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  #1  
Old 05-31-2019, 09:04 PM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Default Has anyone modified the bracing of a Martin D-16?

I know people will sometimes scallop the straight braces on older Martins. Bryan Kimsey offers the service at his shop.

I have a Martin D-16RGT. I'm a little underwhelmed by the sound. It's okay as a practice guitar but it's no HD-28 retro. It just sounds (and feels) 'tight'. I have to play the strings harder than usual to get it to resonate. It also lacks bass.

It's supposed to have the "hybrid scalloped bracing" in it. I'm not sure what more, if anything, can be done. Has anyone modified one of theirs to good effect?

Before all the naysayers jump in and say: 'just get a different guitar' - I plan on that. But I also plan on keeping this one as a practice/campfire guitar. And I would like it to sound better.

I've ordered a bone saddle to replace the stock tusq one. And a bone nut.
I've considered replacing the richlite bridge with a real ebony one.
And now I'm considering the bracing - just to make it resonate more.

But there's also a limit to how much money and replacement parts are actually worth throwing at this thing before it stops making sense.

Let me know what modifications you've done to one and if they helped.

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 05-31-2019, 09:26 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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One should not just willy/nilly scallop away, its about analysing your specific guitar and then coming up with a plan.

The more bridge rotation we have on atop the more lively the sound, the less bridge rotation we have the stiffer more muddy the sound.

How much rotation of the bridge do you currently have?

Steve
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  #3  
Old 05-31-2019, 10:17 PM
hurling frootmi hurling frootmi is offline
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You might like bone.

The bottom line is that the A braced/hybrid braced guitars have a slightly brighter tone compared to the traditional X braced guitars. At least to these ears. I find that I generally prefer the 15/16/17 series guitars tone. I've played some HD-28's that I really liked though.

Before changing the bracing maybe you should reach out to Bryan and see what he thinks he might be able to do for you. I'd be inclined to leave a job like this to someone like him.

If you find bone too bright you might go the other way and try Micarta for the saddle.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:19 PM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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I wasn't planning on doing the scalloping myself. I'm more asking to see if it's something that has even been done before on this model guitar - gather some info before I take it to a luthier. Not all luthiers are open to this kind of modification - especially on Martins, which many think should not be modified at all.

I don't have an exact measurement for the bridge rotation - I don't have the tools here. I would say it's on the flatter side, though I'm in Northern California and the guitar is very dry, presently. I've had the guitar a few months. When I first got it, I humidified it thoroughly and it bulged pretty good. It's since been on a stand or on my lap and is pretty flat.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:26 PM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hurling frootmi View Post
You might like bone.

The bottom line is that the A braced/hybrid braced guitars have a slightly brighter tone compared to the traditional X braced guitars. At least to these ears. I find that I generally prefer the 15/16/17 series guitars tone. I've played some HD-28's that I really liked though.
I played an HD-28 retro earlier this year and was blown away by the sound. You could merely blow on the strings and that thing would sing. Alas, it had a 1-3/4" nut and I prefer 1-11/16".


Quote:
Originally Posted by hurling frootmi View Post
You might like bone.
Before changing the bracing maybe you should reach out to Bryan and see what he thinks he might be able to do for you. I'd be inclined to leave a job like this to someone like him.
I reached out to Bryan earlier this year about a different guitar and he said he was booked out for at least a year (maybe it was 2). Plus, I'm not looking to throw a ton of money at this thing. It is what it is.
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  #6  
Old 05-31-2019, 10:48 PM
redir redir is offline
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I just measured the bridge rotation on one of my guitars using my cell phone and a bubble level app. I need to compare it with another method to see how reliable it is but it was interesting. I did it 3 times and got just about the same results.

But anyway... When you build a guitar and put strings on it for the first time it's pretty amazing thing to behold. Often times you might think the guitar sounds like garbage but then you come back an hour later and it's opened up. Then a few hours after that it's changed again.

Now with newly built guitars I jsut tune them up, play a few chords, shrug, and put it on the wall with a Tonerite. Then I come back the next day and really start to hear it.

I will use the Tonerite for at least a week on a new guitar before shipping it out. Even better is to keep it around for two weeks and play it. If I hear things I don't like or think I can make better I might even tune the top a bit more.

Moral of the story is, if you are going to go down this road then you need to make minor adjustments then wait at least a week or two before considering doing more. It's a long process to get it right but imho it's totally doable.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:54 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redir View Post
I just measured the bridge rotation on one of my guitars using my cell phone and a bubble level app. I need to compare it with another method to see how reliable it is but it was interesting. I did it 3 times and got just about the same results
Perfect idea.

Difference of 0.2 degrees can make a massive sound difference

Steve
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Old 05-31-2019, 11:38 PM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redir View Post

Moral of the story is, if you are going to go down this road then you need to make minor adjustments then wait at least a week or two before considering doing more. It's a long process to get it right but imho it's totally doable.
Always. I learned this working on engines. If you replace or adjust too many things at once, you'll never know which is having the positive or negative effect that's presenting.
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  #9  
Old 06-01-2019, 11:20 AM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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My question still stands:

Has anyone out there actually modified the bracing on a D-16?



If I asked the same question about a D-28, the answer would be 'yes', with examples of things that are typically done - remove the popsicle brace, shaving the rear back braces, etc.

http://www.bryankimsey.com/music/rates.htm
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Old 06-01-2019, 04:16 PM
redir redir is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirwa View Post
Perfect idea.

Difference of 0.2 degrees can make a massive sound difference

Steve
Interesting you mention that becasue it just so happened to be 1.8deg. And it does have a very slightly overbuilt sound to it, which is why I went to measure in the first place.
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  #11  
Old 06-01-2019, 05:24 PM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redir View Post
I just measured the bridge rotation on one of my guitars using my cell phone and a bubble level app. I need to compare it with another method to see how reliable it is but it was interesting. I did it 3 times and got just about the same results.
I just downloaded a basic bubble level app. Can you tell me how to use it to check the rotation?
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  #12  
Old 06-01-2019, 07:51 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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I use a plastic jig that sits around the bridge and butts up to the back of it, so if you measure of the bridge itself as redir did above, you would have to compare a few guitars to get your own figures

it possibly wont read as much rotation as the bridge itself as i am reading the area of the top around the bridge

Simple plastic jig butts up to bridge digital level on top, guitar not tuned



Tune guitar to pitch, important do not move the guitar on the bench it must stay exactly the same for accuracy



As it comes up to pitch, you will get a measurment



Here is a taylor



Here is martin d28

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  #13  
Old 06-01-2019, 09:12 PM
Hollowed_Wood Hollowed_Wood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirwa View Post

Simple plastic jig butts up to bridge digital level on top, guitar not tuned



I'm trying to do this now with my goofy phone. I have no jig or compact digital level.

Question: Is the left side of the jig resting on the strings? If so, since they are initially loose, won't tightening to pitch rotate the jig in the opposite direction of what you are trying to measure? Or is there only negligible lift?

In any case I tried this with my phone resting on the bridge pins and the strings. Loosened, calibrated level, brought to pitch, saw no change in rotation.
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  #14  
Old 06-01-2019, 10:05 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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My jig is clear of the strings, both in tune and when detuned, it is essential that the guitar is not moved during the test, this negates all findings. The front of my jig has a single standoff identical to the ones you can see on the rears

I find anything under 0.4 degrees to be very stiff and muddy in sound

0.5 to 0.9 i find to be a good compromise between stiff and vibrant, most manufacturers guitars fall in this range.

Dont forget measuring directly of the bridge will have a different reading as you are also reading any glue creep that may be happening as well

Steve
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Last edited by mirwa; 06-01-2019 at 10:13 PM.
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  #15  
Old 06-01-2019, 10:11 PM
mirwa mirwa is offline
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The top on this guitar before i rebraced it measured at 1.7 degrees of rotation, the rotation was great enough to deform and stretch the spruce as seen here with the brodge removed

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