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1971 Martin D-12-28 Restoration Complete

The 1971 Martin D-12-28 restoration is finally finished.  About time, too, because I have a ton of other projects waiting in the wings.

Here's the finished guitar out in the garden.

I worked on so many small details that it's a little shocking to see the whole guitar all at once!

I'm still coming to terms with playing it - but it sounds great - it's pretty loud and has a super clear, chimey, detailed tone.

Closer view of the front.

It's pretty battle-scarred, but it has tons of mojo.  I fixed two long cracks below the bridge.  There are also a lot of dings - I filled a handful of them, but I left most of them alone.  When I polished it, the nicks picked up a lot of polish.  I tried to clean the residue up with naptha, but some remains.  You can see those white marks here and there - they'll fade over time.

I put on a Tortoloid pickguard and I think it looks really cool.  With the natural ambering/yellowing of the lacquer, it has a 1940s Martin vibe.

Some of the dents.  You can also see a lot of finish checking.  I personally love this look - until it starts to chip off, of course.

The binding's also yellowed.  Looks super cool.

Rosewood bridge, unbleached bone saddle and ivoroid (Galalith) pins with abalone dots.

I had cooked up a cocobolo bridge, but in the end I decided to go with rosewood.  The cocobolo is beautiful, but it looked a little too over-the-top on this guitar.

Back view.  The back and sides are Indian rosewood, nice straight grain.

Also note the standard Style 28 backstrip.

The finish polished out very nicely.

The strap button is old - I just cleaned it up and put it back on.

Early 1970s Martin decal.  The headstock overlay is also rosewood.

Dag, there's a lot of tuners!  They cleaned up very nicely.

Here's the buffalo horn nut I cooked up.

Rear view of the tuners.  These are Grovers - I love the finned covers, but they weigh a ton.

The guitar's actually super light - but it's neck-heavy due to the mass of the tuners.  I'm still keeping my eye out for some modern replacements but I haven't found anything I like yet.  These work perfectly well in the meantime.

The Complete Martin Guitar Restoration Saga
Restoration begins
Repairing heel break
DIY chisel for bridge plate removal
DIY bridge plate removal iron, Pt.1
DIY bridge plate removal iron, Pt.2
Steam removal of bridge plate
Bridge plate removed
Tongue brace removal
Crack repair and brace scallop
New bridge plate Pt. 1
New bridge plate Pt. 2
Patching hole in top
Final fitting of top patch
Installing carbon fiber rod
Fret removal
Fingerboard crack repair, Pt. 1
Fingerboard crack repair, Pt. 2
DIY fret bender tool
Refretting Pt. 1
Refretting Pt. 2
Tuner shaft repair
Neck reset - dovetail fitting
Measuring neck set with DIY jig
Gluing the neck with hide glue
Tortoloid Pickguard
Fitting bridge pins
Brace reglue
Making bone saddle
Making a buffalo horn nut
Restoration completed (This page)


Post a Comment 5 comments:

  • Toy Making Dad said...
    January 22, 2013 at 8:05 PM
    Outstanding work. Great job. I'm sure the people who originally built that guitar would be happy to know that it ended up in the hands of someone who still cares about quality and was willing to put the time and effort in to restore it properly. Well done.
  • buddeshepherd said...
    January 22, 2013 at 10:20 PM
    Its beautiful
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    January 23, 2013 at 10:13 AM
    Thanks for your kind words!
  • Anonymous said...
    March 4, 2013 at 7:21 PM
    thanks for your information. I have a Martin Sigma 12 string I bought about 40 years ago for about $800. I cant remember where or exactly when I bought it. I will be doing a neck reset. There are no cracks who would guess lacquer over wood would not check much after all those years.
  • Anonymous said...
    November 23, 2013 at 8:17 AM
    Great restoration!
    You said something about a "Martin Guitar Factory Repair Manual". I am very curiouos about that! Can you tell me more about this? You can contact me via

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