Tuesday, June 27, 2006

UMGF Weekly Summary #7 Jun 26

I think I can safely say that I have reached my maximum with Select Hardwood necks. I know what you're saying; you had enough of the topic two months ago. Well either way, there's a little more information in this weeks report, but don't look for anything more soon.

Some interesting maintenance issues are covered including; fading bridges, wire cutters, and tuning machine replacement.

We finish up with gig bag and instructional DVD recommendations.

1. How accurate is the Martin 1,000,000 or other serial #'s
2. Do you have an early OM-21 (pre-1994)?
3. Standard OM-21 with Adi top by mistake?
4. 15 series--cheap tuners?
5. Replacing Tuning Machines 000-15S
6. 000-28 NB discontinued?
7. Martin: "Faulty" Intonation?
8. How do I measure saddle placement?
9. Martin Guitars A history by M. Longworth
10. OM-35 Owners: I need some specs please.
11. Does neck material affect tone?
12. Neck material, when did they change?
13. Neck Profiles
14. Got a FMI saddle...
15. Little Martin Questions...
16. OM-18V Saddle
17. For Aura Equipped Martin Owners... How About Bone Saddles?
18. How do you restore fading rosewood bridge?
19. Stradivarius ?
20. Good wire cutters
21. Grover vs Waverly
22. Elixir G string breaking - no fashion comments please
23. Capo Storage Question
24. Caution In The Sun! Greven 'Bathroom Tile' Syndrome
25. What's your favorite Gig Bag?
26. Planet Waves Quick-Release strap thingie
27. Music slow downers on computer
28. Do instructional DVD's generally disappoint you?

Previous issues are archived at http://umgf.blogspot.com/

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

1. How accurate is the Martin 1,000,000 or other serial #'s
I was curious to know how accurate the Martin 1,000,000 guitar was regarding it's serial number.

Catalane: If you look at a serial number list, they start the numbers in 1898 at #8348....meaning that was the last number used that year, which I believe accounts for all of the previous instruments built under the C.F. Martin Logo.

KoaBoa: How can they be accurate, I wonder, when they set aside blocks that may take several years to get to, and then reduce the number in a limited series without notice. Take the Celtic Knot for instance. They set aside 50, and just finished making 30 to complete the run, with all serial numbers below 1,000,000 even though the most recently made were finished this year. And what about the 20 serial numbers they didn't use?

elephantfan85: Another factor is that in the early part of the 20th century they made guitars for others that did not in fact have serial numbers. I have a Martin made 1922/23 Wurlitzer 2075 (Essentially a 2-17) for instance that has no serial number.

I'm not sure they reuse numbers assigned to guitars that get destroyed either. I kind of doubt it.

Todd Stuart Phillips: As I understand it they did need to do much guessing at production numbers prior to the advent of serial numbers. Martin kept meticulous records down to the smallest detail of inventory and his decedents did likewise. There is one ledger missing that covers some years before the American Civil War, but the next ledger picks up where that one leaves off.

Lefty00042: "Go to the last serial number of the previous year and you can calculate how many guitars were produced in a given year."

And of course that's not really accurate in an absolute sense. I have a guitar that was picked up at Martin the day it completed the 8-day hold period on December 19, 2003. Nonetheless, the "last" serial number for 2003 according to Martin is about 18,000 higher. Am I supposed to believe Martin produced 18,000 more guitars in 12 calendar days? Of course not. The serializing processs the way Martin uses it is a bit more complicated than that.

2. Do you have an early OM-21 (pre-1994)?
Todd Stuart Phillips: I am updating my OM-21 article, as I keep getting requests for it via email. I have been holding off because of some discrepancies in the production numbers.

There was one guitar made in 1974 (SN 342171) which is listed as an OM-21. [This turned out to be a typo, the guitar was actually 542171, an OM-21 from 1994].

In 1991 there was a single OM-21 listed (SN 503310 the first OM-21 made in history) that I believe was the prototype for the OM-21 Special, which was a 1991 Guitar of the Month limited edition, of which 36 were made. According to Washburn and Johnson these GOM guitars were made in Vintage Style 21, which featured a herringbone rosette and backstrip and diamond and squares fingerboard inlay (SNs 510130 – 510153 and 510288 – 510299).

There were four made in 1992, according to Mike Dickinson, aka the Oracle, #s 522652, 522653, 522654 & 522655 - the last four guitars made in 1992. Or at least the guitars were started in 1992. Numbers are assigned when they start the guitar, not when they finish it.

And then there were a total of 262 OM-21s made with 1993 serial numbers, but according to Mr. Cortez almost all of these would have been sold in 1994. Of those 262 guitars, three had shaded tops and one was made for left handed playing

The OM-21 did first appear in the Jan. 1994 catalog but they were making the model in 1993 in preparation for that. Dealers would have been aware of it and some would have actually received their first ones in late 1993.

Prototypes were given serial numbers in those days and the four mentioned as being made at the very end of 1992 were probably not the first batch of OM-21s made that year. There may be as many as 10 made in 1992 that could have found their way into circulation, even though the model was not officially “released” until 1994.

They build in batches and the numbers are assigned then, saying what model each number goes to.

There have been times when a guitar was started in one year and finished in the next year. I do not know if that is still the case. I only know this to be true for guitars from the 1930s.

3. Standard OM-21 with Adi top by mistake?
I have a friend who recently bought a standard 2005 Martin OM-21, and when I went over to see and play it the other day I was amazed how wide the grain was, and I would swear it was an adirondack top. The sound was a lot different then my OM-28V, more woody bass,crisp treble and sounded a bit like a mahogny guitar with really fast projection. How big are the chances that he might have got a OM-21 with an adi top instead of sitka? Or are there some really wide grain sitka out there?

Lefty00042: Have him take a small mirror and flashlight and look under the top down near the end block to see what the top is marked. Also, have him look at the neck block. It's possible the shop where he picked it up ordered an adi-topped Custom based on the OM-21.

tonguy: I've seen a number of Sitka tops on Martins from various years whose grain width might be Adi-esque, but they were Sitka nonetheless. Grain spacing isn't really a definitive determining factor for which spruce species you're dealing with. You can call the Martin Factory and give them the serial number of the OM-21 - they ought to be able to tell you a little bit more about it. Sounds like a special instrument regardless of what the top wood is. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures!!

4. 15 series--cheap tuners?
I have a D-15s that I LOVE. I've been trying to gig with it, but it really seems to go out of tune more than my other guitars. Could the tuners be the culprit? If so, is there a drop-in replacement that would be better? I've heard of guys upgrading to Waverlies, but I think you have to grind the posts to get them to fit.

cb00ne: I'm not crazy about the Schaller minis on my 000-15, either.

I'm not gigging, so my guitar probably doesn't go out of tune as quickly/easily as yours (acclimatization isn't an issue)... but when they do go out of tune, it's a pain to get it back.

Old strings or new, I'll turn and turn the knobs, nothing, nothing, then all of a sudden they seem to do something. They're very inconsistent. (Especially on the G, but that's to be expected. A little.)

I know there'll be drilling/sleeving issues to deal with, but I'll definitely upgrade them at some point.

Lefty00042: That doesn't sound like the tuners at all. It sounds like the string is binding in the nut slot or slipping around the post.

minestaken: Loosen the string, pull it out of the nut and take a good ole #2 pencil and "color" the slot. It makes the strings move much better, and in most cases fixes the binding problem.

Having said that tough, I do notice that the tunes aren't very exact. There is the more than usual "play" when tuning.

nilejam: I have a 000-15S and haven't much issue with humidity really knocking it out. I don't gig with mine but I do travel around with it some and play outdoors with it frequently.

As was mentioned in earlier posts, a little graphite in the nut at strings changes will help with sudden shifts. Gradual loosening sounds more like a string slipping. I used to get that sometime on the B and E strings but looping the string back around when replacing the string has virtually eliminated that problem.

All that being said, I did replace my tuners with the Grover sta-tites (18:1). I like them better than the originals, and they are a lot less expensive than the Waverlies.

nilejam: The Grover sta-tites need an adapter that comes separate. I think it's another $6 for one set (required). No extra reaming or drilling required for that part. I guess some people have filled the holes and redrilled. I bought another set of adapters for and placed them on both sides.

You do need to pre-drill for the screws as they are different the the stock tuners. I got mine used and the screw holes were already drilled.

MikeHalloran: Most "upgrades" to Grovers or Waverlies, are cosmetic. The stock Schallers are pretty good. Mine stick a little at the end of the post in the bushing but, when they turn, the pitch does change. Wicking a mini-drop of WD-40 into that bushing fixes it for a while.

I agree with Herb that the slots in the nut are your likely culprit. Chase them with nut files about .002" wider than the guage of strings you are using and you should be ok. Most of these slots can come down a hair also -- this fixes other intonation problems. This is easy to overdo so, if in doubt, have it done by a pro.

5. Replacing Tuning Machines 000-15S
I want to replace the tuning machines on my 000-15S with open-gear Waverlies. First of all is there any reason why this would not be advisable? Secondly, are there differences between the tuning machines for use with paddle-heads and slotheads that would impact my purchase of the new machines? Finally, where is the best place (cost-wise) to buy the Waverlies?

katshan: We just did this yesterday on my 000-15. The whole process went very well and it looks really great. We took the closed geared tuners off and replaced them with open geared butterbean tuners that are stamped 'C.F. Martin'. To answer you question - yes, there is more info if you do a search in within this area of UMGF on replacing tuners. As for purchasing your Waverlies, Stew Mac is one but not the only source. I'm sure you won't be sorry you made the change. Best of luck.

EScottG: You’ll need the tuners made specifically for slotheads because you want the proper length post that has the string hole in the middle.

Press-fit conversion bushings will allow you to use the existing factroy holes in the headstock. You can get the conversion bushings for about $7/set at Stew-Mac here:

Conversion Bushings

If you get two sets of these it takes care of both the inner and outer holes for each tuner post.

I installed the 18:1 Grover Sta-tites on my D-15S and they have been great. They tune smoothly and look awesome on the slothead. I used the bushings from Stew-Mac and this method works very well.

Here is some info from a UMGF thread I recently saved that may help you. I forget who wrote this:

“I replaced the stock tuners on my 15S with Waverlies and here is my story -- it went smoothly.

I got two sets of the replacement bushings from Stew Mac. I took a cheap-**s scwerdriver with a 1/8" blade that was laying around the house and put the blade end in a vice and put a 1/8" ell in the end with a hammer. This 'field engineered' tool slips right into the hole in the stock bushings and by hooking the rear lip, they slip right out. Stanley has a set of bent-tip awls that will also do the same thing. New bushings slip in, Waverlies slip in. I had a set of Three on a Plate, so I only had four new screws (pretty dinky ones) to deal with on each side. An electric drill seemed like not only overkill, but also a significant chance of marring something. Awl to the rescue. I used a small sharp awl and just pressed it through the screw holes in the plate and voila, pilot holes the right size for small screws.

This all took place in about the same amount of time that its taken me to type this.”

katshan: I got them from a guy on eBay. I've gotten two sets of these tuners from him so far and I originally got this link here on UMGF from someone else. In this link he's selling gold butterbean tumers, he also has chrome and they're $42 + change. If you make the Seller a 'Favorite' in your Favorites section you can watch and wait until he lists some chrome tuners, which he does regularly. Here's the link:

I think Grover Stay Tites 18:1 ratio from Stew Mac would work very well and look great too. Just about the same price.

As for modifications - you need to drill an extra small hole because the tuners attach top & bottom, unlike the old ones that only have one attachment hole. Then - you need to enlarge the tuning post hole just a little bit, preferably with a slight taper. A hand reamer can be used or Matthewrust has used a pencil with sandpaper wrapped around it to do it. My husband went to the hardware store and bought what I'd describe as a kind of tapered reamer drill bit and he just TOUCHED the tuning post hole a little bit, but it worked flawlessly. According to what I've read here and on Brian Kimsey's site the push-in bushing should go in 1/3 of the way into the hole, then it can be pressed in using a C clamp and a piece of wood the rest of the way. That's the method we used. If you take your time, work slowly and carefully you will be very happy with the results. I did many searches on this site to glean as much info as I could before we proceeded. UMGF did not let me down. I was able to get all of the pics and info we needed and also studied Brian Kimsey's site too which has very good pics. If you do some searches here you'll be able to read some very good info about the process.

Bushings - No, didn't use or order any extra bushings or parts. We used only what was supplied in the box and it worked perfectly.

Best of luck to you. It feels like I have a new guitar! I've also put in a bone saddle & pins on this 000-15 and have glossed it out. These changes have made a huge difference. It's one sweet guitar. You should be very happy with the results if you decide to change your tuners too.

tmansonusa: I just compared the Waverlies to the tuners now on my 000-15S and the screw holes are way off. I am now concerned that I will either have to fill and finish the existing holes or have unsightly holes showing where the old ones used to be. This is a major obstacle for me (I was thinking the screw holes would be in the same place, but they obviously aren't) and I may rethink the whole project.

Are there any reliable, accurate, good looking open gear tuners that have the same hole pattern as the Schallers?

EScottG: the Grover Sta-tites I installed on my D-15S completely covered up the holes from the Schallers.

Trap646: Go to "www.warpdrivemusic.com" or look on Ebay under tuners and they have Grover Statites for $39.95 plus shipping in gold plate. They don't have the bushings though,ordered them from Stewmac. Worked great, looked great.

Bud0505: I recently replaced the tuners on my 000-15S with Waverly three on a plate. The existing bushing literally fell out of the headstock and the new bushing fit snugly. The plate on the Waverlies covered the existing screw holes with the exception of a vary tiny crescent moon shape on the end closest to the nut. I filled that hole with a mahogany touch up pencil I purchased a Home Depot and it bleds in perfectly. The new tuners are a definite improvement.

6. 000-28 NB discontinued?
I approached a local Martin dealer about consigning my Norman Blake 000-28 model. He seems to think that's it's now a discontinued model. Can anyone verify or refute that, please?

Michael Segui: The BRW version is discontinued.

Fingerstyle2: The Indian RW model is still on the Martin website among the rest of the current models. This is what Martin said in the Sounding Board in January '04:
Quote: The 000-28B Brazilian rosewood model will be limited to just 100 special instruments, while the the 000-28 Norman Blake Special Edition Signature Model will have an unspecified ordering period.

musicandlight: I think they only made 50 of the Braz Blakes.

7. Martin: "Faulty" Intonation?
Do you think Martin has an "intonation problem?"

Lefty00042: [Some] 70's Martins had problems when they were made with misplaced bridges (due to a faulty or worn manufacturing jig as I understand it).

Martin Ping: There are too many variables around humans playing guitars to blame the actual guitar IMO...I am very heavy handed sometimes when I play and it will drive intonation crazy...When I play softly, not so much of a problem...

And this is with all brands of guitars I play...My personal guitars are setup by one of the best and I believe them to be as close as you can get...But I can still pull em sharp...

Technique has a tremendous effect on intonation...Martin guitars are less the cause IMO...

DogbiteOW: As far as the inherent untuneability of the guitar, this is due to the "equal temperament" tuning system embodied in the frets. Equal temperament is a system of tuning that allows us (musicians, not only guitarists) to play in any key. But no key is perfectly in tune, just as no key is so out of tune as to be unbearable. So tuning the guitar is at best a second-best case. Read this as an introduction to the four basic tuning systems.

Strictly speaking, intonation is a different matter, as it refers to the correct placement of the guitar's parts (frets, nut, saddle) so as to correctly implement the equal-tempered scale. Slanting the saddle on a steel string, and compensating the saddle, are both methods of improving intonation. Note that on Hawaiian style guitars, the saddle is set perpendicular to the strings.

Intonation can usually be improved via a setup, some (apparently not all) 70's dreads required relocating either or both the saddle and bridge. Other factors affecting intonation are the strings (guage, stiffness, and tension) and the height of the action.

tippie53: Intonation on acoustics is at best a trade off. Here are a few of the inferences that can influence intonation.

1st action height. The higher the action the more you have a change to pull the string sharp.

2nd strings yes strings , the intonation is created by compensating the scale for strings working length. This in influenced by gage alloy etc.

3rd humidity as the top raises and lowers this will play with the action height as the saddle rides on the top.

So as you can see getting the intonation right isn't that easy. There are so many influences and all must be considered.

jbbancroft: I own a 1949 00-18 and a 1950 000-18 that are slightly off. You can tell if they are off by tuning and playing the string open and also at the 12th fret. If the pitch is sharp or flat at the 12th fret as compared to the same string played open, you can have a intonation problem.

Some of the 70's Martins bridges were too far forward, thus they were sharp at the 12th fret. The above 2 guitars I mentioned are slightly flat at the 12th fret, thus the bridge/saddle is too far back. Best way I have found to correct the problem is simply remove and reglue the bridge in the proper place, although there is a little more to it than that.

Most of the time you can hear the problem as you play up the neck but generally won't notice it much in the first position.

P7328: I am the original owner of of a 1972 D-28 which the low E fretted to the G position would sharp. About four years ago I took the guitar to a fine Martin warranty luthier to replace a peeling pick guard, and asked him to look into the intonation issue. His measurement of the bridge placement quickly disclosed that it was at about 1/8 inch too far forward in relation to the nut. Martin authorized and paid for the removal and replacement of the saddle with a new ebony saddle identical to the original, except that it was hand slotted 1/8 inch further back from the "standard" location. Although fearful, I authorized the repair, and the guitar now has near perfect intonation and, I think, sounds even better.

Arnoldgtr: Yes, a change in action (on either end) will affect intonation. Other things that affect intonation are string gauge and neck relief.

MikeHalloran: For a string to fret in tune, the following have to be perfect: string, fret placement, fret crown center -- most guitars made nowdays are pretty good on this score. In addition, the nut placement, and height must be as clost to ideal as possible plus the string ramps must allow the string to break perfectly at the edge -- all usually part of a good setup.

Then there is the bridge. The saddle must be wide enough to allow shaping so that all strings are the correct length. 3/32" is awfully thin to accomplish that but it is possible with heavier strings. Change the guage or the height and the saddle may no longer be in the exact position. Even the 1/8" saddle that Gibson uses allows for greater range but is not ideal. Takamine has the right idea of using two saddles for optimum placement but it doesn't look traditional.

If a large number of players had their bridges modified so that the guitars would play correctly in tune, the major makers would follow suit.

But, for now, would you buy a Gibson or Martin that used two saddles?

I use heavier strings and have no problems with either my 000-15S or my Gibby J-100. Your intonation may vary.

collings0002h: Lowden uses two saddles and their intonation is excellent

8. How do I measure saddle placement?
I know about judging a saddle's placement by checking intonation at the twelfth fret, but how do I measure the saddle slot's placement? The saddle is supposed to be the same distance from the twelfth fret as the twelfth fret is from the nut, I know, but since the saddle slot is slanted, I don't know where on the saddle to measure.

jzach46: Actually, no. The saddle slot AT THE HIGH E STRING should be from the nut twice the distance from the nut to the 12th fret PLUS 1/8." This assures that all strings get the needed compensation.

jbbancroft: This is the measurement I use. On the first string, high E, measure the distance from the nut, where the string comes off, to the center of the 12th fret. Now transfer this measurement from the center of the 12th fret to the saddle slot. that measurement should be to the front edge of the saddle slot.

For the low E or 6th string, I add 3/32" to the above measurement, and that will be the front edge of saddle at the low E string.
Your intonation should be right on.

tippie53: Here is the correct Martin location. If you use the 12th fret and double , the intonation will not be correct as all you have is scale length not compensated length.

I was trained at Martin for repair and they taught me how to place this . They use a jig and I copied it and the lengths of the jig hold out to what I will document here . You do measure the line of the 1st (high E ) from the nut to the saddle and add .100 for lights and .125 for medium gage strings. This will compensate the scale for the working length of the string. If you place this at the actual scale length you will be sharp and as the guitar action increases this will get worse.

It can get very confusing and as a luthier I have seen this topic covered often here. Scale length has to do with the actual placement of the frets and is referred to as the length of the nut to the 12th fret doubled. It is figured based on a mathematical formula.

Working length , is the length that the string is when it is played. The arc created is actually longer that the string in a straight line. This is why intonation can be so tricky. You have to match the saddle to the strings working length.

Compensation is the placement of the saddle to accommodate the working length in order for the intonation to be as correct as possible up the fingerboard in the higher positions.

I hope I cleared up some of our questions and help you understand the differences in the terminology.

jsalmon: The ideal compensation depends on a lot of factors, including scale length, action, and string gauge and modulus of elasticity. Which is why I suggested that if you have a guitar already strung up and you are trying to answer the question "is my saddle compensation correct?" the approach I suggested above is far more revealing than taking measurements will be.

In his book, Cumpiano gives the measurement of 0.150" added to the centerline, i.e. between D & G strings. StewMac sells a saddle locating tool that places the centerline of the saddle 7/64" back on the high E, and 13/64" back on the low E. This works out to about 0.156" added to the centerline.

tippie53: Action string alloy all come into play. You measure to the line of the 1st string ( Hi E ) from nut to saddles leading edge
24.9 set to 25.0
25.4 set to 25.5
24.9 set to 25.025
25.4 set to 25.525

this will get you there. You can then have room to compensate the saddle . The action height will also effect intonation so if you like a higer action you can work the saddle for each string.

9. Martin Guitars A history by M. Longworth
What would be a fair price for:
1 third edition 1988 hard cover
2 first edition 1975 Omnibus Press soft cover printer for Europe I think

J40M: Mike Longworth came to Martin as a well established inlay artist. He made his name taking 28 series guitars and adding fancy inlays to them. Mike soon became part of the Martin family and took on many other rolls in the company. Many forum members have great stories to tell about how Mike personally helped them out.

The "Book" that is frequently refered to on this forum is Martin Guitars - A History by Mike Longworth. It is a history of the C.F. Martin Co., its founder C.F. Martin and the leadership that followed as well as a conpendium of facts, figures, production numbers, list prices, and descriptions of all of the musical instruments that Martin has produced over the years. Although it is rather dry reading it is truly a great reference for anyone interested in Martin Guitars. I remember spending Christmas day '88 reading the copy my sister gave me from cover to cover.

secondroy: I paid $75 for one about three or four years ago. I think I got a buy on it but I didn't really check around much.

J40M: I seem to recall the used hardbound unsigned copies going for about $150.00. There are 2 paperback ones on Amazon right now for $140.00 and $150.00. These seem to be going up in value at a faster rate than the guitars themselves.

jsalmon: Expect the value to drop when the new edition is printed later this year.

poverly: I was visiting with Frank Ford and Richard Johnston on Friday (6/16/06), and I asked for the next best guess on publication for the Johnston/Boak revision/replacement/edition of the Longworth Martin history. DECEMBER (this coming one ). so keep your powder dry and fingers crossed.

Black Hole Gang: The Johnston/Washburn Book on Martin is also a great one. It's not dry at all, though, and makes very interesting reading. Filled with the photos of the family, the history and the players. Highly recommended!

10. OM-35 Owners: I need some specs please.
I'm trying to get an idea of the size of the guitar, because the Martin website doesn't give many specs. And there aren't any OM models in the guitar stores nearby.

So I would like to know:
Upper Bout
Lower Bout
Body Length

Rnbguitars: From the Features page on the Martin site:
OOO (also OM)
Total Length 39 13/16"
Body Length 19 3/8"
Body Width 15 3/16"
Body Depth 4 1/8"

bojax34: The OM-21 and OM-42 are the only others that I know of with a 1 3/4" nut and a low profile neck (but I'm sure there are others).




11. Does neck material affect tone?
Todd Stuart Phillips: I would think that neck size and the material used to make the neck would influence the ultimate voice of a guitar if you were using a traditional, glued in, dovetail neck joint, because the vibrations move up into the neck and back into the body.

How much does the difference in wood matter? That would depend on the wood, obviously. The density of the wood would affect how well vibrations transfered, what frequencies were absorbed and which ones were actually enhanced and so on. But if you look at all the necks out there, including those made out of maple, those made in layers or pieces, etc. obviously you still get great guitars with any number of necks.

Necks matter even in non-dovetail neckjoints, of course. The fact Bill Collings puts 4 steel rods in his bolt-on neck certainly has something to do with the signature Collings Sound.

My guess, in terms of the current state of Martin necks: wings will provide no noticable difference in the voice of the models. Spanish cedar instead of mahogany may have some affect, as they do have different hardness. But I am guessing it is a much smaller effect than that exhibited by brace thickness, neckjoint type, saddle material, bridge wood, and many other factors.

My only concern about Spanish cedar (I would be happy to own a Martin with that wood in the neck) is the softness of the wood when it comes to getting dents and dings in it. If it holds up to capos and boneheaded players who don't watch what they are doing when playing my guitar as well as mahogany then I would not have any issue at all.

MikeM: Well, Del Langejans guitars come to mind. His guitars are noted for huge sound, great bass and lots of sustain. Always has been stated that his solid Rosewood necks have a LOT to do with that. Mike

MarinerCross: The neck material definitely effects the tone on electric guitars, as does the fingerboard material. I have heard a couple of well respected luthiers discussing how different neck materials change the tone on an acoustic guitar. The talk at the time (several years ago) was that it was subtle, but definitely audible. I have even heard that fret material can somewhat effect tone.

As stated earlier, everything affects tone. It is just a matter of how much.

talon5550: I know, on my guitar, if I wrap my hand around its neck, and twist my hand just right, to produce one of those "finish squeaks," the sound that comes out of the soundhole is amazing. The first time I realized that, I pretty well figured the neck has a LOT to do, with the tone of my VS.

tonguy: My experience has been that the dimensions of a neck have more impact on tone and sustain than the type of wood used(among the most common neck woods). The most responsive and dynamic Martins I own feature 1-7/8" necks, and this includes 12- and 14-fret models.

twelvefret: Evidently not only the neck, but the type of truss rod used effects the tones produced. I think I have read that the ways in which the neck is attached can also play a role in sound.

I am more concerned about graphed necks than wood choice. While the graphs are probably stronger, I am concerned about the impact on tone.

rocknrollrjm: Bill Collings puts a good amount of steel in his necks. Alot of hardcore traditionalists don't favor this. The added mass of his necks may very well contribute to his extremely consistant tone, sustain, string definition & volume of just about any Collings you pick up. Not that the other things he does doesn't contrubute.

I just wonder what a Collings would sound like if, all things equal, the neck & neck joint was built like a Martin.

Watsonfan: I've also noticed (and read here several times before) that larger, beefier necks tend to contribute to a louder sound. In addition, for me, the sound projects more, is definitely more 'open' with a 1 3/4" vs 1/11/16" neck.

MikeHalloran: The more resonant the neck is, the more likely it is to develop dead spots. Dead spots occur when the neck wants to vibrate in sympathy with the string or harmonic -- think of it like a sponge sucking up the tone.

In any case, luthiers who are concerned with this issue will often load up the neck with unequal length steel and or graphite rods. The idea is to shift the resonant frequency high enough so that it doesn't interact. When this works, the guitar should be a little louder with much smoother response.

Electric basses are more prone to this than guitars -- in fact, dead spots are a real issue with amplified basses.

12. Neck material, when did they change?
When did they change from Solid Mahogany to Select hardwood? Sorry if this have been up before, didn't find any info when I did a search

rt1965: According to Linda, as of now, the only models to have been spec'd for Spanish Cedar that weren't alreay spec'd for it are as follows:

Most of the 1 Series

Some of the above guitars were switched in May or June of 2005. Linda didn't say for sure, but based off a phone call I had with Customer Service the serial numbers indicating the switch are not available as of yet.

The 16 series was already spec'd with Spanish Cedar so no changes there. But keep in mind that guitars based off the 16 series will probably have Spanish Cedar necks. So the new fingerstyle model and some of the new limited and special editions are included in that.

When I aksed the chances of getting my new D-18V with a Mahogany neck, she did say that it should arrive with mahogany but will have headstock wings.

This is just speculation on my part but it sounds like headstock wings are now pretty much standard. I would guess that Martin is holding any Mahogany neck blocks large enough to be used without wings for guitars like the Authentic and other higher end models. Perhaps Martin is still able to buy Mahogany neck blocks but only ones that have to have wings.

cfmwoodbuyer: Add to the current Spanish cedar neck list - most of the 1 Series, HD35, and OM21.

Lefty00042: Some 16's have been using "select hardwood" (e.g., Spanish cedar) for several years. The general change across the Martin lineup started last year.

Mac Carter: I believe that it was about a year ago, just before MartinFest 4. It was a hot enough topic that Linda Davis-Wallen (cfmwoodbuyer - Martin's wood procurement manager) came to the Boro Park to talk to us about it.

rt1965: Some models were switched about a year ago, and the rest about six months ago. Martin is still using Mahogany on most of their higher end guitars including many in the standard series, but the switch on the spec sheet allows them to switch anytime as the Mahogany supply dwindles.

You will also see many more guitars built with the ever so famous headstock wings. That has become the primary issue in that Martin can no longer find Mahogany blocks big enough to fill the need for production. The current wood of choice as the replacement is Spanish Cedar.

rt1965: According to CFMWoodbuyer, Martin has used wings since around the year 2000. She also says that Spanish Cedar has been in use for roughly the same time. It was the neck wood of choice for the 16 series long before the term "Select Hardwood" was used.

cfmwoodbuyer: Rich is correct. We reintroduced Spanish Cedar necks (after 4 years of testing) and also began using headstock wings on some Mahogany necks in the year 2000.

MikeHalloran: >Is there some way to tell the difference between Spanish Cedar and Mahogany

Yes. The grain is different -- fillers and stain when used will highlight the differences -- much easier to see than to explain. The ideal way is to see enough of each A/B'd so that you can tell the difference. This can be done at any large Martin Dealer, ideally with a salesman knowledgable enough to be able to point it out.

BTW, Spanich cedar has always been a staple of the high end classical guitar market. Guild even used it on the Mark VII (mine, anyways).

bobdcat: Martin used to use it, too, before they switched to the cheaper, more plentiful mahogany. So, it's not a lowering of standards - it's a return to a traditional material now that mahogany has gotten scarce and expensive.

martinlover: I do recall that when Martin used Spanish Cedar for guitar necks long ago....There were NOT steel string guitars.
Charlie___"Ya gotta be tough...ta' live out West"

bobdcat: Quote: ...and had no truss rods.

rt1965: Linda, are you able to update us as to what models are currently getting Mahogany versus SC? I remember your post earlier this year stating the only guitars to have been switched at that point in time were the Standard 18's and 35's, but I believe that was back in January. Anything you can share at this point in time?

mblankenship: C.F. Martin carves the necks for their guitars from a single piece of wood. Therefore, the piece of wood had to be at least as wide as the top of the headstock. This means a lot of wood had to be carved off to narrow it down to the desired neck size. Solid pieces of mahogany and spanish cedar that are as wide as the headstock are harder to come by these days, so they will use a piece of wood that is at least as wide a the thickest part of the neck. This results in much less "waste," and allows for more pieces of wood that meet the requirements.

After the neck is carved, they then glue a piece of wood on either side of the headstock to make it regulation size. These pieces of wood are roughly 5" long and 3/8" wide. You cannot see them from the front of the guitar, as the headplate covers them up. If you look real carefully at the back of the headstock, you can sometimes see the parts they glued on; one on each side. These are called "wings."

C.F. Martin does not do this on all their necks; just the ones that are not quite as wide as the top of the headstock. This does not affect the integrity of the neck in any way whatsoever, because nothing is fastened to the wings. They are just there for cosmetic purposes. Other guitar companies have been doing this for years.
I hope this clears things up for you, because I have no pictures to post. My HD-28V has a neck carved out of a single piece of wood, and did not need wings to make the headstock wide enough.

Rod Neep: Little pieces of mahogany glued either side of the hreadstock like these:

It saves a LOT of mahogany as the neck can be carved from a narrower chunk of wood.

jsalmon: Slotheads never have "wings," correct?

rt1965: I think you are correct. This would be a structural issue, so Martin will have to be using those bigger Mahogany neck blocks for the slotheads as well. At least until they are switched.

Lefty00042: Linda relayed an anecdote last August in Nazareth that basically indicated that she had gone the week before to inspect something like 20,000 board-feet of mahogany Martin was interested in buying and less than 5,000 of it met their quality standards. I might have the specific numbers wrong but that was the gist. Perhaps Linda can clarify if I'm mis-remembering.

The point is, the stuff is drying up pretty quickly.

Arnoldgtr: The important dimension is thickness. Martin cuts neck blanks 'on the side', meaning that the thickness of the lumber determines the width of the headstock. This is the most practical way to use slab-cut lumber...turn it 90 degrees and it becomes quartersawn.
It takes 3" thick lumber (aka 12/4) to make a one-piece Martin neck. The winged necks require 2 1/2" (10/4) lumber. Since the heel dimension on a dreadnought is closer to 4", these are the only two options to make a neck that doesn't have a grafted headstock or heel. Mahogany lumber that is 4" thick is even more rare, expensive, and wasteful.

Rnbguitars: This newsletter was posted on one of the luthier supply houses' site. It paints somewhat of a rough-road ahead for the future of Mahogany...I can see why CFM is having a problem w/ supply & demand when they are producing close to 60,000 guitars/year, and why they have gone the "Select Hardwoods" route. It's really too bad because Mahogany is such a great wood for musical instruments. It...being the benchmark neck material for Martin for so many years, and many other guitar companies as well.

Mahogany Outlook

MAHOGANY (SWIETENIA MACROPHYLLA)Genuine mahogany, also known as Honduran or Bigleaf mahogany grows from Mexico south to Brazil. It's one of three species of genuine mahogany, but the only one that's really commercially available. It is on the WWF list of 10 most endangered species and is on appendix II of the Cites Treaty, and requires CITES documentation when shipping out of the U.S. Most of the mahogany came out of Brasil in the last 30 years or so, but these days, much comes from Peru as well as several of the Central American countries. Although still available it is getting increasingly difficult to obtain, and maintaining quality is just as difficult.

mblankenship: Whittling a 4" piece of lumber down to 3'4" in some spots must produce one hell of a pile of mahogany wood shavings. It just makes sense to try to limit that pile as much as you can. Taylor guitars already have detached headstocks and, in some cases, detached heels. I'm not suggesting that C.F.Martin go that route, but still, one of these days.....

>>Martin must have switched to Headstock Wings on the vintage series soon after.....My '05 OM-18V does not have wings, but my '05 HD-28V does have wings.<<

Maybe the switch occured about the middle of '05. My HD-28V was made in early '05, and the neck is one solid piece of mahogany. No wings. But then again, not every single neck that C.F.Martin makes needs wings. I guess some does, and some doesn't(sic).

cfmwoodbuyer: Currently, we do not buy precut neck blanks or blocks. John Arnold beat me to it and described how we cut necks perfectly. ALL one piece necks require cutting 12/4 (3" lumber) to get the headstock width and cutting 10/4 (2 1/2" thick requires the addition of wings on the headstock. Until the year 2000, we were able to acquire enough 12/4 to make our entire production with one piece Mahogany necks. That hasn't been true since than, we saw it coming, and will only continue to get worse. Thus, the addition also of Spanish Cedar, Stratabond, etc..

We will be forced as time goes on to test and use other species, materials, and designs out of necessity.

Lefty00042: For what it's worth, the Stratabond neck on my LXBlack feels and plays great. If not for the somewhat unusual look, you'd never know it wasn't a solid, one-piece neck. I haven't yet played a Spanish cedar neck, though the ones I've seen looked nice; at the Picking Parlor during MartinFest last year I don't remember anyone complaining about them.

cfmwoodbuyer: the X series is all Stratabond for one. It is all far more complicated, and I already reported that 18's & 35's are Spanish cedar (for example).

rt1965: In addition, the X series have Stratabond necks. The 35's and 18's have been switched and anything in those series made after mid 2005 are now getting Spanish Cedar. I'm not sure that any of the 16's are getting Mahogany based on their cost, but if they were they have been switched as well.

cfmwoodbuyer: Spanish cedar is listed on Appendix 3 of the CITES Treaty. It is currently in as short a supply as Mahogany, since many industries, including the guitar industry, jumped on it as a viable substitute for Mahogany. As a result, the price keeps escalating because of shorter supplies and increased demand. So, it's future is not a lot brighter.

Regarding customs, a custom gets the neck material that is specified on the base model used to specify the custom, unless the customer pays for an upgrade.

No one likes change, but it is more and more a part of our lives and a necessity. Be assured that anything we would introduce in the future will be thoroughly tested for suitability, etc.

13. Neck Profiles
This is a question for those of you who have played the modified V neck as well as the low profile neck. How do the two vary regarding feel? The reason I ask is because I am looking for a rosewood dred to accompany my D-18. The only problem is there are no dealers in my area who stock anything with the modified V, so I won't be able to test drive. I have been looking at the HD-28V real hard and would have to have it ordered. I mainly pick, use alot of barre chords, and don't have meaty paws. Thanks in advance.

Lefty00042: I don't have meaty paws, nor particularly long fingers, but I have no trouble with Martin's modified-V necks. I've got them in 14-fret long scale, 14-fret short scale and 12-fret short scale flavors. I think they're great and I don't have any particular trouble with barre chords (well, any more trouble than I have with any other chords).

BobAtlGa: I have played my 1978 D-35 since I bought it new. It does not have a V neck although the profile is not quite as low as todays low profile necks. I now play an HD-28V and an OM-18V with the modified V necks. The first week I played the HD-28V (got it first) it took some getting used to from the old D-35. Now I prefer the modified V necks and probably will stay with them for for the most part with future purchases. I can go back and forth now between the two neck profiles and both feel comfortable. I don't have overly large hands or long fingers so I think you should be okay. The HD-28V sounds KILLER (mine does) so I'd say go for it.

Threadbare Cat: I find that players that wrap their hands all the way around the neck and put the ‘V’ part of the neck in the valley that the thumb and index finger forms, prefer the ‘V’ neck. Players that put their thumbs directly behind the neck to assert pressure when they play, such as classical players, like the low profile neck more. Just my observation...

DM3MD: A Modified V neck is extremely comfortable as someone noted above in the space between your thumb and index finger when playing. The MV neck can be, in my experiences, a little uncomfortable say around the 9th fret up when playing with your thumb directly in the center of the neck. I hope this makes sense. Either way, my DM3MD has a Mod V neck and it is comfortable, and my HD-28V that is coming in on Friday has the same. You don't really "feel the V" until you start fretting the really high frets, but again, that's me.

Play the low-pro and the Mod V neck side by side. If you feel discomfort with the Mod V and not with the low-pro, there is your answer.

For the record, I have very small hands and very skinny fingers. Also, I wear a size 12 shoe.

Guitone: I can play both but the low profile is much more comfortabe for my slightly arthritic hands...I am also not able to play a standard 25.4 scale for very long, so go an play a bunch of guitars and spend an hour if you can and see what works for you.
All things retro, Martin guitars, Rivendell bicycles, Converse Chuck Taylors.

14. Got a FMI saddle...
from Maury's (great place). I put it in tonight and it sounds great. Now do I stay with the ebony pins I'm using or might I get even better sounds with ivory pins? This is on my D-15 Custom with SP phosphor bronze lights.

dom000: ivory pins will probably give your guitar more of a bright, clear cut sound. you might find it to be a little much, but it's an easily reversable experiment. i have ivory pins on my Marquis, and i'm usually an ebony guy. i'm going to switch them out tommorow, and hopefully cut a little of that brightness out.

tonguy: Hardwood pins will take some of the edge off the tone produced by a brighter-sounding saddle like FWI or FMI or bone. Ivory or bone pins will add yet more crispness - you get to decide if it is too much for your 'hog/spruce combo. Another alternative might be to try Buffalo Horn, which offers clarity like bone but with a more warmth and depth. It is pretty stuff, too - I've seen it both very dark and light colors, which both look very cool, especially on mahogany guitars.

15. Little Martin Questions...
The Martin website states the fingerboards and bridges are made of Black Micarta. The detailed pictures, however, show something that either looks like striped ebony or rosewood on all models except the LXBlack. Anyone know what they actually come with? Elderly show picures with Black Micarta, Martin shows something else. I'm confused.

StringPlucker: I have an LXM and LX1. They both have Micarta fingerboards & bridges. IIRC some of the larger X-series guitars have rosewood fingerboards & bridges as well as spruce tops.

By the way the fingerboard pictured on the Martin website looks like the Morado they use on the Backpacker & SO Uke for the fingerboard. Maybe the new LXM/LX1's will start having the Morado as Martin has been phasing out Micarta on it's other guitars and they just forgot to update the specification sheet. This will make all the "I hate plastic" traditionalists happy.

Mac Carter: The specs for the LXM now show a Morado fingerboard and bridge.

rt1965: I must have caught them mid-change! Yesterday the website still said Micarta, but had the newer pictures! Personally for this guitar, I think the Micarta looks better and I really don't mind it at all.

cb00ne: I see they're using morado on the "wood" models, but for the LXBlack (the one I'm thinking of getting, unless they come out with some other colors) and the LXNugentVarmintHunter, it appears they're sticking with Micarta.

revlittlemartin: How hard is it to put a pick guard on the LXM? It seems like an real small space. I think I am going to have to order one! It looks so much better.

JWS LO3: It is not hard at all. You have to take the strings off to do it easily. Just make sure that you have it where you want it before you press hard.

There are instructions for installing a pickguard at the top of the Technical section here.

OldZephyr: My Little Martin (LXK2) sounded good with the stock medium strings. But Martin 80-20 strings (lights) were an improvement in playability, and I like the D'Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze lights better yet for sound and playability.

16. OM-18V Saddle
I am considering an OM-18V, as I think the wider neck would be more comfortable for me, as well as it being a fine guitar all round.

The only reservation I have is that it has a non-standard, glued-in saddle, and on my other Martins I have found a marked improvement by replacing the saddle with bone.

Is this a serious drawback? A deal breaker?

Lefty00042: If it's a new one, it will have a replaceable drop-in (not glued) long saddle. Martin switched the Vintage Series from long glued-in Micarta saddles to drop-in Micarta sometime in 2003, and then drop-on bone saddles after that. The FAQ has the serial numbers for the changeover to bone for each model.

17. For Aura Equipped Martin Owners... How About Bone Saddles?
When purchasing my Martin OMC Aura I asked about the benefits of fitting a bone saddle as I am inclined to do with all my guitars. The response I got was that bone saddles tend to make the tone too harsh on this guitar. I have also read that bone and the Aura do not mix due to the system relying upon the consistency of Tusq and that the images reflect a Tusq equipped guitar.

Anyway not trusting this advice, I have fitted two individual bone saddles in the last couple of weeks and find that the above advice is in keeping with my experiences, and have returned to a Tusq saddle. However, a a convert to bone saddles it remains in the back of my mind that maybe I should try again, as I prefer the sustain of a bone equipped guitar.

So, all you owners of Aura equipped Martins, have you tried a bone saddle or not? And what was your experience… or have you simply stuck with the tusq saddle and why?

Afiore: I switched both the nut and saddle to bone and am very happy. I have not experienced any harshness and was very satisfied when I heard the guitar with that change completed.

MauryOM28V: I've tried bone, FMI, FWI and tusq on my OMC-16RE Aura and I like Tusq the best when plugged in. Just my .02

18. How do you restore fading rosewood bridge?
My rosewood bridge and fretboard are fading or washing out. If they get wet, they come right back, for example. I guess I could just put some oil (lemon?) on them, but that will fade pretty quickly. Is there anything else I could do?

mikeoso: Gibson sells a fretboard conditioner that I've used satisfactorily on my rosewood boards and bridges.

oz osborne: surprising - normally rosewood doesn't dry out like that, but i have seen it:

I revived a very dried-out rosewood bridge (result of BAD music store humidity) on a seagull S6 with woodwind bore oil - it's used for clarinets 'n such - you can get it at most any music store -- just rub it in ACROSS the grain with your fingers, let it sit for awhile and wipe off the excess with a paper towel -- you can repeat this process once every week or two until it "comes back" -- 'been using it for years - recommended to me by a VERY competent luthier back in the 70's (oops - my age is showing) ....

btw, CFM specifically cautions AGAINST the use of lemon oil (it's on their website - i think in the FAQ section) - their claim is that it might react with the finish

johnreid: Is it drying out or changing due to exposure to UV light? When I bought my D-28 the Rosewood was real dark, now several years later it is getting lighter. I am speaking of the backs and sides. I seem to think that Rosewood gets lighter and Spruce gets darker with time.

Threadbare Cat: I recommend doing absolutely nothing! But what Martin would do to darken the bridge and fretboard is to very lightly apply a coating of 3-in-1 oil. Pour the oil into a cloth first then wipe on a thin coat...

DM3MD: It IS possible to use a polishing compound and polish the bridge on a buffer wheel. not the job for the shaky hands or the nervous wits, but a qualified tech or luthier could handle it.

I had it done to a Martin ebony bridge, and the results were incredible. Pics available on request.

EDIT: Come to think of it, a good carnuba wax and a polishing wheel on the end of a drill would work, too.

Tim McKnight: I use these products. Only takes a few drops of FB Oil applied every six months.

Many factories and luthiers use FB Dye to evenly blacken [EBONY] headplates, FB's and bridges. This product is very messy AND permanant and should only be used by professionals. It can be used on RW as well.

thermality: Maury sells an excellent fretboard oil that you can also use on your bridge. If yours is really dry, I recommend using it as per instructions at several string changes, then taper off to 3 or 4 times a year. You might also want to use some fretboard cleaner before you use the oil the first time.

SabuJSE: I use something on the fretboards of my rosewood guitars called Fret Doctor - best oil ever. No joke. Makes rosewood look like ebony with like, a drop or three.

Love the stuff - highly recommended:

19. Stradivarius ?
A few years ago I recall reading an article in a scientific journal where all the various suppositions for a Strad sounding so good were discounted and only one reason remained that was verified independently. I've forgotten where I read the article and the reason and wonder if someone recalls the reason. I'm also curious if anyone knows how they dealt with dryness and humidity in an era without many humidity instruments?

MikeHalloran: You may be referring to a Scientific American cover story from October 1981: "The Acoustics of Violin Plates," by Carleen Maley Hutchins. Nearly every musician that I hung with had a copy of that on the coffee table including me.

It featured extensive analysis of the plates and determined that the old Cremona fiddles were just built better -- there was no special secret.

Or was it Secrets of the Stradivarius: An Interview with Joseph Nagyvary from June, 2002? You can find that one here: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000BD557-2293-1CFD-93F6809EC5880000 This is an interesting article in which he states that borax and sugar (to combat woodworm and mold) were mixed in with the varnish and that's the real secret.

BTW, many of the world's top players play a Guaneri including the late Jacha Heifitz. A Guanerius, when it comes up on the market, will sell for more than a Strad. Guaneri probably used the same varnish from the same chemist's shop that Stradavari used (it was next door to his shop) and Amati before him.

I have played the "Wellington" Strad cello, one of only 12 that he made to the modern dimension. These celli are considered priceless. To quote James Brown: "Good God!" By contrast, most of the 600 violins he made are still out there.

Enrico Spleen: There was a more recent article about this that got a lot of press. If I remember correctly (and that's always doubtful), the explanation involved climate conditions that affected the wood, maybe a drought, which led to higher density wood that was available locally at that time. Or, maybe I dreamed this, who knows.

bobdcat: Actually, it was during the Maunder Minimum. During this time, weather in Europe was several degrees colder than average with longer winters and shorter growing seasons. Tree ring density was higher because of the slow growth. This is sometime cited as a reason for the significant difference in the woods used by the famous Cremona builders.

MikeHalloran: What most do nor realize is that there are no known Strads or Guaneris with their original necks. The original necks were shorter and angled differently. These baroque fiddles sounded and played not at all the way that we know them.

When Paganini started playing his modified Guaneri del Gesu (not Strad as most assume), he set off a craze of violin modification. His sound was so powerful that nearly every old Cremonese fiddle got a new neck - angled and lengthened like his. What was interesting is that most of these fiddles responded like Paganini's.

Amati, Stradavari and Guaneri were all dead by this time and never heard these instruments sound the way that we now hear them.

BTW, Paganini did own a few instruments by Stradavarius but the most famous is a Strad guitar he bought and inscribed the top to Hector Berlioz. The guitar has 10 strings in 5 courses. Berlioz, in turn, wrote "Harold in Italy" for a Strad viola that Paganini owned.

Here is a picture of a Stradavari guitar. I could not find the Paganini/Berlioz Strad (now in the museum of the Paris Conservatory) but it is in many books. Perhaps someone could post a pic of it to this thread. http://www.usd.edu/smm/PluckedStrings/Guitars/Stradivari/StradGuitar.html

d28swdlp: Mike, I think you may be thinking of the guitar by Grobert, which Paganini inscribed to Berlioz (In the Evans book).
Also I think there is actually one violin in existance that has not had the modification you describe....incidentally when done the new neck would incorporate the original scroll and pegbox which would be sawn off (ouch...) the original shorter neck.

bjewell: Guaneri were not built to the quality standards of a Strad. And they were all over the map as to specs and wood, because the maker was a bit of a character.

But in the hands of great player, nothing touches them...

I did play on a real Strad once, scary to touch such a valuable instrument.

MikeHalloran: >Mike, I think you may be thinking of the guitar by Grobert, which Paganini inscribed to Berlioz (In the Evans book).

No, I have seen the instrument in the museum of the Paris Conservatory. I am remembering that it is a Strad. There are a few internet mentions of it as well but I can't find any pictures. It is mentioned in bios of both composers.

I have never heard of a guitar by Grobert so inscribed but I have no reason to doubt its existence.

>Guaneri were not built to the quality standards of a Strad. And they were all over the map as to specs and wood, because the maker whas a bit of a character

Hmmmm.... I thought that it was because Guaneri was a family, not an individual maker. The Guaneri of whom I was refering to signed his labels "del Gesu". Paganini and Heifitz played del Gesus. When these come to market, they always fetch more than Strad fiddles. The lower rated fiddles are made by other members of the family.

>Also I think there is actually one violin in existance that has not had the modification you describe....

Are you sure about that? The baroque Strad in the music museum had a 19th C. longer neck and has been 'restored' to its original dimensions (they think). I believe that this was done by comparing a Mathias Klotz or a Stainer fiddle that had not been modified. Like Stradavari and Del Gesu, Klotz and Stainer were students in Cremona, probably of of Amati. (I'm working from memory here -- my wife has a load of crap stacked in front of the bookcase that has our copy of Grove's Disctionary and my fiddle books so I can't just go look it up).

I, too, have played a Strad ("The Wellington" cello) and hope next year to make a pilgrimage to Rome where I can play an Amati and a Guaneri del Gesu bass. The same dealer also has Klotz's and Stainers and other goodies. The Italian fiddles cannot leave the country except to tour but the German and Austrian fiddles can be exported. I can still play them if they are there, however...

d28swdlp: The Grobert that I mentioned (pg. 47 in "Guitars from the Renaissance to Rock" by Tom and Mary Ann Evans) is also in the Museum of the Paris Conservatory.......check it out and see if that is the one you remember.
Indeed I think you are right on the Strad fiddle in that the baroque configuration was the result of a restoration rather than being in an unaltered state. So much for my memory.....
Years ago I read a book entitled the "Fiddle Finder" about the gent who traveled Europe and unearthed Stradivarius violins which had been forgotten a hundred years after his death. Wonderful reading for instrument enthusiasts.

Arnoldgtr: My point was that the timing of the Maunder Minimum doesn't 'jive' with Strad. The period of 1645-1715 was too soon before Strad was building violins, which was the late 1600's until his death in 1737. The trees with 'Maunder minimum' growth pattern would have had to have been cut at the same time as Strad, with no time for seasoning. With the seasoning methods used at the time, a builder of Strad's acclaim would most likely wait at least 10 to 15 years to season the wood. Also, the Maunder minimum represents 70 years of growth. Assuming the tight grain that is typical for an ice age, that means that a tree cut at the end of the Maunder minimum (1715) would have a band of tight-grained wood around the ouside of the tree that was no more than 1 1/2" thick. Most of this wood is trimmed off as sapwood. Trees cut after that time (and surely after Strad was procuring wood) would have normal wider-grained wood on top of the tight-grained section. Since the woods used were almost universally quartersawn, this would leave a relatively narrow band of tight-grained wood in the center of the board. This is not the type of growth pattern that is sought for instruments, then or now.
I have never seen a Strad (or other contemporary Italian violin) with this type of growth pattern in the woods used.

ETnRambler: Maybe this was the article. " Did "Little Ice Age" Create Stradivarius Violins' Famous Tone?" http://ngnews.com/news/2004/01/0107_040107_violin.html

There are many theories as to the sound of Stradivarious violins. I read an article once that discussed the impact of the water the logs were floated in prior to processing at a sawmill.

20. Good wire cutters
I stopped at the local auto supply store to pick up some headlight bulbs. On my way to the checkout counter I encounter a shelf with small tools. Lo and behold they have 4" wire cutters - for 98 cents! I never find any bargoons so, says I to my own self, "Self, pick up a few pair!" So I pick up four pair.

Tickled with my shopping excellence, I head home with my trophies.

Yesterday was string change day. I set up and start the change process. When I'm done, I get my new cutters and start trimming the strings. When I get to the "E" string the cutters won't cut through. I apply a little pressure and voila!! The head of the bargoon wire cutters snapped off at the base of the jaws.

johnreid: When buying pliers, look for the Klein brand, they are the best.

lathem: For tools that see heavy use I usually go the Sears Craftsman route. They're not necessarily any better than others, but the free replacement policy has come in handy.

geeterpicker: I've always bought the string winders with the clipper on them. Work fine for me.

Arnoldgtr: Generic wire cutters are not designed for hard wire. Some of them are hard enough, but many get notches from cutting music wire. This is especially true today with the budget tools that come from China or India.

I have found that the older American cutters, like those you can find at a flea market, seem to be better quality. I have a 4" pair of Diamond Tool and Horseshoe side cutters that I have used on guitar strings for over 20 years. The small size makes them handy to carry, but they don't have the leverage that larger cutters have. It takes some squeezing to cut the big E strings with those.
There are many premium tool brands that make cutters that will cut hard wire. On my bench, I have a set of Keiba 6 1/2" compound leverage cutters. These babies cut even the biggest strings with ease. They are the "Cadillac" of wire cutters, with a price to match.

DM3MD: the best string cutters I have found are Sears Craftsman "end-nippers"...they are lightweight, small, and sharp enough to cut the excess string CLOSE and CLEAN to the tuning peg.

SleepingRust: I snip my strings BEFORE winding, so I don't have to worry about bringing sharp cutting surfaces to within milimeters of my headstock (à la Taylor stringing technique). As to which cutters, no-name cheapies that have not let me know so far (maybe because I'm always sure to place the wire as deep in the "jaw" as it will go before the snip, taking pressure off the jaws).

hogwldfltr: I just use my Leatherman.

mikeoso: I have about a dozen of the planet wave winders with cutters in them...they cut great. why do I have a dozen? i keep one in every case, gigbag, and location where I ever MIGHT have to change a string. they have a pin puller in them as well, of course.

21. Grover vs Waverly
I'm having a custom braz rosewood built and am trying to understand the basic difference in quality of Grover vs Waverly machines. They obviouls use the same technology and both offer 18:1 ratios so just what is so different about Waverly machines that they are 3x as much as the Grover machines?

Unless I can find some compelling reason to spend the money I'm planning on putting a set of Grover Vintage Sta-Tites on the guitar.

Threadbare Cat: The Waverly’s are better machined, have better tolerances, and the tuning friction can be adjusted with a spanner wrench. They are overall better tuning machines, but the question that begs is: are they three, or four, or five times as good? I think the new Grover Sta-Tite’s are “almost” as good as Waverly’s, and for $30 a set, you could buy several sets of them for the cost of the Waverly offering...

0018G: I put a set of the Grovers on one of my guitars, and they look nice and function fine. I wouldn't think twice about using them again.

Trap646: I put on Grover statite 97's. Goldtone. 39.95 from "Cream City Music" or Warpdrive Music on Ebay. They look and work better than the money difference to me.

jsalmon: I like the Gotohs better than the Grovers. But Waverlys are still the best, imho. Whether they're worth several times as much is for you to decide...

I don't see any advantage in 18:1 ratio -- in fact I find these very high gear ratios annoying. 4:1 probably isn't high enough for easy tuning but 14:1 is more than adequate.

dmcowles: I put Grover Stay-tite, 18-1 butterbean vintage open backs on my heavily modified '68 D-18. I'm more than happy with their functionality and appearance, and don't think I'd spend $140 for Waverlys. But then, I'm kind of a tightwad ( so my bride says,) so YMMV.

watsonwannabe: Aren't the Grover openbacks the standard tuner on the Vintage Series guitars? Maybe some of those guys will chime in.

jscio: I had Grover tuners on my first Martin (Fatlines) and replaced them with Waverlys. Haven't had a single problem since. You can FEEL the difference.

I've had Waverlys installed on two subsequent 42 style guitars with excellent results. I could pay less and probably do just fine but I won't.

I'll stick with Waverly, thank you very much. Its the difference between burger and fillet, IMHO.

Martin Ping: I love Waves and have them on all my guitars...They are pricey so if that's an issue then go with the Grovers...They are really nice for the price...In no way do they compare tho IMO...

woody bee: There's a lot more difference between Grovers and Waverlies than there is between Braz and EI Rosewood. Pay the extra for the Waverlies, you won't regret it.

Gulfstrings: I have both on a couple guitars and while the Grovers work okay - no problems - if I were building a custom Braz instrument I'd spend the extra dough for the Waverlys.

Arnoldgtr: Quote: I don't see any advantage in 18:1 ratio

I agree completely. I waste too much time putting strings on them. In my experience, good old 12:1 tuners work just fine.

Quote: Aren't the Grover openbacks the standard tuner on the Vintage Series guitars?

The tuners used on the Martin Vintage Series are made by Gotoh.
Besides the superior machining, the Waverly tuners have the best materials. The Grover 18:1 tuners have a die-cast (pot metal) baseplate, brass gear, and mild steel worm. Waverlys have a special alloy heavy gauge steel baseplate, a bronze gear, and a stainless steel worm.

Even so, I prefer the design of the Grovers, because they do not have the troublesome threaded collar on the worm gear shaft.

MikeHalloran: Unless I misread the Stew-Mac catalog: "More efficient operation & more precise tuning: 16:1 gear ratio. Patented worm tension bushing eliminates looseness."

HH2006: Waverly can be better, fine, but I'd find it very hard to believe that Grovers are "pot metal." Die-cast doesn't necessarily mean pot metal. Aluminum and zinc alloys are die-cast to make some pretty high quality parts.

Here's a reference to identify pot metal as primarily alloy of lead and copper. It's true that some people refer to zinc as "pot metal," but zinc castings as a generality do not have the weaknesses and faults by which pot metal is known.


Arnoldgtr: Pot metal is a common name for die-cast zinc alloys. It is not possible to die-cast brass, bronze, or steel. Whatever you call it, the die-cast metal used in Grover tuners is nowhere near as strong or as durable as steel. From a practical point of view, it probably makes no difference. The design of the Grovers is probably plenty strong enough. Die casting is the same process used to make 99% of enclosed tuners.

eliztom: I first went with the Grovers to replace the Gotohs on my 000-28EC. The bushings were a bot too big for the holes so I would have had to bore a few grains of wood from each hole to get them to fit properly. A show-stopper for me: I didn't want to take any one-way trips with the guitar. I returned them and got Waverlys. Those bushings didn't quite fit either, but the existing ones (from the Gotoh tuners) fit the Waverlys perfectly. Now all's well that tunes well.

22. Elixir G string breaking - no fashion comments please
Well, I've had 3 sets of these (not so cheap) strings, 2 in light and 1 in medium, 2 in Phosphor and 1 in 80/20. In every case, I've had the "G" string break shortly after installing (one broke the next day, and not while tuning). every one of them has broken at the bend where it exits the tuning post.

Anyone else experience this? I've never had this issue with any other brand, and I've played Martin (several versions), Ernie Ball Earthwood, D'Addario J16 & J17, DR Medium & Medium-Heavy, and others that I've forgotten about (the never-ending quest for the "PERFECT STRING" which never breaks, never loses tune, lasts for 5 years, and makes me sound like [insert favorite unbelievable player's name here]).
Have yet to break the first string.

At the prices you pay for Elixir, I kind of feel ripped off! I love the sound of the phosphors, and the feel is nice, but I would have to buy a case of G's for every set at the rate they've broken so far!

desaljs: This has been a recurring issue with Elixir strings. I must say, however, that it has only happened to me once, and it was the G string.

If you contact them directly, they will make good on it for you. At the prices you pay for these sets, it is worth the effort. I have read that their customer service is good.

woody bee: Elixir has had some problems with string breakage but I think that was with older sets. The PB's haven't been out that long though. Is it possible that the string is binding at the nut. This could possible make it break at the tuner post.

gtrdoc: If the string is breaking at the tuner post where the string exits the hole, there is most likely a sharp spot where the hole is beveled.

I take the tuner off and run some abrasive cord through the hole and "lean" on the edges. I then follow it up with the rouge cord. This takes care of the problem.

I've been using Elixir Nano 80/20 medium for years and the only place they break is at the saddle if I don't keep the grooves where the strings wear sanded and polished.

BigRed51: I have been through at least 100 sets of Elixirs, light and light-medium, on three guitars, and have never broken a string. I did have two sets (bought at the same time) where the B string unwound from the ball as I brought it up to pitch. The dealer replaced them, no questions asked.

dmcowles: You guys who flatpick Elixirs and never broke a G string must have a magic touch. I've been playing Elixir medium nanos almost exclusively for close to 3 years, and the first couple years, I almost went back to my EJ17s due to constant G string breakage. The company replaced several at no cost, and admitted there has been a problem with this. Apparently in the last year, they have done something different, because it's been that long since I've broken one. I must admit to having lightened my touch some since taking up mando, so that may also be a factor in not breaking G strings over the last year.

23. Capo Storage Question
I have started using Shubbs almost religiously, but I have a hard time figuring out where to keep them handy when not in use. The Keysers I could just clip on the headstock, but the Shubbs won't hold on to the headstock. What do some of you do that use Shubbs?

jscio: I keep one in each case and one near the guitar stand. A Shubb capo will stay on your headstock; just not as handily as a Keyser.

When I'm playing or at a gig I keep it in my shirt pocket.

Rockradstone: Not the shirt pocket! (Unless it buttons closed.)

00028EChris: At a gig, I usually have a high barstool or something similar standing near me on stage where I keep my harmonicas - the Capo and the picks wait there too if not in use.

If I can't store it away from my body, the Capo goes into my pocket. That is, the pocket of my pants - never put something heavy into the shirt pocket, because if you're a bit like me, you forget it's there and it will fall out the second you bend over your guitar case to pick up your guitar (or put it back in).

woody bee: I've got a micstand pick holder that also has a place to put a slide. I hang to capo on the slide holder.

Davids Harp: a Shubb can be adjusted to clip lightly onto a headstock just as it can adjust to the neck. So now I take maybe several milliseconds to give the knob a whirl so it fits my headstock, and then when I go to apply it I use another several milliseconds to readjust it to the appropriate neck thickness.

MikeHalloran: Shubb used to make a capo holder that clipped onto the strap for storing your capo when not in use. I once played in a band where everyone used them but me (Shubb does not make a capo for the upright bass, it seems).

I couldn't find it on their web site anymore -- I am guessing that it was discontinued.

johnreid: One can buy Velcro by the inch at most yard goods stores. If you use a strap stitch some Velcro on it. I assume that if you are hard core, you could stitch some on your shirt, pants, or if you are really hard core, your arm.

24. Caution In The Sun! Greven 'Bathroom Tile' Syndrome
A friendly warning about playing outside in the sun! not the guard turning green but mottled and marbled.

I've had my 30's Greven on for a couple of months now.
Last weekend I strayed outside, playing in the sun for about an hour and a half. When I came inside I noticed the Greven had gone from flat to marbled. At first I thought it may be the adhesive underneath, but it felt uneven over the top.

No shrinkage at all in any direction, all the light edges that you see are just light reflections.

rocknrollrjm: I'd be making a call to Greven regarding A) A replacement & B) Is this to be expected when played outside?

It just can't be normal. That would mean that out of all the members here that have Greven PG's, none of them have played outside for 1-1.5 hours in 70 degree weather with 50% RH. That sounds like a great day of pickin, but nothing that anyone would expect to create the above image.

customsteve: It's surely not the micro-thin adhesive protective covering from factory?

dermot: the "secret" material Grevin uses is common epoxy...

I do not know what temp it starts to breakdown.. jewlers clear epoxy cures at low temps, so perhaps it does start to breakdown if exposed to direct sunlight long enough to raise the temp to that point.. i don't know tho.

i have one Grevin guard, and it also has the same ripply texture.. and i have had the guitar in the sun a fair amount as it's my "beater".. it goes camping with me ;-)

the surface ripples and the thickness + heavyness has made me think that the "real celluloid under a clear layer" guards that are used on the D18A and Larrivee's are the way to go, thiner, lighter and better looking to my eyes....

Zoot: A similar thing happened to the stock guard on my HD28 just after I got it a few years ago. I was playing in the sun on my deck for about 2 or 3 hours on a sunny 75° day. Although I didn’t notice it at first, when I opened the case the next day the surface had gone from mirror-flat to uneven and rippled. On mine though, the lighter areas were sunken and the darker areas were raised. That’s a relative difference, I don’t really know whether there was sinking or raising or both going on, but it followed the color pattern of the dark and light areas on the guard exactly. At first I was upset and was going to replace the guard, but then I began to like it. Since the unevenness followed the pattern it looked very organic and natural, as if it were real tortoise shell, and I have kept it that way. On yours, however the rippling seems random, and doesn't appear follow the color pattern, so it might not look as natural.

Bluegrass Baby: I haven't contacted Colette Hanson yet as I thought I would check out some of my saved Tor-tis files.
Upon re-reading the famous Stanford University research paper here:

Stanford Paper: http://aic.stanford.edu/sg/wag/2002/WAG_02_braun.pdf

I've realised that any form of direct heat could cause problems.
For example, it indicates that the material at normal room temperature is inherently brittle and becomes more pliable as temperature rises.

Also, and to quote,

“It does not seem to polish very well on a buffing wheel because as the resin warms, it softens and debris becomes ingrained in the epoxy. However, Micro-mesh abrasive pads and some elbow grease work very well. Additionally, setting pieces with fine scratches on them on a clean sheet of glass in a lab oven set at about 100° Celsius will soften and conform to the surface of the glass. After cooling, the epoxy can easily be cleaved off the glass and will have a smooth glass-like finish."

So the moral is, if you want your Greven to remain stable and flat avoid direct sunlight and heat wherever possible.

Havana Moon: What a coincidence!! I use to play my guitar on the porch often but not that long. We have about 82,4° in the last few days. I don't know exactly when it started to become like that but today I realized this strange marbling too. It's not that extreme but if you look close or from a players position you'll notice it. At this time the structure is still acceptable. I hope it won't get worse.
I doubt if Greeven is gonna cope w. that. BTW I have seen a few 5 $ Pguards that I liked better from their color and grain but you habe to bewel them at home and then I'm not sure if they radius fit fine.

Martin Ping: They all have a little marbleing...I have heated mine with a blow fryer to cut the rosette correctly with no problem...I have had them on 6 guitars, played often in higher temps than have been posted here...No problems...

Darrell has played his VS in plenty of heat with several tor-tis guards and I don't remember any problems being posted...

I think it may be that batch or something else with that guard...

Blue Yodel: I agree with Martin Ping. I've had mine out many times in the sun with temperatures much hotter (into the 80s) and never a problem.

Hankak: After studying your pics I'm curious about three things I noticed.

1. I looks like there's some double edged tape showing at the sound hole and the guard slid down.

2. I don't see any deformation at the edges and wonder if you can see or feel any?

3. Do you think there are "air" pockets under the guard or are these "air" bubbles in the guard?

My guess is that since the guard is a darker color it absorbed the sun's rays and got significantly warmer than the outside air. That led to the guard creeping on the adhesive because it softened at the higher temp. The bubbles or blisters if that's what they are, may be pockets of plasticizers trying to boil out of the guard. And if there aren't any bubbles at the edges I assume that the edges may have been porous enough to let any gases escape leaving the edges blister free

Now if someone famous had a guard like this and it was seen regularity, and he claimed the guitar sounded better because of the guard all the fans would be looking for one.

jscio: My grevens were never smooth, as d28swdlp pointed out, and I've played out in warm weather. I haven't noticed the effect shown in the picture at all. Does the texture mentioned go away once inside out of the sun?

25. What's your favorite Gig Bag?
I've been using a Ritter for my dreadnaught. It's a pretty nice bag, but recently I noticed that the material on the underside of the strap is shredding. Maybe it's not as well made as I thought, but it's red and I like the fact that it stands out - if anyone should decide to 'borrow' it.

Anybody have a bag they really love? Or will any bag do? It has to have straps to be carried on the back.

basilking: Reunion Blues, the leather ones. Not cheap, but boy oh boy are they durable and reliable. my $.02

revlittlemartin: I have a real nice Road Runner with straps zipped into a back pocket, along with small attachable attache case, which holds quite a lot. I paid $60 at Guitar Center, and use it to store an inexpensive, but sentimental dread from my youth. It's very solid and well packed.

mikeoso: I like the Levy's bags, the heayier ones....got three of them

strngbndr: I saw a guy at a festival recently with a tan Martin gigbag, Martin logo embroidered on the pocket. But it wasn't the soft, flimsy kind I've seen--looked like it was fairly sturdy, with a hardboard lining. Anybody seen one of these and know where to get it?

DaveC09: A few years ago I got a "Fort" case (made by Godin) which is made of expanded polypropylene (sp?). Its what they make bike helmets & car bumpers out of (think black styrofoam cooler). Mine has a cloth outer cover (with a pocket) which zips closed & 2 shoulder straps for carrying. It weighs next to nothing (like a gig bag) but offers decent impact resistance.

Apparently the Godin sales rep demonstrated the case by putting a guitar in it & tossing it down the stairs (no damage). www.fortstands.com/forteppcase.htm

The thing I really like about it is not having any concerns about the cold during Toronto's winters.

I also own a Levy's - but I wouldn't feel comfortable carrying an expensive guitar in it.

LesM: Actually, I like the black cordura Martin gig bag. I use it for my OM even though it is designed for a dred. It must be a real tight fit for a dred because it is snug for my OM. Cordura is a tough nylon and for just shlepping the guitar around, it is pretty darn good.

Davids Harp: I don't quite trust gig bags per se. I like the DuraFoam cases from Musician's Friend. Only, they don't make one in 000.

geeterpicker: The discontinued Summit. Glad I got one when I did.

secondroy: I bought a Musician's Friend bag for $39, (now on sale for $29) to take to a workshop I attended earlier this month. It is for a dread. I loved it as it carried everything I needed for that day. I have to walk with a cane so the shoulder straps really helped freeing one hand to open doors, push the young ladies away and the like. It looks like it will last for a while but can't say as I've only used it for a week.

Looking at the MF's web page I noticed several that looked like they would be good. Taylor has one for $90 that may be the better one of the bunch. Fender also puts out a good looking one but I can't tell if it has shoulder straps.

In regard to safety: I have never harmed a guitar by using a gig bag but I have always followed my rule and that is if I'm the only one handling the guitar I will consider using a bag. If not it goes in a case.

I also have the Martin one referred to above and it is good. It is for my OM. Only thing I don't like about it is not enough room in the bag for supplies.

talon5550: I have the Rolls Royce of bags. The Summit Guitar Pack. Unfortunately, they went out of business last year, so you can't get them, anymore.

mikeoso: Although I do have HSCs for all my guitars, when I play out I usually take a 6 string and a 12 string, plus a bag with a couple stands etc. ...trying to handle all of that in hardshells is just too much hooha....I use a couple of Levy's EM20S, which fit either a D or a J, or even a 12 fret 12 string. They have a solid inch of foam and good zippers, plus adequate pockets for all that trash we all carry. I can sling two of them on my right shoulder, carry the bag of stuff in my hand, and still have a hand free for opening doors, accepting beers, and so on.

26. Planet Waves Quick-Release strap thingie
Anybody ever used one? Looks pretty neat, but I've learned to approach "neat" with caution over the years.

basilking: I have one on my old Nat'l Style O, it's OK. Any strap with plastic or metal is suspect to me [damage to gtr] but the Nat'l hasn't picked up any new scratches. I just take care when putting away/taking out. The 'quick-release" part is helpful if you need to change gtrs quick at a gig.

freshbreadblues: I've got one. It works well BUT - if you have a Martin electro, the end pin may be too wide for the strap to lock. That's the case on my DXME anyway. For everything else, it's reliable and very practical

watsonwannabe: I think maybe I need to be more specific - didn't realize that there was more than one type of these things!! I'm talking about two "laces" joined by a releasing mechanism, designed for the "peghead" end of the guitar only - not the Schaller - type straplocks.

bobdcat: I have one of these: I don't care much for the looks of it, but it works. But, I will probably still add strap buttons to the heels of my 00-28 and 00-17.

Fretoholic: I've got 1-2 of these, and a couple of the Martin leather strap thingies with a strap connector on the end. Haven't decided which I like better, though the Martin feels more traditional.

Question though: I've seen that in a few photos recently of original guitarists from the 30's and 40's a similar device is attached to the headstock over the 3rd and 4th strings. But I always fastened mine under all the strings just behind the nut.

Is this a personal preference thing or is there a compelling reason for doing one or the other?

jackhall99: I've used the PW thingie for a few years and like it. It does what it's supposed to do.

I think the placement is a personal choice. I wrap mine just behind the nut also.

Patrick0045S: For what it's worth I put mine on under the strings. I agree it doesn't look the best, but it's worked really well for me.

rijulu: I use one on my Regal resophonic, putting the PW thingie behind the nut also. At the end of the gig, I unhook the strap part of the PW thingie while leaving the latch-on bit around the headstock, and put the guitar in it's (ill-fitting) case. No complaints.

Also use the Martin leather strap thingie on my HD28. Not as easy to get the strap off, but as previous poster said, looks cooler (just wouldn't seem right seeing the Martin with a black shoestring-looking thing comin off the headstock ).

bobdcat: I used to leave mine on the 00-28, but when I got the 00-17, I needed one for it, so I just move it back and forth. I'm still not sure I want to leave it on anyway because of the possibility of the finish reacting to it. So, I just loop it around the peghead while I play and then remove it when I'm through.

Much as I hate the idea of drilling, I'm going to have heel strap buttons put on both the 00's so I can use the same strap on any of my guitars.

DaveC09: I started using one a few years ago when I started developing some brachial plexus (neck-shoulder area) issues from the strap when it was buttoned at the heel. I wanted to move it out to the headstock (which did help relieve the pressure), but didn't want to have to tie & untie the strap every time.

Voila Planet Waves thingie! Takes me one minute (if that) to slip the lace under the strings by the nut & through the loop, buckle up & done! I only use the strap to play at church so its nice to be able to leave it off the rest of the time. Its been about 3-4 years now & no problems.

27. Music slow downers on computer
What do you guys use to slow down music (cd's, etc.) from your computers. I have an old tape recorder that does it with the cumbersome cassettes that I copy a song to. I would like to skip the copying to cassette & just get it slowed down from the cd's to learn licks from. Which is the best one to use? Thanks in advance.

onoitsmatt: Windows media player has a speed setting on it. Select "Play" from the menu and then "Play Speed" There's an option for fast, normal or slow. Select slow and it'll slow it down. I don't know if theres a way to burn it to cd at this speed or not. But you can play it on your computer at the slower speed.

pickerdd: I Transcribe! by Seventh String Software. http://www.seventhstring.com/ I've had great luck with it.

Zoot: Two very enthusiastic thumbs up here for Amazing Slow Downer. Not only can you stretch and compress speed by from 400% to –50% (i.e from 1/4 speed to double speed) in single percent increments without changing pitch, but you an also change pitch continuously by plus or minus 12 halftones without changing speed. You can change both pitch and speed together if you want. It has good stereo mix controls and equalization controls as well as a karaoke emulator that eliminates (sort of – these things are never perfect) voice from a performance. It also has a precise cue control that registers in minutes, seconds and frames (1/74 of a second). I find that feature especially useful for looping a specific passage that I'm learning. Although you can play MP3, AIFF and WAV files, which is what i usually do, it doesn’t require prerecording the music on your computer and will process an inserted CD in real time. It only costs about $45. For that amount of money I don’t think it can be beaten.

Edit: Oh, and you can also save these altered files and burn them on a CD if you want.

1CSNfan: Transcribe and Slowdowner each have a lot of good features, most of them the same.

Try each and see which one you like best. I know transcribe has a free evaluation period, I thnk slowdowner does too.

aadvark: Amazing slow downer is also available for Apple, and works well. I find the pitch shift feature particularly useful.

Tommymc: Also, If you happen to use Nero to burn your CD's it has a sound editor which has a slow down and pitch shift feature. CoolEdit/Adobe Audition also does this, and is what I now use.

Fingerstyle2: I am an enthusiastic user of Transkriber (not to be confused with Transcribe! mentioned above). It allows me to slow the tune down in various increments, adjust the pitch a lot or a little to match my guitar, set up very short or long loops and repeat them, apply EQ if needed, etc.

I just used it to do note-for-note transcriptions of Wayne Henderson's CD Made & Played (lightning-fast solo guitar). I briefly checked out Transcribe! but because I've been using Transkriber for several years, I decided not to switch programs now, even though it has at least a few unique features.

You can check out Transkriber here: http://www.reedkotler.com/Products/Transkriber/transkriber.html

oldblackboots: Don't forget the reliable Guitar Shed! All the alternative tunings and plenty of bells and whistles....

28. Do instructional DVD's generally dissappont you?
I have a pile of instructional DVD's that have amounted to nothing more than very expensive drink coasters over the years. I watch them closely and carefully, try to follow what is being said and emulate the instructor as best I can, fail miserably, and shortly thereafter find myself frustrated and pissed off that I spent all that money on an instructional that did me absolutely no good. Maybe I've come to the wrong conclusion, but the conclusion I've come to is that most of these instructional DVD's are a waste of time and money and that the money you waste on instructionals should probably be spent on one on one guitar lessons with somebody who knows what the hell they are doing and has the gift of teaching. Of course being a talentless incompetent total guitar fraud may have a lot to do with my personal experience with instructional DVD's.

ozmartin I have a few of the homespun tapes series, some better than others but the blues guitar series 1, 2 & 3 and learning fingerpicking with Happy Traum teaching (has a couple of nice drop D things - Fishin Blues and worried Blues), together with TAB books, I found useful , and I still go back to some of the blues tapes. If done well they can be great in my opinion as a starting point. I found I use some of the riffs in other arrangements or pieces I improvise a little or similar things they crop up elsewhere and it makes it easier to learn these.

I'd check out Homespun if you haven't already.

Jeff Runyon: My take on these is pretty much the opposite. I think these are GREAT tools, and wish they'd been around when I was first learning back in the 70s. Truthfully, I only ever took maybe 5 formal guitar lessons in my life, and they were a complete waste of time and money. Sometimes the DVDs are a bit expensive, but when you think about having the ability to go back and review things over and over, plus the varieties of styles (sometimes taught by masters) available, I think they are a bargain.

At my age, you'd think I might be over trying to learn too many new things, but I love it. However, my philosophy is a bit different going in. I have kinda developed a style over the years, somewhere between acoustic Neil Young and Flatt and Scruggs, w/a little Carter style thrown in, which is a very rhythm oriented approach. It works for me, and I don't really wanna play just like somebody else. OK, maybe Clarence White. So.....if I can take away just 2 or 3 new ideas or approaches from a DVD, to incorporate into my style, I am pretty much happy.

I have found anything put out by Steve Kaufman is pretty much top notch, and very helpful. Same for Happy and Artie Traum, though I still think Steve is better, because he inspires you to work.

On my "worst list" would have to be the Keb Mo instructional video and anything John Sebastian did, all from Homespun. (Of course the JB stuff falls outside the realm of guitar instruction.) JMO. Enjoy!

Up North: I'm with Jeff on this. I have many, many instructional videos and really don't regret buying any of them. I've picked up something from all of them. Of course, their are a few klinkers in there, and the Keb Mo DVD is one of those. The Ramblin' Jack Elliot is another. Now, the Tony Rice DVD's I can watch over and over and learn something new every time. Likewise for the Pete Huttlinger lessons.

LesM: I look at it this way: The better you get over the years, the easier it is to follow instructional dvds (unless what you are trying to learn is so far above your abilities). I have put dvds on the shelf because they were beyond me only to dust them off, months (years?) later to find I am ready for them.

I also feel that GENERALLY, Homespun tapes are inferior to Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop tapes. I have found that the Homespun, especially those done by the ARTIST about THEIR music, are little more than performances occasionally punctuated by an "emcee" saying, "Oh, show us that again." Unless you have achieved a degree of proficiency, they are not very helpful.

On the other hand, Stefan's dvd's (by him and others) take each tune, break it down, follow the tabs scrupulously and they are the way I learn (emphasis on the way I learn) best. Some of the earliest of his dvd's aren't as good (trying to do too much) and there is an occasional instructor who isn't up to snuff. But generally they are EXCELLENT!

The Original Rattler: I had/have some Tony Rice and Doc Watson instrux materials, and for someone with patience and diligence, they may be helpful...

I enjoy the performances and watching their fingers, but lack the intestinal fortitude to sit down and learn a song slowly bit by bit, until it all comes together...

Probably what helped me the most, and this was in the early 1980's, was a Chuck Berry TAB book with Carol, Maybelline et al...

In addition to his solos being transcribed, it showed the main riffs he used and the essence of his style...within a few minutes, I was making Chuck noises...

Lefty00042: I was digging through Stephan Grossman's site yesterday and ran across his suggestions for starting out; seeing as my instructional path has been nearly as haphazard and unfocused as Fleiger's and Keith's, I've been thinking of going back to basics and starting a semi-organized course of self-study.

Stephan recommends his 2-disc Fingerpicking Guitar Techniques as a starting point. However, the RealVideo samples don't seem to be working for me so I can't evaluate them at all. Are you familiar with this set and what do you think?

LesM: This is an EXCELLENT place to start! The first disc is just great for a beginner. These tunes are short (!) and easy. The first tune is just G!!!

I am in no position to teach anyone but if you just keep practicing the alternating bass and practice until you vomit, these tunes become second nature. If you have the alternating bass down BEFORE you start the dvds, you will rip right through them and IMO, fingerpicking starts and evolves with the alternating bass (at least blues).

As Stefan says, play SLOW and LOUD. Start so slow with the alternating bass that you don't make mistakes (just play so slow that you can hear that "boom-chick, boom-chick." Then will tackle the F chord with the thumb playing the low E (must learn, and you can do it, small hands or not).

Martin Ping: The Art Of Contemporary Travis Picking by Mark Hanson has gotten me going...All else failed...

johnreid: The problem is, none of them come with discipline.

LesM: You are so right BUT from my own experience I have found that part of that discipline is NOT being what I call, DIFFUSE in one's goals. That is, stick to a single piece of music (picking one that is at your level). I find that many of us try too many pieces at once.

Stick to a single piece of music and practice it until you get, then move on. It also takes considerable "concentration" which I haven't had for a while since life has a way of intruding on my guitar playing. I am back on track and plan to spend the summer catching up.

Stefan just came out with a 3 dvd set which is a considerable update of an old video from the early nineties called, "How to Play Blues Guitar." It should be great. Today was the first day it was listed on his website. I ordered it 5 minutes ago

johnreid: From my experience the DVD format has the most promise as one can rewind so much easier. The lessons are the same as VHS. I have only a few, I have learned to play some songs from them, mostly from rote memory, so theory still leaves me in the dark. I think it is like my life has been altogether lately, I get overwhelmed. The easier songs at the beginning are easy to learn and I learn the first song and then curiosity gets the best of me,

I "preview" the rest of the lessons and see that one song on Disc 3 that I really want to play. The problem is, Discs 1 and 2 teach you the preliminary stuff for the song. Skipping 1 and 2 just does not cut it. So this is where the discipline comes to play.

90% of my playing is along with CDs and a few Video DVDs. I always did look at other players hands and that is how I frauded learning the chords to songs, performance DVDs do sometimes enable that to happen. I honestly think that sometime soon, I am going to be able to sit and actually go from the beginning to the end on the DVDs I already have.

The absolute best way to learn is from another person not a video, that does not need to be lessons even. When I was younger I played almost every night with friends and I honestly think I learned more that way than any other.

mulrich: I started learning guitar from old Stefan Grossman and Happy Traum books. Those books usually didn't even have an accompanying record of the songs, just a discography of old records that the transcriptions came from. The old records were hard to find so I always carried a list in my wallet of what I was looking for and only learned songs that I found records for.

The first book-record combo that really helped my playing was "The Art of Ragtime Guitar" by Richard Saslow. Richard explained with text and photos how to make the various chord forms and how to move your fingers from one form to the next. The book included a record with all the songs in the book. I still think it's one of the best tools out there for learning how to fingerpick. When I discovered Stefan's Kicking Mule Records and the tablature books that you could order with them, my life really improved because now I had lots of great, well played songs to listen to and tab to go with them.

Stefan came out with his Guitar Workshop series and Happy came out his with Homespun Tapes series. Two of their featured artists were also among my favorite performers, Dave Van Ronk, and Rory Block. They each produced some really good cassette based instructional materials (that included tablature) where they carefully explained on the cassette, what finger to use where, and how to move from chord to chord. I never got Stefan's material because I had learned much of what I wanted from his Kicking Mule Records.

Eventually, instructional videos were introduced. It was nice to see what was going on but I feel I got almost as much out of the cassettes. I’ve really enjoyed Roy Book Binder’s video series from Homespun. DVDs are by far the best format for teaching because it is so easy to precisely back up and play something over again.

DVDs that I particularly like include Pete Huttlingers and Ernie Hawkins. Last year, I started to learn to flatpick and found the CD based Parking lot Pickers series by Steve Kaufman to be really good. Each song is presented in a beginner, intermediate and advanced arrangement. The beginner version is really easy and can be learned quickly. I'll start the intermediate level after I learn all the beginner arrangements. I also have the DVDs by Orrin Star with are very good but more difficult than Kaufman's beginner versions.

vlj45: I don't have a huge experience with DVD's, but what I have was a great way to learn the fine points of the music I was trying to learn. I'm speaking of the Laurence Juber DVD "The Guitarist". I have been trying to learn some of the tunes on the DVD, and it was just about impossible to make them sound anywhere near how they are supposed to sound by just listening to the CD and reading the music. There is a lot to his music that can't be written. So, for learning those little things, I think DVD's are big help.

YorkshireD28: I think tab books are better than video lessons because, for one thing, you don't have to keep stopping and starting them (don't smirk, I'm serious).

But most of all, books are better than videos because they're cheaper, so you don't waste as much money when you give up.

JPcares: I have this John Doyle DVD here. He keeps saying things like "it's whatever you feel like" and "I don't really know what I'm doing" and "It's not like I'm a trained musician or anything" but just watching him up close in action makes the DVD very valuable.

The problem is that you cannot learn from any one thing. You have to take in everything you can from any place you can get it.

Watsonfan: They've only helped me in that I've gotten to see up close the technique of the players -- Doc Watson, Tony Rice, and Norman Blake in particular, which otherwise I haven't been able to do. Look a lot at the right hand technique. I've also picked up a few great tunes, but overall it's technique I've been after. Having said that, of all of the DVD's available, only 3-4 have been worthwhile to me, and I don't really need any more.

thermality: Stefan Grossman, for instance, is big on teaching you just enough to get you started, and encourages a great deal of experimentation. That's going to be tough to do unless you understand the fretboard. For example, knowing the pentatonic blues scale and some moveable chords will really help you take Stefan's nuggets and run with them.

To me, the value of instructional DVDs and watching the pros in action on TV or whatever comes later, after you have acquired some skills. When I was a beginner, watching others play didn't teach me much because I didn't understand what they were doing. Now that I do, there's a lot of value in watching others in action, and I'm always surprised by what I pick up. And too, there's a psychological perk -- when I've been sweating a difficult lick or passage, sometimes watching it being done well helps me believe it's actually possible.

Dank Figgers: Homespun has many disappointing DVDs but also some real treasures. Like said previously, the Kaufman series is excellent.
Grossman, on the other hand, is the gold standard with few disappointments and many gems. My personal vote for the best instructional series would be Kaufman's (Homespun) Parking Lot series on CD. Each installment in the series is six CD's and a large very nice (easy to read) book. I find that if done right, the CD's and books are more valuable to me than DVDs and I have many DVDs.
Grossman has little to offer about Bluegrass, but his Blues volumes are endless.

I also take private guitar lessons, mainly because the place where I take provides great jams with other students on mando, fiddle and banjo. This place teaches it all. But I learn more from the CDs and DVDs. Still, takes a ton of disciplined practice. No such thing as a shortcut.


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