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View Full Version : Did a real 1937 D28 have a tortoise shell pickguard?


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blues2rock
04-09-2010, 12:09 PM
If so, then does the D28 Authentic also have a tortoise shell pickguard?

walternewton
04-09-2010, 12:26 PM
Don't know about a 1930's original but the new Authentics definitely do not have a real TS pickguard.

blues2rock
04-09-2010, 12:34 PM
Don't know about a 1930's original but the new Authentics definitely do not have a real TS pickguard.

Then if the originals had real TS guards and the "new" authentics don't...I call that being a hypocrite--no matter how illegal real tortoise is now.

Bryan T
04-09-2010, 12:43 PM
I don't think they did. http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Blogs/37D28/37d28_1.html#3

Jim
04-09-2010, 01:07 PM
I don't know, but I would really doubt if they used real tortoise shell in the 1930s. Celluloid was in very common use in those days, and they made celluloid to much higher standards than they do today. Modern celluloid isn't even really celluloid in most cases, it is a substitute material that is not as nice as real celluloid and is much cheaper to make. Real celluloid today would be prohibitively expensive.

Andromeda
04-09-2010, 01:14 PM
never mind...:)

JoeCharter
04-09-2010, 01:51 PM
Then if the originals had real TS guards and the "new" authentics don't...I call that being a hypocrite--no matter how illegal real tortoise is now.

How is that being "hypocrite"?

The Martin Authentics come as close as possible to the pre-war models -- but I see no claims anywhere that it's the "exact" replica of a 1937 model.

Authentic, vintage reissue, golden era, etc. are all marketing terms that need to be taken with the right perspective.

If you think the "Authentic" sticker guarantees it's the exact replica, then you need to revisit your expectations.

HHP
04-09-2010, 01:59 PM
Even more shocking is that they probably used power tools and measurement devices to build Authentics not available in the 1930's. The production facilities were air conditioned today and were not in the 30's. They may have even used computers in designing and building them.

I'm certainly not spending MY $5G's unless there are tool marks, measurement errors, and sweat from underpaid workers included in the deal along with an authentic pickguard.

Hambone
04-09-2010, 02:07 PM
This is a ridiculous thread, but I'll play anyway. Martin guitars didn't start using pickguards until 1929. They were celluloid not tortoise shell.

If you're looking for a reason to slag the Authentics you'll have to dig deeper than that.

Wade Hampton
04-09-2010, 02:22 PM
Then if the originals had real TS guards and the "new" authentics don't...I call that being a hypocrite--no matter how illegal real tortoise is now.

Accusations of hypocrisy aside, you ought to do your research a little more thoroughly before you start flinging that sort of language around.

For the record, to the best of my knowledge any and all "tortoiseshell" pickguards Martin has ever put on their guitars at the factory has been made of one form of plastic or another.

The originals would have been made of celluloid, which is a highly volatile material that sometimes spontaneously bursts into flames. (I'm not making this up.) It's a dangerous material to manufacture and to handle, since it's almost as explosive as black powder. As a result, celluloid is no longer manufactured in the United States, due to liability issues, and any celluloid that does get used for flatpicks or ping pong balls (the two remaining uses for it) is made offshore, not in North America.

As for the occasional antique Martins with genuine tortoiseshell pickguards, made from the shells of dead turtles, chances are that these were added by the owners of the instruments after they'd bought them.

I think I've seen maybe two old Martins with genuine tortoiseshell pickguards on them, and these were on smallbody old Martins and the pickguards looked much more like mandolin pickguards than the familiar "Martin teardrop" shape pickguard we're all accustomed to.

Anyway - the so-called "Golden Era" Martins made before WWII that are so sought after today had plastic appointments in several places: their pickguards, their body binding and their bridge pins.

If Martin uses a more stable modern plastic for these parts than the original celluloid, that simply reflects the fact that there's not much availability on the original celluloid, and that there are better and safer materials that can be used now.

That's not hypocrisy, that's simply common sense and good business practice.


Wade Hampton Miller

blues2rock
04-09-2010, 02:27 PM
I apologize if using the word "hypocrite" has offended some of you guys. Note, however, that I'm not offended by one of the "air conditioning" remarks made:)

I guess it does seem like I'm trying to bash the Authentics, but I'm just trying to justify the price tag on the D28 "Authentic". I figure that by having the kind of a price, the guitar would be an exact replica...I mean, isn't that the point of that guitar anyway? Isn't that why they charge so much for it?

I mean, everything down to the glue used, bracing, neck block, etc. used are the same. The tuners, the b/s woods, etc. But why not the pickguard (assuming that it originally came with tortoise pickguard).

If it didn't originally come with tortoise pg, then forget about my question. That's really the only issue I'm trying to figure out.

I'm not bashing Martin or Authentics. I'm not about to buy an Authentic either...I'm just thinking out loud.:)

JoeCharter
04-09-2010, 02:32 PM
I apologize if using the word "hypocrite" has offended some of you guys. Note, however, that I'm not offended by one of the "air conditioning" remarks made:)

I guess it does seem like I'm trying to bash the Authentics, but I'm just trying to justify the price tag on the D28 "Authentic". I figure that by having the kind of a price, the guitar would be an exact replica...I mean, isn't that the point of that guitar anyway? Isn't that why they charge so much for it?

I mean, everything down to the glue used, bracing, neck block, etc. used are the same. The tuners, the b/s woods, etc. But why not the pickguard (assuming that it originally came with tortoise pickguard).

If it didn't originally come with tortoise pg, then forget about my question. That's really the only issue I'm trying to figure out.

I'm not bashing Martin or Authentics. I'm not about to buy an Authentic either...I'm just thinking out loud.:)

I personally think all of those vintage reissues (and especially Fender's and Martin's) are very good marketing that probably generates a much higher margin than their standard series. I don't own a Martin Authentic simply because I can't afford it. Why are they so expensive? Because people are ready to buy them at that price, that's it.

It's your prerogative to think that the deal is a bad one because the pickguard is potentially different -- but keep in mind hypocrisy is a different concept altogether.

Tony Burns
04-09-2010, 02:40 PM
I doubt they use Celluloid pickguards today -its considered an exsplosive material - some of the old pick's from the 60's - 70's were -- i remember a plastic's teacher lighing one of mine just to show us how exsplosive they were - it lite up in a flash !

mcduffnw
04-09-2010, 02:43 PM
I personally think all of those vintage reissues (and especially Fender's and Martin's) are very good marketing that probably generates a much higher margin than their standard series. I don't own a Martin Authentic simply because I can't afford it. Why are they so expensive? Because people are ready to buy them at that price, that's it.

It's your prerogative to think that the deal is a bad one because the pickguard is potentially different -- but keep in mind hypocrisy is a different concept altogether.

Hi Joe:
I suspect that there is also a lot more "human hand" labor involved in building the GE and Authentic series guitars, which drives up the price. For instance, on the Authentic series, the necks are all hand carved, whereas the lower model Martins have necks that are much more to mostly machine made. Perhaps they still manually bend the sides on the authentics as well. To be sure, the authentics are a much much more hand made Martin, like their original counterparts. I imagine that this is where a lot of the cost increase comes from.
If you are fortunate enough to own a Martin Authentic series guitar, you own a very very fine and very hand made instrument. It would be awesome to be able to afford owning one...at least it would be for me!

Very Best Regards
duff

Hambone
04-09-2010, 02:50 PM
I personally think all of those vintage reissues (and especially Fender's and Martin's) are very good marketing that probably generates a much higher margin than their standard series. I don't own a Martin Authentic simply because I can't afford it. Why are they so expensive? Because people are ready to buy them at that price, that's it.

It's your prerogative to think that the deal is a bad one because the pickguard is potentially different -- but keep in mind hypocrisy is a different concept altogether.

At least in terms of the Martin D18 Authentic, there is much more hand crafting involved than standard production guitars. Among other steps, the sides are hand bent, the necks are hand carved, hide glue is used which is much more challenging to work with than titebond. The Authentics are assembled by a very few of Martins most talented and experienced workers. It is basically a custom shop instrument.

The guitar is very lightly built and does not have an adjustable truss rod. Part of the price involves a higher than standard model expectation for warranty repairs.

I have no problem with the higher margin for a very special guitar. Obviously, if there was no demand for the Authentic they wouldn't be selling at the price they command. However, the reason people are willing to pay the price is because they are the best Martins being built today.

You owe it to yourself to try one out. I thought my D18GE was the only mahogany dread I'd ever want, until I picked up my D18A. The GE is great, but the A is phenomenal.

JoeCharter
04-09-2010, 02:57 PM
Hi Joe:
I suspect that there is also a lot more "human hand" labor involved in building the GE and Authentic series guitars, which drives up the price.

At least in terms of the Martin D18 Authentic, there is much more hand crafting involved than standard production guitars.

Gents, I certainly believe you when you say the Authentics cost more to produce. I was rather commenting on the OP's post, who wondered why they cost so much when the pickguard may potentially not be the same as in the old days.

When you buy an Authentic, you buy into finer materials and finer craftsmanship -- and you also buy into the hype of owning a top of the line Martin (and that hype costs a lot).

Bryan T
04-09-2010, 03:07 PM
But why not the pickguard (assuming that it originally came with tortoise pickguard).

If it didn't originally come with tortoise pg, then forget about my question. That's really the only issue I'm trying to figure out.

Since they didn't come with real tortoise pickguards, maybe we should move on?

GGJaguar
04-09-2010, 03:25 PM
If you're looking for a reason to slag the Authentics you'll have to dig deeper than that.

The Authentic uses Adirondack spruce braces. The originals used Sitka spruce braces.

GG

HHP
04-09-2010, 03:29 PM
I guess if authenticity is that critical, you can always buy an original Mid 30's D-28 or D-18. Priced between a big car and a small house.

Aaron Smith
04-09-2010, 03:37 PM
I'm sure the Authentics are wonderful (I haven't played one). But it's obviously clever marketing too. Everyone waxes poetic about the construction techniques that were used in the 30's on those great instruments. In general those methods were chosen not because they made better instruments, but because that's all that was available. I am pretty sure that if Martin had modern polymers, PVA adhesives, and CNC machining back in the 1930's they would have used them, and made great guitars.

jeepnstein
04-09-2010, 04:37 PM
I'm sure the Authentics are wonderful (I haven't played one). But it's obviously clever marketing too. Everyone waxes poetic about the construction techniques that were used in the 30's on those great instruments. In general those methods were chosen not because they made better instruments, but because that's all that was available. I am pretty sure that if Martin had modern polymers, PVA adhesives, and CNC machining back in the 1930's they would have used them, and made great guitars.

They're making some seriously good ones these days with them, that's for sure. If they had the access to wood today that they did in the Thirties, it would be very interesting. Boutique builders are proving that point every day.

Sure, I'd love to have an old D18. I think I'd be happier with a new one but that still doesn't keep me from looking at old ones.

CraigRyder
04-09-2010, 04:42 PM
If I get a replica, I want an authentic one!

blues2rock
04-09-2010, 05:44 PM
If I get a replica, I want an authentic one!

See...I think Craig gets the crux of my issue. It ain't really just about the pickguard, but everything that's not "authentic" on the Authentic series.

I hope people don't misconstrue my comments as derogatory towards Martin...guitar Gods know I love Martins (I'm a proud owner). But just because I love me some Martins doesn't mean I agree with everything they do. It also doesn't mean that I succumb to "groupthink" and assume everything is kumbaya with Martin, just because everyone else with umphteenth-thousand posts say so.

So my main point is, forget the pickguard question. Why aren't all materials on the D28 Authentic made from the exact replica of an "authentic" 1937 Martin D28? Isn't that the whole point of the series?

Again, these are just nice, friendly conversation topics. No need to get any blood boiling. I love you guys:D

Todd Stock
04-09-2010, 05:48 PM
The guards used on the Authentics and the other high end Martins are Delmar acrylic/cellulose nitrate/acrylic laminates - the acrylic supposedly allows the guard to be used under lacquer without shrinkage becoming an issue. Martin and other builders use a lot of cellulose nitrate bindings...not all that much of a hazard...it burns readily, but no worse than a lot of other plastics.

Considering the entire guitar is coated with another form of nitrated cellulose fiber (nitrocellulose lacquer), not sure there's much to fear...try not to light your guitar on fire.

Re: Sitka bracing - why would Martin have payed the extra transportation charges to ship sitka to the East Coast, versus using the red spruce bracing stock generated as a byproduct tops harvested on the East Coast? I know Martin used some sitka tops when available, and saw the woods as basically interchangable, so why a preference for sitka?

Also - in terms of authenticity, if you are looking for some sort of variation from spec, the truss rod will do - described on UMGF as the 'Pi' bar for it's cross section.

GGJaguar
04-09-2010, 06:51 PM
Re: Sitka bracing - why would Martin have payed the extra transportation charges to ship sitka to the East Coast, versus using the red spruce bracing stock generated as a byproduct tops harvested on the East Coast? I know Martin used some sitka tops when available, and saw the woods as basically interchangable, so why a preference for sitka?


Ask the experts: http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/reply/1073601



GG

JoeCharter
04-09-2010, 10:48 PM
So my main point is, forget the pickguard question. Why aren't all materials on the D28 Authentic made from the exact replica of an "authentic" 1937 Martin D28? Isn't that the whole point of the series?

I think you should view "authenticity" as a grey scale rather than a black and white thing.

Looking at Martin, you get some vintage specs with the V series. Pay a bit more and you get more vintage specs with the GE and Marquis series. Pay a lot more and get the closest replica with the Authentic series.

There are probably practical reasons behind some of the differences. The whole point of the series is to come as close as possible -- not necessarily exactly the same -- to a vintage instrument.

Todd Stock
04-10-2010, 08:18 AM
Not an answer to my question on why, but an interesting discussion. The Piper factory at Lock Haven was close enough to generate some sitka demand, so might generate a supply of the wood in Depression-era PA, but Martin must have felt that Sitka was a better bet for bracing, despite similar longitudinal E and mass characteristics.

blues2rock
04-10-2010, 08:35 AM
I think you should view "authenticity" as a grey scale rather than a black and white thing.

Looking at Martin, you get some vintage specs with the V series. Pay a bit more and you get more vintage specs with the GE and Marquis series. Pay a lot more and get the closest replica with the Authentic series.

There are probably practical reasons behind some of the differences. The whole point of the series is to come as close as possible -- not necessarily exactly the same -- to a vintage instrument.

Well, if they're goal with the Authentic series was to come pretty close to the original, then I can't fault them for that. But see, I thought "coming close" to the original was the purpose of the Vintage and GE series. So basically we have "steps" of series of each come closer and closer to the original.

Wonder what they would call the series that exactly replicates the original? "Authentic For Real This Time" series? Maybe they can't produce a guitar with the exact same materials they used back then.:)

drbluegrass
04-10-2010, 08:38 AM
Yeah, the "Authentics" are fabulous guitars. Wish I could afford a D-28A. Heck, I'd LOVE to have a D-18A to go with my D-1A too.
But I can understand some peoples' frustration with terms like "authentic", "reissue", "historic", "reproduction" and "vintage", being tossed around the guitar/amp world very loosely for the last 25-30 years or so. Historically, most products with those monikers/adjectives associated with them were anything but.
However, even though they may not be truly "accurate reproductions" in every sense of the phrase, of the instruments they purport to represent, doesn't necessarily mean they're not outstanding instruments. IMHO the Martin Authentics are outstanding instruments. And they're certainly very close reproductions of the originals. Definitely close enough for me. I think it would be a mistake to think a Martin Authentic is an exact reproduction of the original, for reasons already stated in a post above. That would be a virtual impossibility. I do think the current Authentics are about as close as you can practically get to a reasonably accurate reproduction. My 2 cents.


Tom

Jim
04-12-2010, 02:09 PM
Another onging modern use for real celluloid (cellulose nitrate) is expensive pens. Celluloid gives you colors and depth that are not possible with any modern materials. Modern pens made from this cost many hundreds of dollars.

Celluloid is still made today, but mainly in China. It is very flamable but not explosive. The proof is all of those old guitars with celluloid pickguards were not exploding every time the player hit the pickguard with his pick. The exploding aspect of celluloid comes from when the manufacturing process is such that it makes for large piles of celluloid shavings and dust combined with either open flames, workers smoking on the job, or the cutting process being forced too quickly making so much friction that a spark or ember develops and drops into the pile of shavings and dust. With all of that surface area in a pile of shaving and dust, it burns so fast that it seems like an explosion.

There is a kind of relatively non-flamable celluloid made today that is cellulose acetate. It looks almost like real celluloid. I believe this is what most of todays' celluloid binding is - material marketed as ivoroid or tortoise, and picks and pickguards marketed as celluloid.

Another question about the reproduction old Martins that I do not know the answer to is what kind of mahogany are they using for the necks of the rosewood models, and on the necks and bodies of the D-18 model. There are three species of mahogany and I understand that the old Martins used Swietenia mahagoni rather than Swietenia macrophylla which is the species of mahogany that is used today. Swietenia mahagoni was all cut down by the 1950s to 1960s and all that was left were a few specimen trees in arboretums and parks and front yard. The Martin website only says that real mahogony is used in the reproductions.