Hey everybody

Received a 1949 D- 18 Martin in my shop for evaluation. Seems the bridge may be incorrectly placed from the factory. Problems:

1. bridge has been thinned , and , saddle height has previously been lowered , to improve high action , when a neck reset would have been the ideal solution.

2. 12th fret intonation check indicates the correct position for the saddle @ treb. E string  to be about 1/8 in. toward soundhole from current position. This is not even over  the bridge.

3. same situation for saddle @ 6th string...saddle should be about 3/32 in.  toward the sound hole from the original position.

4. Martin indicates a scale length of 25.4 in is appropriate for pre 1960s.

5. My measurements ( using a stewmac saddlematic ) keying off the 12th fret ( nut to 12th and using same measurement from 12th toward bridge ) place the saddlematic treble wire marker at 1/32 in. shy of the bridge ; and, 8/32 in. shy  from the crown of the saddle where the 1st string crosses.

       Have any of you run into this on the D-18s before? Or is this particular D-18 just a friday made guitar .

       My 13 years of repair instinct tells me that the bridge is in the wrong place . That I should make a new oversize width bridge ,and , cut the saddle slot in the correct new position. Oversize to cover up the bridge footprint outline on the top.  BUT THIS IS A 1949 VINTAGE MARTIN we are talking about here. Although I have much experiance in all phases of guitar repair, and feel that the intonation would be much improved , and a neck reset would greatly enhance the playability of this instrument,  I am more than a little apprehensive about ruining the value of this instrument by making necessary design improvements on the bridge.

Any thoughts ?

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I had a customer with a 60s d 28 that the saddle was 1/8 to close to the nut.
He would not let me change it as he liked the sound of it the way it was.
On checking with Martin I found that dissatisfied Martin employee had cut the story pole that they setall bridges with off1/8 inch! It never got fixed.

I have a d 28 1936 that was in a apple box and I restored it and it looks like new. I ordered the right bridge from.martin and never antiqued it . Reset the neck. I wished I had saved the old bridge and added to the bottom. I have it around here but it has been hiding for about 15 years now.


Hey Ron - 

Every time you dredge up one of these old messages, you push current messages off the board, and also crowd my email inbox with notes that you are posting on these old topics! 

Glad that you are enjoying the board, but maybe you can stick to current topics where a helpful answer can actually do some good?

I second that motion.

What's going on now with these now irrelevant responses to 'the problem's been solved' old issues is another good reason for the O.P. to close the thread to responses when the O.P. is 'done' with them.

Perhaps there's a way for the Administrator to automatically close inactive posts after, say...90 days... from its last posting/response activity.

If the original issue isn't resolved, it's better for the O.P to start a new thread with updated info.

Also, we all learn so much [in this case 3 1/2 years] that we could beat these badly decomposed horses for hours with updated info. The key question is: "Is what you're posting germane to the question posed?".  After more than a year, the answer may comfortably be presumed to be "No".

Sorry I have wasted you alls time!
I saw no where that I could not posts.
I will start a new question and see if I can learn from you. />

I am no expert of anything and perhaps my idea will be met with rolled eyes, but since the guitar needs a neck reset, is it a possibility to remove more wood from the heel, thus shortening the neck to make the scale length perfect?


That is what I recommended in the post above, and yes it will correct the problem.



You don't want to remove the fretboard. All you do is when you are trimming the heel to reset the neck you take the appropriate amount off the upper end of the heel to move the neck/fretboard  closer to the bridge, that will correct the intonation problem. It's simple and uncomplicated, give it a try.



Good catch Matt.


Not to denigrate anyone but to give credit where credit is due. I believe Jim mentioned the idea of shortening the neck first while doing the reset back on page 1 (Tuesday). It's a great idea where ever it came from.
Yeah, Sorry bout that Jim, I didn't read everyone's posts before I plopped my chicken scratch down.

I think Jims advice is great and it is probably what I would do to correct the problem, given that the heel is normal and there is enough material to work with. It should be mentioned though that this includes significant rework of the tenon-part of the dovetail joint. Substancial amounts of wood need to be added to the sides of the tenon and it need to be reshaped and shortened not to hit the bottom of the mortise pocket. It leads to plenty of more fitting work than a regular neck reset.

Just something to consider before entering this course.

You are absolutely right Magnus. Additionally, taking wood ,only, from the neck block to allow movement of the male part of the dovetail might weaken the neck block. However, taking wood ,only, from the end of the  male part of the dovetail would shorten the angled  sides of the dovetail , and , significantly , decrease it's surface area for glue-up holding power. I think that half the amount taken off of  both areas is the way to go . There still , though , will be a decreased surface area for glue-up . I have to think that widening the ( gluing surface ) sides of the  (male) dovetail , with my chisle,  would be making the heel/dovetail junction get awfully narrow as the angled sides begin to converge upon oneanother. I probably won't do that , and, just live with the decreased surface area for gluing. And, you are also right , about lots of wood having to be added to fill the gap between the sides .Thoughts? Any way you look at it , like you said , it's going to be a whole lot more work .


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