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I have questions for you master builders...please help!
Author
Post
PeterP

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 10
Hi guys, I have been really interested in building a guitar for myself lately.
I plan to spend about 1000 in total (tools and kit)

I plan on buying the Martin D-41 kit,

Here are my questions

1) Is the kit cosmetically same to the commercial one? ie, bounded fingerboard, bounded peghead, ebony fingerboard etc. (I know decals are not supplied)

2) Once the building is finished, is there a material-wise difference that will effect the sound? Therefore, bracing is little different...etc (I know that the kits don't have master grade woods, which I believe don't really have sound-wise impact) I also understand that the quality of the sound will be dependent of my assembly.

My aim of my first build is to replicate the original D-41 sound, I am not really into cosmetics...so I am not so worried that this is my first try. Also, I have been helping people setting up their acoustics for awhile, so i guess I am not totally lost.

I wish that this forum can answer my questions. Also, is there a picture of a finished D41? Have not yet to find one. Thanks.

Dec 06, 09 | 5:59 am
John S.

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 94
I googled Martiin D-41 and found some pix posted at the Musician's Friend site.

John

Dec 06, 09 | 6:54 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Peter, the D-41 is basically a sitka over rosewood dread with standard 5/16 scalloped braces - the same basic specs as an HD-28 and several other models. What sets it apart is the very high level of bling - abalone rosette and purfling, a bound fretboard, the fancy headstock inlay. I once saw a Martin video where they said that adding the style 41 trim doubles the fabrication time of a guitar.

I have done style 41 trim on a couple of guitars (minus the bound fretboard) and it does take some special techniques and is time consuming, but not that hard (if I can do it, anyone can do it). My D12-41 was a John Hall kit and he supplied the extra abalone and the little teflon strips to install it. I also did it on the LMI parlor that I build for my daughter. Here is a thread about building the OM12

http://www.kitguitarsforum.com/forum/threads.php?id=961_0_6_0_C

I do not know what the Martin kit contains - I seriously doubt that they bind the fretboard for you. A bound fretboard does add a lot of work when it comes time to fret it - the binding is a real PITA.

IMHO, the sound of a guitar comes from the way it is built - if you want to duplicate a D-41 you will need to match the materials (not hard), all the dimensions (a little harder) and the bracing and scalloping (now it gets tricky). If you have good plans, you can simply carve your braces the same way Martin does, but if you really want to get the best sound you will work with the wood that you've got - taping and scalloping and trying to understand what the wood is telling you.

I've spent a lot of time studying that aspect of guitar building, and while I try to "voice" each of mine as I build them, most of it is pure blind luck. My 000-28 sounds good to me, but does it sound like an EC - probably not. My little parlor is a remarkable guitar, but does it really sound like Joan Baez's 0-42, probably not. Build the best guitar you can, add the bling that you want and I think you will be satisfied.

If you want a picture of a D-41 along with all of its specs you can go right to the source

http://www.martinguitar.com/guitars/choosing/guitars.php?p=m&m=D-41

Dec 06, 09 | 8:31 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Welcome, Peter, and good luck. Got a question for you? Whose D41 are you trying to replicate the sound of? They all have a similar look, but I doubt highly that any D41 sounds exactly like any others. They may have some characteristic Dread-sized rosewood/spruce tone similarities, but the ability to replicate any further ends there. If you are going to replciate a guitar, it will be in looks, style, materials, and technique, but it will still be a unique guitar by sound. If you are looking to replicate a sound, well....thats a crap shoot....especially since the guitar changes rather quickly in sound throughout its life.

You can target a sound through choices you make....big bass = jumbo or dread. Crisp highs (bluegrass, maybe?) either smaller bodies with sturdy bracing.

You can color the sound with the materials you choose: Rosewood has rich, colorful undertones. Maple bodies will be crisp and high, not a ton of bass unless you build a jumbo body. Mahogany will give you a woodier, mid tone. Even the neck wood will affect the tone, or sustain.

If you have a specific guitar in mind you are trying to mimc, I would try to do a little research into that guitar. Maybe it had its braces scalloped, or something special modified on it that will affect your decisions. You really will never know what your guitar wills ound like until you string it up. Even then, it will change drastically over the first year, then more lsowly after that.

Stewmac has a great kit that comes with great instructions for a beginning builder, and I think its modelled after the 28. I would imagine you could easily get what you need to upgrade the kit to a D41. LMII also has very high quality kits, and the kit wizard which really allows you to customize your guitar. Also, both Ken Cierp and John Hall who are sponsors of Bills site are fantastic to work with. Being pros, they may be able to give you a little more insight into how to replicate the sound of a certain guitar.

My first kit was a Martin Jumbo. The materials were outstanding. the directions sucked. The end result was a beautiful sounding guitar with some cosmetic issues of my own making. To this day is still one fof the best sounding instruments I and a few friendly musicians have played, warts, cracks, dents and all.

Good luck, and keep us up to date how it goes. We'd love to see pictures. I keep a site (though a little out of date right now) and many others here keep a blog so we can show our babies.

Dec 06, 09 | 12:07 pm
PeterP

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 10
Thanks everyone for your replies, but I think many of you misunderstood me. (It's reallt my fault)

1) I was looking for a completed Martin kit D-41...not just any picture of D-41...

2) I would like to build a D-41 that sounds like D-41, that's all...if D-41 is a fancy version of D-28, so be it, not really important. Material-wise, are they any different ie, (Martin D-41 commercial vs Martin D-41 kit)?

Dec 06, 09 | 1:30 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
I would like to give you some good advice . Don't expect your first guitar to be your best . I encourage you to try your hand on a lower end kit so you can get some experience and see what you are getting into .
Building a guitar isn't like building a bird house . There is some complex geometry not to mention the fit and finish. I hope you check out my tutorial section on building a guitar so you can educate yourself to what you are getting into . A 41 series has a complex binding that is not easy to pull off . The top will have 5 pcs if binding you will be working in at one time. Then you have to set the pearl. While this isn't impossible and I know a few people that did pull off a good first build , I hope you will be realistic in your expectations.
Check out this link for a list of videos that may help you .
http://bluescreekguitars.com/blog/ I am sure you will find something useful here to help you.
Let me know if there is any information you need and I will try and get it for you

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Dec 06, 09 | 2:41 pm
PeterP

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 10
Thanks for your kind reply, I understand that the process can be really difficult...a little worried now...haha

Anyways, can someone confirm if the kit D-41 has bounded fingerboard and peghead?

Dec 06, 09 | 6:34 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
As far as I know, there is no D-41 Kit. There are kits modelled after the D-28. You need to get the extra binding and bling to put on the guitar to make it a D-28. I would look at the martin website and compare the photos. The construction of the gutiars is the same.

Dec 06, 09 | 10:26 pm
PeterP

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 10
Nope, there is.

https://www.martinguitar.com/1833/catalog.php?cat=Kits%20Parts%20%26%20Tools

It is also available on many other websites, plus, there is a amateur luthier who has a worklog of her building D-41 dated 1998 or something which means that the kit has been around for quite some time.

Anyways, can anyone confirm if the kit has bounded pegheads and fingerboard? Or should I phone Martin to find out?

Dec 07, 09 | 1:06 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Hi Peter,
I wrote earlier, but it didnt' take.
How about just calling Martin, and ask them how the kit comes. I would be surprised if the binding is already on the fretboard and peghead.

Kevin

Dec 07, 09 | 1:23 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Peter. I do not know if the Martin kit has the peghead and fretboard bound, but I would seriously doubt it. Those steps are usually done after the peghead veneer is glued on and the fretboard glued to the neck, but before the frets are installed. I did an F5 mandolin and bound both the peghead and f/b - with that particular kit the work was not predone.

My limited experience with Martin parts (I've never built one of their kits but I have ordered necks and f/b's from them) is that the neck will be preshaped but without the veneer, the freboard will be mitered and radiused, and may have the position markers installed (or not).

To do that binding you will need a very good router and bits. The peghead is pretty easy since it its flat - the fretboard is a lot more work because it is curvered. You will need to shim your router base. I would highly recommend the stepped router bits sold by StewMac (about $80 or so) - you will also need them to do the abalone body binding.

One nice thing about the style 41 binding (as compared to 42 or 45) is that the pearl does not go around the fretboard extension - that would require some very careful routing of those channels. I am also pretty sure that the top from Martin will have the rosette channels prerouted - you will have to install the pearl and any purfling. The trick there is to use the little teflon strips to fill the channels while you install the BWB pieces - I think I show that pretty well in my photo essay.

A bound fretboard is a lot harder to fret - you need to cut out the tang at the ends of each fret so the end hangs over the binding. I would highly recommend a fret press, altho you can probably bang them in with a hammer. Again, not impossible for a home builder, but it adds one more level of difficulty.

You have said that your budget is about a grand for this build - that may be a little unrealistic for this guitar if the kit itself is over $600. Not knowing what your shop is like (but assuming you have a small router) it is very easy to spend $500 for tools the average woodshop is lacking - fret files, nut files, the stepped router bits, some special deep clamps. You will either want to buy or build a good jig - I make mine out of MDF and use a band saw. You'll want access to a drill press for the tuner holes. And last, but far from least, if you really want to duplicate the sound of a Martin, remember that they are all finished in nitro - you will either need a compressor, gun and spray booth, or at least rattle cans (figure a hundred bucks for finish alone).

But lets come back to the question that you have asked several times - can you build a guitar that sounds like a D-41? There is absolutely no reason that you can't - the materials from Martin will be the same as what comes off their production line. If you can do the assembly as well as they do, and get the top bracing the same, there is no reason your guitar won't sound the same. Since the D-41 is just a blinged up scalloped D-28 and there are lots of resourses on that guitar, you should be able to very closely duplicate it. It is simply how good a craftsman you are and how much time you take getting things right.

The last thing that I will add is that Martin's kit instructions are (or were) the worst in the industry - you will definitely want to suppliment them with others. I am very sure that they will not cover how to scallop and there will certainly be nothing about doing the inlay - but there are other very good references in these area. People on this forum can also help, as they are trying to do right now.

Good luck, post some pictures for us as you proceed.

Dec 07, 09 | 6:02 am
Hugh

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 309
Not being a master builder, maybe I shouldn't answer, but I've watched Kathy Matsushita's page for several years. She has a log of her D 41 kit build. She mentions the trouble she had binding the fingerboard and peghead. That leads me to think the kit does not have a bound fingerboard or peghead, but has the stuff to do it with.

Dec 07, 09 | 4:17 pm
PeterP

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 10
Thanks so much for your insight Hugh, I now have a better idea of the D-41 kit. However, did anyone actually finish this kit? If so, I'm really desperate to see some pics...anyone?

Dec 07, 09 | 8:57 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hello Peter. I haven't chimed in here because it's obvious there are people here more knowledgeable about the D41 than I am. But in answer to your last request, I don't think there is anyone on the forum here who has built a D-41 kit, but I think that is not what you should be looking for.

I believe you should be looking at actual D-41's, or photos of them from the Martin site. Judging a D-41 kit by any particular builder's results won't get you anywhere, because yours won't be the same. If one guy says he had trouble with the fretboard binding, that doesn't mean you will. If a guy says it was easy to do, that doesn't mean it will be easy for you.

I think you should go take a look at Kathy Matsushita's site ( http://home.comcast.net/~kathymatsushita/ ) and look at hers. She is an accomplished builder. Her site might say she's an amateur, but only in the sense that she doesn't build for a living. If she has built a D-41 kit, as Hugh mentioned above, you will get lots of information there.

Good luck in your search!

Bill

Dec 08, 09 | 5:13 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
The D41 kit will have the bound board . The headstock binding is an option , but I don't think the kit comes with it . The inlay can be interesting and there is a video out on you tube to show you how . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsZuwAXcfUU , your end result will be what you put into it . As for instructions , the Martin booklet is minimalist at best. Bill has a good book on kit building and I recommend. Also look at your supplier , and see if they do have building support . That is one thing we do at Blues Creek .
This can be a great project , but be realistic , if you are building your first guitar kit , I wouldn't try my dream guitar on the first build . The process of building can be tricky .

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Dec 08, 09 | 5:38 am
PeterP

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 10
Thank you Mr Cory for you kind reply. I already looked into her sit and did some homework...I planning to by a laminate kit and try everything I want on it...binding+purfling+headstock binding+inlaying+etc...and will go into D-41...maybe next June...

and "blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr", thank you for your detailed reponse along with info, it really helped. +1 for our good link too.

Just to let everyone know, D-41 isn't my "dream" guitar. Mine is Adi top with Brazillian Rosewood back and sides...but at the moment, bacause I have a spruce+sapele solid guitar, I would like a balanced or warm sounding guitar...

Sapele backs are just too strong and loud...all day...good but not good for everything...

Anyways, once I start to work on this, which will be in few months, I will surely post some pics of it. Thanks everyone for your help.

Dec 08, 09 | 6:05 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I thought I would chime in since I just bound and fretted my fingerboard. Putting the binding on was super easy and I am a total amateur builder. This is my first kit and the first time I built anything out of wood other than a pile of it.
What was NOT easy about binding the FB was shaving off the small amount of material from each side of the FB evenly. I ended up with my inlays slightly off center (although I might be the only one who would have noticed that had I said nothing.)
Also when you fret the FB you have to cut the tang off of the end of the fret. Not easy. I had a fairly good pair of wire cutters that enabled me to cut the tang off but not flush to the...the top part. I used a dremel with a grinding wheel to smooth out my rough cut so the fret would sit flush. They look good now, but it was a heck of a lot of work. However, since this is MY guitar, I can take as long as I want to build it, right? Anyway, I think the effort was worth it because it does look sweet!!

Dec 08, 09 | 7:30 am
PeterP

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 10
Thanks Tony for your rep. Are u stil in NYC? I am too!
Could u post some pics of your guitar - that is, if u don't mind - so that a fellow New Yorker gets a better idea about binding.


Dec 11, 09 | 9:02 pm



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