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  #1  
Old 03-01-2019, 11:06 PM
welshr welshr is offline
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Default Pawn shop disaster

A couple of weeks ago I found a Martin DXK2 acoustic (Koa HPL top, back and sides; made in U.S.A.) in a pawn shop in Tucson for $160 in what looked like “mint” condition. Judging from the fretboard, it looked like it had never been played at all. However, it had one defect--a small, easily-repairable crack (about 1”) in the top side of the lower bout. I thought, “It’s a Martin, and it’s only $160!” I know that these guitars in “mint” condition sell online for between $450 and $600.
So I buy it and take it to my luthier to get the crack fixed and get it set up, another $150; now I’ve got $310 into this guitar. A couple of days later he calls me up and says, “I’ve got some bad news for you: the truss rod is broken. I can make it playable, but eventually the neck is going to fail.”
What is the moral of this story? If I come across (what appears to be) another “pawn shop find,” should I loosen the strings and test the truss rod? Or should I just stop going to pawn shops?
And then what should I do with this thing? Every time I play it, I will be thinking about that broken truss rod. And I wouldn’t feel right about selling it. (“Here’s a nice Martin, only one thing about it you should know, it has a broken truss rod.”)
I know one thing for sure, I shouldn’t have gotten so excited just because it said “Martin” on the headstock. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have bought it.
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Old 03-01-2019, 11:32 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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First, you are right that you shouldn't have bought it just because it said "Martin" on the headstock. Each individual instrument should be adjudicated on its own merits.

Second, I'm not sure what, "eventually the neck is going to fail" means. A neck can, under prolonged string tension, bow more than would like. Many Martin guitars were made without adjustable truss rods. If necessary, one approach is to adjust the bow using compression fretting. It is very unlikely the neck is going to break ("fail"), even without additional reinforcement.

Third, depending upon the mechanical arrangement, and what about the rod is "broken", it might be possible to repair the necessary parts.

Last, ideally, the luthier would inform you that the truss rod isn't working before undertaking - and charging you for - a full setup, since the first step in any setup of a guitar with an adjustable truss rod is to adjust the amount of neck relief. If you knew before his or her completion of the work, you could then decide whether or not you wanted to sink the cost of a setup into that guitar.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 03-03-2019 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 03-01-2019, 11:39 PM
ManyMartinMan ManyMartinMan is offline
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For starters, congratulations on your new guitar. Secondly, I don’t agree with the information you received. The neck on that model is a multi-piece laminated neck. It is extremely rigid and may never move or change. That entire guitar is HPL and combined with the laminated neck is a very stable guitar. Just play it and enjoy. Don’t worry about what may never happen.
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Old 03-01-2019, 11:52 PM
zmf zmf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by welshr View Post
A couple of weeks ago I found a Martin DXK2 acoustic (Koa HPL top, back and sides; made in U.S.A.) in a pawn shop in Tucson for $160 ....
A used plywood guitar for $160. Congrats. Great find. We need sound clips.
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Old 03-02-2019, 12:19 AM
welshr welshr is offline
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Charles,
You're right about all of that. It seemed to me that when he told me that the truss rod was broken, that should have been followed by "So I can't really do the setup." What he meant by "broken" is that when he turned the truss rod the neck did not move; he said someone must have turned the truss rod too far and that's what caused it to break (not sure I get the mechanics of this). I guess the lesson here is that I've got to be smarter, ask better questions, and have the luthier try the truss rod before I sign off on having a setup done. So I made two mistakes, in the pawn shop and again at the luthier's shop.
Thanks for your advice, I will remember it.
Robert
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Old 03-02-2019, 12:22 AM
welshr welshr is offline
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Everybody,
Thanks for all the thoughtful responses to my broken truss rod posting. I'm learning a lot from all of you.
If you’re into the blues, check this out:
SmokeHouse, “Cadillac in the Swamp”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjPEuDtocOQ

Last edited by welshr; 03-02-2019 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 03-02-2019, 12:28 AM
welshr welshr is offline
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ManyMartinMan,
Gee whiz, I really appreciate your reply. You sound like you really know your Martins. For sure, the material that guitar is made of is pretty tough. Now I can play and enjoy my "plywood" guitar instead of not playing it and feeling like an idiot every time I see it sitting in the corner. So it's not a total loss after all!
Robert
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Old 03-02-2019, 12:34 AM
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I've never found a pawn shop guitar that was truly a "great" deal. Most of the guitars I've encountered were either crappy to begin with, had something wrong with them, or were priced too high. My friends who used to cruise the pawns weekly have given it up; they say that with guitar values so easy to compare online, the shops are wise to any "bargains" and won't haggle like they used to.

I did once score a killer fretless bass that I still own, but it required some additional expense to get it up to par.
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Old 03-02-2019, 01:03 AM
tippy5 tippy5 is offline
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I went to hundreds of Sunday Swap meets at 7 am. during the mid 70's to mid 80's. I found all kinds of cool stuff. Instrumental records I collected and still have 500 1959-1965 time frame albums. Yet I was also always on the lookout for some Martin or Fender. It never happened. I also was a Saturday morning Garage Sale junky for 5 or so years.

One day I bought a guitar on Goodwill.com. A 1972 Yamaki Folk Deluxe for 129$ + 29$ to ship, the top bid. It arrived with a bowed neck that the insufficient pictures did not display. Sighed then drove it 5 minutes away to my home town Goodwill for recycling.
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Old 03-02-2019, 01:06 AM
Steadfastly Steadfastly is offline
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Why is the neck going to fail if you replace the truss rod?
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Old 03-02-2019, 03:21 AM
ohiopicker ohiopicker is offline
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To the OP - Before you get too upset, doesn't this guitar have the multi-layered "Stratobond" neck, that is made like a gun stock? This is supposed to be one of the strongest necks made. I would think you could survive without a trussrod, particularly if it is strung with 12s or custom light 11-50s.

Are you sure the TR is broken? Using your knuckles, wrap on the back of the neck sharply and see if you can hear a rattle. Did the luthier go to the trouble of using penetrating oil, or applying heat to the TR nut in case it is frozen, rather than broken?

With a decent set up and saddles for winter and summer, it could be a good player.
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Old 03-02-2019, 06:30 AM
bluesfreek bluesfreek is offline
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I don't know who your guitar tech is but I'd definitely get a second opinion on the truss rod being "broken". Now that being said if it's setup nicely now and you enjoy playing it I would continue to do so and not worry about it. As others have mentioned you don't really need to fiddle with the truss rod much with one of those types of neck. They are very strong.
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Old 03-02-2019, 06:33 AM
Black Squirrel Black Squirrel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManyMartinMan View Post
For starters, congratulations on your new guitar. Secondly, I don’t agree with the information you received. The neck on that model is a multi-piece laminated neck. It is extremely rigid and may never move or change. That entire guitar is HPL and combined with the laminated neck is a very stable guitar. Just play it and enjoy. Don’t worry about what may never happen.

My thoughts as well, that neck probably going nowhere.
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  #14  
Old 03-02-2019, 06:49 AM
musicman1951 musicman1951 is offline
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You've got a guitar you like for only $310. That's a win in my book. I'd play it and not worry about the neck.

It may never give you problems or it might go many years with no problems. Either way you can decide what you want to do down the road - or your grandchildren can.
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  #15  
Old 03-02-2019, 07:50 AM
bluesfreek bluesfreek is offline
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Here's a song that'll hopefully make you feel better.

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