Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

Thanks for the info Steven.
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Michael Lewis
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Michael Lewis »

Gentlemen, I just stuck my nose in here and found this thread, so I have been reading for the last hour to catch up on this project. Having had some experience with Martin as a Service Center for 20 years, and old guitars, especially Martins, I must say BRAVO! to your efforts and results. That being said, the late 20s and early 30s was a real transitional time for Martin & Co., so I would not be surprised to see a spruce top, though by the time this instrument was made the specifications were fairly well set to what we expect to see nowadays. The 17 model did have spruce tops earlier, and was considerably fancier trim than the 17 models we are mostly familiar with now. Reading my copy of Mike Longworth's book I see mentioned that there were sometimes variations in specifications as models developed, and occasional anachronistic placement of parts. For example, the 'ice cream cone' heel on earlier guitars was still made in later years (20s) after it was discontinued as standard spec some years earlier. Could have been a customer request special order as often happened. Barry, thanks for your efforts and ethics. Something that is all too often neglected these days. You da man!

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

Michael, long time no see. Thanks for stopping in.

I am sure that this spruce top did not come from the Martin factory. There was a note on the inside by a fellow in Iowa who had replaced the top with a reused piano soundboard back in 1976. The top was made up of about 7 different pieces of spruce and even the braces were stack laminated spruce. There were also two large patches (back and side) indicating a severe accident at some point in the guitar's life.
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Michael Lewis
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Michael Lewis »

Yes, I read all that, and it made me think about some of the jobs I have done on really far gone instruments. Did you ever get one in a paper bag? But the point is the feeling you get when the job is complete and presented to the customer, and (s)he begins glowing about it. When you get an instrument that has been significantly "compromised" you don't need to feel badly about making some changes if that will let it sing again. Once someone else has made the 'repair' it is fair game to disrupt it if you can do better.
a few years ago I was entrusted with a 40s D-28 that had been in a few too many repair 'shops' and still wasn't playable. The top had severe damage, the bridge was cracked, the heel was broken right through the block and sides split, the tail block was split, the neck had been set poorly with some insoluble 'glue'(after the heel break), headstock had been broken through the tuner holes and poorly put back together, and someone had tried to refinish it. There were numerous other issues but you get the idea, it was a throw-away. The owner couldn't believe it when he saw it and gladly paid me the measly $3500. I asked for. Now he has a 40s D-28 that looks and plays like one would expect from such a guitar. I admit that there were more hours in the job than I charged for, but the satisfaction I got from his reaction and the good word he spread around was well worth my time. Another 'Club Lazarus' resurrection. I got to go through an old D'Angelico Excel that wasn't as physically damaged but had been 'repaired' at a violin shop about 40 years ago. They had put wood binding and purfling to replace the deteriorated original celluloid material and refinished it with brush on varnish. Whoever did the previous work had no idea what a sanding block is for, . . . but that's another story. Barry, YOU DA MAN!

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

No, Michael, you're the man.
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Steven Smith
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Steven Smith »

Michael Lewis wrote:Yes, I read all that, and it made me think about some of the jobs I have done on really far gone instruments. Did you ever get one in a paper bag? ...
That's funny, I did get a 40's J45 in a trash bag once :?

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

Here she is. I skipped the compound and just polished it with a bare lambswool pad.
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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

I had to refinish the neck shaft but I left the headstock with its original finish.
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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

Inside.
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Bryan Bear
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Bryan Bear »

Great work! Is it where you wanted it tonally? Is the owner over the moon?
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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

Yes and yes. It has a lovely voice. Soft at first but then there's some headroom available for cranking it up.
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Bob Francis
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Bob Francis »

What a sweet looking guitar.

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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Michael Lewis »

I love the 0, 00, and 000 Martins. Most are wonderful players, or can be if set up properly. This is a really good thread, thanks.

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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Steven Smith »

Barry, that looks great!

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

Thanks guys. One thing that kind of surprised me was the no binding thing. I really like it. The guitar looks like it was carved from a log.
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Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

Awesome job Barry.
That was a very educational thread for me. Thanks.
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Joshua Levin-Epstein
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

Once again I am humbled.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Barry Daniels »

Thank you gentlemen.
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Bryan Bear
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Bryan Bear »

Barry Daniels wrote:Thanks guys. One thing that kind of surprised me was the no binding thing. I really like it. The guitar looks like it was carved from a log.
I know what you mean. I am in the process of blocking a katalox parlor guitar to prep for cutting the binding rebate. The interface of the very dark (approaching black) sides and backplate look really cool. Part of me wanted to change course and only bind the top. The original design plan had the center strip, tail graft and binding all coordinated so I will have to file it away for another project but it is a neat look. I think the darker the wood the better because there is not as much color change from side grain to endgrain. I'm thinking about a dark wood with the same wood as the side for the top binding.
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Brian Evans
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Re: Restoration of a 1931 Martin 00-17

Post by Brian Evans »

I think no binding is a very courageous decision these days. Cost cutting in the day, now a statement of worth and skill.

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