Martin in need of neck resets...questions for the forum

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by etype, Jun 2, 2021.

  1. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Etype, the repair people who hang out at UMGF are mostly factory authorized and following factory policy, they know far more about this than I ever will. I have been taught that shaving a bridge is a poor substitute for doing it correctly and can devalue the guitar. It also weakens the bridge - on a normal 3/8 thick bridge the saddle slot goes in 1/4 inch, two thirds of the way. Normally we shoot for having about 1/8 inch of saddle out of the slot - as you reduce the amount in you increase that lever on the slot and increase the chance that it will fail.

    However if a factory tech is suggesting doing this and will warrant his work, then it puts off the inevitable reset for a while.

    I'll just add that I have shaved one bridge in my not very illustrious lutherie career - it was on an Ovation that there was no way to get the neck off and do the reset. I did route the slot a little deeper but not thru to the top wood. The owner knows it was the only option.
     
  2. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm still wary of shaving down the bridge and I'm still torn between the Martin authorized guy and a Dallas luthier that gets great reviews all the time (his clients include St. Vincent, Rhett Miller of the Old 97s, Buddy Guy, Sarah Jaffe, and Motorhead). But I am leaning towards the non0Martin guy. Given that this could go either way, I'll let him take the lead on this.
     
  3. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Keep in mind, if the DSR is registered to you, it may be covered under warranty - which may require an authorized Fender tech. The 15 shouldn't matter.
     
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  4. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Good point. I remember filling out the warrantee card and sending it in (then again, it's been almost a decade). The fact that I also don't have the receipt in the file (something I would normally keep) tells me I might have sent that in to Martin as well (I do have the hang tags and other case candy). However, I cannot find anything they might have sent me back in my file. I just contacted them to ask what they have in their records. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Something else to remember is that the DSR has a M&T neck joint, the D15 has Martin's "simple dovetail" joint. I've frankly never paid that much attention to either of them and I certainly have not worked on either, but they might be somewhat easier (and less expensive) to reset. You techs at UMGF or an authorized guy can tell you.

    Ane while Martin used to cover resets under their lifetime warranty policy it is my understanding that they are not necessarily doing that any more.
     
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  6. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Usually they send you a letter with an ID# and an invitation to join some club.
     
  7. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    They replied that I had not registered, but then invited me to do so. So I did! At least I have the shipping order showing that it was shipped to me at the local GC. I'm going to take it over to the local authorized repair shop to see what they say about that one.
     
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  8. Boreas

    Boreas Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Sweet!
     
  9. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    The closest Martin Authorized service shop is also the closest repair shop to me. Given my warrantee status, I took the DSR over to him to evaluate. He got the relief right and then measured the E at 4/32". He was confident that with a regular setup, he could get it to 3/32", his standard for acoustic setups. Well, he also said that there was "plenty of saddle there to work with", so an adjustment there might be necessary. That'd be fine with me. He said it's be about a week.
     
  10. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    *** Update ***
    So I went to pick up the DSR today from the Martin authorized shop. First, by shaving down the saddle, he was able to get the low E to 3/32" at the 12th fret. But there is really no more room for adjustment. Notably, he said that even with the registration, the warranty only covers a net reset if the neck is literally pulling away from the guitar (which is not the case here). A full reset (even though it is a "bolt on" neck) is $350. As we were discussing it, he discovered that the binding is starting to pull away on the back of the guitar. THAT repair IS covered under warranty. So I left it there for that to be dealt with. I don't think there is 1/8" of the saddle sticking up past the bridge, but I'll measure it when I get it home. He did not touch the bridge though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks for the update. Its my understanding that Martin is less willing to do complete neck resets, its actually kind of silly that they ever did. It sounds like it will be playable when the binding gets fixed and the fact that the bridge wasn't shaved means you can decide in the future what to do when it needs it.
     
  12. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    This guy's opinion is that all guitars slowly get pulled (by the strings) to the point where they eventually need a reset. He mentioned 15 years as about the average age when that happens, but he said that it happens just as fast on Martins as other makes. He did say that Yamahas with necks attached with epoxy are pretty hard to work on as anything that will dissolve the epoxy will also dissolve the guitar. I am sure many will argue that Martins need resets sooner than other makes, but I'm just passing along one expert's opinion. He did have three neckless bodies sitting on a workbench next to him that he is working on, so he has some experience.
     
  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree with him on most of these points. Both of my old Martins needed resets at about 30 years. I had the work done an they play beautifully now. I also know that they will sell easily when the time comes. I build and repair guitars and see quite a few old Martins cross my workbench - many are showing signs that they will need it sooner or later. I am capable of doing neck resets but I have policy of NOT doing them on Martins or a couple of other big names - I feel that having it done by an authorized technician (and keeping the receipt) is worth the price when it comes time to sell.

    I have not worked on the M&T "simple dovetail" guitars - I don't know if they need work sooner or anything about them. In theory the actual reset should be somewhat easier than the traditional dovetail but there are so many techs that are really good with dovetails its hard to say. The price quoted to you is about what a standard dovetail was 10 or 15 years ago - I am hearing double that today.

    He is correct about the old Yamahas - most of them do need a reset and they are very difficult to do. I have a 1970 FG-150 that needed one and try as I might I could not get the neck off. I ended up doing the saw off the neck and convert to a bolted butt joint - its very invasive but worked out fine and the guitar is very playable.

    I think knowledge of a guitar's geometry is very important when shopping, particularly for a used guitar. Almost every steel string guitar, regardless of the neck joint type, will need at least one reset during its life. That very well may be the reason it is being sold - the action has crept up and the owner doesn't want to deal with it. That is not necessarily a deal breaker - just know what it will take (and cost) to get the geometry correct and factor that into the negotiation.

    The other thing that is in play here is that Martin used to warrant their guitars for the lifetime of the original owner, including resets (not frets or wear however). That was a super generous offer and many people took them up on it. They have backed off unless there was obvious problems with the joint - that is why I suggested way back that you take yours to an authorized tech rather than getting an opinion off an internet forum.

    I would suggest you enjoy your guitar now and watch it over the next few years. Measure the neck angle and all the setup parameters and write them down - if they change you might have to take the next step. Good luck, enjoy your guitar.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
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  14. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for all the helpful comments. In asking around in the forum, I was just trying to inform myself. It was really helpful knowing what I did in discussing the situation with the shop.

    I have now had a chance to play it. The action is phenomenal. The low E is closer to 5/64" than 6/32" and there is zero fret buzz. I think it has lower action than any of my electrics! However, there is only 5/64" of saddle above the bridge. The tone is the same as ever, but with the fresh strings on it, it doesn't seem as loud as it was. But that may just be a figment of my imagination.

    While at the store today, I tried a Gibson J-45. I still think I prefer this bolt-on neck DSR.
     
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