1974 D-18 Overhaul
SOLD!!! (traded, actually...)
I bought this guitar on Ebay with the express purpose of overhauling it for eventual resale, but playing it in the meantime. I don't have a D-18 and thought it would be useful to have a "standard" D-18 around to use for comparison when setting up customer's D-18's. I specifically wanted a fairly beat-up, non-original, non-collectible D-18 to use and this '74 fit the bill, with several top/side cracks. When I got the guitar and examined it, I found that it was totally missing the first T2 brace! This is the one directly behind the bridgeplate. It was strung with extra light gauge strings and had the stock plastic nut and Micarta saddle (in the wrong location). An excellent candidate for me to overhaul.
Here's two shots from the original Ebay ad. Notice the worn-thru pickguard (which was peeling off). Ugly Grover tuners, short saddle slot, plastic (mixed!) bridge pins. Bleah.
And here's the top after I got done with it. Nice 30's style pickguard (it's a litle browner in real life than this picture shows), Madacascar rosewood bridge with long saddle, angled pins, slot in the correct location, and slighly wider 2 1/4" pin spacing. This wider spacing lets the strings run parallel down the neck instead of veering in like stock Martins do. I much prefer the wider spacing for flatpicking, too. The bridge is glued on with hide glue and the old pin holes were filled with hardwood dowels.
Two shots of the new bridge. Notice how the pins follow the angle of the saddle. There's plenty of saddle left and this guitar doesn't need a neck reset quite yet. I really like this Madacascar RW for bridges- we were tapping blanks and when we got to the MRW one, my 8 year old daughter said "That one rings....like a bell!". That's the one I used! The saddle in these pictures is just a little short- it's an old real elephant ivory saddle that was almost exactly the right height but just a little short. I decided to use it in spite of it being a little short (and I did cut this saddle slot a little deeper than a vintage Martin would be- that makes the slot a little longer, too). Since these pictures were taken, I've installed a full-length bone saddle.
Interior shot showing the new maple bridgeplate with stiffener strip on the rear edge, and new T2 brace (scalloped). When these pictures were taken I had not yet scalloped the rear T2 brace.
In the small mirror you can see the scalloped X-brace, along with a bit of the new T2 brace. I left plenty of brace on the main X and just scalloped the center a bit.
Shots of the 3 main cracks. All are full of glue and seem pretty stable. None are open.
The headstock with Schaller open-back tuners. You can see just a little "raccoon eyes" where the old Grover grommets were, but not bad. They'll likely fade in a couple of years.
The guitar currently has ivoroid button Waverly tuners on it instead of the Schallers. Both work well.
Here's the back and good-bye!
After these pictures were taken, I re-fretted the guitar to reduce the neck relief from .018" to a more reasonable .010". Thus, the guitar has brand-new frets.
Sound-wise, this guitar is really nice. Has a very warm D-18 sound, plenty of volume, plays great with an action of .105" low E to .080" high E, with plenty of saddle room to move either up or down. Compared to a typical D-18 V, it's a little punchier, brighter, and snappier. I didn't scallop the braces as much as a D-18 V, just wanting to loosen up the sound w/out losing the punchy D-18 sound. It sounds 100% better than it did before I started, that's for sure! I've played this guitar quite a bit since I finished it and I really like it. It's a very fun and comfortable guitar to play and you don't have to worry about dinging it!