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Help: Truss Rods in Martins?

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DonMeixner 23 Oct 01 - 11:43 PM
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Murray MacLeod 24 Oct 01 - 07:24 PM
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Rick Fielding 25 Oct 01 - 07:12 PM
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Subject: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 23 Oct 01 - 11:43 PM

Do Martins have truss rods now? Is it universal or just on a few models?

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Oct 01 - 11:49 PM

To my knowledge Don, across the board.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 12:19 AM

Thanks Pat. Are they adjustable? or are they simply for reinforcement?


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 12:33 AM

Adjustable.


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Subject: Truss Rods in Martin's...
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 12:56 AM

You put your what in Martin's where?!?!?!?!?!

:-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 02:34 AM

The truss rods all adjust from inside the body at the neck joint. Seems to me that it is actually easier access than the plate type as the head is open and easily reached.....Much cleaner adjustment.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 07:32 AM

Thanks guys.


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 07:24 PM

Martins always did have neck reinforcement. In the pre adjustable truss rod era, they had a length of 3/8" square steel box section embedded in the neck under the fretboard. (Much) older models used to have strips of ebony inset in the neck.

I always take it for granted that when we talk about "truss rods" we are by default talking about adjustable rods. An inert embedded bar I would refer to as a "reinforcing bar" which mechanically is a slightly different beast.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 07:46 PM

Yeah Murray...exactly.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 12:43 AM

Actually, the ebony bars were from WWII, when metal was not available for piddling things like guitars. Figure mid-1943 to early 1946 or so. You'd think it'd have started earlier, but my 0-18, which I'm picking up from the Martin repair shop Friday (I can hardly wait) has a thin neck, undoubtedly steel-reinforced.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: CraigS
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 05:39 PM

I can't remember where I know this from, but I seem to remember that Gibson had a patent on adjustable truss rods which expired around 1940. Non-adjustable rods were fitted to some Martins pre-WWII - I think this started about 1931, and the rods were T-section - the square rods were later. 30s guitars which had steel rods were definitely made by Larsen bros. (Maurer, Prairie State, Euphenon) - the rods on these go right down through the soundbox to the endblock. Many pre-WWII steel-string guitars have an ebony or maple strip up the centre of the neck. I do not know if this was a feature of Martins fitted with the T section rod. Anybody volunteering to saw their guitar neck in half to find out?


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: CraigS
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 05:45 PM

I can't remember from where I know this, but my memory says that Gibson had a patent on adjustable truss rods which expired about 1940, preventing other firms from using them. Many pre-WWII steel-strung guitars had a reinforcing strip up the centre of the neck. My uncertain memory also says that Martins had a T-section reinforcing bar from about 1931 - the square bar came later, and they did not use an adjustable bar until about the mid-60s.


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: CraigS
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 05:51 PM

Things from my uncertain memory:

1) Gibson had a patent on adjustable truss rods which expired about 1940, preventing other makers from using them.

2) Martin used a T-section reinforcing bar from about 1931 onwards

3) Many pre-WWII steel-string guitars were reinforced with an ebony or maple strip in the centre of the neck

4) The square bar in Martins came post-WWII, and was used up into the 60s at least.


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: CraigS
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 05:55 PM

Sorry if I look like I don't know what I said - my ISP is throwing up error messages, and I didn't know I'd got the first two posts above onto the board. I blame Bill Gates - if I had a penny for every minute of my life wasted by bugs in Microsoft products, I'd be richer than he is!


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 06:59 PM

Ebony reinforcement of Martin guitar necks occurred as the guitars were changed over for steel strings. This was replaced by the steel T bar about 1934, beginning with #57305. There was a period during WWII when steel was not available, and guitars of this period would have ebony reinforcement. The T bar was discontinued in favor of the square steel tube in 1967 with #229096
- Martin Guitars / A History by Mike Longworth

and further...

Martin added the T bar when it switched to modern T- shaped frets, partly because it could no longer rely on the wedging action of the solid "bar stock" frets to keep the necks straight under tension.

An invisible change took place inside Martin necks in 1967, when a square steel-reinforcement tube replaced the steel T-bar, which had been used in the necks since 1934. There was still no adjustable truss rod, making Martin on of only two major guitar makers not to use one; the other was the budget-brand Danelectro company. Both companies necks it should be noted have held up remarkably well over the years.

Martin Guitars - Washburn and Johnston


The adjustable truss rod became standard during the latter 80's and around the time of the introduction of the J-40, coinciding with the new "low profile" neck.


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 07:12 PM

Even without the adjustable rod (by the way they don't always work) Martin necks seem to keep their relative straightness. The BIG problem with MOST Martins is their neck angle. Folks shave the bridges down over the years but in order to get decent action, almost all of the old ones need neck re-sets. So why don't they change their neck angles? It's all part of the Martin "sound". Seems to work for 'em.

One of the very few current makers who doesn't and WON'T use an adjustable rod is Grit Laskin. Jokingly I once suggested that since many of his guitars now leave the shop with price tags in the twenty Five grand range, he could afford the adjustable rods. At a party once he picked up someone's twenty year old Laskin, sighted down the neck and said "Yup, you can still use it for a straightedge"!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 07:58 PM

Good comments Rick.

By the way, you wouldn't happen to have a spare $45,000 U.S. you could spot me? I believe this has my name on it. **BG**


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 08:31 PM

I would guess that Laskin may have two motives, the first being his skill and craftsmanship. My guess is that the other precludes assorted numbnuts' from screwing around with his work and messing up the neck (as is common)....although what particular sort of numbnuts would screw with one of his guitars is beyond me.

What's the scoop Rick. And while you're at it, any comments from Grit on the importance or lack thereof of the material beneath the fretboard? Graphite is getting popular.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: mooman
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 04:16 AM

One of the troubles with adjustable truss rods is that they act like magnets for inexperienced "fiddlers" (as in "fiddling with things", not our esteemed violin-playing colleagues!).

Some of the most tiresome repairs I have had to do have resulted in overenthusiatic meddling with the "adjustable truss rod".

I'd be with Grit on this. A well-made guitar doesn't actually need an adjustable truss rod and I wouldn't personally use one. If I were back into guitar making though I wouldn't necessarily make my guitar with an absolutely "straightedge" neck as with a lowish action and correct neck set you would almost certainly get string buzzing mid-fretboard.

I can see I'm going to have to quickly finish coverting one of my basements into my new workshop and get back into this game again as soon as possible. All this mahogany and grain and rosewood and truss rod talk is getting too much for me and getting me fired up again! (P.S. First project is already earmarked as I already have the materials and ideas for it: an original design, "thinline", standup fretless bass). If anybody's interested in progress I'll post up pictures of progress on my website and provide blue clickies! You'll have to be patient though, I'm not the fastest of workers and that "day job" stuff tends to get in the way all too often!)

All the best

mooman


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:34 PM

Got it in one I'd imagine, Paw and Moo. As to the graphite or under-fretboard material, I haven't a clue. I'll ask.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:35 PM

Justa.....that pin-up picture is positively enticing. The close-ups border on pornography!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: Truss Rods in Martins?
From: Lanfranc
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 07:15 AM

My 1969 D18's neck is still as straight as the day I bought it. I was led to believe by Bob Bigelow, who worked at Martins at the time, that there were a number of guitars that had the T-bar reinforcement after the nominal changeover date (up to 1970), including a 1969 D35 that Bob owned until he sold it to a friend of mine, who later sold it to Roger Whittaker.

As far as I know the only way to tell which reinforcement is present is to Xray the neck or destroy it, so I'll settle for knowing that it works.

My SPD16 and DM12 both have adjustable reinforcement, but I hope never to need to make any adjustment.


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