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Old 06-26-2019, 09:33 PM
steelvibe steelvibe is offline
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Default Martin neck reset

I have a buddy with a 1980 Martin D-35 that is close to a neck reset. These models to not have a truss rod and he is currently using 11s to basically buy time before the inevitable. Any ideas what a neck reset should cost? The first folk he took it to told him $2K, but justified to them because they do a mandatory refret when the reset is performed.

A "mandatory" refret is silly if 1.) the guitar just had one, or 2.) it doesn't need one yet. They don't want to budge and he was smart enough to say "no thanks". Having said that, what should be a ballpark price for this job?
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:37 PM
brandall10 brandall10 is offline
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Just a reset alone should be somewhere around $500, but if you need a refret, nut, saddle work, etc, it could be more around $1k.

$2k is just silly high, it sounds like there must be something wrong with the guitar. Maybe the bridge/plate need to be replaced, there are various cracks or structural issues, neck has a back bow issue?

Last edited by brandall10; 06-26-2019 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 06-26-2019, 10:03 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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You might post his location and see if some folks here can recommend someone to do the work at a reasonable price. $2K is ridiculously high.
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Old 06-26-2019, 11:29 PM
steelvibe steelvibe is offline
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I played the guitar and it sounds glorious. It doesn't have back bow, just a slight forward bow. Even though these had no adjustable truss rod until 1985 (according to the UMGF and what the owner was told), Martin made them well. Many of the pre-truss D-35s have some of the straightest necks for guitars that old and without the rods. Martin was doing something right in the "metal era".

It was odd though, the binding around the fretboard looked off. Right as the neck joined the body the binding was stark white but the rest of the binding on the fretboard and around the bout were an ivory, yellowish color. That is why I asked him whether it had ever had a neck reset. He bought it used and said the previous owner who told him "no". I got the impression seller was the original owner, but did not disclose that this particular model didn't have a truss rod. My friend is primarily an electric player who just got back in the game, saw how great of condition the guitar was in and clicked "buy". He didn't think to ask.

We both agree $2K is way high and I thought $500 was the going rate and seems reasonable. I still think he have have some years left before he would need to do it. It plays fine with no buzz and pretty darn good action. However, the bridge looks like it has been shaved and the saddle was pretty low too. So, not much place to go except a luthier eventually.

Thanks for the responses so far but if there are others I'll be following the thread! Oh, jim1960 we are both in Colorado.
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Old 06-27-2019, 12:17 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Steelvibe, the guitar DOES have a metal truss rod in the neck. It just lacks an adjustable truss rod.

$2,000 does seem high for a neck reset, but the guitar might actually benefit from having a refret or at least a fret dressing: when the neck gets reset, the entire geometry and relationship in the angles between the neck, top, bridge and fingerboard changes, sometimes fairly radically. Dealing with the frets might become necessary, so a repair tech telling you that it needs to happen doesn’t automatically mean that anyone’s trying to rip your buddy off.

If there’s a hump where the neck joins the body, to get exactly the right angle once the neck’s been reset it might indeed be necessary to yank out the frets, plane the fingerboard so the hump’s eliminated, then refret.

In other words, in this situation it isn’t necessarily about the condition of the frets themselves so much as it could be about the topography and relative flatness of the fretboard itself.

So don’t assume that they’re giving you a song and dance here. By all means shop around on price, but don’t assume that anyone telling you that the fretboard will need to be planed and refretted is lying to you. Because they might be honestly telling you what needs to happen, even if they’re not particularly good at explaining why.

Hope that makes sense.


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Old 06-27-2019, 12:34 AM
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drplayer drplayer is offline
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Even if it does need the fingerboard planed, a re-fret, and new nut & saddle along with the neck reset, $2K is crazy high. In my neck of the woods, that's maybe a $1000-$1200 job at most...
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:53 AM
vintage40s vintage40s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
... the guitar might actually benefit from having a refret or at least a fret dressing.. don’t assume that anyone telling you that the fretboard will need to be planed and refretted is lying to you. Because they might be honestly telling you what needs to happen...
It could well be needed for a 1980 D-35. In 1999 when my D-35 was 30 years old, it needed fret work and more:
"Repair 3 loose back braces. Heat press neck. Shave bridge top. Install bridge plate patch. Level fretboard, fill cracks and worn areas. Do complete refret. Repair binding. Shim and recut nut. Cut and fit saddle."
All that cost $465 back then.

I have just had another set up on bridge and nut, asking for a very low 2.0 mm string height at 12th fret. That cost $150 with strings. The saddle is now shaved down to barely visible at the top string, but I doubt Martin will pay for a neck reset until the string height grows to the high range of normal at 3.0 mm, which could take another decade.
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Last edited by vintage40s; 06-27-2019 at 05:02 AM.
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:47 AM
Napman41 Napman41 is online now
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I think they do have some form of truss rod it’s just not an adjustable truss rod.
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Old 06-27-2019, 06:10 AM
keith.rogers keith.rogers is online now
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Get for some recommendations on shops he can mail his guitar to and have it done correctly. The good repair folks stay busy so there will be a wait to get the guitar back. Best if he's got a backup to play.

$2k sounds quite high, honestly, and would need to understand the breakdown for that repair charge. And, he definitely needs a second opinion.
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Last edited by Kerbie; 06-27-2019 at 07:27 AM. Reason: Edited topic
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Old 06-27-2019, 07:26 AM
vindibona1 vindibona1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelvibe View Post
I have a buddy with a 1980 Martin D-35 that is close to a neck reset. These models to not have a truss rod and he is currently using 11s to basically buy time before the inevitable. Any ideas what a neck reset should cost? The first folk he took it to told him $2K, but justified to them because they do a mandatory refret when the reset is performed.

A "mandatory" refret is silly if 1.) the guitar just had one, or 2.) it doesn't need one yet. They don't want to budge and he was smart enough to say "no thanks". Having said that, what should be a ballpark price for this job?
I had my '72 D35 reset and refret. It too was on the cusp of the repair, but not doing it would have simply been putting off the inevitable. In think it all cost around $800. "Mandatory" is kind of a stretch... but it is suggested. The reason for doing a refret at the time of a reset is so that any anomalies can be taken care. In some cases the fingerboard may need planing or there could be subtle twists that develop over time. I don't know. Third Coast Guitar repair in Chicago did the work and I'm very happy- though it took them 3 months to complete the work.

The thing is that I feel that many of these earlier Martins are "lifetime" guitars and just have something that the newer Martins haven't quite captured. Maybe that's because of how the older ones have been allowed to age? Again, I don't know. While a reset/refret is/was a lot of money it will most likely be buried with me before it needs another repair like that, short of getting damaged. I don't at all regret spending the money on it and would do it again had I to do it all over again.
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Old 06-27-2019, 07:52 AM
Borderdon Borderdon is offline
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2 years ago, I paid $800 (CAD) for a neck re-set, re-fret, new replacement bridge, bone nut and saddle, on an early ‘70’s Martin 000-18.
A quote of $2000 (USD) sounds way high unless a lot more than a neck reset/refret is indicated.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:09 AM
Shortfinger Shortfinger is offline
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Bryan Kimsey specializes in Martins of that era and is down in NM an hour east of Raton.

Google him and you'll find him. Search for him on YouTube where he posts videos showing Martins he has repaired.

He reset the neck, compression-refretted and planed to correct relief, fixed a crack, reset the bridge Martin misplaced, did new pickguard, and did new black locust bridgeplate and new bone compensative saddle, on my D-18, all for way way less than what your buddy got quoted.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:39 AM
gfirob gfirob is offline
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I just had the only certified Martin repairman in the state quote me $650 for a neck set on a 2002 Martin OM-42 (because he said Martin would not authorize it as a warranty repair). When I balked, the price went down to $350. The guitar has been pretty well maintained and had no other issues.
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:55 AM
redir redir is offline
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$2k? Good God. My base price is $300 but often times it goes up. Sometimes it's best to get a complete refret.
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:54 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gfirob View Post
I just had the only certified Martin repairman in the state quote me $650 for a neck set on a 2002 Martin OM-42 (because he said Martin would not authorize it as a warranty repair). When I balked, the price went down to $350. The guitar has been pretty well maintained and had no other issues.
I have a D28 in for a reset at the momment, i quoted 550 as i will also need to make a shim for the fretboard extension and do some lacquer work.

My prices vary from 350-600 for a neck reset and that is purely to do with two factors, do I need to make a tapered shim, do i need to do some lacquer work.

Surprised the tech on your job varied his price, i wonder how they come to their price to start with.

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