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Hi All,

Now the time for me to ask a fave:

I've had this Martin dropped on my bench from my mates in the retail world with a note to date it, validate the bridge type and repair the lifting bridge.

I'm not lazy (not much!) but I'm not an Acoustic expert when it comes to stuff other than fixing them and I'm acutely aware of how talking about dates and fixtures can come back to bite one on one's nether regions.

Short story: can anyone come up with a probable on 000-28  #75117 (it says around 1940 on the Martin list) and as it it is imaged.   Is this the correct original bridge (only if the answer is obvious).

This guitar is in good condition and the owner is no shonk.

Thanks in advance guys,

Regards,

Rusty.

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Early 1940.
Bridge not original, pickguard not original.
Strings might be original.
Well, not so sure about the guard. Is it under the finish? May have been removed and stuck back down, or replaced.

Hi Greg, thankyou for your advice with this.   I have closely inspected the pickguard and the following things are evident:

The guard does not appear to be under the finish, however the finish is quite thin and has shrunken into the soundboard somewhat (not grained per se, but very well embedded).  The juncture of the guard to the soundboard appears consistent and in keeping with a long association.

The pickguard is thin and has become con-formal over time with the rossette rings as the wood has shrunk away minutely from the rings giving a ripple appearance where the guard goes over the rings.

The periphery of the pickguard shows some shrinkage of the guard which has left a small but discernible dip between the edge of the guard and the soundboard where it has pulled back a bit and stressed the edge area.

The guard is very secure and well attached and no witness marks of replacement is evident.

To my untrained/inexperienced eye this appears to be a reasonably old guard that has been with the instrument for quite a while.  Given the VGC of the instrument its in keeping with an original fit, however, I am not qualified to make that  assessment.

Thanks once again for your assistance and any further light you can shed is appreciated.

Hello Russell, 

I'll second that, not the original bridge. 

How are things looking on the inside/top?

A pre-war Martin is a rare beast here in Australia.  Quite an exciting specimen!  It certainly looks in good nick, but the major question for an acoustic of this age is what the neck geometry looks like.  Is it under string tension at the moment (I notice that the high E is missing), or has it been detuned to destress the rising bridge?  If it is tuned up, what do you see with a straight edge on the fingerboard and extended out to the bridge?  You don't want to reglue a bridge and then find that the action is terrible because it also needs a neck reset.  Any signs that it has been reset before, such as refinish around the heel?

Hi Mark and crew,

Its a fine specimen indeed and I just banged off a couple of happy snaps for the sake of the questions - its all good both inside and out and the neck angle is fine.    Martin have just come back and said basically what we already know - the bridge is not original and I should contact our local  distributors for a replacement source.  Not entirely helpful as we aren't big on replacement bridge manufacture here (and I no longer have the time  to do replicas, even though the art of bridge making is very satisfying).    Anybody who can recommend a source for a quality vintage spec Martin bridge?

And , thanks comrades for all your help here -  much appreciated.

Rusty.

If you are after a quality vintage spec replacement bridge. One of TJ Thompson's bridges would seem the ticket.

https://proluthiertools.com/product/40s-style-belly-bridge/

Sounds like you have got it all worked out Rusty. 

That Thompson bridge looks lovely, and appropriate for such a vintage treasure.  Bloody expensive!  But I'd probably still spend that if it was mine.  If your client won't go for that much $ you could use one of the StewMac ones which is slightly oversize, and do some adjusting and gentle relicing to make it suitable.  It would be a tenth of the cost for the part - but by the time you charge for your labour it might work out about the same. 

https://www.stewmac.com/Hardware_and_Parts/Bridges_and_Tailpieces/B...

T.J. is indeed the man for an accurate, period specific bridge. There's a small complication, though. If this is a later Martin bridge [it looks to be so] the outline will be slightly different, especially where the belly transitions to the wings. So you'd have some Book Two finish touchup and matching to do...
T.J. should be able to send you a paper template so you can check this instruments bridge against his. Or you could send him a tracing of the bridge and he can make an *almost* period correct bridge that fits the shadow of what's on there now.
Regarding the guard, I suspect it has been removed and reglued, accounting for the gap you mentioned between the edge of the guard and the finish. Leave it.
Nice project.

Absolutely true. But that would be the scenario with most "direct" replacement parts if one would opt for that route, instead of making your own (or getting TJ to do so) fitting the current footprint. But have a look at the situation (bridge off) first. God knows what you may find (previous damage?). Since it's not a copy of the original bridge. The previous repairman might have slapped on a/any replacement bridge at the time. (did he position it correctly, was it scribed/scraped etc). 

The quality of all this advice is what I have come to expect here - only excellent.   The footprint will require a slightly oversized bridge to cover the witness marks from the previous replacement (only a hair in it but it will mean we don't have to refinish in this tricky place) and since our dollar tanked the TJ bridge cost just put this level and quality of replacement right back within my own area of interest. Up against this benchmark cost it is now cost-effective  to build a replica here and we have some beautiful Q/sawn jet black ebony billets out back for our boards which would be a good fit.

The Stewmac and others options are no-go due to the lack of a "through saddle",   we can get a Chinese one  for 10 bucks but we find most of their stuff is pure crap and I'm not in the mood for disappointment here. 

However, bear in mind that its a realistic figure we are dealing with - USD 225 + Shipping is around AUD $350 which doesn't leave much fat taking into account the cost of the time/machine jigging and materials involved. If it was the good old days when the only thing I had a lot of was time this would be an easy decision.  The customer can make the call here I think.   

Thanks once again guys, I owe you all a frosty one.

Rusty.

Rusty,

I'm building a Stew Mac OM kit and the supplied bridge has a through saddle. It is 6" x 1" plus belly. You might ask if you can get one from them. I'd bet they have a lot of spare parts for the kits, certainly if the typical purchaser is as ham handed as I am.

I could be wrong (it happens) but I think TJ's bridges are CNC'd (beautifully), so it might not be a big deal to get one with a slightly larger base..

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