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  1. #1

    Is there a way to intonate a Martin D-35?

    Bought it new in 1979. A couple of years ago a luthier pointed out the neck needed a reset when I asked about the intonation. Martin paid for the reset, great company, I paid for a fret crown and polish and new nut and saddle. But the intonation is still off. Nice sounding old Martin though. I felt guilty playing the archtops so much the last couple of years so I took it out, new strings and clean and polish.

    Took a close look at the saddle. Saw the Fishman piezo I had installed when the guitar was new. It is a rectangular solid block about 1/8” thick. Don’t care for the sound. If I remove the pickup I assume the current saddle will sit too low and the strings will rattle.

    Good opportunity to learn how to cut my own. Is there a way to shape it or angle it to help the intonation? The notes are sharp at the 12th so my guess is to angle it toward the bridge? I’ve heard Martin saddles have a subtle curve?

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  3. #2
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    You want to confirm that the saddle is located correctly. It is not uncommon, for Martins from that era, to have a mislocated bridge(which means the saddle is mislocated). Do you know how to check, if the saddle is in the correct location?

    In my work, I've had to relocate the saddle in a number of Martins. It requires filling the slot, and re-routing in the correct position.

    Dave

  4. #3
    Would I use a ruler and measure nut to 12 to saddle?

  5. #4
    First lower the action to 1/2 inch at the 12th fret instead of Martin''s usual factory spec 3/4 inch.
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  6. #5
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    need a bone compensated acoustic bridge saddle..pre cut (may do) or, even better, hand cut by you or your luthier






    cheers

  7. #6
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    There are also intonated nuts. And nut height affects intonation as does bridge height. But if the intonation is off more than just a little, the saddle may need to be moved. That's not something you want to do yourself unless you have a good bit of experience doing it. Not all repair persons are completely competent at doing it, either.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    First lower the action to 1/2 inch at the 12th fret instead of Martin''s usual factory spec 3/4 inch.
    Ha!

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    There are also intonated nuts. And nut height affects intonation as does bridge height. But if the intonation is off more than just a little, the saddle may need to be moved. That's not something you want to do yourself unless you have a good bit of experience doing it. Not all repair persons are completely competent at doing it, either.
    Finding that luthier in Phoenix will be a challenge. The gentleman who did the excellent neck reset is semi-retired to SoCal and only comes back here for the winters and to do the waxing list of Martin pre-approved resets. This will be a search.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    need a bone compensated acoustic bridge saddle..pre cut (may do) or, even better, hand cut by you or your luthier






    cheers
    Thank you! That’s the first thing to try.

  11. #10
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    Had mine done ages ago by John Carruthers who did it for Joni Mitchell, Eagles, and etc. The basic process was to remove old bridge and fill in the bridge slot. John got matching bridge wood from Martin. John then makes three small bridges so two strings per bridge. After that the process is similar to those for making a compensated bridge top for an arch top using piece of wire as bridge and adjusting it till the correct spot is found and then mark location with pencil. Do this for all six strings, then make slot for new bridge piece and glue in. When done a acoustic with correct intonation.

  12. #11
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    To check that the saddle is located correctly, measure from the nut, to the twelfth fret, then from the twelfth to the center of the saddle(between the third and fourth strings), and add 1/8"(for compensation). That's where the saddle should be located.

    That's a general guide. If the saddle is located correctly, then a compensated saddle can act as a fine adjustment.

    And then there's the whole subject of a compensated nut, but I've not yet had to do one of those.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Richard View Post
    To check that the saddle is located correctly, measure from the nut, to the twelfth fret, then from the twelfth to the center of the saddle(between the third and fourth strings), and add 1/8"(for compensation). That's where the saddle should be located.
    I get 12 11/16 nut to 12 an 12 5/8 12 to saddle (between 3 and 4). So that’s 1/16 off?
    Attached Images Attached Images Is there a way to intonate a Martin D-35?-5ca1a695-71bb-4be9-b799-fa9ad397153f-jpg 

  14. #13
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    By your measurement, yes.

    That way of measuring is a good rule of thumb. While 1/16th of an inch off is a small number, it's alot, for saddle location and good intonation. I realize you don't have a good luthier nearby(correct?), but it seems that you'll need one to correct the issue.

  15. #14
    Yes it is off and we complain of Gibson but Martin and then you need a neck set? Another reason I never play flattop guitars besides the fact they don't sound good to my ears compared to archtop.

    The holes are already drilled that will not make it neat and tidy. Frankly I would fill the current saddle and route out a new one. It will move the saddle back dangerously close to the bridge pin holes but by can work. To me to get it I proper it would need the whole bridge moved back but then you need to deal with bridge pin holes to fill and finish not all around bridge anymore. You would have to make a whole new bridge to properly cover the part you moved back, by making bridge wider.

    This work in inexcusable from Martin and I would be really mad. How much is the intonation off cent wise?
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  16. #15
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    Just for reference...this guy does a lot of work on Martins, fixing bridge/saddle location problems on '70s Martins. Seems to be his specialty. Some pics here showing how far the bridge/saddle location is off on some of the guitars.

    Evaluating a 70's D-28

  17. #16
    Looks like I hit the ‘70s Martin trifecta: finish crack under the B string, neck reset and saddle route. Martin paid for the first two. Their fix for the finish crack was an oversized pick guard. The Robert Venn School of Lutherie is located here in Phoenix and I hope they can point to a local expert in Martin bridges.

    Just confirms my general rule to be leery of ‘70s guitars but when I bought it in 1979 I did not know much about guitar construction or playing. My tastes and technique are a little more refined now but I’ve had this instrument so long it’s part of me so I will treat it right.

  18. #17
    I have read good things about this guy and he is currently listed as an authorized Martin Service repair center/person.

    Cellino's Handcrafted Guitars | Phoenix, AZ

  19. #18
    Thanks. But when we met I did not get a good vibe. Probably me.

  20. #19
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    Maybe fill in the slot with a strip of ebony and try Gilbert brass pin saddles Gilbert Bridge if you are not too hung up about bone and convention.
    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  21. #20
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    why jump directly to the worst possible scenario??..that the bridge base has to be lifted and re-positioned??...do you know how many guitars martin made in the 70's??? they weren't all problematic!

    there's a protocol

    try checking the intonation of the E strings....12th fret harmonic to fretted 12th fret note..if they are ok or close...then you can tighten your intonation with a well done compensated saddle...

    try the easy fixes first!!..cheaper too!

    type of strings also important..gauge, material, wind etc



    cheers

  22. #21
    The low E is +20 cents off while the high is +15.

    i ordered a compensated saddle from Martin. I’ll try that after removing the piezo. Start cheap, easy, and reversible then see where that goes.

  23. #22
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    I just replaced the stock saddle on my DC-16 with a Tusq compensated one- not because of intonation, I just got a little over-enthusiastic in lowering the action and had some seasonal buzzing. Just be conservative when cutting it to height, leave it a little high and sand it the rest of the way.

    My newer (2010-ish) D-35 has probably the best intonation of any guitar I've owned or played. I wish my archtops played as in-tune.

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