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Old 11-09-2017, 10:29 AM
TheDrake TheDrake is offline
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Default Binding Separation on New(ish) Martin

Good Morning everyone. I have a Martin Custom Shop D28 (style) guitar that I purchased last December, 2016. I believe it was actually built in November of 2014 and arrived in the shop where I bought it early in 2015. I am the original owner of the guitar and did register the guitar warranty with Martin. I really love the guitar and have truly enjoyed it. Two weeks ago I was restringing the guitar and noticed the ivoroid binding had separated over a 3 inch length under the lower bout of the guitar. I am not panicked about it, but a little disappointed. The shop that I bought it from is not a Martin warranty repair shop, so I have had to send the guitar out of town to have the work (hopefully covered under warranty) performed. What really caused me to write this post is that in conversation with the guitar tech where the work will be done, he mentioned that Martin has a problem ( to quote him, he actually said "reputation" ) with bindings shrinking and separating. He says he has 7 or 8 Martins in the shop right now with the same problem. I am not trying to rag on Martin, but this is all news to me and I find it disappointing. Has anyone else had the same binding issue happen to them recently? I was also told, by the tech, that Martin has an "allowance" for repairs, and if the repair exceeds that amount, I might be out of pocket for the difference. Really?? I guess I can call Martin and confirm, but I thought I would also mention this, here in the forum.

As an aside, my Martin was one of a custom run that they produced in 2014. It seems like it may be a prototype for the new 2017 D28. It has ivoroid binding (duh), aged toner top, open back tuners, a one piece mahogany neck and scalloped braces, though not forward shifted. I love the guitar. I am a little "peeved" that now all the new D28 look similar. I'll get over it, though, mine is still special, just not as unique.
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Old 11-09-2017, 10:45 AM
L20A L20A is offline
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This is an easy fix for a good guitar tech.
It shouldn't be very expensive.

Quite often this separation is caused by low humidity.
Be sure the guitar is kept at proper humidity for it's health.
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Old 11-09-2017, 01:33 PM
Warren01 Warren01 is offline
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Timing of the post is epic as I just got off the phone with the guitar tech who just finished repairing mine. I have a OM-35 Martin I bought last year and the binding started separating (shrinking) at the waist at both upper and lower bouts. It was a warranty repair, but I had to pay shipping both ways at a cost of $165 each way, with insurance. Not too happy about that part. I did ask the tech if its something I need to keep an eye on for a repeat, and he said it wouldn't hurt. He mentioned that in the last 6-7 years he is seeing much more of this problem than ever before. Quality issue perhaps at Martin?
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Old 11-10-2017, 06:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDrake View Post
...Two weeks ago I was restringing the guitar and noticed the ivoroid binding had separated over a 3 inch length under the lower bout of the guitar...
Plastic binding sometimes shrinks and pulls away at the waist. If it doesn't shrink much and just breaks the glue joint, it can be heated and worked back into place. Sometimes the best answer is to take it loose all the way to neck joint to relieve the tension and glue it back into place. The latter is much more labor intensive of course. Either way, on a new(ish) guitar with no wear or patina on the lacquer, a repair should be near invisible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDrake View Post
...I was also told, by the tech, that Martin has an "allowance" for repairs, and if the repair exceeds that amount, I might be out of pocket for the difference. Really??...
Martin (and every other manufacturer) has set prices on what particular repairs cost. Those prices may be below what the shop would charge for non-warranty work. However, Martin does not allow repairmen to "charge the difference" to customers. They can loose their relationship with Martin over that.

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Originally Posted by Warren01 View Post
...It was a warranty repair, but I had to pay shipping both ways at a cost of $165 each way, with insurance...
That is the downside of small value warranty work. If you don't have a local repairman then shipping can make the warranty work impractical. Without seeing your guitar it's hard to know how bad it was, but the simplest reglue of binding should be something like a $50 job. In a case like that it's better to pay out of pocket, but if you don't have a GOOD local repairmen your options are limited.
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Old 11-10-2017, 06:37 AM
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madhat madhat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L20A View Post
This is an easy fix for a good guitar tech.
It shouldn't be very expensive.
This guitar is so young- just unacceptable in my mind I don’t care how easy or inexpensive the repair is- unless it was abused and that would include the humidity... like the op I would probably have to ship it- the cost of the shipping and being without the guitar would be frustrating to say the least.

I’ve read about this issue on the Martin forum as well- so it does seem to be a real issue with newish Martin guitars. Perhaps a formula change on the binding materials would help?

I’m hoping more people will post if they have had this problem and include exactly what binding material their guitar has.

madhat.
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:57 AM
TheDrake TheDrake is offline
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I thank everyone for their responses.
Just to clarify, I live on the gulf coast of Texas. Humidity is more of an issue than desiccation. In any case, this particular guitar has been kept inside my home with central heat and air. I am unsure as to whether the binding is shrinking, causing the separation, or just the glue failing. I was just rather surprised to see it on my guitar so quickly and was sort of stunned when the repair tech told me how common the problem is with Martins, in his experience.
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:02 AM
Dirty Bill Dirty Bill is offline
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My D-35 has cracks in the binding. It's a 1972 model though.
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Old 11-10-2017, 09:09 AM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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It's not just a newer Martin issue, though there seems to be a resurgence. Until the last decade or so, most of the loose bindings I saw on Martins were from the 1970's. I attribute that to the Boltaron (PVC) binding, which is hard to glue to wood.
IMHO, it is not a low humidity issue, since that causes the wood to shrink. If the wood shrank instead of the binding, then the binding would not pull loose at the waist, which indicates that the binding has shortened. If the binding is loosened for more than a couple of inches, it leaves a gap when reattached because it is now shorter.
This shrinkage occurs with all plastics, including celluloid. The difference is that celluloid is glued on by melting it, which is a stronger bond than that achieved by gluing PVC with whatever glue Martin uses.
Super glue is a much stronger bond for attaching PVC, but it is very difficult to use for repairing loose binding a finished guitar.
The new D-28 has 'antique white' binding, not ivoroid. I have not seen that specified before. I am curious if it is PVC or some other kind of plastic.
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Old 11-10-2017, 10:06 AM
TheDrake TheDrake is offline
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In my case, the binding is actually ivoroid. The new 2017 D28 features antique white (plastic).
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Old 11-10-2017, 12:23 PM
Warren01 Warren01 is offline
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In my case, and from talking to the repair guy, he had to stretch the binding with heat, re-glue and do some finish repair. I, along with the Martin rep, had to check with 3 different repair centers (including Long & McQuade) and neither one wanted to take on the repair because of the possible work on the finish. I also had three other luthiers look at it and they all referred me to Martin. One guy went as far as saying that it was a major repair job. A bit over dramatic, I think, but nobody local wanted to take on the repair. And I'm not sure low humidity had anything to do with it. Our house is wet - I'm constantly running a dehumidifier and my display case is running between 40-50%, closer to 50% most of the time. I'm thinking the binding wasn't climatized properly to the guitar before it was glued in place. Same kinda idea of letting hardwood flooring sit in the house a few days before installation.
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Old 11-10-2017, 12:36 PM
Dirty Bill Dirty Bill is offline
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Default Changing the binding

Since the binding is cracked on my Martin D-35 I will probably change it.What do you guys think of using abalone instead of the white binding that's on it now? The white is plastic.
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Old 11-10-2017, 01:52 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Bill View Post
Since the binding is cracked on my Martin D-35 I will probably change it.What do you guys think of using abalone instead of the white binding that's on it now? The white is plastic.
Well, it's physically possible to perform that work, but done in the correct Martin style it'll be fairly expensive. Perhaps Todd can correct me if I'm out of date on this, but the abalone trim on Martin has traditionally been made up of small strips of abalone shell cut and inlaid by hand.

There is a modern product called Ablam that is a laminated abalone, which is fairly inexpensive to buy and much less time-consuming to inlay along the edges of the top and in the rosette. Which is why there are now guitars on the market that cost less than $500 retail yet have flashy abalone trim on them: Ablam was used.

Neither traditional abalone strips or Ablam would be correct for a D-35, but if you have no intention of ever selling the guitar, that would be irrelevant. However, if you ever do decide to sell the guitar, not only would you never gain back the cost of fancying it up with abalone, you might even take a severe hit on the market value of a similar, unmodified D-35.

Annother factor that has to be considered is the extensive finish work that would be required whether you went with traditional abalone or Ablam. At the very least, the top would have to be refinished, and if you had abalone around the edge of the back, the entire guitar body would require it. So that would add another $700 or $800 to the project, completely aside from the material and labor costs from the abalone work.

Another issue: the original rosette would have to chiseled out and replaced by abalone.

So the costs and effort to do all that work would be considerable.

By contrast, regluing the original binding is far less expensive and time-consuming. Yes, once the binding was back in place there'd need to be a bit of spot lacquer applied and buffed to a shine, but it doesn't cost much to do that.

What's more, it doesn't need to be done by a Martin Authorized Repair station: I've needed to have this done a few times (though not on any of the Martins I've owned.) In each instance I've taken the guitar to an experienced local repair tech, and in every case the shop fee has been in the $50-$75 range.

One more thing that theDrake should consider, and that is that sending the guitar off to either the Martin factory or an Authorized Martin Repair center will entail more time, trouble and expense than having a competent local tech do the work. Even if the shop charges aren't too much, there's the cost and risk that automatically comes when shipping an instrument to a distant city. If you go local with this, not only will your turnaround time be faster but you can take it and pick it up yourself. It's safer and cheaper that way.

What I should mention before I close is that on the three occasions I've needed to have this work done, not only was it a fast, easy and inexpensive repair, but those repairs have held ever since; I've never needed to have the same work done twice on the same guitar.

So Drake and Bill, despite some of the vibe you might be getting from this thread, getting this work done is no big deal. If it's only a short section of the binding that needs to be fixed, the finish work required is just a touch-up, not a major project.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 11-10-2017, 02:25 PM
Dirty Bill Dirty Bill is offline
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Ok thanks.I'll just leave it alone. Much appreciated.
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1975 Martin D-35
1971 Ovation Balladeer
Ovation Celebrity CS 257 (A/E)
Squier Strat (electric)
Zager Zad 20 Black
Washburn Comfort Series WCG25sce (Fishman electronics)
Washburn WSD5240 1937 Solo Deluxe Warren Haynes
Ovation A/E Burly Maple CS24-P Celebrity
Martin OMCXAE Black, Fishman sonitone.
Ovation A/E Legend Plus,Elm Burl top
Recording King Dirty 30's ROH-5
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"In The Wind"
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Old 11-10-2017, 06:47 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Glad to be of some assistance.


whm
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  #15  
Old 11-10-2017, 07:32 PM
George Henry George Henry is offline
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I've done the repair on several Martin's, most recently an 80s D-35. I used superglue but had to exercise great care. I keep several q tips on hand to wipe away any excess glue. Even so, I had to use some fine wet or dry and polishing compound in cleanup.
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