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TOP BRACING, MARTIN JUMBO KIT...
Author
Post
Texas Dave

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 3
HI, ALL,

I AM WORKING MY FIRST KIT- A JUMBO 41 STYLE ROSEWQOOD/ SITKA KIT FROM THE MARTIN FACTORY.

I AM COMING TO THE POINT OF BRACING THE TOP. THE BRACES ARE SCALLOPED FROM THE FACTORY, BUT THE PATTERN LAID OUT ON THE TOP IS (I ASSUME) A STANDARD X- BRACE PATTERN, AS THE FORWARD LINE OF THE X- BRACE INTERSECTION LIES 1 15/16" BEHIND THE SOUND HOLE. I KEEP THINKING THAT IT WOULD SUIT MY NEEDS, AS A PERFORMER, TO FORWARD- SHIFT THE BRACING ON MY JUMBO, IN THE MANNER OF THE HJ- 38 STEFAN GROSSMAN, THE JDP- 1 DIANE PONZIO, AND, I ASSUME, OTHER, OLDER MARTIN JUMBOS.

FROM WHAT I'VE READ FORWARD- SHIFTING THE BRACES SHOULD INCREASE THE BASE RESPONSE AND OVERALL VOLUME OF THE INSTRUMENT. I AM PRIMARILY A VOCALIST (ALTHOUGH I'M 53 AND HAVE PLAYED GUITAR ALL MY LIFE) HAVE A PRETTY POWERFUL VOICE, AND STRUM A LOT IN ACCOMPANYING MYSELF, BUT ALSO DO A FAIR AMOUNT OF FLAT- PICKING (ERGO THE DESIRE TO FORWARD- SHIFT THE X- BRACES) AND, TO A LESSER DEGREE, SOME FINGER- STYLE.

FIRST OFF, WHAT ARE PEOPLE'S FEELINGS ON FORWARD- SHIFTING THE BRACES ON A MARTIN JUMBO? I'VE LISTENED TO SOUND CLIPS FROM A STEFAN GROSSMAN HJ- 38 AND NUMEROUS SOUND CLIPS OF STANDARD- BRACED MARTIN JUMBOS. THEY ALL SOUND BEAUTIFUL, AND QUITE FRANKLY I CANNOT HEAR ANY ADDED BASE RESPONSE FROM THE CLIP I'M LISTENING TO ON THE STEFAN GROSSMAN, BUT ASSUME IT WOULD NEVERTHELESS SUBSTANTIALLY CHANGE THE SOUND TO FORWARD- SHIFT THE BRACES.

SECONDLY, IF I WERE TO DECIDE TO GO AHEAD WITH IT, WOULD ANYONE HAVE ANY PLANS, OR KNOW OF A SOURCE FOR PLANS, FOR A FORWARD- SHIFTED BRACE PATTERN FOR A MARTIN JUMBO TOP? IF NOT, HOW BEST WOULD I PROCEED TO CREATE A FORWARD- SHIFTED LAYOUT?

THIRDLY, THE PRE- SCALLOPED BRACES SENT TO ME FROM MARTIN MEASURE 5/ 16" IN WIDTH. IF I WERE TO PURSUE FORWARD- SHIFTING THE BRACING, WHAT IS THE ADVISABILITY OF SHAVING THE BRACE WIDTH DOWN TO 1/4", AS I SEE IN THE SPECS FOR THE HJ- 38 AND JDP 1? OBVIOUSLY I AM HEADING TOWARDS THIS IDEALIZED NOTION I HAVE OF CREATING A 'PRE- WAR' JUMBO SOUND (I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF THERE WERE PRE- WAR MARTIN JUMBOS)- AND TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE WONDERFUL CLARITY AND BALANCE I'M HEARING IN THESE SOUND CLIPS OF THE STANDARD JUMBOS, PLUS ADDING SOME BASE TO THE MIX FOR THE FAIR AMOUNT OF BLUEGRASS I PLAY, THROWING INTO THE MIX THE FACT THAT THE GUITAR WILL BACK UP A PRETTY STRONG BARITONE VOICE.

DIANE PONZIO DESCRIBES HER JDP- 1 AS HAVING THE 'PANACHE OF AN OM, THE BALANCE OF A 000, AND THE ENGINE OF A DREADNOUGHT.' I'D LIKE TO TRY FOR THIS GUITAR HAVING ALL THAT, AND BEING A GOOD ACCOMPANIMENT FOR BLUEGRASS. IS THIS AN EVEN REMOTELY REASONABLE GOAL?

WORDS OF WISDOM? AM I THINKING CLEARLY, HERE? OR, SHOULD I LEAVE IT ALONE AND GO WITH MARTIN'S FACTORY- ISSUED LAYOUT? ALL THE STANDARD JUMBO SOUND CLIPS CAPTURE AN EXTRAORDINARY, RICH, BELL- LIKE QUALITY THAT I WOULD HATE TO LOSE BY MESSING WITH A GOOD THING.

AND AGAIN, IF I DO DECIDE TO FORWARD- SHIFT, ARE THERE PLANS? IF NOT, POINTERS?

THANKS FOR THIS GREAT RESOURCE. I'VE BEEN READING THE FORUM FOR A YEAR AND A HALF, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I'VE SCREWED UP THE COURAGE TO WRITE MY THOUGHTS DOWN AND SUBMIT THEM.

Dec 14, 09 | 1:35 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Welcome Dave -- Glad you're enjoying the website. I think we'd all appreciate if you didn't type all in capitals.

The standard words of wisdom apply here. Don't expect your first kit to be able to emulate a target sound, no matter what guitar it is. Guitars being made of wood, which has individual characteristics per piece, and builders being human, which guarantees that what we want to achieve won't always be achieved perfectly -- those two working together make it unlikely that your first guitar will hit the target.

Just build as well as you can, learn what goes into the guitar, how complex it really is, etc. May accomplished builders have said in the past -- (paraphrasing) -- The guitar ends up being what it is; trying to build a guitar to have a specific sound is a futile exercise.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't try for it -- but learn the basics first with your first kit, do a lot of reading and studying, and then try again. You'll get there if you stick with it long enough.

Don't mean to be negative; but I'd rather be negative and realistic than a cheerleader taking you down a primrose path.

But -- enjoy the process of learning!

Bill Cory
Forum Owner, Moderator, bottle washer, and not the best builder here by a longshot.

Dec 14, 09 | 1:52 pm
Texas Dave

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 3
Dear Bill,

Thanks for the very speedy response.

I'll avoid the caps in the future (I have written in them since I was a kid- hard habit to break...)

I will take to heart your advice on 'shopping for a sound' on my first build, and your saying that it won't hurt to try for it. I guess it's safe to assume that it is not (structurally) a bad idea to forward shift the braces and take them down to 1/4" from the 5/16" ? There seems to be precedence for this in photos from the bracing photos gallery at the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum's site (I have a photo of a J- 40 from there with forward- shifted braces) and from the specs I read re: the JDP1 and the HD38. Still, no diagram- any resources out there? Or, are there building guidelines I can follow to safely shift the pattern? (That is, IF there is no reason, structurally and sound- wise, not to shift the braces...)

Attached is my second attempt to upload a photo of my top, with the bracing pattern that I assume is standard X- bracing, as I got it from the Martin factory....

Thanks again,

Dave



Dec 14, 09 | 4:02 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
last post didnt make it...

Welcome Dave! I built the rosewood jumbo from Martin for my first guitar...still my best soundign instrument hand down, and I built it as planned, except for some minor bracing scallops. I would build per instructions, then try another one. and another one...and ....

Dec 14, 09 | 8:18 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
David -- The Martin Jumbo I built was mahogany & spruce, but other than that the same as your kit, I'm sure. On mine, I followed the idea of Dana Bourgeois ( http://www.pantheonguitars.com/ ) to scallop the lower X brace on the bass side, but leave it un-scalloped on the treble side. The guitar has a very balanced sound.

I don't see a problem with experimenting, although by doing so, you don't get the chance to hear how the guitar is "supposed" to sound. I put quotes around the word "supposed" because a target sound relies so much on materials and quality of build, and both vary widely with a kit, especially.

Good luck with it -- keep us posted!

Bill

Dec 15, 09 | 6:28 am
Texas Dave

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 3
Thanks, guys, I appreciate your feedback, and will definitely keep y'all posted. Knowing that you have both built the kit and love the sound leans me towards not changing the bracing pattern.

Dec 15, 09 | 7:31 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
The forward shifted bracing was on the dred only . You are best to use the bracing where plotted . I do think you will do yourself a big favor to be sure you have no sharp edges on your main bracing. Make the bracing with nice radiused edges. Sharp corners become force focal areas.
John Hall
blues creek guitars
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Dec 15, 09 | 2:40 pm
Texas Dave

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 3
Thank you, John- that makes sense to me on a gut level.

Dec 15, 09 | 6:54 pm



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