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Thread: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

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    Default First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    New to this great forum, and new to mandolin (started in November 2017). Bitten by the bug.

    In a very short span I have acquired a Godin A8 for plugged-in gigging, and a roadworn/mojoed but solid Eastman 615 for true acoustic playing.

    At some point I will be getting a Martin A or B to hopefully round out my stable.

    More than one dealer I've communicated with has expressed the fact that Martins really aren't all that loud and certainly are not meant to punch through a bluegrass ensemble.

    They're meant for other things, and that's okay. I'm interested in what to expect regarding structure and repair-ability if I purchase an older/vintage one.

    One thing that I've been researching is truss rods in Martins, but to no avail.

    Did that technology every filter down from Martin guitars to their smaller bodied instruments?

    Thanks!

    Rick

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    Default Re: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    Most Martin guitars have a truss rod, just nonadjustable. The mandolins are designed for LIGHT strings and should be OK. Even with light strings they have plenty of volume and will hold their own in a jam. If you are playing bluegrass and want to drive the band with chop chords they won't be as punchy, but for melody like old time and Irish they work just fine, and are quite nice. Early mandolins have bar frets and I think somewhere in the 30's if I remember they changed to T frets. It is easier to have fret work done on the T frets, but have had both.
    Last edited by pops1; Feb-07-2018 at 10:23am.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    If you're looking for an adjustable truss rod in a Martin mandolin I don't think you'll find one. Heck, Martin didn't start using adjustable truss rods in their guitars until many decades after Gibson started using them. Martin mandolins are sweet sounding little instruments. Generally the build quality is worthy of the Martin name but they are't really cut out to be a bluegrass instrument.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    I think Martin guitars started fitting adjustable (through the sound hole) rods in about 1980. Before then, they contended that their necks didn't bend so didn't need adjusting. This was correct so far as my experience went. The one on my D18 didn't bend it twisted!

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    ...The one on my D18 didn't bend it twisted!
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    No. As stated above, Martin was "late to the party" in installing adjustable truss rods in its instruments. Their first neck reinforcement, when they conceded that steel strings required a strengthened neck, was an ebony bar. Longworth's Martin Guitars: A History states (p. 31):

    Ebony reinforcement of Martin guitar necks occurred as the guitars were changed over for use with steel strings. This was replaced by a steel T-bar about 1934...There was a period during World War II when steel was not available, and guitars of this period would have ebony reinforcement. The T-bar was discontinued in favor of the square steel tube in 1967...

    The "steel tube" was a square, hollow box-shape extending the length of the neck -- non-adjustable. Warped necks were "corrected" by pulling all the frets, planing down the fingerboard, and re-fretting. Martin finally saw the light and went to adjustable truss rods for acoustic guitars in 1985 -- though, oddly enough, their short-lived "E" series solid-body electrics, introduced in the late 1970's, had adjustable truss rods.

    Specs for all the Martin flat-top and carved-top mandolins, as published in Longworth's book, do not include adjustable truss rods. IMHO Martin did not make a model with a truss rod. And, since Martin was pretty much out of the mandolin biz by 1985, it's unlikely that the "innovative" Martin adjustable truss rod, would "filter down" to their mandolin designs.

    Martin mandolins are, at least in my experience, very well-made, and probably designed to take lighter strings. While I'm sure some Martin mandolin necks have warped, I wouldn't see lack of truss rod as a major deterrent to owning one. Martin necks, while not "beefy," are not slim, and their shorter length also probably adds to their stability.
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    Default Re: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    Thanks, everyone. I appreciate your taking the time to provide all the helpful information. In quests like these, the more info, the better.

    BTW, Allen, you're almost a stone's throw away from me here in little ol' Alfred, NY.

    -Rick

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by McThistle54 View Post
    ...BTW, Allen, you're almost a stone's throw away from me here in little ol' Alfred, NY...
    Are you affiliated with the colleges down there? I don't get down to that area to play very much, but I have gigs in the area: Arkport July 19, concert in the town park, and the Cattaraugus County Museum in Machias, August 23, program of "Songs From Two World Wars."

    My late brother lived in Friendship for decades, edited the Cuba Patriot newspaper, and my wife's friend Martha Lash's late husband worked in the Alfred U library. So, some connection.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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    Default Re: First Post: Truss rods in Martin Mandolins?

    i have a D18 and )18T that got new fretboards, necks set, and adj truss rods. There's also an A mandolin that is on deck for CF neck reinforcement, new fretboard an neck narrowed to 1 1/16" at the nut.

    So if it's not a showpiece i would encourage you to do the work to make it playable again.

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