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First Build/ Martin 000
Author
Post
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
After seeing a thread about a kit build on the HC forum a few months ago, which eventually led me to this site, I was inspired to take on the task myself. When I saw some of the beautiful instruments displayed here, I thought to myself, I can do that. So about six weeks ago I sent my wife a link to Martin's web site and told her "this is what I want for Christmas". I didn't specify any model, just that I wanted something rosewood.
Well this is the one she picked out:


Now I must admit, having a fairly well equipped home wood shop and some experience with fine hardwoods, I felt a little intimidated when I opened the box and started looking at some of the parts, just thinking of how many ways that they could be damaged beyond repair.
But after reading through Martin's "basic instructions" several times, and hours of the material that Bill has so graciously put together here on this site, I'm feeling a more optimistic.
I spent the day making culls, organizing clamps, and gathering materials for the molds and jigs. I'll be happy if my guitar turns out nearly as nice as the ones I've seen here. By the way, I'm very pleased with the quality of the materials in this kit and hope to show an equally finished instrument in the near future.

Thanks Rick

Dec 26, 09 | 7:12 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Hey Rick,
Welcome to the forum, and to kit building. You will find it very rewarding.
I recommend you purchase Bill Cory's book on building a Martin kit, he has put together a step by step guide that you shouldn't do without. As you can see, Martin didn't supply you with very detailed directions.
We will look forward to following along with you as you put her together.
And thank you wife for us all here too....we love it when another builder joins the fold. Happy building.

Kevin

Dec 26, 09 | 7:23 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Looks liek a great set of Rosewood, Rick! Welcome, can't wait to see the finished product!

Dec 27, 09 | 11:21 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Looks like you've got a great set-up. Do get Bill's book on the Martin kit. I've just started my first, and it is indispensible. Plus, depending on where you live, the book will arrive very quickly - and signed.
Have fun, keep sending pics.

Dec 27, 09 | 11:30 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Congrats Rick! Welcome to the forum and this great hobby! Do lots of ready and working through each step in your mind prior to cutting and gluing up. If something doesn't make sense, search the forum, and if you can't find what you are looking for, post a question. Many very knowledgeable people here.

I was in your shoes a couple of years ago and found this forum and the a few individuals here indispensable as far as getting me through that first one. You really can build a great guitar.

Enjoy!!

Ken

Dec 28, 09 | 3:50 pm
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
Thanks for the welcome and the encouragement. In just a few short days I have already become obsessed with this project, all other non necessity endeavors are on hold. In my impatience, I've already made my first mistake and thanks to the search tool here, I was able to un-glue and re-glue a misaligned rim that I didn't think was quit rite. I do have some other questions about a few things that are later in the build but I may find the answers before I get to that point.

Dec 29, 09 | 2:07 pm
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
Progress update:



Thanks Rick

Dec 31, 09 | 3:49 pm
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332
Looks like great progress!

Before you glue your bracing on the top and back be thinking about how thick they're going to be at the point where they meet the kerfed lining. On my first build I just glued it all together and shaped it later. Now I'm doing most of the shaping before I glue it on.

Jan 09, 10 | 5:19 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
UH HUH! Wait a go Rick! Looking good! Obsession seems to be the nature of the beast with guitar building. Make sure your wife knows it doesn't get better, it gets worse!
Please keep sharing!

Kevin

Jan 09, 10 | 4:23 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Nice. Rim assembled and kerfed. Back plates joined...all in 5 days?
I think you have an excellent chance of having a great finished product. Heck...if I can do it, there is hope for everyone!

Jan 09, 10 | 5:14 pm
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
I haven't joined the back yet, it's just laying there in the above photo. I hope to get to that today. When I got to the top bracing I decided to take a step back and do a little more research on the subject. I've been studying the Martin factory tour videos and they seem to offer a lot of insight, along with the tips in Bill's book. I also did a Google search for "Martin top bracing" and found some very good web sites with pictures of actual Martin tops from the 50's ans into the 70's. There are many details to consider and I don't want to rush through this step. I still have a couple of questions regarding the two lower tone bars but I need to get some pictures up that will make clear my dilemma.

Jan 10, 10 | 6:37 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hey Rick -- Glad your sweet wife finally let you get started on it! Man, you are moving fast. No problem with that if you have the time. Does your other half know that the faster you build this one, the sooner you'll want to build another one? When's your weddin' anniversary ... ?

Seriously, it's looking great so far.

Bill

Jan 10, 10 | 7:30 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
I agree with the others - looking good! At the Tech section of UMGF there are a whole bunch of pictures of bracing of different models of Martins. However, you should have plans with your kit that shows the location of standard OM bracing - I would not deviate from that on your first build.

You can decide how much to scallop the braces and tone bars as you build. Roger Siminoffs book on tap tuning is very helpful if you want to try actually voicing the top or you can just try to emulate the shape on the plans (which should be pretty close to "stock" martin).

As Roger points out, "braces" are largely there for structural reasons (the X brace is engineered to keep the top from folding in half at the sound hole), while "tone bars" are primarily to tune the top (which is one reason they are at an angle. Scalloping the X brace looses the entire top to vibrate, scalloping the tone bars changes resonate frequency of different areas of the top.

I once heard seminars by three different people in the same luthier convention about braces and tuning the tops (Siminoff, Dana Bourgeois, and a builder of classicals) and they had wildly different theories about this subject.

Jan 10, 10 | 8:24 am
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
This is why I was thinking about moving the the tone bars. Note that everything is glued except the two tone bars and the bridge plate. I set the top and neck on the rim and measured for the location of the bridge and it seem like it will end up centered on the bridge plate where it is now.

In this firs picture, you can see the tone bars don't meet the diagonal cut in the bridge plate. Also the pre-cut angle on the tone bars don't match up with the x-brace on the right side. This is with the braces in the position marked by the factory.


This second picture shows where I was thinking about moving the tone bars. In this position, the ends line up with the x brace and the cut in the bridge plate.

I'm thinking that Martin ether put the wrong bridge plate in the kit, or they may mark the position of the bars differently for kits to retain trade secrets.

I do have a piece of 1/8" thick maple to make a new bridge plate.
So, to move or not to move? This is my dilemma. This has been holding me up for about 5 days now.

Jan 10, 10 | 11:46 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Rick, you've discovered the conundrum of guitar building.

"If I build it this way, how will it sound? If it sounds really good, how do I know it wouldn't sound even better if I'd built it the other way? On the other hand, if it sounds really different that I thought it would, how do I know if it would have sounded better, or worse, if I had done it differently?"

There's just no way to know. Like Freeman said, even the experts disagree. But, each expert has his/her own signature sound, and the way they get it is by *not* doing what others do.

So, rest assured that regardless of which position you select, your guitar will sound better than you might have expected, and it will sound exactly like a guitar -- one on which the choice of strings, playing style and weight of pick used will probably make more difference than the position of the tone bars.

Go for it and you'll enjoy the results.

Just my two cents ...
Bill

Jan 10, 10 | 2:47 pm
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Personally, I would use your suggested setup in the second picture. It gives more support to help prevent bridge rotation and may help reduce bellying behind the bridge.

Jan 10, 10 | 5:23 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Adaboy,
What is bridge rotation? Never heard of that.

Kevin

Jan 10, 10 | 7:24 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Rick, here are two actual pictures of a D28 and an HD28 - you can see the relationship between the tone bars and the bridge plate. This should give you a general idea of how Martin builds them.

Kevin, what I assume Adaboy is talking about is the structural design of a pinned bridge acoustic guitar top and the way it "makes sound". The 180 or so pounds of string tension basically ends at the break point of the saddle, with the little pieces of string to the pins acting as guy wires (like a telephone pole). The string tension is acting thru a lever arm of around 1/2 inch to rotate the top around the axis of the bridge. This pulls the lower bout up and forces the area between the bridge and sound hole down. The X brace is ideally designed to counter that force - the strength is in that weak area near the soundhole. In addition when the string is plucked, it goes thru cycles of extension and compression, pulling on that little lever (the saddle) and rocking the bridge. There is some up and down movement of the top, but most of the tops "vibration" is really this rocking motion.

This is in stark contrast to a floating bridge instrument such as a violin, mandolin, archtop or resonator - the tailpiece allows the bridge to move straight up and down and there is essentially no rocking motions (well, a tiny bit because of the string friction at the bridge). That is why mandolins and similar instruments have only tone bars (which, as the name implies, are there to tune the top). Archtops sometimes have very light X braces, but that is to give stability to the carved top, not to counter the rotational force.

The tone bars on an X braced guitar are there to give some support to the top, but the real reason is to allow the bass and treble sides of the lower bout to be tuned - that is why they are at an angle (if they were just there for strength another X would make more sense). Roger Siminoff goes into these elements and how to work them into the sound of your instrument in his great little book about tap tuning. Roger mainly comes from the mandolin side of lutherie, but he does talk about fixed bridge instuments too.

I don't claim to understand all about this stuff, but as an engineer I do have appreciation for these designs (and marvel at the way they came about historically - Martin really did introduce the X brace during the switch from gut to steel strings). As an amature builder, I have built a mandolin, a fan braced classical and a ladder braced guitar, as well as several steel strings with one, two and three tone bars. The more I learn, the more I realize how much there is to learn.

Jan 11, 10 | 5:52 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Darn, forgot the link to the bracing pictures

http://www.bryankimsey.com/braces/

And from the UMGF, 20 pages of discussion about just Martin bracing,

http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/847

Jan 11, 10 | 5:54 am
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
Very Interesting!! Thanks for taking the time to comment and thanks for the link to UMGF, I've searched that site a little but never saw that thread.
What I found most iteresting is that almost all of the OOO/OM models hade bracing very close to my first photo, most even have the angled cut on the right side of the bridge plate. Oh well, back to work.
Thanks Rick

Jan 11, 10 | 2:21 pm
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
From Kevin, "What is bridge rotation? Never heard of that".

If using a Martin style bridge, the strings terminate somewhere near the rear of the bridge. The strings cross over the saddle and angle down to the holes where the strings are placed. When the strings are tightened, this pulls up on the rear of the bridge. The strings also pull down on the saddle.....somewhere near the front of the bridge due to the break angle of the strings over the saddle. So if a force is pulling up on the rear of the bridge and a force is pushing down on the front of the bridge, the forces are trying to rotate the bridge.

I would guess the more the rear of the bridge lifts (or rotates up), the more the top will belly behind the bridge. And I would also guess that the more the bridge rotates down in the front, the more depression you will have between bridge and soundhole. So your bracing and top combined must be sufficiently stiff to resist bridge rotation caused by string tension. The X brace is the primary brace that prevents bridge rotation and the thickness and stiffness of the top also resist bridge rotation. Well, I may correct myself, the bridge plate also helps prevent bridge rotation and I guess it would be correctly lableled a brace. Well heck, the bridge itself is also a brace......and it's stiffness and shape help prevent bridge rotation (ie, a belly bridge resists rotation more than a pyramid bridge).

Jan 11, 10 | 3:49 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
RHP, for what it is worth, here was my very first build, a Kovacik 000 based on Martin parts and built using StewMac's 000 plans. My bridgeplate did not have the little angled cutout for the first tone bar - I tucked them up tight as per the plans. They are what I would call moderately scalloped - I did try to voice the top using Siminoff as a guide.



I don't have a lot to compare it too - my other two sixers are an old (scalloped) D18 and a normal out of the box Taylor 314. The triple ought has a big balanced voice, in my opinion much more responsive than the taylor. The D18 is a cannon, but since I am a finger picker I play the triple ought. btw - mine is a long scale 12 fretter which of course does move the bridge down into the lower bout a little. I have played a couple of 000-28EC's which is what I was trying to emulate - I'm satisfied that I got reasonably close.

I'm including this pic to show how you can screw something up and it still will work out OK. This is my John Hall OM sized 12 string. There were no good plans with the kit and I got a bridge plate pretty much like yours. For some crazy reason this is the way I ended up putting it in - pretty obvious that it is bass-ackwards, but you know what, the little git sounds pretty darn good.



If you really want a laugh, there are some clips here (along with a couple of my other home built 12 strings)

http://www.thekrashsite.com/annex/freeman.htm

Jan 12, 10 | 9:46 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
On the bridge rotation.
I was thrown because I think of "rotation" on a horizontal plane. I do understand somewhat the tensions placed on the bridge, but I wonder if there is a better term to use to describe the "lifting" of the bridge from the tension applied by the string tension? Just a thought.

Kevin

Jan 12, 10 | 12:30 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Kevin, "rotation" is one of the words that Siminoff uses, as well as "rocking". It is all in how you define the axis in your coordinate systems.

People describe the tops of guitars vibrating - implying that they move directly up and down (z axis of the bridge) but they can't describe the physics that would make that happen (it very clearly does happens to a floating bridge - the cone in a dobro does move directly up and down). But with a fixed bridge the analogy of a telephone pole with a guy wire or even someone holding the end of a jump rope makes more sense - the force are (mostly) linear in the direction of the string.

Jan 12, 10 | 1:08 pm
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
All great information, I can see the more I learn the less I know. I like the idea of a OOO 12 string, that could be #3, #2 being a cut-away.

I finally got moving on the back. I decided to join it with the top facing up so I could wipe the glue joint clean before clamping the center line down firm. One thing I have learned is that excess glue is not your friend.


Jan 12, 10 | 3:46 pm
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332
hi Rick,
if you are still worried about how to proceed with your bracing, I wouldn't. your bracing is pretty heavy in size and as long as you follow a pre-existing pattern that has been successful, it will work. pick something that you like, and copy it. if you copy it well, success is almost certainly guaranteed. on future builds, you can do it differently to see what happens, or scallop it down as small as it is on a guitar by [insert favorite builder's name here], etc.
Martin

Jan 13, 10 | 6:34 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
There are tens of thousands of guitar builder's using tens of thousands of top and back braces layouts and brace designs ---- some claim to have found the magic --- BS (perhaps for one guitar) --- as Steve Klein points out, for the most part the bracing just keeps the top from caving in, and one can do more to effect the sound quailty by making the neck a bit more rigid or heavier (the tuning fork effect). Siminoff has a very cool fixture that applies string tension to the braced top, he can then shave the braces stopping at a point where the tension just starts to move the top --- that way he knows that all the energy (movement of the string) from the plucked string will indeed move the top as well (hopefully in a good way and that is another subject). So bottom line --- unless you build such a device there is know way of knowing when this optimun stress/flex/tension point is met. Every single guitar is made of different woods, of different strength and flex properties. So trying to clone a brace pattern is not a bad idea if you like the sound of the original guitar but the end product will not necessarily sound the same. Most likely similar --- but here's the kicker --- Martins and almost all the factory made/makes instrumnets that are a bit over built because there are warranty issues -- so, should your clone be built even lighter and would it sound even better?? Its a crap shoot. $.02

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978



Jan 13, 10 | 8:06 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
I have to chime in. I don't believe the placement of the tone bars in this guitar is going to make much, if any, difference in the tone that anyone can identify. For such a minor move of those braces to make a big difference, everything else in the guitar would need to be balanced and planned for a target tone: Then, these might make or break that tone. But, what is a "target tone?" Like Ken Cierp, I think a lot of it is BS. Of course, the builders who have experimented and tested and kept careful records and changed one little thing at a time, and built 300 guitars, eventually arrive at a formula they like and that their fans like -- but is it the "best" tone? Not by a long shot, because the "best" tone is like the "best" of anything -- it's all in the mind of the individual judge.

You probably have gone ahead by now, and if you haven't, I'd encourage you to just build the guitar. Many things you have already done or will do will make more difference than the placement of the tone bars, and you'll never know what happened, of if anything really did happen to change the tone from one sound to another.

If you build it, you'll have tone. That's all we know for sure.

Just to add two pence more to the thread ...

Bill

Jan 13, 10 | 2:35 pm
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Kevin,

If you viewed the bridge from the side and determined the angle the bridge is at when the guitar is unstrung then strung and tuned the guitar to pitch and checked the angle again from the same side view, I think you would see the bridge has rotated to a different angle.....not just pulled upward. I'm assuming that is where the term comes from. The string tension pulls up where teh strings terminate and pushes down on the saddle so it only makes sense that the bridge would rotate a bit.

Jan 15, 10 | 8:36 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Bridge rotation is the movement of the bridge along the it's "length" reacting to the tension of the strings, and of course "rotating" slightly more when the strings are put into motion. Imagine that the bridge is attached with a hinge under the saddle to get the picture. In reality when the bridge "rotates" the sound board lifts in back toward the tail block and rolls down in the direction of the neck.

Ken

Kenneth Micahel Guitars est. 1978

Jan 16, 10 | 7:31 am
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
Progress update:

Ready to start on the neck, I left it a little high and was going to do the final fit after the finishing.


I was thinking about not doing the binding on the back, but now I'm not so sure. The glue joint looks good but I'm not sure how I will like it in the end.

Has anyone ever built one without binding the back? Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks Rick

Jan 30, 10 | 1:53 pm
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
Visually speaking, I think that you'll want to tie in the end graft with back binding.

I believe that one of binding's purposes is to minimize moisture movement through the end grain, though others should chime in here.

Do you have a specific reason why you would not bind it?

Jan 30, 10 | 4:19 pm
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332
The binding will also protect the guitar's edges. I've already banged mine (it's only 4 months old) several times. You should do it. There's no argument for not doing it.

Jan 31, 10 | 12:17 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I agree....put the binding on. I think the Martins and others being produced these days without them are figuring out a real crappy way to screw the customer and call it cost savings. "Look how good our joints are....we don't need binding!" Especially on the spruce tops...

Sorry Rick, I had this conversation with someone recently. Personally, I like a lot of contrast in a guitar, and I also like, if I can, to relate the back to the front somehow, and the easiest way is to have a similar binding scheme. I whink it will look a lot better, and protect it from corner impact as well.

Jan 31, 10 | 5:25 pm
enalnitram (Martin Lane)

Total Topics: 47
Total Posts: 332
My second guitar is one I'm building for a friend. he wanted me to copy an early 30's 00-17. those were all mahogany guitars that didn't have binding. my "solution" to the problem is to install binding on it: mahogany binding.

Feb 01, 10 | 7:25 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I was at a Sam Ash last week and they had several low end martins and taylors that did not have binding. Of about 6 binding free guitars, 4 had the backs coming off. I don't know if it was the lack of binding or something else, but the clerk did tell me they had a roof leak and the rug was soaked in the acoustic room and some of the guitars with seperations had gotten wet. I think the end grain being exposed contributed to the moisture getting wicked into the wood and possibly allowing the glue to release. I dont know. But I would put the binding on.

Feb 01, 10 | 1:47 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
I have bound my rosewood guitars with rose, usually with a thin contrasting line but you could leave the line off. Have LMI bend the binding to 000 (or do it yourself).



btw - I have a 1932 Dobro that was not bound - it was a cost cutting measure on their very bottom line instruments (it sold new for $27). The top and bottom are plywood (which most resonators are) and over the years the edge has taken a real beating. Ironically, the fretboard is bound.

Feb 01, 10 | 1:54 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
fwiw - those little white lines in the finish means not enough pore filling..... too late to correct at this point. You would think that 24 coats of lacquer would fill them wouldn't you.

Feb 01, 10 | 1:56 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
And last thought, Rick, you say your glue joint looks good, but you don't want any glue showing when you go to finish. Binding can help hide any small imperfections

Feb 01, 10 | 1:58 pm
RHP

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 8
Well, it's too late. I just cut the groove for the binding. Actually the only reason I was going to leave it off was because of the contrast between the rosewood and the white binding. I thought that a nice radius on the back end grain would look good but since I already did the top and end piece, I may as well do the back too. If I do another one I think I'll use something different for the binding. As far as the end grain being exposed, once the guitar is finished, the end grain is sealed. I think some of the beauty in many hardwoods is in the end grain. But like I said, it's to late now, it's getting white plastic binding.
One thing is for sure, 24 coats of lacquer gives a nice DEEP finish.

Feb 01, 10 | 2:55 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Most of 24 coats ends up on the floor

Feb 01, 10 | 4:02 pm



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