Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

One string does not amplify well.(Martin)

I use a small acoustic amp for my Martin DCP4A and I notice that the high E string is not as loud as the B string (2nd) The 2nd string is really over bearing on the E string , so does any one know why this happens ?? I have to lighten up on the 2nd string to get a good balance . Just wondered if it was the fault of the pick up system or the amp settings , I can over come a bit by turning the treble down but that does not help the 1st string .

It could be the way the saddle sits on the transducer ribbon. They can be touchy. If you have another saddle, you could play with it and see if you can get the E string stronger. I guess it’s possible that the transducer is shifted towards the bass side. You could look at that next time you have your strings off.

That is more than likely it thanks next time I change strings I will check it out . I did take the saddle out and shaved a very small amount off so maybe it might be I did not get in correctly or the saddle is not square But I will check it . Thanks again mike I appreciate it

Mike is on the money here. There are a lot of reasons this can happen, but the most common is that the flatness of the bottom of the saddle does not match the flatness of the bottom of the slot in the bridge. Martin cuts the tolerances in the bottom of the slots nearly perfectly every time, so it is most like that the bottom of the saddle needs to be flattened properly. A simple way to do this is to tape a sheet of sand paper (180 grit or higher) to a very flat surface (grit side up). Take a sharpie and cover the bottom of the saddle with a black mark. Now, keeping the saddle dead perpendicular to the sandpaper (sharpie side down), start sanding the bottom of the saddle till the sharpie mark is completely gone. It should not take long (a few minutes) and you should end up with a very flat saddle bottom. Keep in mind that this CAN remove a good bit of saddle if you are not careful and lower your action more than you might like.

It is also possible that the pickup was installed improperly and it is (as Mike stated) shifted toward the bass side. However, if this is the case, the pickup may have been installed improperly and might need a look from a good guitar tech.

It is also very possible that the piezo crystal is slightly damaged (it does not take much and could have been that way since it was installed).

Then there is the possibility that you have an aggressive setting on the amplifier (parametric EQ?) that is omitting the frequencies associated with the high E string.

One last thing that can cause this is that the action on the guitar is extremely low and there is very little saddle left. This can cause a very low break angle between the String pin hole in the bridge and the top of the saddle. This, in turn, can cause very little pressure between the string and the top of the saddle resulting in a very low output. The remedy for this is usually slotting the string pin holes along the top of the bridge just behind the saddle (between the saddle and the string pin hole).

Try flattening the bottom of the saddle properly first, that is your most likely culprit.

Good Luck.

Hey Doc, that’s another 4 star post you made! Reading it reminded me of something I have done in the past when flattening the bottom of a saddle. You can use a straight edge (like the edge of a thicker metal ruler laying flat on the sandpaper) as a guide to help keep it square.

Let us know what you find out with the saddle.

I took the saddle out and the end that sets beneath the 1st string is or looks cut in half like it has been that way since it was installed, it looked like the ribbon was about an 8th of an inch wide accept where it is at at the high E string . Material is actually missing from the ribbon. looks like the only thing will cure it is another ribbon ekkk! I wonder how much that would cost I cannot take it to a dealer because it is over 90 miles away the closest one for Martin that is, so warranty would do me very little good as far as cost goes. I can EQ it out some what but the volume of that string is low.One thing I could do is break out my Mic and Pa system I tend to use that at parties and get togethers and not at home . The saddle is covered by half as much ribbon as the rest of them . Thank all of you for the input the advice was right on the money . I should have took a picture. I will as the next string change is Tuesday I hope any way I got a good deal on Martin coated strings Medium Phosphor bronze for $7.99

A new transducer itself shouldn’t be too expensive. I would consider taking a picture and calling Martin to see if they might send you one. I don’t know that they would do that, but it can’t hurt to ask.

So this brings up a problem that I run into from time to time. Do you:

  1. Try to contact the manufacturer and see if they are willing to send you a replacement part?
  2. Send the whole product back to the manufacturer for a warranty repair?
  3. Purchase the same part yourself and just repair it?
  4. Use this opportunity to fix the problem in a better way?

Generally, I will check with the manufacturer to see if they will just send a replacement part. As Mike said, you can photograph the part and send it to Martin and see what they say (Are you the original owner and do you have the warranty?).

If I have doubts as to whether I have the warranty, then I decide whether it is best to do a straight up replacement (replace with exactly the same part) or take the opportunity to replace the part with a better part. In most cases, if the “better” option is not too pricy, I go with that. And in this case I would consider installing either a K&K mini pickup or the JJB pickup of the same type (much cheaper, very similar tone and just the same to install).

The only problem with an “upgrade” of the pickup could be that the button style transducers may not work well with the very high impedance of the Fishman preamps in which case you should stick with a same to same replacement.

Good luck!

after using a straight edge and a magnifying glass I found the saddle was a bit leaning, not square and after a tiny bit of sanding against a fret file it seems that the E string is now closer in volume at least not as bad as it was I can live with that . the small end I saw the first time is just the way it is made. I noticed there is more than enough material to cover all the strings and some left over ,. but right at the end it is not square but like a little pig tail. I post when I have a problem and usually I find a tip to help, this time it worked again and thanks all of you that gave me the right information
. This is like having a shop manual for a car LOL The little cube amp I have has a acoustic amp built in and it sounds real nice .
I am the original owner had it about a year and a half but I don’t like going to Martin much unless it would be a very expensive repair because I would have to drive almost 200 miles round trip or spend 50 bucks on postage . so it is not to hatefullI would rather not use the warranty for smaller stuff . I sounds good to me now and again thanks for your advice

Guess what? when I changed strings the problem disappeared I went to medium gauge and it just smoothed out perfect all strings amplify well now and Mike you were not kidding about it being touchy. Watch the string changing video at Martin it will speed up the process . Thanks again to all of you for the help . My wife now thinks I have SCS (string changing syndrome) she told me I just had changed them six months ago LOL , actually about every 30 days .

Good deal. Congrats on getting it “squared” away.
String changing syndrome… I get similar comments :smiley: