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1931 000-45 12-fret
Martin Neck Resetting
© Frank Ford, 3/2/98; Photos by FF, 6/23/95

About the instrument

This 1931 Martin 000-45 was obviously made as a special order. In fact, Richard Johnston looked up the original factory record when he was researching his book, "Martin Guitars - An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker." He's had full access to the company archives and has turned up the most amazing stuff.

The 12-fret 000 size guitar had been "upgraded" a couple of years earlier, so this one is a late example. In addition, it was originally ordered as a left handed seven-string guitar, for a Montana cowboy musician named Horace J. Ingram. Old Horace probably doubled-up the first string, as did many of the cowboy and western musicians of the time.

The patient:

The conversion from 7-string had been done very neatly and the owner of this guitar wants it to be playable, so he's leaving it as a 6-string. Apart from the 7-to-6 string conversion it's all original and in fine condition. The only real finish damage is on the face.

Here's a shot of the back of the peghead showing the plug that covers the old tuner hole and scar from the back side:

I took this picture to show the 3/4" plug most clearly. From other angles the wood grain is more favorable and it is a very neat repair, hardly noticeable. The repaired hole in the front is 3/8" in diameter and goes right through the torch inlay.

It seems that most factories didn't change peghead inlays if they were adding strings, they just punched right through them. The hole is consistent with a Grover 4:1 banjo peg, which would have been a logical choice for an additional tuner.

We had an original 9-string D-28 in the shop a few years ago. The additional three pegs were regular 90-degree guitar gears mounted crookedly on the end of the peghead with the tuner posts drilled through the Martin decal.

Inside the original seven holes are evident in the bridge plate, which was neatly inlaid and redrilled with six holes.

The neck has pulled forward with time and the action is really high. If I lay a straightedge on top of the frets, I'd like it to just touch the TOP of the ebony bridge (providing that the bridge is of normal 5/16-3/8" height. That way with a saddle projecting 3/16' above the bridge, I'll have 3/32" action at the twelfth fret. You can see this one is no where near the mark:

By this measurement, I can tell the neck has pulled forward almost 1/4" at the nut.

Unfortunately, someone had pulled out all the bar frets and shimmed them higher to compensate for lousy action and fret wear. I wish that person had been a little more careful:

Every fret has chips and file marks around it! After resetting the neck, I'll have the fretjob from Hell.

Lets get on with it. . .



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