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'69 Martin D-18 Repair Dilemma

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by bendingtens, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. bendingtens

    bendingtens Tele-Meister

    Jan 30, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Almost 20 years ago, I bought a '69 Martin D-18 for $300. Why so cheap? It had tons of cracks and a half-dollar sized hole on the side. But Open chords sounded great, so I bought it.

    The cracks got bigger, and I left it alone virtually unplayed for 10 years.

    Four years ago, I took it to an authorized Martin guy in New York - Carlo Greco. For $500, he fixed the cracks, repaired the hole (with putty) and told me it didn't need a neck reset.

    These days, it's obvious the thing needs a neck reset. But it's a '69 Martin, not super collectable, and I can't figure out if it is worth it or not.

    Bill Neely, an authorized Martin repair guy here in LA told me it was absolutely not worth it. He said I should just sell the guitar - maybe get $1000 for it. Maybe.

    But one of the repairmen at McCabe's in Santa Monica said Neely was wrong - the guitar was worth $2000 as is - they had just sold a mint '69 D-18 for $4000. They suggested sending it to Asken guitars - said maybe I'd have to put $800-$1000 in to it - but the end result would be an amazing sounding guitar, and I could absolutely get my money out of it should I sell it.

    I took it to LA Guitars Sales in West Hollywood, and they confirmed with Neely said - don't put any more money into the thing.

    So I am completely confused. Any thoughts?

  2. Big_Bend

    Big_Bend Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 19, 2010
    Houston, TX
    When in doubt, do without.

    Sounds like maybe you should sell this Martin, save the repair costs, and then buy another Martin that does not have these issues.

    Good luck...

  3. ASC67

    ASC67 Friend of Leo's

    Jul 3, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN.

  4. 0018g

    0018g Tele-Meister

    Dec 2, 2009
    Sounds like a candidate for a Bryan Kimsey overhaul.

  5. braderrick

    braderrick Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 27, 2006
    I had a '64 martin d18 (last of the ones with kluson tuners/tortoise binding/tortoise pickguard) that had only a couple minor cracks (repaired) and had a neck reset and it played great. It was tough for me to get $2500 out of it. A '69 model with the big grover tuners, black binding, black pickguard, multiple bad cracks and a putty'd hole will be worth considerably less than it even.

    I say only repair/reset neck if YOU love the guitar and want to keep it. As far as fixing it up to sell it, I wouldn't bother with the reset as I don't think you'll make enough extra on the guitar to pay for work. I kinda miss mine too if it means anything to ya. I say keep it!

    Is the saddle shaved down pretty low? I'd drop it as low as possible before a reset but I wouldn't shave the bridge itself, just the saddle.

  6. H. Mac

    H. Mac Friend of Leo's

    May 26, 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I've learned the hard way that thinking about a particular guitar and its potential resale value at the same time is the best way to make a big mistake.

    If I've bonded with a guitar, I'll keep it no matter how much cash it might bring, and if I really have to get it repaired, I'll get it repaired regardless of repair costs.

    I have a 40 year old Martin 0-18 with the undesirable large rosewood bridge plate instead of the coveted small maple one, braces that aren't scalloped or even tapered, just plain straight, a bridge and saddle that have both been shaved way too much, and it could be the poster child for a neck reset. That's how it was when I bought it.

    However . . . It's a shocker. People play it for a few seconds, stop, look at in disbelief, compliment it, then play it some more, compliment it some more, etc. I've had offers over $2,000 for it, but I'm not gonna part with it, and I'm not gonna get it repaired until I absolutely have to.

  7. Cooper Black

    Cooper Black Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 13, 2012
    Asheville, NC

    He's on this board, too.

  8. Boyd

    Boyd Tele-Afflicted

    That's a tough decision. I have a 40 year old Gibson J50 which was my first guitar. It is in bad shape and recently got to the point where it isn't playable. I don't want to put the money into fixing it because it never really was a "great" guitar and I have a Martin. Have seen used ones in much better condition for $1500.

    I doubt that it would be worth much as-is, so I just let it sit in the case and keep it for sentimental reasons. But I agree with H. Mac - if I really loved playing it, I'd get it fixed regardless of the cost or resale value.

  9. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    Odd statement.

    If it is worth a kilobuck, it is worth a neck reset.

    Acoustic guitars do no become old acoustic guitars without them.

    Kimsey does good work.

  10. jimd

    jimd Friend of Leo's

    Nov 3, 2006
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Is it a guitar or an investment? That answer will tell you what to do.

    The guys at the shop are thinking of the bottom line and that is fine. But if you still love the sound and love playing it, get the reset and keep it for life.

  11. max_twang

    max_twang Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 8, 2009
    New York
    Are you in NYC? If so, go to Mandolin Bros. on Staten Island. They'll give you good advice and if you decide to have it repaired, they'll do a great job.

  12. bendingtens

    bendingtens Tele-Meister

    Jan 30, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I lived in NYC for 12 years, and stupidly never went to Mandolin Brothers.

    I'm in LA now.

    I've never had any attachment to the guitar. Neely said it would need a neck reset, a new bridge, and fretwork. His point was "why put 800 into a guitar that's only going to be worth $1200 when you're done."

  13. max_twang

    max_twang Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 8, 2009
    New York
    I think you just answered your question -- if you never had any attachment to the guitar, don't put the bux into it. If you ever get to SI, be sure to visit Mandolin -- very worth the trip.

    edit -- Stan Jay would probably be willing to tell you what the guitar is worth in its current condition and if you repaired it. Prob. worth the phone call.

  14. braderrick

    braderrick Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 27, 2006
    I agree 100%. Just put the money into it if YOU love it and want to keep it. I don't think there will be enough value added after the repairs to justify the costs of the repairs.

  15. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

    I am still trying to get past the patching of the hole with wood putty rather than grafting a piece of mahogany. If you keep the guitar you might add having the hole fixed properly to your list.

  16. 20721

    20721 Former Member

    Sep 28, 2012
    San Diego
    It doesn't sound like you love it. That being the case, get rid of it.

    For a guitar you love, cost of maintenance is not an issue.

  17. Old Has Been

    Old Has Been Tele-Meister

    Sep 24, 2010
    Northern Utah
    Have you ever seen Willie Nelson's guitar "Trigger"? It looks like someone tossed a grenade through it.

    Bottom line...if it's got a killer tone, it doesn't matter how the heck it looks. A neck job is going to cost less than a thousand bucks. Who cares if it has a hole in it?

    On the other hand, if it has a crummy tone, junk it. There are a lot of guitars out there that have great tones, so why waste your time on a stinker?
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012

  18. bendingtens

    bendingtens Tele-Meister

    Jan 30, 2007
    Los Angeles

    I've decided to not kick this old gal to the curb just yet. I'm taking it Bill Asher in January - I think she's still got a lot of life left in her.

  19. phatplat

    phatplat TDPRI Member

    Feb 15, 2012

  20. braderrick

    braderrick Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 27, 2006
    Well good, I think you may like it a little better than we thought... May as well make it the best it can be.

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