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Compromised tone and volume on a D28

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Compromised tone and volume on a D28

Postby Mike Sayre » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:18 am

I have a D-28 that sounded quite dramatically thin and quiet (compared to similar guitars); sounded kind of "papery". I noticed the bridge was pulling, asked my luthier to address that. I am fairly certain that he did not remove the bridge, but snuck some HHG in the crack, and it came back sounding only slightly better. This guy also did a neck set, discussed here before, that upon inspection, was sloppy. I think this may factor in as well.
My question is: could a bridge that's pulling up cause that "papery" tone?
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Re: Compromised tone and volume on a D28

Postby Aaron Helt » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:19 am

IMO, yes, it can. One sure way to confirm is to have the bridge re-glued solidly to the top.
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Re: Compromised tone and volume on a D28

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:03 pm

Mike Sayre wrote:I noticed the bridge was pulling, asked my luthier to address that. I am fairly certain that he did not remove the bridge, but snuck some HHG in the crack, and it came back sounding only slightly better. This guy also did a neck set, discussed here before, that upon inspection, was sloppy.


sounds like you need to find yourself a new luthier. I don't know him and I've never seen his work so I'm not going to judge whether he's any good or not, but you clearly aren't satisfied with his performance over more than one common tasks.
Having said that, if what you are describing is really what he did then yes, you are correct. the bridge should have been removed and cleaned as well as the top cleaned/scraped and then reglued.
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Re: Compromised tone and volume on a D28

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:50 pm

The only thing I'll add that assuming he did actually put HHG under the bridge (and not something else) it should be easy to get it apart, clean it and do it right.

I'm also curious - did it always sound this way? What generation D28 is it? What did you do about the neck?
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Re: Compromised tone and volume on a D28

Postby Mike Sayre » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:31 pm

Long story.....I helped a friend pick between several guitars at a few different shops, circa 1992 or so, I think. Decided on this D-28. He played it daily for some years and the tone was OK, but never was loud enough, in my opinion. It was kept in divergent environments, in spite of my cautionary statements, which may or may not have led to the need for a neck reset in 2012 or so. This luthier knew well enough that Martin would have done the work under warranty, but decided to withhold that information and do it in his shop. I did not check the work when I retrieved the guitar, since I trusted the work of his that I had seen, and I'd seen a fair amount over several months. When it was time to return it to the owner, I pulled it out to play it a bit and noticed the solid but unsightly neck joint. In the weeks after that, noticed the degradation of the sound of the guitar, and the bridge issue, which he "addressed". Knowing his propensities, I'd be very surprised if he did not use HHG, although he did not say that he had.
So now it doesn't sound much like a D28 and has an ugly neck joint.
This fellow has moved away and as I understand it not available to do much lutherie. I'm not so inclined to have him do much more on this axe anyhow; what it requires is beyond my capabilities, so when there are funds, there is a fellow in town who I will have try to get this back up to snuff. What about the owner, you ask? After a year or two of dead air, heard from him 5-6 months ago, said he was interested in getting the guitar back; haven't heard from him since. I've had possession (custody?) for four years now.
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Re: Compromised tone and volume on a D28

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:47 pm

OK, so it was new in 1992 and it sounded OK. I was wondering if it was one of the infamous 70's era Martins with all the problems (I own a couple of them). Many of them are moderately lackluster to start with but there are some things that can be done (and some controversy involved).

If your "luthier" set the neck at the correct angle and if its good and tight then even tho its ugly it should work fine. Assuming he used a glue that will release it can be redone, but often you can't fix sloppy worksmanship. If the bridge is still not glued tightly to the top it should be removed and redone - I can't image that the joint as you described it doing any good for the sound (the whole bridge area is pretty critical to the sound - replacing the heavy rosewood bridge plate on '70's Martins is one of those mod I described. Even if he did something really stupid like putting epoxy under the bridge I would be tempted to route it off and replace it with a new bridge - a '92 Martin is not a collectors guitar.

Anyway, it does sound like finding another luthier is your best bet and be sure to warn her of the history here. I would also be interested in a follow up post to see if it fixed the problem.
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