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Old 07-03-2020, 09:38 AM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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Default Bracing HPL tops - Martin Guitars

It be interested to know the luthiers here thoughts on the way Martin Guitars braces their HPL tops. The bracing pattern is described here:

Martin Bracing Patterns

I recently tried out a Martin 0x1e that has an HPL top. The top was slightly sunken on the treble side end of the bridge, most notably where the 'bow tie' braces are. These flat sheet braces are made from the same HPL as the top and glued into the triangle spaces created to the sides of the x braces.

The lower bout also has an additional carbon fibre brace running behind the bridge.

I really liked the size and tone of the guitar - and its quiet volume was perfect for me to sing across. But.... I wonder how durable/strong that top is going to be in the long run. Martin feel the need to brace HPL more than wood. I would love one of those guitars but the additional bracing makes me cautious. However, I may have just had a rogue one and the reality is they are as stable as a rock?
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I'm learning to flatpick and fingerpick guitar to accompany songs.

I've played and studied traditional noter/drone mountain dulcimer for many years. And I used to play dobro in a bluegrass band.



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Old 07-03-2020, 10:34 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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The website to which you linked states the following: "Balances spruce X bracing with bow tie plates and a carbon-fiber reinforcement brace to achieve the ultimate in tone and stability."

With that statement, that they "achieve the ultimate in tone and stability", why would they, or anyone else make anything different? You can't beat "the ultimate".

In answer to your question, only time will tell how successful is the design in terms of both tone and longevity. I can't easily find a year when Martin started using HPL, but I find references to it that date back to 2001, so nearly 20 years. That's probably long enough.

It appears that the HPL material, itself, isn't easily repaired, though your question was about the top bracing. There do seem to be some issues with tops and backs separating from the sides, though that should be an easy repair.

https://hazeguitars.com/blog/what-yo...te-hpl-guitars

The list prices of the X-Series guitars, that employ HPL tops, are $900 or less, putting them in the "lower" cost range. $900 is a lot of money for some, but is relatively inexpensive compared to many other guitar makes and models available. From that perspective, they probably aren't designed or intended to be family heirlooms. If they last 10 years, that's $90/year for the enjoyment of playing it, less than many pay per month for their phone/internet service. I'm not a proponent of throw-away consumer goods, so I'd hope they would last longer than that.
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Old 07-03-2020, 12:01 PM
JonWint JonWint is offline
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Is that a new guitar? Might be a loose brace.

I repaired a Little Martin with a loose bridge and bump in the bridge area. It had loose bracing which caused the bump to form and resulted in bridge wings lifting. Braces glued, belly reduction at 160 degrees F, bridge re-glue, and we're back in business.

Little Martin has less bracing. No bowtie plates nor lower tie between the X.

The top mis-shape was more than half corrected by the heat and belly correction plates and clamp torqueing.

(Yes it's pink. I'll be donating it to the local school music department. Not my color.)

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:04 AM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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Thanks for your replies,

If I get the chance, I'll have a look at another Martin 0x1e to see if the top is flatter (ie not showing an obvious sinking on the treble side). 20 years of experience with HPL is probably long enough for the company to have sorted most potential long-term stability issues.

Not too sure if I want one in pink though Although my wife did say that the 'mahogany grain' pattern on the one I had on trial did look like cheap laminate flooring!!!!! But she loved the sound and thought the guitar matched my voice perfectly. I think that she was sadder than me when I decided it had to be returned because of the slight sinking of the top.
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I'm learning to flatpick and fingerpick guitar to accompany songs.

I've played and studied traditional noter/drone mountain dulcimer for many years. And I used to play dobro in a bluegrass band.



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Old 07-09-2020, 11:48 AM
Robin, Wales Robin, Wales is offline
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I have had another Martin 0x1a delivered today and it has the same sunken top to the front of the bridge. Hopefully this photo shows the issue:



Unfortunately, this guitar also has a step in the fretboard where it crosses the body, so the 12th and 13th on the treble side do not play cleanly.



This is a little difficult to photograph but I can tell you that the Stumac straight edge rocks significantly.

So, the guitar is going back.

I have to say that I'm a little disappointed in Martin Guitars quality control. My Seagull, which was a cheaper guitar, seems to have been constructed with more care.
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I'm learning to flatpick and fingerpick guitar to accompany songs.

I've played and studied traditional noter/drone mountain dulcimer for many years. And I used to play dobro in a bluegrass band.




Last edited by Robin, Wales; 07-09-2020 at 02:37 PM.
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