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Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Milspec, Apr 14, 2019.
I have two Martin’s with no cracks. In the winter when the heat pulls the humidity out of my house I keep them in a humidified bedroom in their cases with humidipaks. In the spring and summer my AC keeps the humidity at about 50%. You don’t have to pay a lot of attention but basics help.
Good question, so I measured a few tops of some of my guitars and some I have in the shop at the time. Here are the results in thousandths of an inch (.125" = 1/8")
Martin D-1 .119*
Martin OMCPA4 .123
Takamine 12-string .112**
Seagull S-6 .128
Recording King .129
Gibson Hummingbird .121*
Gibson LG-0 .133
Guild D-35 .109*
Guild GAD25 .121
Yamaha FG-160 .106**
Yamaha CJ-818 jumbo .117**
* These guitars have top cracks (repaired). It may be worth noting that two of the three are old, well-worn guitars 1972 and 1975.
** These are laminate tops. It is believed that the reason these old laminate Yamahas from the '60s and '70s sound as good as they do is because of the thin tops.
Maybe they are cracked more than other brands, because they are more pleasurable to play than other brands, get lugged around and used in compromising conditions. Sorry, I just don't want to play a P O S at the campground anymore, or at the beach, etc...
Thanks for taking the time, that is very interesting results.
This brings up an interesting point. Do they need humidfying packs inside the case if the case is in a humidified room? I converted an upstairs bedroom into my little studio and eliminated the ductwork so there would be no dust blowing around and I could control the temperature / humidity. That room is kept at 45% RH and 74 degrees year round yet I still have some acoustics cased without any humidifying devices inside. My reasoning being that any moisture given off by the wood would remain inside the case so the guitar is not going to dry out and every time the case is opened up it gets exposed to the 45% RH of the room. I do keep instruments out on a stand on a rotational basis, but I don't see how they can become damaged inside the case by themselves.
Maybe I am wrong about this, but it hasn't shown any issues so far after 7 years.
^^^ THIS ^^^
I HAD a Martin DC16GTE, and I HAVE a Martin DCRSGT and GPCRSGT. I always keep humidifiers in the cases of all my acoustic guitars.
Hint: Don't spend $$$ on gimmick humidifiers. Make your own.
I use hinged, plastic soap dishes. Drill several rows of small holes in the lid. Cut a kitchen sponge to fit inside the soap dish. Soak the sponge in water, then squeeze the sponge to eliminate the excess water. Place the sponge back in the dish, close the lid and place the dish in your guitar case. Voila!
...and it works great!
All good advice above.
Another idea: Get an uncracked seventies D-18 or D-28. Then invest in whatever it needs. Quality control was weak in the seventies, so they often want things like a neck reset, a new pickguard, binding repair, a bridge reset, or a new bridge plate inside. Some folks replace the tuners, too.
But that all means you can find one for well under $2k and do the upgrades over time. So you might end up spending over $2k, but not all at once. A good luthier can advise you.
Another suggestion: For good advice on buying a used Martin, visit the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum. Really great, knowledgeable, helpful folks hang out there.
You’re completely safe; room humidification is ideal, and keeping them inside the case in those conditions without any assistance is perfect.
My 20 year old relatively "cheap" Martin DM doesn't have any cracks and the neck is perfect. My 40 year old Yamaha doesn't have any cracks either and its neck is perfect also. I take reasonably great care of my guitars, but they get played alot and when not being played, they stay in cases.
Like wise my 1992 D1, another "Cheap" Martin, is devoid of cracks or any sort of top deflection, despite being on the thin side for top thickness. I really believe that it's more about storage and overall long term care than the thickness of the top. JMHO YEMV.
There's no bracing issue or build issue with Martins. They use great wood, have excellent build methods, and the designs are time-tested. (And I'm not even a fan -- it's just the truth.) Cracking is virtually always climate related and the responsibility of the owner. People who live in difficult climates cannot always maintain conditions necessary to avoid some cracking. It comes with the territory. If you read about more cracked Martins than other brands, that's because there are more Martins, especially aging instruments, in player's hands than other good, solid-wood guitars. There are literally millions of them out there.
No cracks in my D28. On Saturday the mailman delivered a 30-year-old D41, I won it in an online auction, and took a risk on getting such a guitar with only crappy cell phone photos to go by, but it arrived in decent shape with no cracks.
I’m glad you posted this. I am kind of new to guitar but know I want to play so I purchased a D-18 this year. I live in Florida and thought I should be fine not worrying about humidity. Thanks to you, I watched a few YouTube videos and purchased a hygrometer and a humidifier, all for about 20 bucks. Should save me a lot of future hassle!
I have a ‘59 that’s cracked. Back then they finished over the pickguard, which would shrink and that could cause cracks.
I have a D-41 from maybe 99/00 and it has no cracks.
Have owned lots of Martins over the past 40 years, never had a crack. Humidify in the winter you'll be fine. Also if you live in an area where the AC is on all the time you might want to monitor the humidity all year long.
Yah I've never owned a Martin but I bet it's 99% Owner caused.
I do own a Taylor, it came with quite a bit of alarming paperwork in the case about the need to keep the guitar in the case and how you need to humidify/dehumidify to protect the guitar and lots of warnings about humidity related damage not being covered under the warranty.
Does Martin include material like that? Cause it sure seems like there are an awful lot of players who willfully don't want to take care of guitars cause they think the 20 seconds to open the case and get the guitar out is a deal breaker.
When cracks are repaired correctly the odds are great that there will be no future issues. You whittle a long tapered splinter of the appropriate wood so that it fits gently into the crack, then glue it in. An experienced repairman can easily touch up the finish. After that the guitar should be fine even if treated to reasonably less than perfect conditions. Repairing cracks is not a tragedy, it is a normal part of the life of a really fine guitar. Whether Martins are now being made with more shrinkage stress built into the tops I have no idea.
Notice that people are talking about cracks in guitars they love the tone of. Good sounding guitars are delicate. They crack because of stress. You repair it correctly and relieve the stress.
Owning a fine guitar and being afraid to repair cracks is like racing your Corvette every weekend and being outraged that you need to replace the shocks. It is just routine maintenance.
I think you are fine. I was playing one of mine once last winter and thought I could feel the frets on the high E side. So I already had the humidipaks and decided to case them for safety. I keep my room at about 50% relative humidity but the heat in my house isn’t even and the temperature runs cool in the sixties in the winter in that room.
The thing with this kind of stuff is everyone lives in a different place and has a different house, different HVAC system, etc, etc, etc..
I am sure there are some people who can just leave their guitar out for decades because they happen to live in just the right place and the weather stays safe for the guitar year round. There is some particular latitude where that must happen. Maybe some place like San Francisco or Vancouver where there is moderate humidity & the summer & winter aren't that different.
Not so much where I live. Humidity will be 20% or less without intervention all winter and could be 60%+ all summer without intervention. In the summer the A/C helps, but in the winter the heat makes things worse.
So they tell us all to pay attention.