engineer it. I think I can do o.k., but do you guys (or gals), have any tips on mics, mic placement, eq-ing etc.? Is there any sites I could check out for advice? Thanks,

66d35: This is a whole can 'o worms in its own right. Lots of opinions, lots of techniques.

Good resources here:



A spaced pair of omni condensers will often produce a very good result with the minimum of fuss, provided the room sounds OK.

43. Flatpicking Newbie: Internet resources?
I've played fingerstyle for years, but have become convinced, at long last, that if you're going to play bluegrass credibly, you need to learn to flatpick.

So I am. I have a wonderful teacher, but what else could you guys and gals recommend from the web to enhance what he's teaching me?

nilejam: One the I like is www.bluegrassguitar.com/

They've got some nice flatpicking tunes with tabs & notes.

Another thing I found helpful is having some good tunes to listen too. Check out some of the performances here under the Projects and Accomplishments section. Many such as those by Watsonfan and others provide an idea of what these tunes should sound like.

Fstpicker: Flatpicking Guitar Magazine (www.flatpick.com) is one of the best sources for learning flatpicking out there period. Well worth the subscription price, and you can also subscribe to the month companion CD with it.

petecady: Flatpick-L.

It's a listserv, not a website, but the posts are archived here: http://listserv.nodak.edu/archives/flatpick-l.html

BrazAd: Here are my favorite online hangouts....

The BEST - Flatpick List (Pete's already mentioned it, so this is just a hearty "second"!)

Next... www.flatpickin.com (bookmark the Discussion Forum!)

www.bluegrassforum.com is more fun than serious, but there is an occassional tidbit there....

www.bluegrassblog.com gives news daily on the bluegrass world at large....

Definitely subscribe to FGM (Flatpicking Guitar Magazine) at www.flatpick.com

Also check out Steve Kaufman's educational DVD's and books at www.flatpik.com - note the links there for Kaufman Kamp.

44. Another D-18A vs. D-18GE review.
majorminor: I received a D-18A from Jon Garon a few days ago. I would like to say I couldn't have been happier with the transaction and the way I was treated and would highly recommend him.

I've had 2 days now of comparing the A to my 2005 GE and the review below is edited from an e mail I recently sent a friend who gets the whole guitar craze thing:

Got it yesterday and spent 2 or 3 hours A/B 'ing it with my D18GE last night. This Authentic is a great guitar and it boils down to , other than perhaps the tuners, better small visual touches everywhere over the GE and tonally just a different shade of excellence over the GE. It does sound better than my GE to my ears but it's fairly subtle and the GE has nothing to apologize for. It's the open clarity and richness of tone where the A slightly outshines the GE. There are also a few things I like the GE slightly better for - fingerstyle playing with bare fingers and you can romp on the GE a bit more with a pick(it has higher action) and get that big crunchy blended wall of projection

Visual differences:

Gloss headtock on the A with brazilian overlay makes this stand out and glow vs the GE blah and satin overlay
Pickguard (under finish) on the A is gorgeous and the rival of any Greven IMO - it's also quite thin.
The top finish coat has more luster on the A - full gloss neck like a Collings.
The back and sides on the A are stained a deeper darker color with less grain showing through. More of a deep burgundy vibe vs. orangy on the GE.
Little touches : ebony heel cap, ramped bridge slots, wood pins, FWI nut and saddle
The grain on this A is wide but not much more than my GE - maybe 1/8" - 3/16" at the widest with one hint of a dime sized grain swirl starting on one side by the bridge.
The mahogany is that darker old growth looking stuff on the A with a little bit of flame figure.
The tuners aren't as bad in person and I've already stopped thinking about them – nickel Waverlies would have been better IMO and I have a set to change out. May not do it now. The tuners keys feel a bit small when you reach for and find them

Playing differences:

The A has a low slinky, loose feeling action that can still really be romped on without buzzing. It made me a better player and I could play some passages cleaner. World class set up IMO. I didn't really realize how tight and kinda hard to play my GE was until the A.
The neck on the A is rounder and deeper - especially up the neck. Really quite fat and chunky at the 12th fret.

Tonal differences:

GE maybe a smidge louder in that slighty harsher mid range way but keep in mind the action on the GE is medium high and it’s broken in and the A is buttery low and 2 days old.
The bass on the A is outstanding - just like Maury's video. Really clear and round but still feels heavy. The A does the muted thumbpick thing well and my GE really doesn't
The trebles on the A are slightly back in the mix when strumming and you start thinking they are maybe too light then you play something like Richland Woman and it's all great and there and perfect.
The A has consistent full tone and power right up the neck. If you pluck an open string then one fretted at the 12 there is no compression or change in tone other than pitch. Not so on the GE.
The main and most important difference to me is the A, while still having that woody mahog thing going on, has noticably more overtone content. This makes it a better solo singer/players guitar I think than the GE. For example I put it in drop D and did a slower tempo "Louise" ala Kottke and it's wonderful at that where as my GE is just a bit sparse tonally for that kinda thing.

So - I'm gonna keep it, but it's not the clear slam dunk I thought it was going to be over the GE. The A is a better all around guitar IMO without considering price as part of the comparison but one thing I really left the comparison with is what a ridiculous value the D18GE is - half the price 95% of the guitar compared to the Authentic. I'm keeping the A, but the idea of of selling my GE(which was sorta the envisioned plan)because I had a "better GE" coming isn't setting as easily and well as I expected.

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