Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

My next guitar :::

I am not a fan of the laminated veneer neck on the DRS-2. I know a few people who bought em in the past and hated them. With that neck it just doesn’t seem like a real Martin to me.

It certainly takes time to tell if a new material is going to go over well. I have a GPCPA3 which has a richlite fingerboard and bridge. If I understand it correctly, richlite is compressed paper in some sort of resin. The truth be known, it’s a real nice fingerboard for playing, and reports are that it makes re-fretting much easier (no chip-out). So while I was wary at first, I now don’t have any reservations about it. The laminated necks look interesting to me in that it seems it would be structurally strong and about warp-proof. I think that there will always be a market for the traditional build materials, but as those materials become harder to obtain, viable alternatives have to be developed. If they can make a guitar that’s a few hundred cheaper due to neck material and as far as functionally that neck is equal to or better than the traditional, I suspect it will sell well and be around for many years. Time will tell.

Comparing richlite fingerboard and bridge to a microlam neck is apples and oranges. These necks have been around for some time and have little popularity. My grandfather used to say “it’s like the woman who kissed the cow, to each their own!”
I respect your thoughts.

Hi John,

I understand your feelings. I have owned a few guitars with laminated wood necks (two of them were Framus electrics that were identical model 1960s hollowbody electric f-holed bass and guitars… what ever happened to them???) They had a funny look to them, but I never felt weird playing them. A few years ago when Martin came out with this series of acoustics, I got to play the DRS1 at a bluegrass festival. I was stunned by the liveliness, rich tone and great playability. If I had the dollars on me, I would have bought it immediately.

About your comment “it doesn’t seem like a real Martin to me”… I purchased a 000-15 Martin about 15 years ago. It has a decal for a rosette, mortise-tenon neck joint and no binding around the body front or back. It is very “unMartin-like”. I bought it anyway and it is not only a great guitar, but this series of Martins has turned out to be one of the best sellers for Martin.

Martin is trying to find a way to build Martins in the low to middle price range. They can save some serious bucks by using materials that are at least as strong as the original materials but much less costly (like the richlite fingerboards and micro-lam necks). The guitar body is still all solid wood, the bracing is Martin bracing and the neck is (by all accounts) extremely strong and stable. We may be seeing much more of these micro-lam necks in the near future.

just $.02 more


How do you like the solid genuine mahogany neck on the OOO-15 ? :unamused:

To each his own…………. John

John, I think I can relate to what you said about it “not seeming like a real Martin.” When they came out with the HPL guitars my first thought was “oh no…where are they going?” The standard series D-18, 28, etc. are the traditional Martins and what most people equate to a “real” Martin guitar. Martin has been very slow to change those models over the years. The only one I know of that has been recently significantly altered is the 2012 D18 (return to scalloped braces and 1 3/4" nut).

Not that long ago Martin was getting beat on the high end by smaller shops who were doing Martin style guitars like Martin did back in the golden era, and they were getting beat on the lower end by shops who could do entry level cheaper (and do them better). Over the last decade or so, Martin has aggressively attacked the market at every angle. They set up a shop in Mexico, they introduced new models (the GP body is basically to attract people who like Taylors), and brought in new materials, all to compete at the low to middle end. At the same time, they have been pushing the high end guitars. It’s almost unimaginable that today you can buy a D-18 A 1939 made to pre-war specs with hide glue, T-Bar and all the goodies for about $4100. In my opinion, the high end Martins of today are some of the best they have ever made. The options from Martin today are staggering compared to what was available in the 1970s. It appears they are attacking every segment of the market except for the $99 guitar. So you are right… Martin has changed. However, I would say that the changes seem to have been to bring more options to buyers at every level. So when you say “to each their own,” it would seem more options allows more people to find a fit for their needs and budget. If they can build a solid wood guitar with what Doc describes as a “liveliness, rich tone and great playability” that one can buy for about $800, then that seems like a pretty good option to me. To you, the neck is a deal breaker and I understand that. The good news for those that don’t want a laminated neck, there are many other options available from Martin and other guitar makers.


Wow! I didn’t mean to get anything going on such a simple subject. However, I went out surfing (on the web) on other forums to listen to other opinions. (btw did you and doc collaborate? you wrote and continue to write extremely similar replies) Anyway…Looks like a 50/50 on the acceptance of the laminated neck. Some say if you are plugging it in and dragging it around go for it. Some say spend the extra cash. Me??? I am tired of this subject already. I could be playing and practicing instead writing about a neck I would never buy. I am not sure but I think it was George Gruhn who said, and I’m paraphrasing, the most important feature of a guitar is what it does for the guy playing it. Enough said?

I love this site. I appreciate you guys and often I sit back and try to soak up all I can. I have a picture of me loading a D18 into a music/sound trailer when I was five years old and I will be the first to admit that you are never done learning!

Thanks for the good info,

Doc and I are actually the same person… I just have multiple accounts so that I can have have conversations with myself. It gets kind of lonely on the forum sometimes.

Just kidding. :smiley:

I think your Gruhn paraphrase sums it up perfectly. My hope is that Jorje finds the very guitar that suits his needs.

Hi John,

I’m sorry to have offended you. In fact, I had no idea that you were taking offense until you wrote this:

— Begin quote from ____

How do you like the solid genuine mahogany neck on the OOO-15 ? :unamused:

— End quote

I’m not even sure what you mean by that, but it does feel like you meant some sort of insult.

So let me say again and be very clear , [size=150]I am very, very sorry to have insulted you somehow[/size]. I was just stating that as the traditional acoustic guitar woods are disappearing, we are likely to see more use of innovative manufacturing techniques to keep acoustic guitars viable as a product while keeping prices in line with what the public can and is willing to afford. Maybe it sounds like I am defending Martin for it’s manufacturing choices; maybe I am. But I also understand that you do not like Martin’s choice of using laminated wood necks (and many other Martin manufacturing choices if I catch the drift of the insult above).

I don’t own the Martin guitar company and I do not work for them. However I love my Martin M38 and 000-15 no matter what woods/materials were used. And please understand that the OP was asking for acoustic guitar possibilities when he comes to New York AND he stated that although he would love a Martin, he thought they were out of his price range. My suggestion was just opening a possibility for him. I had no idea that you would be so offended by the suggestion I made to the OP.

Again, I am very sorry to offend you.

Cmon Doc or is this Mike? I was not offended at all. I was just joking around. You cited a guitar with a solid wood neck, that’s all and nothing more.

How’s the snow out your way? Hope your not on the turnpike I saw a 100 car pile up today on the news


— Begin quote from "mreisz"

Doc and I are actually the same person… I just have multiple accounts so that I can have have conversations with myself. It gets kind of lonely on the forum sometimes.

— End quote

I bet you can play dueling banjos all by yourself, too :laughing:

Did you ever see Steve Martin’s stand up on the solo version of Dueling Banjos? Hilarious stuff… I think it can probably be found on youTube.

— Begin quote from "jbsjr"

Cmon Doc or is this Mike? I was not offended at all. I was just joking around. You cited a guitar with a solid wood neck, that’s all and nothing more.

How’s the snow out your way? Hope your not on the turnpike I saw a 100 car pile up today on the news


— End quote

One of the problems with communicating when you cannot see the person, you cannot be sure what they are thinking. In fact, I grew up with 4 sisters and even when I was standing right in front of them I could not guess what they were thinking! :laughing:

Still, you seemed irritated so I wanted to apologize. I live within 40 minutes of the pileup that happened today, but fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view), I live where I work (teacher and dorm parent at a boarding school) so I was no where near the accident(s). The news interviewed one of the folks involved in the traffic mess and he stated that folks were driving way too fast for the slippery conditions (he said that he was being passed on the highway like he was standing still just before the pileup began). The real question is, “Does he think that Martin is selling out by using new/different materials for constructing their guitars?”. jk :wink:

Back to Jorge’s original post. Everybody here that’s responded has simply been trying to help you get the right guitar. Sometimes our passion for music and instruments causes us to express our opinions and causes you to be confused.

If you get a chance do go to Mandolin Bros. in N.Y. or any other high end store, My advice would be to contact them ahead of time and let them know you’ll be coming in from another country and that you may not have another chance to return for a very long time. Make sure they know you’re serious about purchasing an instrument to take with you. Either before or when you do get there seek someone who is willing to help you with your decision.

A high end store wants you to buy the right guitar and will be more than willing to help you with that, so put 'em to work. Gruhn’s in Nashville TN is a good example of this. I’ve been there three times and “Billy” has become a friend and someone I know I can trust and has helped me tremendously. So try to find that person that you think you can trust and will help you the most. I would try to get to know them a little before I even went into the store by calling two or three times. Express to them the price range you want to be in, the kind of music you will be playing, the tone you’re looking for and maybe most important (to me anyway) the size and feel of the neck and the string spacing. Tone is very important, but a guitar that feels right in your hands and plays well is sweet. I’ve had guitars that have sounded great but the necks weren’t right and I lost the joy in playing them. The guitar I play the most is my worst sounding guitar (Gibson J-60) and it’s because the neck is so perfect for me. Don’t get me wrong, still try to find good tone, but don’t get one that you can’t play comfortably just because it sounds amazing.

Remember, we’re all trying to help you because we know the joy of having a great guitar and want that for you as well. Don’t take our opinions too seriously because they’re just that… opinions, which are neither right or wrong.

Good Luck and try to make some contacts ahead of time, then you will be well prepared when you actually visit the store and can buy with confidence.

Good Luck!


I can only speak for myself but I am presently on the bus for a new or used Santa Cruz Vintage Southerner, found one I like used that is real nice and another 13 model that is also very sweet. Since I started playing the Gibson scale length my whole outlook on guitars has changed. The short scale may not be the traditional Martin sound but I love it and my Bourgeois which I thought I would never sell just went on the block, to be replace by a Bourgeois Slope D short scale…

Hey Jerry, what model Bourgeois are you putting on the block? I just sold my Collings D2HAV because I couldn’t get use to the chunky 1 3/4" neck. Hated to do it because it was the best sounding guitar I’ve ever had and I’ve owned some good ones. I’ve been entertaining the thought of buying a Bourgeois with an Adi top.

In addtion to my last post, I meant to add that J.W gave some great advice and I agree 100%.

Thanks Bulldog.

How did you sell your Collings? I never seem to have much luck selling instruments without taking a major beatin :blush:

Sorry you had to sell it, but I know what that’s like. To me, it doesn’t matter how good it sounds, if the neck’s not right, I just can’t enjoy playing it. Some guitars are nearly impossible to get used to the neck. And then there’s some people who can just grab any guitar and play like they’ve owned it all their life. Oh Well, I 'm glad they make all different sizes and shapes.

Good luck on whatever you decide to buy.


Sorry the Boureois VD A is gone on it’s way to Maryland as we speak, wonderful guitar and I loved it but this short scale has ruined me for life!!! i play 4/6 hrs a day and no fatigue! My Vintage after about 2/3 hrs my left hand would start to feel it. Now I just found a D18 Short Scale a guy bought and never plays so he wants to sell it well i am giving it serious consideration. If it plays as easily as my J35 I’ll have the ss and the Martin sound! :nerd: I went to GC today and played a J45 thought I might upgrade a little and sell the J35, well let me tell you , I have reversed my feeling on Gibson again, what a disappointment! Glue joints sloppy, orange peel finish, build up of material in the corners and seams just unbelievable. Wouldn’t trade them my cheaper J35 straight across, it is real nice and fit and finish are very good. Tone was not great either, very thin! :cry: Jerry

I don’t like to bash guitars (because usually someone somewhere likes them) but I compared a J35 to new J45 and came to a similar conclusion on which guitar I would have preferred. I didn’t see the fit and finish issues you did with the one you were looking at, but the little J35 was just a much more lively and responsive guitar than the J45 (in the two I was was comparing).

Let us know what you think of the D18SS. I liked the one I played, but I preferred to keep what I had. It reminded me of a stronger bass version of my OM18V. It was the kind of guitar that doesn’t really blow you away on first strum, but you end up playing it for nice long time. It may not sound like it, but I mean that as a compliment.