Martin X neck joint

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Andrew Armstrong
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Martin X neck joint

Post by Andrew Armstrong »

I have just received a Martin Hawaiian X that has had a serious mishap. Top is broken/cracked and 80% detached from rim. All HPL construction. Only hope of repair is to remove top and that means remove neck. Can anyone tell me how the neck is connected to the body? Web search so far comes up with "mortice & tenon" but no info on whether glued or bolted. There is a small wooden plate with branding and serial number stuck to the neck block. Could this be covering bolt heads? Or is it a heat/steam job? If latter I'm not sure I want to go there.

Appreciate any thoughts or specific knowledge.

Andrew

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Andrew Armstrong wrote:Web search so far comes up with "mortice & tenon" but no info on whether glued or bolted. Bolt on. There is a small wooden plate with branding and serial number stuck to the neck block. Could this be covering bolt heads? Yes it is. Or is it a heat/steam job? If latter I'm not sure I want to go there.

Appreciate any thoughts or specific knowledge.

Andrew

Michael Lewis
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Michael Lewis »

Andrew, yes, the number plate covers the screw. You need a #3 Phillips screwdriver, and the joint is also glued, which means you steam it off. I recommend you put the hose from a shop vac into the soundhole when steaming the neck joint because there are a lot of escape openings in the laminated neck block that will drastically humidify the interior of your guitar if you don't.

Most likely some of the linings are fractured and should be replaced. The HPL doesn't absorb impact well, it transfers it. Unlike wood.

Andrew Armstrong
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Andrew Armstrong »

Thanks Michael, appreciate that advice. The top of this one is 80% detached from the rim so lots of opening for the steam to escape but I'll keep it well ventilated.

It also appears that the fret board is glued to the top. Is this the case? And if so how can the fret board be detached from the top? What glue does Matrin use?

Andrew

Bob Menzel
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Bob Menzel »

I was told by a Martin authorized repairman that a 3M epoxy is used to glue Richlite to HPL. Will dig around and see if I can find the part #. I'm not sure how Richlite will respond to heat needed to remove the board, but with 80% of the top separated you might be able to apply heat from inside underneath.
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Mark Swanson
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Mark Swanson »

If it were me, and I was removing the top from the guitar and the top was made from that HPL, there is no way I would put it back on- I'd replace it with a real spruce top. The HPL tops are really really bad, and most of the ones I have seen do not hold their shape and buckle really bad.
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Tom Owen
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Tom Owen »

Finger boards and bridges on Martin HPL tops are glued with gel super glue. Frankly, if the damage is as bad as you describe, for a guitar worth only around $400 I would let it go...

Greg Steil
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Greg Steil »

Why is this thing worth repairing?

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Greg Steil wrote:Why is this thing worth repairing?
because it says "C.F. Martin" on the headstock so it's worth a lot to a lot of people no matter what crappy materials it's made of. Martin could make an acoustic guitar made of MDF and duct tape and sell it for $500 if they wanted to. I'm really divided on this one. I really like and respect Martin. But I hate the X series. I hate the fact that they can make a guitar out of counter top and sell it for the same price that you can buy a really nice mid-level solid wood guitar with a much better sound made by many other companies. But on the other hand, they've been king for almost 200 years, so they've kind of earned that right. Oh well, what are ya gonna do... :roll:

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Mark Swanson »

Well, at least I am not the only one. The "name" status goes too far.
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Michael Lewis
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Michael Lewis »

You will have to break the joint between the top and fingerboard. The last time I had to reset a neck on one of those some of the top stuck to the fingerboard, and yes, it is CA gel. In your case I would follow Mark's advice and put a nice wood top on it.

One issue with putting a top or back into place after it has been separated is the problem of lining up the edges so everything matches. What first appears as binding is only a chamfer routed along the edges, so there is little to no room for sloppy fitting. Whatever you do will likely make it better than it is currently.

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

I have been building HPL instruments longer than Martin has. It is not a bad material for inexpensive instruments when coupled with a solid wood top.
I agree with Mark Swanson - if you are going to rebuild it get a decent quality (but not "Mastergrade by any means) spruce top, and rebrace it in a conventional fashion. Dont try routing a binding channel in the sides, but instead use a gramil or similar to cut a channel in the top only.
With a solid wood top the guitar could sound much better than it did originally.
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Andrew Armstrong
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Andrew Armstrong »

Thanks to everyone for your replies. I don't have any confidence that the neck can be removed from the top without damaging or buckling the top - and as you'll see from the photos, the top has a print on it and I suspect that damaging that will be unavoidable.

My gut feeling is to give the owner the bad news and suggest he buys a new guitar ... and takes better care of it! The reason he wants it repaired is he thinks it is a collectors item because it is one of the limited edition artist print ones with the Hawaiian scene by Robert Armstrong (no relation) printed on the top. But these are still available for around $1,000. I've included a few photos here so you can see the damage. The bridge is totally off and there is a chunk missing from the top (which he still has) and there is a sizable crack across the top along with the top being detached from the sides for all but about 2" either side of the neck. Maybe I'll just glue all the bits back together as best I can and suggest he hangs it on the wall as a conversation piece!

Any other thoughts?
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Mark Swanson
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Mark Swanson »

That's what I would do- save it as a conversation piece, a decoration.
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Tom Owen
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Tom Owen »

Mark Swanson wrote:That's what I would do- save it as a conversation piece, a decoration.
Exactly...

Steve Senseney
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Steve Senseney »

The painting, on top of the formica, degrade the value of this instrument instead of increase the value.

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John Steele
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by John Steele »

Why not just re-glue all the pieces parts back together taking care to minimize seams showing and call it good? I've worked with quite a bit of hpl on countertops and always relied on contact cement and a J roller. CA maybe?
The tear in the top looks like a candidate for a cleat inside.
That, or turn it into a cutting board.

Michael Lewis
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Michael Lewis »

The scene is not painted on the surface of the HPL, it is photo printed and an integral part of the HPL.

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Martin X neck joint

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Formica and other HPLs are basically layers of phenolic resin impregnated paper with a photo finished melamine surface. There are touch up people who can repair those surfaces so as to make the repairs almost undetectable. If the owner has all the pieces he could seek one of those people out and may get a better result than most of us could do.
A garden variety patch up with CA would make the guitar sound about as good as it ever did, which is to say.....

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