Re: Martin 0-16NY question: how much bellying/dipping is too much?

Back when Martin started offering steel strings on their guitars as a
special order feature ( late teens if I remember right) they added the
second tone bar to the bracing to compensate for the extra pull. As a
general rule of thumb Martins with the second tone bar were considered
strong enough for wires, whereas those with an X brace and only one tone
bar were considered to be built for 'gut' (in those days) or nylon now.
Many players used bridge design to tell them if a gtr. was meant for 'steel
strings or them rubber ones', to quote a customer of mine from years ago.
It was thought by many that if a bridge had pins it was for steel strings,
and if it had a tieblock it was for gut or nylon. Not so. I once owned a
Martin built in 1834 by the original chap in his shop at 196 Hudson St.,
NY. That had a pin bridge, as did many European guitars from that and much
earlier periods. Clearly those were meant for gut strings only.

The O16NY was a sort of update of those old small bodied 12-frets, and when
they were current dealers were advised to sell them with a warning to use
either nylon or silk and steel strings only, not the ordinary steel
strings. That being said, the vast majority of them that I come across
have been strung with bronze lights for years. Some survive that, others
don't without work like bridgeplate replacements and/or neck resets. Some
players took the view that the brass-barreled tuner posts of small dia. were
for steel strings, since classical guitars had larger bone or plastic
posts. The tuners on the NYs were a precaution against the potential damage
that even silk and steel strings would cause on softer posts, plus they
were cheap and easily available.

You may be able to get away with extra-light bronze strings, but I
definitely wouldn't use normal lights. Many modern light sets are starting
to sneak an extra thou or two onto the bass strings for more bottom, and of
course that will increase tension.

A decent repairman will be able to tell you right away if the top is
sufficiently distorted to warrant a bridgeplate replacement or a neck-set.
If you can play it comfortably chances are good that the neck set is not yet
needed. Very even, smooth bellies on guitars usually do not indicate
structural damage, but if there is an abrupt hump on either side of the
bridge, or clearly visible dips or bumps, chances are good the old girl
needs a fresh plate.

Hope this helps.
Timberline Guitars,
"mstuartev" <mstuartev@xxxxxxx> wrote in message
I'm eyeballing an early 70's Martin 0-16NY
Nice little sweetheart of a guitar
Neck seems straight and the action is good
Couple non-issue cracks, and some crazing

There is definitely a belly on this honey, and some dipping above the
I know that the light construction of the Martin NY often resulted in this
sort of malformation

Question is... When do you throw up the red flag?
If the guitar plays well and sounds good, can one assume that the top
malformation will just be a non issue moving forward?
What kind of cost or repair might it induce later if any?

Thanks and feel free to shoot an e-mail