Tuesday, May 16, 2006

UMGF Weekly Summary #1

A weekly summary of interesting threads on the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum

In three pages of posts, no one liked the Martin Backpacker. No one!

Problems included: poor sound, different string spacing to standard guitars, and the balance is "off." Geez, no one likes it? Well several pointed out that the LXM is much better and not much more expensive.

A question about guitar stands provoked the standard responses: watch out for those that have foam that can interact with the nitro-cellulose finish. A couple of people recommended Hercules frames - I have one and love it - and they have "lacquer-safe Specially Formulated Foam rubber."

For the rest, or if you aren't sure, cover the foam with cotton cloth. And don't forget; guitars on stands are more likely to be damaged and you need to watch humidity and temperature.

An interesting question about the different body sizes (0 / 00 / 000) resulted in good info from tonguy:
Using a convention inspired by engineering gauges, Martin designated their body sizes with increasing numbers of zeroes (some say "oh" and some say "aught") to denote increasing body sizes ...(FWIW, the 0000/M has the same top/back dimensions as the modern Martin Jumbo - CFM IV created the Jumbo by making the 0000/M with a dreadnought's depth, rather than the 0000/M's 000-depth.)

0000 (or M) - Grand Auditorium
000 - Auditorium
OM - Orchestra Model
00 - Grand Concert
0 - Concert

Todd Stuart Phillips adds: Note that the original Mr. Martin made guitars that were typically made in size 5, 4, 3, 2-1/2, and 2. Size 1, the largest he ever made, was considered almost freakishly big for the age he was making guitars. It likely never occurred to him that anyone would ever want a size bigger than that. But of course Size 0 was indeed added later

For dimensions, visit Martin's website. Martin Guitar Shapes

A question on bracing differences resulted in a link to this interesting page: Martin Top Braces

Now here's an interesting bit of trivia. Gandalf 000 asked about a cutaway Martin with a horizontal oval sound hole. David 515 pointed out that Martin's early cutaways had oval holes because Martin hadn't nailed down a bracing pattern that would allow a round one. It was used on J, M, OM, and D cutaways.
Todd Stuart Phillips follows up: The cutaways come down farther, exposing more frets to playing than the modern Martin cutaway. This ran into the top most brace, so Martin moved the brace, which required the sound hole to be of a different shape. The current Martin profile is more shallow, does not require the brace to be moved and appears to have been first used on the Schoenberg Soloists. It was copied from a non-Martin vintage guitar from some bygone era.

Meanwhile, Guitargabor reported that the D-28 that he kept in it's 630 Thermoplastic case with strictly maintained room humidity at 45% has a shrinking top, and a guitar tech claimed that the foam rubber in the case was absorbing humidity.

Say what?!

Several posters doubted that the case could or would absorb moisture, and that - all things being equal - after a couple of days the case will be at the same humidity as the room.

I'd have to agree with that too; unless the case was filled with silica gel or something, but even that, after a little while, should get to the room's level.

Then things got interesting. Tonguy noted: Minor detail - a D-28 should come in a 640 case. The 630 is designed to fit the OM and 000 body sizes.

To which Joe McNamara responded: Eureka!! Tony, you've solved the Magic Dehydrating Case Issue. Squeezing a D-28 into a 000 case causes the spruce top to compress, much like wringing out a sponge, and the resulting dehydration manifests itself in the manner described.

Now if we could just confirm if that's the case (pun intended!) Or is that case really sucking up the moisture?

Do you ever wonder if those 10,000 odd 000-28EC models have hand signed labels? Turns out that the standard 28EC is stamped, but the 42ECB, 28ECB, 000-ECHF and 000-ECHF are all hand-signed (and it seems the last three all had production runs of 500.)

On a side note, my local Guitar Center has a 000-ECHF Bellezza Bianca that I saw over the weekend. It certainly is a nice looking guitar, and it plays well, though the sound wasn't enough of a difference to really grab me. And they wanted $4,999 for it! GAS averted!

An interesting thread on changes in bridgeplate material and size and whether (and how) it effects sound can be found here: Bridge plate size, and tone (it's just too complicated for me to abridge it.)

Wow! A D-100 was sold at Buffalo Brothers for $60K. In a weird way it's interesting to hear about one selling, but if I had $60K I think I'd buy several other guitars instead!

There's a thread on the most memorable concert, which got me thinking. For myself, it is the Dave Matthews Band concert that I had a press pass for, and seats in the ninth row. It's a long story, but you can read about it here: One Sweet World

For those doing home recording, there were some good recommendations for headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 100 / 150 (closed), Sennheiser HD-280 (closed), AKG K240 (semi-open). I wish these were easier to find online.

Don't forget that you'll want closed headphones for multi-track recording. For playback only, you can go to open headphones.

A similar thread on inexpensive monitor speakers resulted in recommendations for the Event ALP5 ($320 pair) and Resolv 65a ($299 pair). I have the Event Project Studio 6 speakers which are good. Several forum members pointed out that headphones might be a better - and cheaper - solution.

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