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Old 01-29-2020, 10:22 AM
catdaddy catdaddy is offline
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Default There are no absolutes

Reading the thread today about brightening a Martin headstock logo got me to thinking about my Martin J-15. I purchased it new in 2007 (before the 15M designation and the concomitant enhancements to the series), and over the past dozen years I've had the opportunity to try various upgrades that seem to be ubiquitous among the "old" Martin 15 series owners in order to simulate the newer, more prestigious 15M series.

One of the first things I did was to change out the original tusk saddle for one made of bone like on the 15Ms, an upgrade almost universally lauded by acoustic guitar cognoscenti. Remarkably, the results were disappointing. A bit more sparkle to the trebles, but the mids and bass suffered in the balance. I thought that perhaps it was that particular bone saddle that was a problem, so I ordered a second bone saddle. The results were the same. Back in goes the original tusk saddle, and voila: perfection!

Another axiom of acoustic guitar discussion forums is that medium gauge strings on dreads and jumbos will provide better tone on those large bodied instruments, and that light gauge strings in comparison are a compromise to playability with an accompanying less than ideal tone and volume. Naturally, I had to try a set of mediums (of my usual brand) on my J-15. The results with this change weren't disappointing, they were abominable. The guitar sounded choked. Sound volume and sustain decreased noticeably accompanied by a tone that might generously be described as muffled. The medium strings stayed on for about an hour before they were unceremoniously removed and replaced by a set of light gauge strings that brought the J-15 back to life.

As for the J-15's headstock logo, it is embossed gold leaf as opposed to a flat decal, and if the discussion in the thread I mentioned above is any indication, a much less desirable attribute. As an owner of two Martin guitars, I'd never taken notice that the headstocks on them contained two slightly different logo styles. I find it interesting and quite perplexing that most would find the flat decal that appears on my X Series Martin to be preferable to the embossed logo of my J-15. Well, there's no accounting for taste, which is probably a corollary to the proposition that there are no absolutes when it comes to acoustic guitars.
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Old 01-29-2020, 11:14 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Everything about an acoustic guitar, from its size, shape, materials, the technique used to play it, to the type of music played on it, screams personal preference. There are no absolutes in personal preference but, perhaps, everyone's personal preference is different than every other's.
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Old 01-29-2020, 11:46 AM
619TF 619TF is offline
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Agreed. Absolutely.
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:26 PM
cliff_the_stiff cliff_the_stiff is offline
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I find Med strings help to allow for a lower action. The parabolic vibration pathway is smaller because there is more mass. I think mass increases the friction and reduces sustain.
I like medium Santa Cruz strings, hate light santa cruz strings. Love light Thomastik Plectrum strings, hate medium Plectrum strings.
The benefits and attributes of light strings differ from those of medium, so for me it stands to reason that different gauge of the same alloys won’t necessarily improve on one another. It’s good for a level comparison- but to optimize the output- The players attack methods probably play into tone as well.

As Obiwan said, “Only the Sith deals in absolutes...”
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:30 PM
DesertTwang DesertTwang is offline
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I would have to pull out both my Martins to check wether their headstock logos are embossed or a flat decal. And on the day that I'll catch myself actually doing that, I will remind myself that I probably should rather invest that time into practicing and getting better.
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