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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / At what age will good acoustics (Martins) probably need serious work?

professor
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North Gnarlyington

May 9th, 2012 08:22 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Assuming a guitar has not been abused, at what age will issues such as a neck reset or a lifting bridge tend to develop and require work?

Dadical
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May 9th, 2012 09:38 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Since somewhere in the '70s Martins have had truss rods so the neck reset issue is pretty much a thing of the past unless the guitar has been exposed to long term poor conditions. Proper humidification does wonders for keeping bridge issues away. I'd buy about any current era Martin with confidence that if kept in decent conditions, it might not need any repairs in my lifetime.

6L6
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May 9th, 2012 11:07 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I don't believe Martin started using truss rods until 1985 or so, but I could be wrong on that.

I agree that proper care/storage/humidification are key to longevity without problems. Also, stringing with Light gauge strings will prolong neck/bridge life.

In the past year I've had fret jobs done on four of my acoustics. Each of these was done using stainless steel fret wire. In short, none of these guitars will need another fret job in my lifetime due to the durability of SS.

6

amphead4

Cincinnati, USA

May 9th, 2012 11:34 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I think you can find a lifting bridge on a pretty recent guitar if they didn't use enough glue. This is not a major repair given the cost of a Martin.

A neck reset is needed when the neck angle to the top isn't right and is independent of the neck relief/truss rod issues. So even a 20 year old Martin (built after the change to adjustable truss rods) could need a reset if the relief is adjusted to zero but the action is too high with a low saddle.

This is tested by laying a 2 foot straight edge on the fingerboard between the D and G strings and seeing where that line extends and intersects the bridge/saddle. If too low, like below the saddle, the neck angle is wrong and the neck needs a reset. If high, then there's still some life in the guitar before a reset is required.

I don't have data to back this up but I would expect that most 40 year old Martins with low action have already had a neck reset and original guitars could need one between age 20 and 40 years. To contradict Dadical, it's really an expected maintenance item for Martins being built today and it will be needed at some point. It's not a cheap repair but routine and worth it to restore the action to a good acoustic. To me it's like buying an awesome car that you will keep the rest of your life but you know that you need to budget for an engine rebuild sooner or later.

The need for the reset is due to the body settling into a different geometery after years of string tension. It can happen earlier if the original neck angle was fairly shallow because it then doesn't take much bellying of the top to make the action too high. And any dovetail joint failure, due to too little glue or excess heat, will cause the heel to pull up too, forcing the need for a reset. After the reset, the major settling of the body has already occurred and a second reset is usually not needed.

professor
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North Gnarlyington

May 9th, 2012 12:19 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"To me it's like buying an awesome car that you will keep the rest of your life but you know that you need to budget for an engine rebuild sooner or later."

That's why I'm also posting about old VS new wood tone. Given a choice, I'd like a guitar that has been around a bit and has settled in.

Dadical
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May 11th, 2012 01:34 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"To contradict Dadical, it's really an expected maintenance item for Martins being built today and it will be needed at some point."

That does not comport with reality these days. Neck resets were common on Martin guitars built through the '60s and '70s. Newer Martin guitars have a different block at the neck/body joint and neck resets are not the maintenance item they once were. If the guitar is properly humidified, Martin neck resets are decidedly UNcommon and covered on warranty to the original owner - for life.

Martin has to carry warranty insurance to cover the costs of these items on every Martin guitar sold. The frequency of neck resets, even with guitars that are subjected to improper conditions, is so low compared to the previous neck era that the warranty insurance amount has been reduced by the carrier in an era of rising insurance costs and vastly increased production numbers at Martin.

Quite simply, don't worry about a neck reset on a new Martin.

telegib

Canada

May 11th, 2012 07:32 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I don't believe Martin started using truss rods until 1985 or so, but I could be wrong on that"

Yes Martin adjustable trussrods began in the 80's. Before that they reinforced them with a steel rod that was non adjustable.

RDR
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May 13th, 2012 08:52 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I bought a 1973 D-41 new, and it finally needed a neck reset in 2010 I believe it was. So that's 37 years. If I played higher up on the neck it could have used one earlier. I understand that the 70's Martins were built kinda on the heavy side, so newer more delicate ones may need it sooner. Best sounding acoustic I've ever heard even if it doesn't have the greatest rep. Had it done at the factory for only shipping cost. Also had the shrinking pickguard replaced for free at the same time. Don't know what a neck reset would cost if not covered by warranty, but I imagine it's more than a few bucks- maybe some repair person can chime in with a typical cost.
The newer ones with truss rods certainly make it easier to adjust action, although not related to needing a neck reset.

(This message was last edited by RDR at 08:55 PM, May 13th, 2012)

Dadical
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May 14th, 2012 08:38 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I understand that the 70's Martins were built kinda on the heavy side, so newer more delicate ones may need it sooner."

Not related. The bigger L-block in the newer models makes them far more stable and resistant to any reset issues than the '70s models.

amphead4

Cincinnati, USA

May 14th, 2012 09:45 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Dadical, when did they start using the L-block and is it on all models? I assume Authentic models would still use the old style block. What about the Golden Era models and the Vintage series?

Dadical
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May 14th, 2012 10:21 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I assume Authentic models would still use the old style block."

I asked about that specifically because I have a D18 Golden Era from the 1934 blueprint. Even that has the larger L-block. They are all built that way with the dovetail neck joint. I did not ask specifically if some lower models with different neck joints have the L-block. I guess I should have. The impression I got is that they all have it now, but the lower models weren't really on my radar at the time and I didn't pin those down in my discussion with the factory tech.

The fact that the warranty insurance company dropped their rates based on the modern neck construction design speaks volumes.

amphead4

Cincinnati, USA

May 14th, 2012 10:48 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Maybe it's all the dovetail models. But when did it start? Would my 1996 D18V have the new block?

On the umgf, you'll see threads about pretty new guitars needing resets, which makes me think that the new blocks are either not universal or there's something else going on. Maybe folks are stringing them too heavy.

Dadical
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May 14th, 2012 11:07 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I asked about the design and neck resets within the context of my own Martins, the oldest being a 1999 model. It is well within the years of the current design, but I didn't ask for a start date. The tech referenced neck reset issues from the '70s and into the '80s as "way back then" and mentioned that pretty much all acoustics had the same problem. That was why Martin changed the joint reinforcement.

Something to remember about the umgf and most internet discussion sites (except this one of course) is that a lot of people draw conclusions from a sampling of their own guitar and maybe even their cousin's guitar, too. Those who actually communicate with manufacturers and get real information tend to be a very small minority. You find big noise from a few people with issues, self inflicted or not, and silence from the vast majority who have experienced no problems at all. Additionally, many people seek gear forums only when facing some issue while millions of Martin, Fender, and other customers have no product issues and are never heard from on line.

Chris Greene
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Charlie Don't Surf
May 14th, 2012 12:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

You hit the nail on the head with your last paragraph, Dadical.

amphead4

Cincinnati, USA

May 14th, 2012 12:30 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Agreed, thanks!

KD2
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USA / TX

KDakaWalt
May 18th, 2012 07:38 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I played a 40's O model the other day that had a repaired crack in the top. Other than that, it was stock and sweet. I think it depends on the individual guitar and how it was handled.

FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / At what age will good acoustics (Martins) probably need serious work?




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