1965 Martin D-18 Dreadnought Guitar

This dry, punchy old bluegrass box is a customer's instrument that was in for a new bridge. It's obviously had a wonderful life and shows love bites from many years of use. Don't you love how that top has "buttered-in" perfectly? Curiously, it's going with its owner tomorrow to learn a bit of gypsy-jazz licks. How about that?

The nut is a replacement bone one with not-quite-perfect spacing and the neck itself has a 1/32" warp on the treble side, but we dialed it in to "bluegrass" specs at 3/32" across the board (slightly lower on the treble side) and playing without hiccups.

The customer must have a dry house in winter because he's gone through two bridges that've cracked right along the pins. He had a chunk of ipe (Brazilian walnut) flooring scrap and had me make a new one for him out of that -- but with the grain angled 20 degrees or so to, hopefully, forestall more splitting along the pins.

I'll tell you what -- that wood is brutal stuff! It's super-oily and I had to clean off buildup on my bandsaw blade when I was resawing on every inch that I cut. The new bridge also had to be super-thin as this guitar has been avoiding a neck reset for years (the last bridge was thin, too) and so I cut this on the same footprint as the old bridge but filled the old pin-holes and moved the pins back a little bit to avoid so much pressure on such a small bit of wood behind the saddle (the usual Martin way of doing things). I reused the old, deteriorating, wood pins, however.

The result isn't even 85% beautiful, but it was never going to be with such a big footprint and such a thin bit of wood (it's just not sculptural enough). It is, however, practical -- at least we hope! I also gave the drop-in saddle slot a bit of extra compensation vs. the normal Martin angle -- which is always too shallow.

This still has the $299 tag from its "as-is, used-condition" 1977 sale.


Paul said…
This is my guitar and the bridge job is working out great. It had been a chronic problem with the bridge cracking between bridge pin holes and the action easily too high without putting athin bridge on. Dr. Jake did the patient well. I am really happy with it!

Paul S.