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Thread: NMD 1929 Martin Style B - needs set up

  1. #1

    Default NMD 1929 Martin Style B - needs set up

    I went to visit a mandolin from the classifieds that was a few miles from me, and it was in such extraordinarily good shape that I went ahead and acquired it!

    1929 Martin Style B, listed as "very good condition"...more like EXCELLENT, and also OHSC, and even some case candy strings and a pick. No crazing, no cracks or separation, only a couple of minor dings, and barely perceptible fret wear. Straight neck, no corrosion on the metal bits ..bla bla..

    I know these cant-top Martins are not widely loved here, but I "play" mostly solo, and have been working on chord melodies and fiddle tunes. Also I have a few 1920s Martin ukes to keep it company.
    Anyway, enough rambling, this thing needs a set-up. The nut is way too high. String height at the first fret is about 0.019" for the E (vs Meldrum's 0.011") and .032 at the G (vs. Meldrum's 0.013). The bridge is too high as well..more than 0.10 height at the 12th fret on the G. The intonation, except for the first few frets, is not too bad so the bridge is just about in the right spot.

    I have done set ups on ukes and guitars and I futzed a little with my Kentucky, but this is a whole other ballgame. The nut is ivory (I think) and of course the bridge is a one piece ebony affair.. I don't want to make a mess of it, but at the same time, I'm not confident a run of the mill luthier will do too much better.

    - What is the procedure for reducing bridge height on a Martin? it seems like sanding the bottom of the bridge is the only option.

    - Anything I should know about working with the ivory nut..yikes.

    - any mandolin luthiers in the Los Angeles area who know their way around one of these?

    thanks in advance,
    Peter

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: NMD 1929 Martin Style B - needs set up

    The nut may be ivory, may be bone, do you see the grain lines that would be in ivory. I would not sand the bottom, but would cut the slots to where they should be and then take the top down to where it should be so the strings are not deep in the nut. The bridge however I would most likely plane that down. You will take twice as much off the bridge as you want to lower at the 12th fret. I would think anyone able to lower a nut on a guitar would be able to lower the nut on a mandolin.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  3. #3

    Default Re: NMD 1929 Martin Style B - needs set up

    Thanks Pops1! Seems the Martin Mando is like a turd in the punchbowl around here, so thanks for chiming in.

    I got the tools out, looked at it, and decided the chance of me doing something stupid and irreversible was fairly high, so it's at the luthier's...I'm very excited to get it back.

  4. #4
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD 1929 Martin Style B - needs set up

    Quote Originally Posted by fifths View Post
    Thanks Pops1! Seems the Martin Mando is like a turd in the punchbowl around here....
    Watch what you say! There are many of us around here who love their Martin mandolins.... and who also might own Gibson archtops, solid body electrics and sublime Italian bowlbacks.

    When I read the "Well, Martins are okay for ________, but they're no good for__________" I just want to <yawn> and go back to sleep. And then wake up and play "Tra Veglia e Sonno" or "Whisky Before Breakfast" on my Martin and just laugh and laugh, out of sheer DeeLite.

    Mick

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: NMD 1929 Martin Style B - needs set up

    I have had a Martin mandolin before and got one for a friends daughter, she still has hers. They are nice mando's. About the turd in the punch bowl, is it chocolate?
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  6. #6

    Default Re: NMD 1929 Martin Style B - needs set up

    Haha

    I just got her back from the doctor, and man oh man, what a sound!!! I'm adjusting to the fretboard geometry, but wow!

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