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Well, I obtained my 1st Martin 2 weeks ago and though the bridge needed re-gluing, the action was really high and it had some cosmetic issues, I feel that I made a good trade for a solid wood US Martin.

I re-glued the bridge successfully with Titebond Original, lowered and intonated the saddle and strung it with Martin 80/20 lights and was drooling in anticipation for that Martin "sound". It sounds and plays OK but it's not what I was hoping for as far as projection and that "ring" just isn't there.

I had an Epiphone Masterbilt solid rosewood dreadnaught and it sounded incredible and never should've traded it off but the Blues Junior I got for it was a fair trade considering I only had $100 into the Epi.

 

ANYWHO...anyone have/had/played a DC-1E and noticed the same qualities as I?

-would hide glue have REALLY made a big difference?

-bone nut and saddle absolutely neccessary instead of corian and Tusq?

-bone bridge pins perhaps?

-shaving the top braces perhaps?

-all the above?

-OR is it just the sapele cannot compete with rosewood?

-while were at it...do ants sleep?

 

It's been ages since I participated here and I appreciate any input to help me feel better about the Series 1 Martins and trade I made. Thanks and best holiday wishes!

HERE'S the SPECS:

Model: DC-1E
Construction: Mortise/Tenon Neck Joint
Body Size: D-14 Fret Cutaway
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
Top Bracing Pattern: Modified Hybrid ''x'' Scalloped
Top Braces: Solid Sitka Spruce 5/16''
Back Material: Solid Sapele
Side Material: Solid Sapele
Neck Material: Rust Stratabond
Neck Shape: Modified Low Oval
Nut Material: White Corian
Headstock: Solid/Standard Taper
Headplate: Indian Rosewood Pattern Hpl
Fingerboard Material: Solid Morado
Scale Length: 25.4''
- # Of Frets Clear: 14
- # Of Frets Total: 20
Finish Back & Sides: Satin
Finish Top: Satin
Finish Neck: None
Bridge Material: Solid Morado
Bridge Style: Belly
Saddle: 16'' Radius/Compensated/White Tusq
Bridge & End Pins: White W/ Black Dots
Electronics: Fishman Presys Plus

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Good Morning, Lowatter.  

 I'll start with the tired, too often, truth that every guitar is different. I've personally played several Martin, Gibson, fill in the name of choice guitars that I felt didn't live up to my expectations. I came very close to forking over a lot of dollars for a D 35 back in the late '70s. At the last moment, I decided on a different guitar, different maker. Not once, over the next 30 some years have I regretted it even though the Martin would have appreciated pretty well while my choice MIGHT bring about what I paid for it back then. 

One of the risks of acquiring a non functional instrument is that you can't really evaluate it for sound and feel until it's repaired. I've repaired quite a few instruments that were OK but certainly not what I might have expected. I have learned that this is pretty much how it goes and that the surprise is when one exceed my expectations.

There may be somethings you can do to help the sound.  

First; I wouldn't touch the bracing unless you are prepared/willing to completely rebuild the bracing or trash the instrument. It's not so easy to re-graduate of the braces correctly through the sound hole and it's completely easy to make a hash of it.

Second; I think the first thing I would actually do, and I say this with major personal reservation, would be to try medium gauge strings.  I really don't like them and I don't use them on any of the guitars that I presently play. That said, some guitars really do come alive with heavier strings. I have a D-18 that plays and sounds just fine with light gauge strings but I've also played several that sound pretty much as you described your's sounding with light strings.

Third;  You can change the bridge and nut to bone which may help a bit but I wouldn't expect too much. If your's were plastic, I'd  be more definite but I'm not sure how much difference it will make. If you do want to change the nut and bridge, do it and the string change at the same time. You should run through a complete setup with the string change anyway so it would be a best to do it all at once.

Fourth; Be prepared to accept that this particular guitar just may not be what you want. Perhaps another trade is in your future. If you're looking for a keeper, I can't stress how important it is to be able to play it before you make the commitment. It's possible to find keepers by repairing broken instruments but it's not guaranteed. If you're unhappy with the guitar, get rid of it. You probably won't play it and someone else will like it so let it go and find what you will actually play.

Thanks a bunch Ned. I'll probably try mediums on my next change. I was hesitant to try them first because it was my 1st acoustic bridge re-glue and I was sweating bullets with the lights. It seems fine however and the top doesn't seem to be pulling much at all. I heard that Martins have a 40' radiused top and that was unfortunately after I flat-sanded the bridge prior to the glue-up. I don't remember that the bridge had any curve to it however.

I'm probably going to try a bone nut and saddle as it's good experience anyways.

Here's the cam clamps I made for the glue-up...

 

Hi Lowatter - We have an expression in our shop that is commonly heard and that is "it is what it is...."

Although these are nice instruments they are low-end for Martin and as such not capable, in my view, of sounding like a D-28 or D-18.

The neck joint on these is always suspect because it's a glued mortice and tenon where the single bolt hiding behind a wood plate on the neck block is really only a manufacturing aid until the glue dries.  In time the glue gives and often these need to be reglued and the bolt crunched a bit too or even converted to a two bolt system.

Corian is pretty good in my view, bone is better... and if you can hear the difference between the two your ears are better than mine.

HHG would have been my choice and is my choice for all bridge reglues but Titebond Original is OK too.  Would you have heard a difference if you used HHG?  I wouldn't be capable of hearing any difference and I doubt that anyone else would either.

I would however suggest that you find something to use as a feeler guage and check around the bridge profile for any gaps with the feeler gauge.  We use much more horsepower so-to-speak in our clamping and also clamp the wings.  It is possible that the bridge is not is great contact in every location with the top.  That could make a difference that could be perceived.

Bone pins?  I'm not a fan of believing that pin material is the source of any perceived differences in tone.  I am a fan of understanding in advance that the mass of all things in the "system" in the bridge area does contribute to how an instrumet sounds.  Some guitars benefit from more mass and if this is the case bone pins might help but you are just as likely to find that your guitar might benefit from less mass - it's a crap shoot.

If it were me and no offense intended I would first concentrate on how well the bridge was glued back on.  Bridge reglues are not all that easy to do very well.  The bridge patch under the bridge is typically increased beacuse Martin often leaves a lot of real estate on the table so to speak by not clearing back the finish to the degree that we would.  All old glue, contamination, oxidation needs to be removed from both the bridge bottom and the top's bridge patch.  And the bridge should fit the dome of the top well without a lot of clamping action.

We like HHG for bridges because of the very fine glue line and the crystaline nature of HHG and no cold creep.

So if it were my ax I would take another look at how the bridge was glued on before anything else.  New pins, bone, etc. are not likely to make a perceivable difference to the degree that would counter the lack of satisfation that you seem to be describing to us.

Again it is what it is and I agree with Ned that it's always helpful to hear a guitar before deciding if it has a new home.

Thanks soo much Hesh for taking the time and addressing everything I asked about. I just examined the bridge glue line and there looks like there is virtually no pull gap whatsoever so until I notice any kind of lift, I'm going to leave it as it is. If it requires a re-glue in the future I'll definately use hide glue after a thorough sraping/sanding and invest in a better clamping system.  I'll pay more attention to the dome then too. I'll probably leave the saddle and nut alone too because I have it pretty well intonated and the action is near where I want it. I am going to take the low side of the saddle down another 1/64" however to lower it a tad further.

Thanks also for the info on the neck joint which is dissappointing to me but nonetheless a reality of this lower end Martin. It does sound great amplified and I will just have to accept the fact that I can't get a
D-28 sound out it and enjoy it for what it is...a very nice amplified dreadnaught with a cutaway for a minimal investment.

I will however look for another rosewood Epiphone Masterbilt deal as these guitars are much closer to that D-28 tone that I crave. If I do, I may trade off the Martin for the next guitar I'm gassing for...A Gibson ES 225/125/135 that needs a little TLC which is in the price range of my Martin.

This site is a great resource for a hack like me. Thanks again Ned and Hesh and my you and yours have a blessed Christmas and coming New Year!

 

 

Lowatter you are very welcome!

I wanted to offer you a tip for knowing how much to lower a saddle in case you don't know this.  We measure action at the 12th fret and in our shop we speak in 1/64th" terms.  Since the 12th fret is very nearly 1/2 of the "speaking length" of the strings (not counting a tad difference for compensation) if what you measure at the 12th is say 1/64th too high multiply this by 2 since again the 12th is one half the speaking length.  This results in 1/32" at the saddle directly under the string that you wish to lower.  So if you want to reduce action on say the high e by 1/64th at the 12th lower the saddle under the high e 1/32".

Since acoustics have one piece saddles, most of them...., we deal with action generally, not always, by determining what we wish to see at the 12th fret and then addressing the height of the saddle under the high and low e strings accordingly.  This takes the guess work out of it.

Hope this helps.

Here is wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas too!

Again Hesh thanks, I also did check the the relief which looks pretty good prior so I will take your advice once again on the action at the 12th. I've had many acoustics(as well as many electrics/archtops etc.) over the 40 years as a player(I'm 53) and though I have some knowledge of setups etc. I have TONS to learn. Also, my memory is terrible and alot of time I remember steps AFTER it's too late.

Life is aways an adventure for a guy with such a poor memory.

Something else that I thought of but failed to mention is that it might be a good idea to use a feeler gauge to check the braces for loose ends or gaps in their attachment. If the bridge came off, it's possible that there's a loose brace or two.

I recommend that you don't do anything to the action until you install medium gauge strings. As I mentioned you will probably need to setup the action again with the switch in tension and size that medium strings will bring.

Oh, I also agree with Hesh on the pins. I've never found any difference between one set/type of pins and another but I don't depend on the pins to hold my strings in place when they are under tension either.  I like to have my guitars setup so that the string ball is resting against the bridge plate and there is little or no pressure on the pin. In my opinion, the string should actually be able to stay where it is even if the pin is removed. All of my pin bridge instruments have as little pressure on the pins as I can manage and it's possible to pull the pin on most of my strings with the string under tension with no adverse effects. ( not that I try this often! )  I HAVE experienced the excitement of  flying pin syndrome but not for a couple of decades. When I change strings I'm careful to seat the string ball against the plate before I feed the tuners. My pins are more place holders and insurance than they are locks.  

Thanks once again Ned. I too wondered about the condition of the bridge plate after the bridge lifted. I will have to do some interior inspection but I think that I may hold off on bumping up to medium strings because I'm really close to where I like the action and intonation. At this point I'm fairly satisfied with what I have and what I have into it but you know how it is...tweaking is hardest thing to stave off.

Another point about these Series 1 Martins I learned and that I should mention is that I believe they made from lower grade spruce top choices ie: grain density, bearclaws etc. Again, a interior inspection under string tension is a must. I just have to figure out how to pull this off without specialty cameras etc.

BTW guys... here's how my solid rosewood Epi Masterbilt sounded before I traded it off(I know...it's a disease)-I recorded this dry with a MXL condenser mic with no pickup.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=854782&...

 

I'll record the same riff under the same conditions for a sound comparison as soon as I can for reference. Thanks again guys!

Quote: "sounds and plays OK but it's not what I was hoping for as far as projection and that "ring" just isn't there."

 

 

Nedd and Hesh have covered the ground brilliantly, just as they always do.

But here are a few quick thoughts, from someone with a Great Love for Martins who could also finds them at times to be Frustrating.

Just to reiterate earlier points I feel are especially important. The Degree of Belly Arch, and Matching the Underside of the Bridge to that is a Fundamental Aspect of the Process, you have decided to Enact. The Missing Link?

All the Manufacturing Plants I have seen use Heavier Clamping right across far more pressure points to equalize that Across the Bridge during Gluing. With respect, I think lack of detailed attention to these points in themselves are enough to Decouple Vibrational Transfer of Tone, and that could well be a Major Factor in the subsequently experienced, Loss of Tonal Projection.

 

Most Martins come with, and are by Design Constructed to be used with Medium Gauge Strings. In fact it us my personal belief and experience of Martins that they actually NEED Medium Gauge Strings in order to properly "Drive the Top" of the Instrument, and allow it to Deliver and Project its Full Tonal Capabilities.

Often, the people that Play the Martins in "Traditional Musical Ensembles" have to compete in volume with Loud Banjo's and Accordions, amongst other, Powerfully Projecting Instruments, and it is almost an absolute requirement for those Playing Martins with a "Traditional" or "Bluegrass" Ensemble to be using Medium Gauge Strings, or they simply would not be able to effectively compete against the Acoustic Competition.

 

Now I have to admit that I use Light Gauge Strings myself.

For a whole slew of reasons, the main ones being I usually Play Lead Acoustic Guitar where I need Greater Flexibility, I am interested in Recording where Acoustical Projection is not the same Issue it is for others, and I believe they give a Better Tonal Balance overall, more suited to a Far Wider Range of Musical Styles.

But from the Get Go of the Design Parameters of the Instrument, I prefer Medium Gauge Strings, and I honestly believe them to be needed to Correctly Drive the Top with the Proper Power to Achieve and Fulfill the Instruments Acoustic "Loudness Capability". Martin seem to think the same way as a Company, and your Light Gauge Strings are always going to Sound Wimpy by Direct Comparison. That's an Objective Fact.

The other thing I have found with Martin Guitars in particular here, is that they seem to be particularly sensitive to Sudden Swings in Temperature and Humidity. Higher Humidity especially seems to make the Instrument, Duller and Muddier in Tone in my experience, and many others too have noted such a phenomenon. It may be that with Fresh Strings perhaps of a Different Type and with a Different Tone, along with different Climatic Conditions, perhaps the Instruments could come closer to your Personal Perceptions of what it really should "Sound" like. It's strange how they can change in Tone, but it does happen at times. Have you Over Humidified your Instrument?

 

I think you could move it somewhat closer to your Goal with a little String Research.

 

P

WOW! You guys are simply incredible. What a wealth of knowledge here. I had no idea that such info is readily available from forum members. Thanks soo much for all your input and taking the time! You guys are great especially considering this is Christmas eve and I'm sure that you have better things to do.

Now...Peter has me convinced to do a re-set of the bridge which isn't a huge deal because i do want to do this guitar justice. Again guys, what a source of knowledge here.

Although I I live in upstate SC and it is wintertime and I have the heat on so I should also keep it humidified in the case and not leave it out in it's stand as I have since I got it.

The previous owner is a young man and was pretty hard on this guitar judging by the bridge lift and deep pick scratches etc. Also I have a feeling that it may have been left in hot cars during the summers here. The case also has evidence that it has seen some heat too as some of the tolex has lifted. It's a 2010 and it has seen alot for a 3 year old guitar.

I have ALOT to learn about the science of Martin acoustic guitar care and although I'm fairly well-read about guitars, it's obvious that this might end up being an involved and interesting learning guitar thread.

Ants don't sleep the manner in which we may understand sleep, for a start they have no eyelids. BBC Wildlife site has some interesting information.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8100000/8100876.stm

Steve

Man! This really IS the place to get all my answers. My injected goofy question is answered. Ants DO sleep and in fact take 250 one minute power naps a day.

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