Martin and Cracks

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Milspec, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,867
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Although that would make a good band name, it is not the topic. Like most people, I do enjoy the sound and playability of a good Martin guitar. Also like most people, I can't afford to buy a good one (D18 and above) new. So, I have feelers out to the various local shops to contact me when they get a used one.

    So far, I have looked at 4 instruments that are less than 4 years old and each one has cracked tops. Not major cracks mind you, but visible cracks that are stable. Even when you search online auctions, many of them have such cracks after only a few years.

    I understand the humidity effects on solid wood tops like that but I can't imagine anyone spending 3k plus on a guitar and not taking care of it. It isn't like they would just leave it in the garage or the trunk. I have a few solid wood guitars including a Seagull Artist Cameo which I purchased new, shipped from Canada in the winter, and have been playing it at home and on stage for 4 years now.....no cracks.

    They both use quality woods so it must be the bracing that is causing cracks. What else could it be? If that is the case, then why would I want a guitar with that kind of bracing? A Martin sounds great, but I am not about to pay 3k for something that will crack so easily...if that is the case.

    Help me out here, I know we have some skilled luthiers on this site, what is the deal with high end guitars and cracks? I only paid $1200 on sale for my Seagull and I am just not seeing the benefit to a Martin right now quality wise.
     
    Route67 likes this.
  2. 1300 E Valencia

    1300 E Valencia Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,006
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    Location:
    Fullerton CA
    I believe you misunderestimate the intelligence of some owners.
     
    elihu, MilwMark, Frontman and 3 others like this.
  3. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,867
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    Nebraska
    That might be so as money and brains are not always a matched set, but I still find far more crack issues on these Martins than I would ever expect. Quite frankly, it scares me off. I have many friends who own the 15M model which have different bracing / top wood and they don't see cracks after many years now. I just wonder if this really is unique to their bracing pattern. I would be furious if I spent that kind of cash and saw cracks so soon.
     
    Route67 likes this.
  4. e23589

    e23589 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    339
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2011
    Location:
    California
    I have an HD35 I have owned for five years, So Far So Good!
     
    coloradojeff and Route67 like this.
  5. Route67

    Route67 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    421
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2017
    Location:
    Canada
    I have a couple of standard series Martins and the bracing is carefully selected for quality and uniformity of grain, so I don’t think cracks are the result of deficient bracing.

    What I have noticed with mine and those in shop is they are extremely hungry for humidity. When Martin talks about 45 to 55% as safe levels they mean it. The tops on these guitars are thin especially on the reimagined series and you can readily observe rise and fall of curvature due to conditions of storage.

    Considering we just finished another winter across continental N America with subsequent low indoor humidity, I’m not surprised about your report of cracks and the need for neck resets on new instruments considering the latter is related to the top folding and caving in due to dry conditions.

    You have a good instrument; I personally don’t think a green (new) Martin* is stable enough for rugged live use without some age put on it first. Such is a side effect of the high production numbers coming out of Nazareth these days.

    *Standard Series
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
    FenderGuy53 and Milspec like this.
  6. beachbreak

    beachbreak TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    28
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Location:
    Florida
    I've had my D-18 for 47 years, no cracks, neck good, I always keep a piece of wrung out sponge in a sealed baggie with a few holes in the case.
     
    Tonetele, Uncle Butch and Route67 like this.
  7. loco gringo

    loco gringo Tele-Meister Platinum Supporter

    Posts:
    304
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2016
    Location:
    The Altered State
    What is the location of the Martin's online that have cracks? It is tough to humidify a good acoustic in say Arizona or other very low humidity locations. You almost have to leave them in the case with a humidifier if you aren't playing them, or you have to humidify a room. Some people aren't that aware of it.

    Use the humidity packs and leave them in the case when you aren't playing them in the winter or any time you have low humidity in your house. I do this in the winter. In the spring and summer, I leave them on stands in the house if I want.

    But to answer the real question asked, no, Martin guitars are no more prone to cracking than other mid to high end solid wood guitars.
     
    Uncle Butch and Route67 like this.
  8. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    332
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2019
    Location:
    Ohio (Nerk)
    Maybe people only sell the bad ones, the .03% that had some defect in them, and the others are all callously horded by those in the position to do so.
    Not unlike a dragon slumbering atop treasures they horde.

    Why can't I find a used $400 squire for my kid used in the sub $200 range?

    What jerk spilled the beans on the "silverface fenders suck!" Myth and cost me money?

    I cant say, but I do know that I've seen VERY FEW Taylor's in the $1200 range with some humidity related price dropping "ouchie" (2 ever, probably?).
    I've seen maybe one Yairi in reduced $$ state because of a crack or warp, etc.

    Never seen an uncared for Larrivee as described.

    But in life I've seen a strange number of Martin's as described, or with unusual dents and scars. Maybe the name carries with it the ability to still sell in spite of potential trouble? I'm not sure, but its totally a "thing"

    I'm no luthier, and while I've gotten breaks and damage in wood repaired in chairs, banisters, and junk at work, I wouldn't let me anywhere near a guitar as a repair guy. I'm just reiterating that Martin's turn up wounded in the wild a noticable amount.

    (Maybe all Martin's should be stored in cigar store sized walk in humidors?)
     
    Milspec likes this.
  9. Tele Fan

    Tele Fan Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,244
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    Louisville, Ky
    It's amazing how many people don't watch out for humidity on an acoustic. Any acoustic will crack if it isn't cared for, and a lot of people seem to have very little regard for there things no matter how much they cost.
     
  10. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,867
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    Nebraska
    I can certainly see how cracks would occur in older instruments, especially if you go back 30 years before cheap humidifiers became common-place, but on a 4-5 year old instrument? You guys might right, maybe I find so many cracked Martins because so many are selling Martins hoping the name holds the value. It could very well be that, but all that I know is that I keep finding a steady diet of cracked tops in my search that does not seem to be the case for many other brands. If it is just people not maintaining proper humidity, one would expect that same laziness with other brands as well.

    Just doesn't give me any confidence at this point.
     
  11. Festus_Hagen

    Festus_Hagen Tele-Meister

    Age:
    52
    Posts:
    468
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2016
    Location:
    Jeff City, Mo.
    I have a '66 Gibson that has no cracks anywhere (except checking) and it just sits around the house.
     
    Milspec likes this.
  12. loco gringo

    loco gringo Tele-Meister Platinum Supporter

    Posts:
    304
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2016
    Location:
    The Altered State
    How many other brands sell as many solid wood guitars as Martin?

    I'm not a Martin apologist. I don't own one. I have, though.
     
  13. Route67

    Route67 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    421
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2017
    Location:
    Canada
    Here’s a rough picture underneath the top of my 2018 000-18. I’ve had acoustic guitars before this one, but my previous Yamahas were thick on the spruce. This 18 is thin = delicate/ high performance.

    084390D7-12A1-41AB-910B-1C5E02DA94D1.jpeg

    You mentioned the 15 series and that might be the way to go with the sipo top instead.
     
  14. Uncle Butch

    Uncle Butch Tele-Meister

    Age:
    66
    Posts:
    124
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2018
    Location:
    Lebanon Pa.
    I have a '71 D-35 and a '99 D-18GE and no cracks. I do use humidifier packs over winter and don't leave them in the car...EVER! I don't think bracing is the culprit as both my Martins have different bracing. I think the real problem is a lack of knowledge on the part of the owners, or they just don't care.
     
    loco gringo and Route67 like this.
  15. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,338
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2013
    Location:
    NJ
    I bought my D-35 in 1973.( I believe it to be a 72) It doesn't have any cracks. The pick guard is falling off, and I let it get dry and the seam in the top didn't split but it became apparent,I humidify it when I remember to. Still sounds heavenly.

     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
    elihu and Route67 like this.
  16. LGOberean

    LGOberean Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    9,767
    Joined:
    May 31, 2008
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, Texas
    What benefit is there to putting a few holes in the case?

    :p:twisted:
     
    drf64, jimash and nojazzhere like this.
  17. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,867
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    Nebraska
    I think you might be on to it as a thinner top would be more prone to damage from dryness making the room for error less than on a cheaper instrument. I really don't believe that people are idiots when it comes to caring for their acoustics, but if a Martin is more sensitive then I can see how one's care might end up being inadequate compared to other brands.

    Understand that I am not attacking Martin here as I find them to be the most pleasing tone of any instrument that I have tried, but I just don't want to spend that much money on one that I have to treat with kid gloves either. I do like to play in other places besides just in my home.
     
    Route67 likes this.
  18. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    365
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2010
    Location:
    Iowa
    I'm a tech/luthier with my own shop and I fix a LOT of cracked tops....and backs, and sides ….on Martins, Gibsons, Guilds, Taylors, old Harmonys, Stellas, and yes, Seagulls. And it happens to violins, cellos, and upright basses too... I fix those too. If solid wood guitars are not cared for... left to dry out, they will crack. I highly doubt it has anything to do with the bracing. I'm in Iowa, which is a lot like Nebraska in terms of wild swings of humidity, so it's not surprising that you are finding guitars with cracked tops. Keep looking. There are good ones out there.
     
    jimash, elihu, MilwMark and 3 others like this.
  19. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,867
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Thanks for your comments, is there any truth to the Martin tops being thinner? I plan to keep looking, there is never any rush for me when it comes to instruments.
     
  20. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Meister

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    353
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    Location:
    Palmetto, Florida
    There are a lot of rave reviews out there on the new D-18s and a thinner top would definitely open up the tone. If you want a guitar in the $3000+ range that's built to stand up to rigorous gigging, you might as well step all the up to a Collings. A brand new D1 sounds very much like a 20 year old D-18. There's a reason why so many serious working musicians who depend on their instrument day in and day out play them.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.