The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #72516   Message #1252766
Posted By: PoppaGator
21-Aug-04 - 12:48 AM
Thread Name: A Martin or a Gibson?
Subject: RE: BS: A Martin or a Gibson?

My mistake about the rosewood; it's definitely an 18, not a 28, and it's from early '69.

I read about Martin's rosewood switch in mid '69 and made an invalid assumption that it applied to my guitar. Also, obviously, I am no expert on recognizing the difference between mahogany and rosewood.

I've been without a pickguard for a while. As some of you undoubtedly already know, Martin used to affix their pickguards before applying the lacquer finish. Since sometime in the 80s, they've changed to the practice most other makers have always used, which is to finish the top wood first and then glue on the pickguard. So, when the pickguard comes off an older Martin like mine, it leaves a patch of slightly recessed raw unfinished wood. (On other guitars, peeling off a pickguard will expose a lighter-colored patch of wood, outlined by a "tan line," under a smooth overall finish.)

When the pickguard started to curl, peeling away from the surface around the edges, I learned about here at Mudcat, and exchanged a few messages with the guy Frank at that site, who is a prominent California luthier/repairman.

At first, he contended that the only thing to do would be to apply lacquer to the "bald spot" in several layers, building up the newly fininshed area to the exact height of the surrounding original finish, and only then to apply the self-adhesive replacement pickguard. A qualified repair guy could do this, of course, or I could try it myself.

After a frustrating unsuccessful search for the proper lacquer, I wrote back and he said, well -- "for now" -- I could stick the pickguard right where the old one came off, adhering it to the raw wood. That's what I plan to do, soon.

A replacement pickguard from Martin only costs $3.50, but their minimum internet order amount is $25. There are other replacement parts available, but I am by no means a do-it-yourselfer; I wouldn't trust myself to fool with the nut, bridge, saddle, etc. (No one has to warn me not to drill any holes in my Martin -- there's NO danger of anything like that happening!)

My original bridge pins are pretty chewed up after 35 years, so I could add a set of them to my order, bumping my total up another five and a half bucks, but I'd still have to buy something else to reach the $25 minimum -- probably a copy of "Rising Up Singing" for $17+. I don't want to buy a CFMartin shirt or baseball cap, or any of the other books they have for sale (mostly pictures of fancy guitars made for celebrities). They don't compete with their retailers by selling strings via mail order -- if they did, I'd make up my $25 minimum order by buying strings.

Frank at did recommend having the job redone "right," with a new lacquer finish under the pickguard, at some later date -- presumably, when I have the money, time, and inclination to hand the guitar over to an expert for pickup installation and/or general set-up/tune-up.

As far as the possibility of warranty coverage is concerned, I have long since lost my original receipt. For years -- at least 15 or 20 -- I carried a card in my wallet that came with the guitar, showing the serial number and something else: I had that document much longer than any receipt or bill of sale, but it's gone by now, too (along with that wallet). So, I don't think I can pull off a warranty request.

I guess you answered my question that a non-original-color pickguard would devalue the instrument, but I know now how easily one can be removed (with a hair dryer and a plastic puttyknife). I may go with the tortoiseshell pickguard (a Martin part, of course, the exact size and shape of the original black piece) for now, just to be different; it would look nice, slightly unique, especially if I color-coordinate the bridge pins (which would be easily and cheaply done). Like I said, I'm not selling any time soon. I would be sure that my heirs knew to switch back to basic black before putting it up for bids.

My other question is how installation of a pickup would affect the value. If and when I do that, my decision will be based entirely upon my needs/desires *as a player*, but I'd still like to know the financial fallout.

Bobert, it's very interesting to learn of a reasonably priced alternative to the National Steel, but when I have $400 to spend on an instrument, I'm afraid I'll have to put it into maintaining and upgrading my one-and-only. Maybe the *next* available $400 after that...