New life for an old Martin

Stubee

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Cool story Freeman and I especially enjoyed the part about the glued in saddle removal. I haven’t done that but have had similar “issues” on projects ranging from house construction to motorized equipment repair, and I laughed out loud at your predicament.

I’ve taken down saddles & made new ones, straightened some stubborn necks etc enough that friends would ask me to “fix” their poorly playing guitar, but have never tackled projects like yours. I thought about getting into it because I think I’d like it, but just never had the right space to really use for that work + too many other hobbies. I do enjoy your tales and you tell them well.
 

Tarkus60

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Oh my I would just imagine the patience for that......Amazing
I was a motorcycle guy....We had a small business ....drag bikes.
But this blows me away.
 

Harry Styron

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Some time ago I did a thread evaluating a used guitar, specifically an old Martin but it applies to any older instrument.


A week ago a friend came by with his wife's guitar, he wanted me to look at one of the tuners that was acting funky and, oh yes, what did I think of the setup? The guitar is a nice but well loved and played 1965 Martin 00-18, pretty much the kind of guitar I was thinking about when I wrote the other thread.

The tuner is fairly easy. The original ones had been replaced sometime in the past, the new one was slipping but being sealed is pretty hard to work on. I gave my friend several options for replacement, including a couple of sets that I already had. I showed him that because of the way the replacements had been fitted we were pretty committed to a modern enclosed style, he chose some Gotoh's that I had.

As far as the action - well, it needed some work. The guitar has a reasonable belly,

View attachment 996942

but very high action. The fret plane is nicely level but it hits the bridge down about 1/8 inch

View attachment 996943

In an attempt to make it playable the saddle has been sanded down level with the top of the bridge
View attachment 996944

The guitar needs a neck reset.

It also has a lot of wear on the first five frets and some pretty good fingernail divots in the rosewood f/b.

View attachment 996946


Start by loosening the fretboard extension. I don't have exactly the correct heating pad for the shape and size but the one I use for bridge removal is pretty close. Clamp it lightly on the extension and let it heat up the wood

View attachment 996950

Start working pallet knives under the f/b as the glue releases

View attachment 996951

After the f/b extension is loose I pulled the 15 and first 6 frets
View attachment 996953
Some time ago I did a thread evaluating a used guitar, specifically an old Martin but it applies to any older instrument.


A week ago a friend came by with his wife's guitar, he wanted me to look at one of the tuners that was acting funky and, oh yes, what did I think of the setup? The guitar is a nice but well loved and played 1965 Martin 00-18, pretty much the kind of guitar I was thinking about when I wrote the other thread.

The tuner is fairly easy. The original ones had been replaced sometime in the past, the new one was slipping but being sealed is pretty hard to work on. I gave my friend several options for replacement, including a couple of sets that I already had. I showed him that because of the way the replacements had been fitted we were pretty committed to a modern enclosed style, he chose some Gotoh's that I had.

As far as the action - well, it needed some work. The guitar has a reasonable belly,

View attachment 996942

but very high action. The fret plane is nicely level but it hits the bridge down about 1/8 inch

View attachment 996943

In an attempt to make it playable the saddle has been sanded down level with the top of the bridge
View attachment 996944

The guitar needs a neck reset.

It also has a lot of wear on the first five frets and some pretty good fingernail divots in the rosewood f/b.

View attachment 996946


Start by loosening the fretboard extension. I don't have exactly the correct heating pad for the shape and size but the one I use for bridge removal is pretty close. Clamp it lightly on the extension and let it heat up the wood

View attachment 996950

Start working pallet knives under the f/b as the glue releases

View attachment 996951

After the f/b extension is loose I pulled the 15 and first 6 frets
View attachment 996953
Freeman, I hope you used the Gotoh tuners that you bought from me. They needed a home.
 

Dostradamas

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Those fingernail divots in the fb are going to haunt my nightmares aaaahhhgggghhhh

Poor rosewood fretboard what did they ever do to anyone...
 

Freeman Keller

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Those fingernail divots in the fb are going to haunt my nightmares aaaahhhgggghhhh

Poor rosewood fretboard what did they ever do to anyone...

To make matters worse, it is probably Brazilian. I told them that by doing only a partial refret I wouldn't be able to remove all the divots but they probably don't affect the playability much. Maybe I can get her to trim her nails however.

Is that the original pickguard? Those like to warp.

I'm quite sure it is and the owner asked if I should replace it with a larger one. It does not have the normal pick guard cracks and is well attached to the guitar, I told him I would not mess with it. He also asked about doing a little refinishing, I said absolutely not.
 

Freeman Keller

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And for all you folks who said nice things about the photography, thank you. I keep an old but good quality camera in the shop and try to document whatever it is that I'm doing. Upload all the photos to my PC and put them in little files, some times they can be very helpful. Its just shop lighting and often hard to photograph something like measuring relief or gluing in the neck, but I try .

Thanks for all the nice comments everyone.
 

Boreas

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A nice small maple one in very good condition.
Appreciate the write-up!! My '51 had a neck reset perhaps 20 years ago and I was able to find some period correct tuners. It is so light, it is like playing a balloon. I love the way the mahogany body vibrates - essentially feeling the strings as I pluck them. To me, rosewood bodies are much stiffer and can almost "feel" dead to me. But both sound good! Oddly, I prefer a spruce top to a mahogany top. To me, a mahogany top sounds like it is being run through a compressor. Sweet sound, but not as rich as spruce.
 

Boreas

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To make matters worse, it is probably Brazilian. I told them that by doing only a partial refret I wouldn't be able to remove all the divots but they probably don't affect the playability much. Maybe I can get her to trim her nails however.



I'm quite sure it is and the owner asked if I should replace it with a larger one. It does not have the normal pick guard cracks and is well attached to the guitar, I told him I would not mess with it. He also asked about doing a little refinishing, I said absolutely not.
I was in a quandary about the finish on my '51. It had been simply oversprayed probably in the 60s or 70s with light nitro. This was common in the day to preserve what was left of any finish. However, this overspray was getting soft in the upper bout where I would breathe on it, on the lower bout where my arm rested, and was checking/flaking in other areas of the body. In addition, it left the entire body - including the worn spots - too SHINY for a 70 year old guitar.

So, with trepidation I grabbed a 0 (light gray) and 0000 (white) set of 3M scratchy pads and went to work on the finish. I didn't try to remove it, but to remove the flaky parts, and soften the gloss. I also rubbed linseed oil into the areas that were flaking and areas of raw wood. Just a couple thin coats to stabilize the finish. After all this, I lightly went over the entire guitar with a 0 scratchy to blend the finish into a not-quite-satin sheen, as could be expected on a vintage instrument. I have to admit, I was happy with the stabilization attempt and the aesthetic and tactile result. I don't believe it would have any negative effect on the value since the original overspray did the damage there.

Many of these vintage gems were oversprayed back when they weren't considered particularly valuable. Martin actually performed many of these oversprays on their "lesser" instruments when the factory nitro finish was just starting to show wear. My '54 000-18 had what I was told was a "factory overspray". Some people say it affects the tone, though I doubt 2-3 light coats of nitro would do much. The oversprays DID help stabilize the original finish though, but collectors typically devalue oversprayed instruments - as there was the alleged tone issue and the overall "gloss" of the overspray. But how would these instruments look today if they had NOT been oversprayed? Would the wood have been damaged to a greater extent? Just part of the fun of collecting vintage instruments!
 

envirodat

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As always Freeman I greatly appreciate the details in explanation and photos. Thank you! Your technique in teaching and sharing information is fantastic! Because of your notes in the past, I have started to learn guitar maintenance since you make it seem possible for others to do it. I am still on the thrift store guitar level but I have fun and give them away. Touching a Martin. Hmmm. Not a chance at least for the next few years and lots more guitars worked on under my belt. :)
 

Chief60

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I bought a new Martin once. It was such a wonderful and expensive guitar I was afraid to play it. I just couldn’t imagine ripping the neck out of one. This thread just amazes me!

I ended up trading that Martin for a Tele and some cash.
 

fathand

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I like your jig for pressing out the neck. Stew Mac has one for only $200 but I think I'll use your idea.
I actually use a very similar idea for routing the neck mortise.
 

Freeman Keller

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I like your jig for pressing out the neck. Stew Mac has one for only $200 but I think I'll use your idea.
I actually use a very similar idea for routing the neck mortise.
I've made a jig for pressing the neck and use it on guitars that are reluctant to come apart, but Martins generally come apart easily. This is just a way to apply even pressure as I drink my espresso.

Here is the real jig, tighten th nuts and it pushes up on the heel. This one spreads the force out a bit better on the sides of the guitar

IMG_1132.JPG
 

chaosman12

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I have to agree with the others, great photos and descriptions that capture your expertise.

Safe bet that all Martins in the 60s used hide glue. But what about through the years, do they still use hide glue?

it looks like you drilled 3 holes in the fretboard to heat up the dovetail. Whats the strategy for where to place those holes?
 

Esquire Jones

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I have to agree with the others, great photos and descriptions that capture your expertise.

Safe bet that all Martins in the 60s used hide glue. But what about through the years, do they still use hide glue?

it looks like you drilled 3 holes in the fretboard to heat up the dovetail. Whats the strategy for where to place those holes?
Martin moved from the "Old Factory" into the new, larger facility in 65, I think.

While they did still use hide glue, much of the glue used after that was white glue.

There are some experts at the UMGF that have all the important dates documented.

For instance, the large T-bar truss changed to a smaller T-bar in 67, then changed to a square tube in 68.

Lots of incremental changes that took place over the years.
 

Freeman Keller

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I have to agree with the others, great photos and descriptions that capture your expertise.

Safe bet that all Martins in the 60s used hide glue. But what about through the years, do they still use hide glue?

it looks like you drilled 3 holes in the fretboard to heat up the dovetail. Whats the strategy for where to place those holes?
Thank you very much. I an not enough of a Martin historian to know when specific changes were made. They still are using hide glue on the Authentic series today (and non adjustable truss rods). AR glue will release with heat and moisture also, so newer guitars are reset the same way, hide just makes it even easier. My '74 and '80 Martins have had neck resets, no problems. Martin also has some other joints on some models, mostly x-18 and up are true dovetails.

I usually drill two holes and try to be on either side of the truss rod. The idea is to hit that gap between the back of the neck tenon and the head block, the neck should not be up tight against the block. Some times you have to angle the hole slightly, the one in the center was exploratory, once I felt the gap I drilled the other two. The idea of two holes is to let any water that goes along with the steam out, you don't want to saturate the wood (there are other glue joints that you don't want to come apart).
 

Stratocast

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Some time ago I did a thread evaluating a used guitar, specifically an old Martin but it applies to any older instrument.


A week ago a friend came by with his wife's guitar, he wanted me to look at one of the tuners that was acting funky and, oh yes, what did I think of the setup? The guitar is a nice but well loved and played 1965 Martin 00-18, pretty much the kind of guitar I was thinking about when I wrote the other thread.

The tuner is fairly easy. The original ones had been replaced sometime in the past, the new one was slipping but being sealed is pretty hard to work on. I gave my friend several options for replacement, including a couple of sets that I already had. I showed him that because of the way the replacements had been fitted we were pretty committed to a modern enclosed style, he chose some Gotoh's that I had.

As far as the action - well, it needed some work. The guitar has a reasonable belly,

View attachment 996942

but very high action. The fret plane is nicely level but it hits the bridge down about 1/8 inch

View attachment 996943

In an attempt to make it playable the saddle has been sanded down level with the top of the bridge
View attachment 996944

The guitar needs a neck reset.

It also has a lot of wear on the first five frets and some pretty good fingernail divots in the rosewood f/b.

View attachment 996946


Start by loosening the fretboard extension. I don't have exactly the correct heating pad for the shape and size but the one I use for bridge removal is pretty close. Clamp it lightly on the extension and let it heat up the wood

View attachment 996950

Start working pallet knives under the f/b as the glue releases

View attachment 996951

After the f/b extension is loose I pulled the 15 and first 6 frets
View attachment 996953
Hmmm I’ve only dreamed of ever owning a Martin. Or a Taylor for that matter.
 




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