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  #31  
Old 06-04-2019, 12:11 PM
redir redir is offline
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Yup! There is more then one way to skin this cat!

Lets make this an experiment, start with the perimeter though, thin out there first
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  #32  
Old 06-05-2019, 02:12 AM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Thanks everyone (Neil, Redir, mirwa, hat, charles) for the responses. I'll definitely start slow with things and note what changes what and how.

I already use phosphor bronze strings, though I mostly use lights. I tried mediums. They do drive the top board more, but take more force to make vibrate. For me, I lose the finesse I'm used to when playing finger style. Flat picking is fine with mediums.

I'll start with the bone saddle and nut, see what changes.

After that, if I'm still wanting more, I'll slot the bridge and put some bone pins in.

I do play up the neck, so I'm not too keen on the higher saddle idea. But I might as well start high before shaving it down, just to see how the tone changes.

And then obviously, get an accurate read on the rotation and see what it suggests about the sound board's flex.

It's fine if there's nothing more to do beyond that. If altering the braces seems inadvisable or pointless, I can live with that. It's an alright guitar and plays well. Just not very exciting tonally.

I'll report back my findings.
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  #33  
Old 06-05-2019, 06:33 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil K Walk View Post
I'm loathe to retell the tale of how I involuntarily and neglectfully revoiced my D-16GT.
Is "re"voicing the accurate term, in fact? I've been asking myself that ("can you improve a factory guitar by having it voiced") after seeing another factory tour video showing CNC machines and workers doing repetitive tasks to produce large quantities of near-identical instruments. No "voicing" station was shown but I can hardly imagine that even if an attempt is made to voice each individual top and/or back that they'd spend as much time (and experience) on it as a luthier would.
(This was a Taylor factory but I suppose Martin factories won't be that different.)
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  #34  
Old 06-05-2019, 05:45 PM
mirwa mirwa is online now
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Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
Is "re"voicing the accurate term, in fact? I've been asking myself that ("can you improve a factory guitar by having it voiced")
Of course you can, factories do a great job at making a quality product in volume, however a good luthier works with that specific piece of wood and its nuances.

When i retop a guitar, i ask do you want it to match manufacturers specs or do you want me to make you a voiced top, meaning, i thin the top and shape the braces according to how i find they respond to my hands / tools and ears.

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  #35  
Old 06-06-2019, 02:25 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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Originally Posted by mirwa View Post
When i retop a guitar, i ask do you want it to match manufacturers specs or do you want me to make you a voiced top,
When I asked "can you improve" I didn't consider the possibility that sometimes one might want to repair a top or replace it for some reason. I suppose that's what you mean with "retop", and it's clear to me that a top voiced by an experienced luthier should give a better sound than one of a comparable piece of wood that has been built following a set of generalised best compromises. After all, you wouldn't install a top on which you flunked your voicing attempts, would you

But what about opening a good factory guitar, voicing the top and/or bottom? The way guitars are glued together (and what I understand of the glues used) don't seem to leave much margin for opening them up without permanent damage?
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  #36  
Old 06-06-2019, 07:10 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
But what about opening a good factory guitar, voicing the top and/or bottom?
You can literally have anything done for which you are willing to pay.

The limitation is whether or not having that done is "worth it" on a particular instrument. Your guitar in question, for example, sells in my area for about $1600. Does it make sense to have, say, $2000 worth of "modification" done to a $1600 guitar? Unless there are some unique circumstances, not usually. Does it make sense to spend $1000 modifying a $1600 guitar? Again, depends on the specific circumstances, such as it being a family heirloom. And so on till one reaches whatever balance makes sense to their circumstances.


Nearly every guitar has a tone that is identifiable as a guitar. Within that general sound there is a HUGE range of variation in tone. Each individual player has his or her own opinion of what "good" tone is and there is a guitar available that meets just about every opinion: what sounds great to one player can sound awful to another.

How is it that seemingly so many buyers buy guitars who's tone they are disappointed with and then look for ways to improve it? It suggests that many buyers do a poor job of identifying what tone they want and evaluating whether or not individual instruments are capable of providing that tone.

In the sub-$1600 range, there is a huge number of guitars from which to choose. Except in rare circumstances, on an instrument of that price range, it doesn't make much sense to spend a lot of money trying to tailor the sound of a relatively new, mass-produced instrument. Sure, lots of things can be done, but probably not much should be done. It usually makes far better sense to sell the instrument that doesn't meet one's preferences and replace it with one that does. With so much choice available, there really isn't a need to keep - even as "beater" guitars - an instrument who's sound one doesn't really like.
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  #37  
Old 06-06-2019, 07:22 AM
Neil K Walk Neil K Walk is offline
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Yes, I wouldn’t experiment in that way on an intact guitar with value. That’s why when I cracked a brace on my old all laminated Takamine I removed the neck and routed off the top. I essentially destroyed the entire guitar in the process because I failed to identify the proper way to remove the neck and destroyed the fretboard in the process. Now not only do I have to replace the top (including the bridge which was also a loss) but I need to pull the frets, plane off the old fretboard and replace it all. For a guitar worth $350 it’s still a daunting task, but given that I played it for so long and it was used and damaged when I got it the risk is minimal IMO.

BTW for those who are curious, the Takamine “lawsuit” Guitars from the 1970s May look like Martins on the outside but inside they are incredibly clunky. If there was a guitar I would have shaved the braces on it would have been my old F360. I wouldn’t dream of doing that to my D-16GT.
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  #38  
Old 06-06-2019, 07:59 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
You can literally have anything done for which you are willing to pay.
There's that, evidently ... unless it *is* technically impossible.

My father had intended the model-train table he built for me to be disassemblable. It was in a way and I'll still be able to screw it back together using the original hardware, but joining new surfaces. It was the wood rather than the woodglue that preferred to come undone - and that was the same kind of glue as I see used in most build videos.
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  #39  
Old 06-06-2019, 08:11 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
There's that, evidently ... unless it *is* technically impossible.
In the normal realm of guitar repair, there is very little, if anything, that is technically impossible. If you really want, you can completely disassemble a guitar to have a pile of individual components. It'll take time, effort and, unless one is doing it for oneself, money.
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  #40  
Old 06-06-2019, 09:27 PM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post

How is it that seemingly so many buyers buy guitars who's tone they are disappointed with and then look for ways to improve it? It suggests that many buyers do a poor job of identifying what tone they want and evaluating whether or not individual instruments are capable of providing that tone.

In the sub-$1600 range, there is a huge number of guitars from which to choose. Except in rare circumstances, on an instrument of that price range, it doesn't make much sense to spend a lot of money trying to tailor the sound of a relatively new, mass-produced instrument. Sure, lots of things can be done, but probably not much should be done. It usually makes far better sense to sell the instrument that doesn't meet one's preferences and replace it with one that does. With so much choice available, there really isn't a need to keep - even as "beater" guitars - an instrument who's sound one doesn't really like.

Here's my exception: I want a Martin dread. I love the sound of an HD-28.

I also have some ligament damage in my fretting hand. After playing countless guitars by countless brands, I have satisfied myself that Martin's "Modified Low Oval" neck shape combined with a 1-11/16" nut allows me to perform my best, for the longest periods, and with the least amount of risk of further injury.

The MLO neck shape does not come stock on any 28 series Martins with a 1-11/16" nut. They offer it on their post 2018 guitars but those all have 1-3/4" nuts. Most everything that is pre-2018 has the "Low Profile" shape, at least in the 28 (and up) Dread lines with rosewood backs/sides.

Occasionally, there is a used custom offered online in another part of the country, but for the most part if you want a 28 series (or 35) with an MLO and 1-11/16", you have to special order. Those are high priced (worth it) and also take at least 6 months to produce.

Then, there is the 16 series, which is what this post is discussing. It has an MLO with 1-11/16" nut, and mine, the D-16RGT, has rosewood sides. However the top is A-braced and as such, is no HD-28.

It has a mortis tenon neck joint, so, just swapping the neck into an HD-28 is not easy (or worth the cost, as I'd have to have a luthier do it and would spend as much on that as I would ordering a custom).

I'm saving to order the HD-28 custom I want (soon). Once ordered, it will be more than 6 months out and during the wait I can't just 'not play' guitar. So I have to keep the D-16 until then. Even when it does arrive, a custom HD-28 is not really a good 'beater' guitar, so I want to have something else for live play, campfires, etc., one that also has an MLO and 1-11/16" nut.

The only true "beater" Martin dread that has an MLO and 1-11/16" nut is an early year, fake wood DX1. So, I could, after securing the HD-28 I seek, sell the D-16 to recoup some cost and then search for and buy a DX1. But I'd only re-pocket about $300, and then I'd have a fake wood beater guitar instead of a solid wood guitar.

In the past 12 months, I've either borrowed, bought and sold, or traded for:

1971 D-28 with a (Full Profile neck - incredible sound - hurt my hand) I considered having the neck shaved bouldn't find a luthier who wanted to do it or even could for at least 6 months. It was a pristine guitar.
2017 D-35 (Low Profile neck - nothing special in sound - hurt my hand)
2012 D-28 (Low profile neck - nothing special in sound - hurt my hand)
2018 HD-28 retro (1-3/4" nut with an MLO - incredible sound, but not possible)
2003 DX1 (right neck, wrong materials in build - also needed a reset to be playable, and is not worth the cost)

I've been to countless stores and played Collings, Gibsons, Taylors, Larivees, Lowdens, etc. The point is: I've searched, sampled, and tried a lot of guitars.

I have this D-16RGT now. I got a good deal on it used. It plays fine. Just sounds 'tame'. It does still fall within the Martin dread sound and does have the neck I prefer. For the above reasons, it's worth keeping for 6 months and maybe more. And because I like the way certain instruments sound, and this one is shy of the mark, I'm trying to figure out how to "sweeten" it to my taste, if possible. If not, okay. I knew when I bought it it wasn't an HD-28.

So, that's why in my case: "buy guitars who's tone they are disappointed with and then look for ways to improve it" and "keep an instrument who's sound one doesn't really like."
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  #41  
Old 06-07-2019, 03:18 AM
RJVB RJVB is offline
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Originally Posted by Hollowed_Wood View Post
So, that's why in my case: "buy guitars who's tone they are disappointed with and then look for ways to improve it" and "keep an instrument who's sound one doesn't really like."
Sure, because you are clearly not one of those "many buyers [who] do a poor job of identifying what tone they want and evaluating whether or not individual instruments are capable of providing that tone".

But if I may ask, a 1 3/4" nut is exactly 1/16" (1.59mm) wider than a 1 11/16" nut. I can imagine that this difference can be just too much in the opposite direction (= make the difference between touching neighbouring strings or not). But if the former hurts your hand and not the latter, wouldn't that be more the result of the neck profile it is coupled with?
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  #42  
Old 06-07-2019, 10:42 AM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Originally Posted by RJVB View Post

But if I may ask, a 1 3/4" nut is exactly 1/16" (1.59mm) wider than a 1 11/16" nut. I can imagine that this difference can be just too much in the opposite direction (= make the difference between touching neighbouring strings or not). But if the former hurts your hand and not the latter, wouldn't that be more the result of the neck profile it is coupled with?
It's both or either. My main problem is with my thumb on my fretting hand. So, the wideness of the nut effects how far my thumb has to reach, position, or curl in certain chord shapes, and in turn, where the back pressure of the neck is pushing on my thumb. It also changes how much tension you have to apply to give your fingers the support they need to fret cleanly. This all changes too, as you move up the fretboard, depending on the profile.

My fingers actually prefer the spacing of 1-3/4", especially when playing finger style. But my thumb can no longer hang with it.

Profile has the same effect, but is even more drastic. For example, the full profile neck and even the "V" neck put pressure right underneath the first joint of my thumb and sort of work to "pull the joint apart". This is more drastic if the neck is wider. If I reposition my thumb to accommodate (if even possible) it fatigues quicker.

If you don't have a problem with your thumb, you probably wouldn't notice the change from neck to neck. I certainly didn't for most of my years of playing, moving freely from guitar to guitar and always enjoying wider necks. But once the hand structure is compromised, the slightest change has drastic effects.

A further problem (especially when searching for a new guitar) is that you don't always notice it at first with a new neck shape or width. You only notice after it's too late. When I bought the Full Profile '71 Martin I mentioned, I did so because it had such a lush sound. Massive, chimey, harmonics, loud, articulate, vivid, etc. It didn't seem to bother me at first. So I took it home and played the hell out of it. Every time I walked by it in the room or even thought about it, I had to pick it up and play it. On the third day, I had to stop playing all together. I ended up having to rest my hand for a week or two before playing any guitar again. No guitar sound is worth that to me.

For whatever reason the MLO with 1-11/16" lets my thumb rest most neutral. I do wish it was the Full Profile instead. I love the sound of old/vintage Martins.
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  #43  
Old 06-07-2019, 11:30 AM
crispscone crispscone is offline
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When digital watches first appeared on the market in the '70s, some people discovered you could change an entry level model into a deluxe model just by taking off the back and fiddling with the circuitry. It was cheaper for the manufacturer to ship the same product with some features disabled than to design separate circuit boards. (Or maybe this story is apocryphal; I've never known anyone personally to do a mod like this.)

Either way, I've long had a fantasy that there was some simple change I could make to my D-17 (hybrid x-bracing and M/T neck) to make it as responsive as a standard series guitar. After all, it's a solid-wood Martin dread. Why shouldn't it perform as just well?

I've come to wonder if the 16/17 Series aren't made intentionally stiffer just to protect the market value of the Standard Series guitars. The materials themselves aren't cheap enough to warrant a thousand-dollar price drop, and while the M/T neck and modified bracing scheme may save labor time on the factory floor, I have a hard time seeing this impacting per-unit cost so dramatically.

If Martin released a D-18 with a micarta bridge and fingerboard and M/T neck, but with forward-shifted scalloped x bracing, and you could buy it at Sweetwater for $1,500, I have to believe their traditional D-18 sales would plummet. Which leads me to think that the hybrid bracing is intentionally inferior. These guitars sound just good enough to be worth the money, but anyone with a sensitive that knows what an 18 or 28 can do will never be fully satisfied with them.

This theory also leads me to believe that Martin thought one step ahead of the home-modder. If you could just pull out the popsicle out or shave some wood off the tone bars to put the guitar into D-28 retro territory, word would get out. I suspect the A and hybrid X bracing are unmoddable by design.

Or, maybe, the official story is accurate, and it's all about accommodating the cheaper-to-produce M/T necks, which can't be paired with traditional x bracing without risking the structural integrity of the top. That's all above my pay grade, but I do think it's worth noting that I've never heard of a 16/17 series mod that improved voicing, and I have looked for one.

Having said all that, putting in a bone saddle and switching to aluminum bronze strings has made an impressive enough difference to my D-17 that I don't hesitate to perform or record with it. And I don't plan on ever getting rid of it.
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  #44  
Old 06-07-2019, 02:22 PM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Originally Posted by crispscone View Post
When digital watches first appeared on the market in the '70s, some people discovered you could change an entry level model into a deluxe model just by taking off the back and fiddling with the circuitry. It was cheaper for the manufacturer to ship the same product with some features disabled than to design separate circuit boards. (Or maybe this story is apocryphal; I've never known anyone personally to do a mod like this.)
Probably not apocryphal. Toyota does this with some of their vehicles. They install some of the same features on everything. Then just disconnect the features that aren't being purchased at the time of sale. Easier in production that way. I've gained features on my truck just by connecting (or cutting) wires.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crispscone View Post

I've come to wonder if the 16/17 Series aren't made intentionally stiffer just to protect the market value of the Standard Series guitars. These guitars sound just good enough to be worth the money, but anyone with a sensitive that knows what an 18 or 28 can do will never be fully satisfied with them....

....This theory also leads me to believe that Martin thought one step ahead of the home-modder. If you could just pull out the popsicle out or shave some wood off the tone bars to put the guitar into D-28 retro territory, word would get out. I suspect the A and hybrid X bracing are unmoddable by design.
I really bet this is the case. I was just hoping someone had figured something out.
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