Reinforcing 70s Martin Neck (Erlewine's Graphite Trick)

Hello folks, first time posting here on the forum but I've learned tons from Frank's site as well as browsing the forums, thank you to everyone here for the perspective and information.

I've got a 1977 D28 here in my shop for a neck reset among other things. It has the square non adjustable truss rod reinforcement common on Martins in the 70s. While watching Dan Erlewine's Advanced Fretting Vol. 1 DVD, he mentions early in the video that he inserts 1/4 graphite square rods into the truss rod with epoxy and letting it cure while flexing the neck into a slight backbow to straighten and strengthen the neck while the neck is off for a neck reset.

Any thoughts on this procedure? Is it sacrilege to do this to a vintage (albeit 70s) Martin? And does anybody have any thoughts on where i can get square 1/4 graphite rods? All my google searches have turned up are round rods.

Thanks again, I look forward to any responses.

Chad Gerbe

Pittsburgh, PA

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I don't see how it could hurt.

On t'other hand, I've never reset the neck on a guitar of that vintage that I thought NEEDED extra reinforcement, so after all these years, it's a procedure I haven't done myself.

I thought that the reinforcement was done with round rods. I'm not sure I would trust the old hollow square tube to be consistently the same interior size all the way through.

I'm with Frank on this - I've honestly never felt the need to reinforce a neck. If a vintage Martin neck (or other non-adjustable neck) has too much bow, I just plane the fingerboard so that it has the proper amount of relief under string tension. And since (IME) most guitars are due for a plane and refret by the time they're due for a neck reset, I usually do a refret while a guitar is in for a reset.

So I'm wondering - are you proposing this in lieu of a plane and refret? Martin's fret work was pretty sloppy in the 70's, so attempting to salvage a forty year old fret job is definitely not your best option in this case.

Hi Christopher. There is currently a bit more relief in the neck than I would prefer, but I am planning on refretting and leveling the fingerboard as the fretwork certainly is pretty sloppy as you predicted. I guess my thought was that by reinforcing the neck with graphite rods that I would make a more rigid, stable neck that doesn't soak up excess vibration that could possibly lead to better tone. Also, I thought it could be more of a preventative procedure to combat any bowing in the future.

The premise that the neck will be more rigid and not soak up excess vibration makes sense (at least in theory).

But that neck is done warping. It will not bow anymore after it leaves your shop. That's the beautiful part about refretting a vintage guitar. After forty years of constant string tension, the neck has gone through all the changes that it's going to. It has completely stabilized by now, so if you plane it out and refret it so that it has the proper amount of relief, it will stay that way. I promise.

Lmii sells squared stock I believe, which you could work down to size with something like the Luthiers Friend sanding station. That said, I dont see why using round stock wouldnt give good results with a good epoxy. If you can manage to clean and abrade the interior of the square tube beforehand, all the better.


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