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Jul 26, 2020 - 10:46 AM

O.D.

USA

3504 posts since 10/29/2003

Hi Folks
I purchased Martin d41 knock off about 40+yrs ago
It has a hefty clearcoat finish

I'm wondering If I removed the heavy finish if the sound would improve
Any suggestions?

Thanks.
Everett

Jul 26, 2020 - 10:51:58 AM

staceyz

Canada

120 posts since 5/30/2010

I would say slightly, and that it wouldn't be worth the effort. To do it properly, you'd need to remove the neck and bridge. The finish is so thick, you'd damage the binding if you are going to use stripper. Those 1970s, 1980s Japanese thick finishes are just about bomb proof...!

Jul 26, 2020 - 10:53:36 AM
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rcc56

USA

3095 posts since 2/20/2016
Online Now

Maybe, maybe not.
Be advised that if you don't know what you're doing, there is a risk of thinning the plates too much and ruining the instrument.
Or messing it up in a dozen other ways.

Edited by - rcc56 on 07/26/2020 10:55:31

Jul 26, 2020 - 11:23:46 AM

2441 posts since 3/30/2008

I regularly play a 70's Japanese Martin copy made by Terada w/ the peghead name "Jagard". It is a mixture of D-35,41,& 45 features. The finish is thick, but the guitar overall is made heavy & thickish. I doubt if stripping would change much. (BTW . it is a very decent instrument).

Jul 26, 2020 - 12:17:42 PM
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10820 posts since 10/27/2006

Yes but not nearly as much as you think. The end result is barely noticeable and certainly not worth the many hours you will have invested in the project.

OTOH, if you want to learn how to do this, a '70s MIJ plywood beater is perfect.

Jul 26, 2020 - 12:24:02 PM

7587 posts since 8/28/2013

I wouldn't touch that finish with a ten foot pole. In fact, I wouldn't do anything except to sell the guitar for whatever you can get. I had to repair the a lawsuit Takamine one time. It was possibly the worst sounding guitar I've ever encountered; bad tonal balance and a very harsh sound overall.

I've seen very experienced refinishers trying to deal with these poly-whatever finishes. They are all differently formulated, and conventional strippers won't touch them. Usually, the experienced guys won't go near them.

In my opinion, the only similarities between the knock-offs and the real Martins is the peghead shape, and it's too bad these knock-offs are so heavily built; it makes them so difficult to smash.

Jul 26, 2020 - 12:33:09 PM
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10820 posts since 10/27/2006

>conventional strippers won't touch them.<

 

Heat, scrapers and a lot of patience. Hours and hours...

Jul 26, 2020 - 12:41:43 PM
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n1wr

USA

791 posts since 12/27/2010

You can't generalize about all of the knock-offs. I have 1983 Aria Dreadnaught - I'd put it up against a Martin anytime, for tone, volume, playability, and the cost way back then was super compared to a Martin. I'm not knocking Martins - but don't put all of the knock-offs in the same barrel.  Of course this is a banjo site - what do we know about guitars?

Edited by - n1wr on 07/26/2020 12:43:04

Jul 26, 2020 - 1:13:19 PM
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2656 posts since 4/19/2008

quote:
Originally posted by n1wr

You can't generalize about all of the knock-offs. I have 1983 Aria Dreadnaught - I'd put it up against a Martin anytime, for tone, volume, playability, and the cost way back then was super compared to a Martin. I'm not knocking Martins - but don't put all of the knock-offs in the same barrel.  Of course this is a banjo site - what do we know about guitars?


I also have one of those and I have blown away six Martins in the playing circle, it's nice that I can leave mine at home.

Jul 26, 2020 - 1:34:29 PM
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7587 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by n1wr

You can't generalize about all of the knock-offs. I have 1983 Aria Dreadnaught - I'd put it up against a Martin anytime, for tone, volume, playability, and the cost way back then was super compared to a Martin. I'm not knocking Martins - but don't put all of the knock-offs in the same barrel.  Of course this is a banjo site - what do we know about guitars?


I know you are kidding here, as there are a number of banjo people who know plenty about other instruments, including guitars.

I agree that one can't put all the knock-offs in one barrel. However, the OP did ask if a refinish would improve his tone. My thought is that if his tone is bad enough that he's looking for solutions, then pointing out the issues with some of these knock-offs is not uncalled for. His basic tone is not likely to be because its finish is too thick; it's more likely it's just a badly designed and built guitar.

Much of what one prefers is personal, and personally, from my own experiences, I have no desire to own one, and even less desire to repair or refinish one.  

Jul 26, 2020 - 1:59:34 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23886 posts since 6/25/2005

Is it insured? devil

Jul 26, 2020 - 2:01:43 PM
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Blackjaxe47

Canada

1547 posts since 6/20/2014

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran

>conventional strippers won't touch them.<

 

Heat, scrapers and a lot of patience. Hours and hours...


Your absolutely correct Mike, when I tried stripping a neck the paint stripper just rolled right off....didn't even leave a mark or blemish on the finish.

Jul 26, 2020 - 2:02:51 PM

308 posts since 3/12/2014

I have a butt naked 1958 Gibson ES 125 T. Garage sale find. I love the ugly thing. Tone is nice; plays like a dream. The person who did it though should have been shot. I am going to attempt to attach some photos.

As for sanding it, I would look for a guitar with a sound more to my taste. The belt sander took away all the resale value of this old beauty.

...Deb


Jul 26, 2020 - 6:17:15 PM
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55395 posts since 12/14/2005

I once refinished an ECKO guitar.

The polywhatchamacallit finish was about as thick as a credit card!

I agree with previous postings, that the time and effort spent in refinishing a bad-sounding guitar, might be better spent mowing lawns, shoveling snow, delivering pizzas, to earn money for a guitar that already sounds right.

OR, how about THIS:
Play that guitar on the street corners, with a bucket labeled
"NEED $$ To Buy a Guitar which sounds BETTER than THIS piece of"
If you make the letters the right size, they will fill the entire sign before you have enough room to fill in the last 4 letters of the message.

Jul 26, 2020 - 6:32:29 PM

7587 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

I once refinished an ECKO guitar.

The polywhatchamacallit finish was about as thick as a credit card!

I agree with previous postings, that the time and effort spent in refinishing a bad-sounding guitar, might be better spent mowing lawns, shoveling snow, delivering pizzas, to earn money for a guitar that already sounds right.

OR, how about THIS:
Play that guitar on the street corners, with a bucket labeled
"NEED $$ To Buy a Guitar which sounds BETTER than THIS piece of"
If you make the letters the right size, they will fill the entire sign before you have enough room to fill in the last 4 letters of the message.


The sign should be okay, but the sound of a bad guitar might drive people away before they can read the message. 

It's really too bad some of these have such thick finishes. I believe it was some diabolical trick to make people think the only bad thing about their horrible sounding guitars was the thick poly on them, and not that the guitar itself was a piece of crap. 

Jul 26, 2020 - 7:54:29 PM

O.D.

USA

3504 posts since 10/29/2003

Thanks everyone for the replies
I think I'll refrain from the refinish idea and keep it as is
If I get the itch Ill just buy an other Martin

Regards
Everett

Jul 27, 2020 - 4:17:57 AM

13144 posts since 6/29/2005

Just as a curiosity, what is a Martin knock off?  It seems to me that every guitar built, described as a "dreadnought" is a Martin knock off.

To quote luthier Ervin Somogyi

"...In the absence of a craft tradition in which independent luthiers ongoingly seek ways of refining their work, the newer generations of steel string guitar makers have — knowingly or not — been copying copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies . . . of mostly Martin guitars, but also Gibsons etc."

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 07/27/2020 04:18:31

Jul 27, 2020 - 7:33:39 AM

7587 posts since 8/28/2013

To my knowledge, a true Martin knock-off is a guitar with a peghead shape and decoration that so closely resembled Martin's design that the makers of said knock-off were sued, probably more for that one feature than for any other design duplication. Martin obviously didn't want any piece of crap out there that people, from a distance, though was a Martin guitar.

I myself will not refer to a guitar that doesn't have that peghead design as a true knock-off, and prefer the term "lawsuit model,"for those as it's more explicit. Buiders can do whatever they want if it's invisible, but when they begin to use type fonts and headstock shapes that are clearly Martin designs, I can see why Martin would object, and why they were able to force these infringers to change.

Other dtreadnaughts, whether they copied a copy or copied a copy of a copy, to me, don't count as knock-offs. They probably have just enough differences in wood choices or bracing, to qualify as a different design, and some may, in fact, actually be slightly better, just as some players claim.

Just another "copy" example: there are very few original harpsichords around, but copies are numerous. One harpsichord builder I knew once said to me, "It's too bad that so many modern builders are copying the bad harpsichords instead of the really good ones." At least with guitars, builders are choosing the makes with the consensus "best designs."

Jul 27, 2020 - 11:49:21 AM

10820 posts since 10/27/2006

Ahhh... the famous Martin lawsuit that never existed. Fender and Gibson? Yes.

CFM did send Kaman a cease and desist letter over the Takamine headstock but Kaman complied and let it be known through their marketing dept. that the change was because they felt the brand could stand on its own. The Guild copy headstocks stopped at the same time. Neither company filed a suit, however.

Jul 27, 2020 - 1:00:13 PM

13144 posts since 6/29/2005

It seems to me that what Martin invented that was revolutionary in guitar design was rhe shape and size of the dreadnought, not the peg head design.  Too bad they didn't patent that.  The shape is what has been copied and copied and copied, like Gibson's banjo flange design, their flathead and archtop tone rings, and the double cut peg head design.  I thing Gibson's Florentine mandolin has also been copied ad nauseum.

Jul 27, 2020 - 1:24:45 PM
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7587 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran

Ahhh... the famous Martin lawsuit that never existed. Fender and Gibson? Yes.

CFM did send Kaman a cease and desist letter over the Takamine headstock but Kaman complied and let it be known through their marketing dept. that the change was because they felt the brand could stand on its own. The Guild copy headstocks stopped at the same time. Neither company filed a suit, however.


That is very informative, and more people should be made aware of this. I had always heard these called "lawsuit" guitars, and I should have looked into it more thoroughly, as I usually do with such stories. Maybe from now on I'll simply call them the "Cease and Desist" models ("Threatened with a lawsuit" models is just too tongue-twisting).

I have to give Kaman some credit for changing, and especially for letting the change be known. I still can't give them any credit for the piece of garbage I worked on that had the Martin rip-off headstock, though. Had it been my own guitar, I would have repaired it with a pint of gasoline and a match.

Jul 27, 2020 - 2:33:51 PM

2441 posts since 3/30/2008

Trashing Japanese copy instruments is an old saw. It usually entails comparing a beginner Japanese model w/ a top level USA instrument & coming to the generalized conclusion that all copy models are less than kindling. The Japanese know how to make different quality levels as well as the USA. Most of the imports introduced to the US in the 70's were beginner models & those instruments have set the tone for disdain to this day.  I don't consider some of the higher level copies to be burnable. 

Edited by - tdennis on 07/27/2020 14:36:23

Jul 31, 2020 - 4:19:35 AM

4885 posts since 5/14/2007

quote:
Originally posted by tdennis

Trashing Japanese copy instruments is an old saw. It usually entails comparing a beginner Japanese model w/ a top level USA instrument & coming to the generalized conclusion that all copy models are less than kindling. The Japanese know how to make different quality levels as well as the USA. Most of the imports introduced to the US in the 70's were beginner models & those instruments have set the tone for disdain to this day.  I don't consider some of the higher level copies to be burnable. 


I agree with much of this. Given the absolute rubbish American makers were putting out by the 1960s for beginners, it was a miracle anyone learned to play. When playable, affordable, and decent-sounding Yamaha and other Japanese guitars became available in the US, the game changed. Good-bye and good riddance to the Kays, Stellas, Reagls, and the rest. no

Jul 31, 2020 - 5:21:43 AM

3906 posts since 5/12/2010

I agree you can't put all the Japanese guitars in the same bucket.

I have a Aria classical guitar that is a fine instrument, and I also have a Yamaha which was a low cost guitar when I bought it 30 years ago, and even though it is a cheap guitar it sounds very good, and has better action than many expensive guitars I have played.

Jul 31, 2020 - 9:09:14 AM
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7587 posts since 8/28/2013

For what it's worth, I never put all copies in the same bucket of garbage. I did say earlier that they are not all the same, and in fact, I've encountered a number of Asian guitars that were fine, and even one or that was absolutely exceptional, even by the standards of a pro, who had a hard time putting it down. (it was a "cheapie," too!)

As far as guitars that I would have burned, I was refering to ONE SPECIFIC guitar, a particularly hideous Takamine. Despite some magnificent Yamahas and very fine other makes, and even a few no-names, and despite anybody's criticism, I would still put a match to that particular piece of non-musical excrement, and I think there are others who would do the same.

Jul 31, 2020 - 3:13:45 PM

774 posts since 9/7/2005

In the early-mid 70’s I was still in college just starting to learn the guitar and decided to finally buy my own instead of borrowing others guitars. I went to a local guitar store that had just opened up, very small place about twice the size of a shoebox. I explained to the owner that I could not afford a Martin so he steered me towards some less expensive guitars that they carried. He mentioned at the time that some of “the other makers” seemingly dipped their guitars in “Plasto-lux”, a thick clear coat that encased the guitars in lifelong preservative. I think it was made for refinishing outdoor furniture and salt water bound boats. The models he carried were not like that and the model he steered me towards was a Takamine F360 which I bought, a copy of a Martin D28.
The salesman was Frank Ford, the shop was the first storefront that Gryphon Stringed Instruments opened on El Camino Way in Palo Alto, California, a few blocks from their current guitar mecca on Lambert Ave. I still take Frank Ford (and Richard Johnson’s) advice.

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