Topic: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

This is my first post on this forum. Before asking for help, thought I should start with a short introduction.

I happened upon this site a few years back when searching for some song chords.  Since then I pop in every once in awhile to see if I can pick up some tidbits.  I have been impressed with the culture here - very friendly and helpful folks.  You all should be proud.

I started playing acoustic guitar as a kid, mostly as a lone wolf.  I played most every day into my late thirties, with the last ten years or so playing in a church group, also some weddings and funerals.  I bought my Martin D28 in 1995, trading in everything else I had.  About 10 years ago I pretty much stopped play altogether.  Life got in the way - some good and some bad stuff.  I'm in my early 50's now and trying for the last few years to get back to it.  I did take my guitar in to a certified Martin shop for inspection and adjusting a few years back.

Here's my problem.  My only other guitar is an $80 knock-around Rogue that I picked up recently from Musician's Friend.  The Rogue is more enjoyable to play than my Martin.

Can I take my Martin to a shop and just say it's not as playable as my el-cheapo?  Would they know what to do, or just think I'm an idiot?  (I know my playing skills are not near what they used to be.)  Also not sure about taking it to the same place as before.  I went to Dave's Guitar Shop in La Crosse Wisconsin.  Anyone have recommendations on where to take it?  We live in north central Wisconsin.

Long shot - Any experienced player in the area interested in connecting and checking it out?

Any thoughts, suggestions or advice would be most appreciated.  Thanks in advance for you help.

Dave

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Hi Dave,

Welcome to the forum. I would take both guitars in so that the luthier can see, and feel, the difference to know what you are looking for.

Please keep us posted on progress.

Roger

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Welcome to the Forums Dave!
All of us older folks have put it down for a spell and come back later when as you said "life gets in the way"..... then the situation slacks up and we find our way back to the music.  This is a great place to re-connect and the community is welcoming, friendly and comfortable, dare I say almost "homey".

As to your question, yeah the Martin is a good guitar..... but we as life forms don't stay the same.  What I'm trying to say here is that we physically change over time and wear, and I'll bet that old pair of boots hiding in the closet (that used to fit like a glove) aren't as comfortable these days either.
So the result is that that Rogue fits you better than your former favorite.  Nothing wrong with that.  It could be that if you took both instruments into a good Luthier, so he could compare the action of one to the other, your Martin could be tweaked into something you could love again.
I've gone from classical (with the "table flat" fretboard) to electric (highly radiused), and played Martins, Breedloves, Taylors, Tacomas, and many other good brands which just didn't seem as "playable" as the Ovation (slightly radiused) that I currently lean on.  Not that any of the aforementioned were dismal, just not as easy on my old gnarled fingers. I kinda think that a good patient technician can get ol' reliable back into the "sweet spot" with a little adjusting and maybe a change of string guage.
The only Wisconsin Chordian I really know well is Russell Harding, another of our Mods, who hails from down in Port Washington (not a black hole in deep space as he would like us to believe.....although he has been accused of being mutant).  He's been around a bit and might know somebody up your way who could recommend a reputable shop nearby.

Again Welcome to Chordie!  Make yourself to home, & Thanks for Posting;
Doug

"what is this quintessence of dust?"  - Shakespeare

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

It's good to have you with us, Dave! I think you'll find our family quite diverse (mutant or otherwise big_smile ) in our talents, always ready to lend a hand, and very caring when one or more of us needs a shoulder or advice.

As you can see from my list of instruments, I too own a Rogue  - though not a 6 string. We have in common the fact that our gear doesn't need the BIG name to be comfortable to play. I find this to be the case pretty much across the board, that is, if it feels good and plays the way you want it to and sounds good, who cares that it's not a Gretsch White Falcon?

Again, welcome - and now, as I tell all our new friends: Teach us something! smile

Bill

My Dementia Blog: [url]http://www.wheretobud.blogspot.com]www.wheretobud.blogspot.com[/url]  also Alzheimer's Interview  [url]http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/14/15-minutes-of-fame-holding-fast-to-azeroth-through-the-journey/[/url]
Epiphone Les Paul Studio
Pearl Drums With Paiste Cymbals

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Hi Dave!  I can only say that the above advise all sounds good.  Really, I've got nothing to add on to that.  So, I'll just say,

Welcome to the forums and the Chordie family!  smile

Amy

Art and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder.
What constitutes excellent music is in the ears of the listener.

6 (edited by Cocktailsfor2 2015-07-07 13:34:48)

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Agree with them above - get thee to a luthier, pronto! Andale!

You don't say what it is about your beater that "...is more enjoyable to play than my Martin" but I will assume it's prob'ly the action, which any halfway decent professional will notice and be able to fix, tout suite. If it's sumpin else, you may have "some 'splainin' to do" to make it clear to him...

If it can't be adapted to your liking, you have a pretty lovely 'trade chip,' as they say in baseball... cha-ching!

And, as with what them above says, Welcome Aboard


.

We can beat them just for one day
We can be heroes just for one day

RIP Bowie

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Cocktailsfor2 wrote:

Agree with them above - get thee to a luthier, pronto! Andale!

You don't say what it is about your beater that "...is more enjoyable to play than my Martin" but I will assume it's prob'ly the action, which any halfway decent professional will notice and be able to fix, tout suite. If it's sumpin else, you may have "some 'splainin' to do" to make it clear to him...

If it can't be adapted to your liking, you have a pretty lovely 'trade chip,' as they say in baseball... cha-ching!

And, as with what them above says, Welcome Aboard


.

Ditto all good answers, I would keep the martin till my fingers wrists and muscles get stronger then play it again and see what happens.

my papy said son your going too drive me too drinking if you dont stop driving that   Hot  Rod  Lincoln!! Cmdr cody and his lost planet airman

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Welcome to the forum, dmarker. I agree with the other comments but think some very important things have been left out.

!.  Did you buy your Martin new?
2, Did you fill out the registration and warrenty papers?
3. Did you send that paperwork in as directed?
4. Do you have copies of all this paperwork?

If you answered yes to the 1st three questions I would be talking directly to the Martin folks. You can find their "Service Department" phone # online, so give them a call. Next, if you do decide to have a luther work on your Martin you need to make sure that person is a "Certified Martin Tech". This is very important. If thay person is NOT a "Certified Martin Tech" your warrenty will be voided and you guitar will be worth less money if you decide to ever sell it. You don't want that to happen. Now, if you answered yess to #4 then that is good news. If you answered no then that's not really bad. Wigh all that paperwork your Martin can be sent back to the factory and you can have them bring it back to spec's. This may take up to a year to get your guitar back, due to their peoduction time, and cost some major bucks. If you did send in your paperwork but can't find it, all you have to do is call them and give them the year made and the serial # and they can go from there. There is a Martin Guitar Forum bub it wull take you weeks just to join. Anyway, my best advice is if you want to have your guitar worked on close to home you gotta make sure the luther is a authorized to work on Martin guitars.  Also, before you take it in to be worked on you need to know / understand what you want done. Since your guitar is 20 years old and has been sitting up for awhile, repairs could be simple or major. You may only need a minor set-up. Then, again, you may need a complete neck re-set. Anyway, that's all I got to type.

Nela

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Not much else to say other than what's been said above so I'll just say HI. Welcome to chordie.

Another aging Baby Boomer here. I too put away the guitar; for nearly 20 years. Pulled it back out 2 years ago. Now I have it out almost every night.


Doug_Smith wrote:

the community is welcoming, friendly and comfortable, dare I say almost "homey".

Yes you may, because it's a very accurate statement. smile

As a real amateur, I wasn't sure how well I would be accepted around all these Pro/Semi-Pro musicians. My concerns were quickly put to rest. It is quite "homey" around here. I've even met two chordians in person. Good folks.

__________________________________
[b]Today Is Only Yesterdays Tomorrow[/b]

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Thanks for all the responses, welcomes and good suggestions.  I will try to answer the questions that you all posed, which will probably lead to a few more questions from me.

Yes, I bought the Martin brand new from Dave's Guitar Shop in La Crosse WI.  I dug out my file tonight and still have all the original paperwork.  I remember completing the paperwork at the shop and they sent it in.  The only work done on it since was June 2013 when I took it back to Dave's.  According to the Martin website, they are a certified repair shop.  I took some notes when I got home because my memory ain't what it used to be.  "They tightened the truss rod and lowered the bridge.  Also oiled the fret bar and polished the frets.  Watch the slight crack at the base of the headstock - really only cosmetic unless it changes over time. Also put on new strings.  Took about an hour and cost $30."

I've been watching the tiny hairline crack in the headstock and it hasn't changed.

The difference between the two guitars seems more complex than just higher action.  I think I should take some time to play them side by side, and really concentrate on what is different, describe it by writing it down.  How much tweaking can a luthier do besides action?  Can I rely on their advise when they play the guitar?  Try to find someone with experience to play it before I take it in?  Or, even though my skills have gone down, just trust what I'm feeling.

I always assumed I would have my Martin for life.  I don't see that trading her in is something I'd want to do at this time.  I traded in the first "real" guitar I ever had - a Sigma that I bought in 1983 - on the Martin purchase.  I still regret that I did that.  (At that time, didn't know that there was a whole community of you guys that collect guitars!)

I will take the advice of getting into a practice routine to build up my muscles.  It may take sometime to fit a trip to a repair shop into our schedule anyways.  Looks like I have two options - back to Dave's in La Crosse or there's a one-man business in Eau Claire.  If I go back to Dave's, how much could the guitar have changed on it's own in two years?  If anyone knows anything about either of these places, good or bad, I would be most interested.  If Martin certified, I should be good either way?

Forgot to ask last night - does string gauge have any influence?  I have always used extra light gauge (carry-over from my 12-string days).  Yes, I have the same strings on both guitars.

And in case you're wondering, my renewed practicing will be on the Martin.  While the Rogue plays nicer right now, sure doesn't sound nicer.  Plus I can tell that her feelings are hurt when I'm playing the Rogue and she's sitting in the corner in her case.  smile

Thanks again for the advice and encouragement.

Dave

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Hi Dave,

One of my thoughts answered! You are using the same string gauge and that can make a difference to how a guitar will feel.

The other thing that comes to mind is that it could be is the shape of the neck. I dislike playing Gibson guitars as their neck does not feel comfortable in my hands and your two guitars could have different neck profiles. Just a thought.

Roger

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Lots of great tips & advice for you, Dave. I've got nothing to add but a big "Welcome to Chordie!" we all hope to see you as a regular participant in the various discussion forums.

ACOUSTICS:  Cordoba D10-CE / LaPatrie "Concert" / Takamine GD30CE-12 / Norman ST30
ELECTRICS:  EP Les Paul Custom Pro / Gretsch Streamliner G2420T
AMPS:  Traynor YCS50 / Peavey VK212 / Traynor AM150T
EFFECTS: Boss ME-80 Multi-effects / Ibanez WD7 wah

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Welcome to Chordie Dave.  All good advice above.

Live in the "now" - a contentment of the moment - the past is gone - the future doesn't exist - all we ever really have is now and it's always "now".

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Play what sounds good. 

Play it a lot. 

I don't find Martins to be the easiest playing guitars, generally preferring Taylors strictly for feel.  But it's tough to beat their sound.  When I had the choice between buying a Martin and a Taylor, I bought a Guild.  It sounded better. 

To repeat: Play what sounds good.  Play it a lot.  You'll get used to it.

"If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome!" - Mekidsmom

Official recipient of B chord amnesty.

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

^That's what I call sound advice.

Rule No. 1 - If it sounds good - it is good!

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

As usual I stand with Zurf.  I've been playing since I was 5 and I still play on my $200 used guitar that I got for Christmas in 1983. 

Brands, schmands (except for guild. I do love guild.)

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

welcome to the forum.

Are both guitars the same size?  Are the necks shaped the same?  I don't need the measurements, but you should probably look at that to see if a difference in size makes a difference in your playing feel.

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

UPDATE -

As was suggested, I got thee to a luthier pronto (well sort of pronto).

We took my Martin to Dave's Guitar Shop in La Crosse this morning.  The tech gave it a full examination.  His main observation/concern was that the top showed signs of dehydration as it was flat to slightly concave.  It also has a slight hairline crack, maybe 1/2" on the edge of the top shoulder (probably not using the right term here).  This seems odd because it (obviously) is August in Wisconsin - the warmest and most humid month of the year.  I always store the guitar in it's case.  When we got home, I checked our little weather station: 74 degrees in our house and 60% relative humidity.

I have never used a guitar humidifier.  Our indoor relative humidity does go down to about 25% in the middle of winter - pretty much standard here because if you go higher, ice/condensation will form on the inside of the windows on the colder nights.

I left the guitar at Dave's.  They will go through the steps to make sure it's fully hydrated - about a week, and then we'll go from there for adjustments.  He will glue up the crack so it doesn't get worse.  Also plan to start using a humidifier in the case from now on.

Two other topics we discussed.  There is some fret wear that he will want to address after the main problem.  Also, I have been using Martin extra-lights (.010" gauge if I am reading the package correctly) - not sure why I do this, just started twenty years and never thought about changing.  We will be moving up to heavier strings.

Since we were there, I played a whole bunch of guitars.  I really liked a couple, but not nearly as much as the one I have - hoping that she'll be OK!

Again, the signs of a dehydrated top really baffle me.

I would most certainly appreciation any thoughts/observations/experiences you all might have on this situation.

Thanks again!

Dave

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Dave, when you go to pick up the guitar from the shop spend some time playing it. Don't just "noodle" around for a minute or so, play it like you are renting it. Dig deep on the base notes, let the strings ring, do some hammer on's and pull off's. Put a capo on and play up and down the fret board. Make sure you don't have any fret buzz or dead spots. Make sure you have the sound and quality of work you paid for. If you haven't had the fret work done, it's time to question what needs to be done. If you have never had any fret work done before it could just need to be a "re-crowing" and that's a simple thing although your new strings will need to come off, again. Anyway, enjoy your guitar and let us know how it is doing.

Nela

Re: Looking for advice - evaluating/adjusting my Martin

Hi dmarker, and welcome. I somehow think that you're just out of the habit of playing the Martin and only time and practice will get you back into the feel of it. Also I'm not sure that using the same strings on both guitars is the best option as both guitars obviously have different characteristics.
You certainly started a great thread though, and most of it even I who have the I Q of a dung beetle understood. But never heard of
Dehydration before or using a humidifier.
Again, welcome to Chordie.

Thick as two short planks