CARE &amp
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International Edition
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Please fill in the information on this form and keep it in a safe
place separate from the instrument and case.
Owner’s Name
Owner’s Address
Date of Purchase
Dealer’s Name
Dealer’s Address
Dealer’s Phone
Serial Number
Purchase Price
Sales Slip Number
This booklet will assist you in giving your Martin guitar the
best of care. Its suggestions may also be a valuable aid to the
owner of any guitar, but we assume no liability for damage
caused by the use of this booklet in the care of instruments
of other brands.
No warranty on this instrument is granted by
C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.; If there is any warranty on this
instrument, it is granted by the distributor, not by C. F. Martin
& Co., Inc. If you wish information on whether a warranty is
offered and on the nature of it, please contact the distributor
where you purchased your instrument.
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Table of Contents:
Proper Care of Your Guitar......................................................2
Humidity, Temperature and Storage ........................................2
Cleaning the Finish ..................................................................4
Tuning Machine Maintenance ..................................................4
Inserting Bridge Pins and Endpins ..........................................5
Strings ......................................................................................5
Adjusting the Action ................................................................6
Necks and Tops ........................................................................7
Guitar Care While Traveling ....................................................7
Using Guitar Straps ..................................................................9
How to String a Steel-String Guitar ......................................10
Solid Headstock ......................................................................12
Slotted Headstock ..................................................................14
Identifying the Parts of Your Guitar......................................16
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Proper Care of Your Guitar
Humidity, Temperature and Storage
Your guitar is made of thin wood which is easily affected
by temperature and humidity. This combination is the most
important single part of your guitar’s surroundings. Martin
keeps the factory at a constant 45-55 percent humidity and
72-77 degrees Fahrenheit. If either humidity or temperature
get far away from these factory conditions, your guitar is in
danger. A rapid change in temperature or exposure to cold
can cause small cracks in the finish. These are lacquer
checks. We recommend the use of a hygrometer/thermometer
to measure the relative humidity and temperature surrounding
your guitar.
As humidity increases, moisture content of wood goes up
rapidly, causing it to expand and swell. A gradual increase
in humidity won’t generally do permanent damage to your
instrument. When very high humidity is combined with high
temperature, glue joints could possibly become weakened
and may even open slightly. If your guitar is exposed to high
temperature or humidity for any length of time, the glue
under the bridge could weaken causing the bridge to pull off.
Rapid changes in local humidity are what you want to guard
against. If, for instance, you place your guitar near a source
of dry heat, the humidity around it will drop much faster than
it would naturally, although a sudden dry spell can have the
same effect. If the moisture content of wood is forced down
in a hurry, portions of it shrink faster than others, causing
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cracks and open joints. Don’t set your instrument next to a
source of heat or hang it on a wall where it will dry out. At
all costs, avoid hanging your guitar on an outside wall during
winter months. The wall will be cooler than the inside air.
The result is a conflict between the temperature of the top
and back, with potential damage as a result.
Should the guitar be exposed to freezing temperatures, let it
warm to room temperature while still in its case. This allows
the guitar to acclimate to room temperature more slowly,
decreasing the possibility of wood and finish cracks
Caution should be taken if you choose to use a humidifier
to combat low humidity. Moisture in direct contact with the
guitar could cause damage, as can the rubber or vinyl parts
of a humidifier.
We recommend storing your guitar in its case when not in
use. Humidity is easier to control in a smaller space. Don’t
bother loosening the strings when putting your guitar away
unless it won’t be used again for several months. Constantly
tightening and loosening strings quickly ruins their sound.
The Martin hard case supports the neck and body of your
guitar as evenly as possible. It’s important that you don’t let
anything lie under the head (the tuning machine end), as this
could damage the neck and body.
Repairs to your instrument should be performed by a
competent repair person.
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Cleaning the Finish
The best way to clean your guitar is with a warm, damp
cloth. This will remove harmful chemicals. Your guitar is
coated in the highest grade finish available and is sensitive.
Any type of solvent, especially those found in plastic, vinyl
and leather straps, will mar the finish, as will alcohol, citric
acid, aftershave lotion, insect repellent and a number of related
substances. Perspiration can also damage your guitar, so keep
it dry. To polish it, use the special Martin polish and a clean
Martin polishing cloth. We recommend wiping down your
instrument and strings with a soft, dry cloth before storing to
remove harmful skin oils. Products containing silicone should
not be used.
Tuning Machine Maintenance
Tuning machines normally need very little care other than
periodic lubrication. Enclosed machines, the type with a
cover over the gears, are lubricated by the manufacturer,
but the open type should be lubricated once or twice a year.
Just put a little household petroleum jelly on the end of a
toothpick and place the jelly in the gears. Be careful not to
use too much because it catches dust which can wear out
the machines.
Some types of machines are adjustable for ease of tuning.
The open type can be made harder to turn by tightening the
screw in the middle of the gear. Check this screw every time
you replace the strings because it can work loose. Most
enclosed machines have a screw in the end of the tuning
knob that will make the machines harder to turn when the
screw is tightened. Not much tension is needed, so don’t
overtighten the adjusting screws.
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Inserting the Bridge and Endpins
The strings are held in place at the bridge by a small notch at
the front of each bridge pin. It is important that the pin slot
be facing straight forward so the string is properly aligned on
the bridge saddle. Make sure that the ball end of the string is
pulled up tightly against the inside of the top before inserting
the bridge pin.
Too often bridge pins are hammered in so hard that they
become wedged and split the bridge. After inserting the string
and pin, a solid push with your thumb is all that is needed.
The endpin is tapered and held into place by friction. It is not
glued in. For proper insertion, hold endpin between thumb
and forefinger, twist slightly while carefully pushing the endpin
into the bottom end of the guitar. Do not use force. Do not
hammer or tap endpin with any object; doing so may
cause the wood to crack on the bottom end of the
guitar. The endpin should be checked frequently to make
sure it has not worked loose.
Different styles of playing demand different types of strings;
but, unless you are a specialist in a particular style, your
guitar came with strings that will normally give the best
results. You may want to make your guitar easier to play
and use one of our lighter string sets, but your bridge saddle
and neck may have to be adjusted to prevent fret buzz. A
classical guitar has much lighter bracing than the usual
steel-string acoustic guitar, and using steel strings on it
will literally pull it apart.
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Strings don’t last forever. As you play your guitar, you will
notice its sound will gradually lose brilliance. It will begin
to sound slightly muffled because the strings have begun to
wear out. Human skin moisture causes strings to become
dirty and corrode, and this layer of corrosion eventually
deadens the sound of the strings. At this point, the entire
set should be replaced. Replacing only one string causes
an unbalanced sound.
Martin 6-string guitars are made for strings no
heavier than medium gauge, and 12-string guitars
should have lighter gauge.
Adjusting the Action
Often as a guitar ages, it seems to get harder to play. This is
because the height of the strings above the fingerboard has
increased slightly. This height, usually called “action,” is
very important to the playability of the instrument. However,
if the strings are too low, they will buzz against the frets.
The action can be adjusted at the bridge and saddle by
a competent repair person.
The adjustable neck rod is not for action adjustments; it
is to be used to obtain the proper neck relief and should
also be performed by a competent repair person. Though
straightening will have an effect, the neck should not be
adjusted if it is already in proper alignment.
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Necks and Tops
Neck bow itself is often misunderstood and talked about as
if it is the worst thing that can happen to a guitar. For some
playing styles, a slight forward bow can prevent buzzes.
With the adjustable neck rod, the neck can be adjusted for
relative straightness. This is not considered to be a consumer
adjustment and should be made by properly equipped
Martin authorized distributors.
Sometimes sighting down the neck gives the illusion of neck
bow when it is actually within specifications. This is because
the top will rise and fall with changes in temperature and
humidity. This swelling raises the end of the fingerboard,
which is actually attached to the top rather than the neck.
If this should become too high, it might need adjustment
or repair.
The bellying of the top is normal and should be expected.
The top is actually made with an arch. This will increase over
a period of time due to string stress and/or high humidity.
Heavy-gauge strings should not be used. If the bellying
becomes excessive, the saddle and bridge may need to be
lowered to improve the playability.
Guitar Care while Traveling
The guitar probably travels more than any other musical
instrument in the world, and it’ll only be a matter of time
before you take yours on its first trip. If you’re going to take
your guitar on the road with you, remember, it’s not just
another piece of baggage. You have to make an effort to
protect it.
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If you’re traveling by car, don’t make your guitar ride in
the trunk. It’s much safer in the back seat because most car
trunks are neither heated nor ventilated, so the temperatures
can fluctuate wildly. Freezing or overheating your guitar is
an invitation for a crack or warp to occur. Your guitar is
assembled with glues that can be affected by heat causing
breakdown and loosening of glue adhesion. Most commonly
affected is the bridge.
Air travel has become the most popular mode of commercial
transportation, but protection of your instrument is important.
Airlines don’t set out to damage guitars intentionally, but a
conveyor system can’t tell a guitar from other baggage. Airlines
may consider a guitar to be too fragile for their handling and
may require that a waiver be signed which limits or removes
their liability. Don’t sign such a document if you can avoid it.
Even a hard case can’t always protect a guitar from damage
from mishandling by individuals or commercial carriers.
Occasionally you can bypass the usual baggage handling
system by asking to take your guitar to the boarding area
where it can be tagged and hand carried to the airplane.
Upon arrival, notify the flight attendant or customer
service representative and try to retrieve it at the gate.
Not all airlines give you this option.
There are size restrictions on carry-on luggage. It must fit in
the overhead bin or under the seat ahead of you. Some flight
attendants may allow you to try the overhead bin, but if it
doesn’t fit; it may have to be checked as baggage. Loosening
the strings and using a soft cotton packing material to keep
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the guitar tight in its case will decrease the possibility of
damage while a guitar is in the baggage compartment.
Martin’s hard case will help, but a good case is not a
cure-all for careless handling or accidents.
Using Guitar Straps
Your C. F. Martin instrument is coated with multiple thin
layers of high-grade finish. Our finish can be adversely
affected by interaction with certain synthetic straps and
can also be affected by leather straps.
The vinyl and synthetic leathers contain solvents that keep
the material soft and supple. These solvents will transfer to
the instrument’s finish and cause damage. Do not allow such
straps to contact the finish. The best procedure is to always
remove your strap from your guitar after use and store
separately. Vinyl sofas, chairs, etc. should also be avoided.
CAUTION: Damage could be incurred from
prolonged contact of a Martin guitar with any
strap. This applies also to contact with any other
vinyl or synthetic materials, capos, accessories,
furniture or other products.
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How to String a Steel-String Guitar
Insert each string in its proper hole in the bridge.
Keep the heaviest portion of the double winding
facing away from the soundhole.
The string should be positioned with the bridge
pin notch facing the string.
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The strings are held in place at the bridge by a small notch in
the front edge of each bridge pin. Make sure that the ball end of
the string is pulled tightly up against the inside of the top before
inserting the bridge pin. Older Martin guitars may have small
slots in the front of the bridge pin holes, but these are no longer
necessary with the new style bridge pins. After inserting the string
and pin, a firm push with your thumb on the pin is all that is
needed to keep in place. The tension of the string and the
proper positioning of the slot in the bridge pin will hold the
saddle in place and the strings in proper alignment.
You might occasionally encounter an older guitar with a thin
bridge or a string with a longer double winding adjacent to the
ball end. Shown above is an old luthier’s trick or remedy. An extra
ball from an old string is placed over the string and drawn against
the first ball. This will effectively back the string into the bridge,
removing the heavy area of the string from direct saddle contact.
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If you have a slotted
headstock, please
skip to page 12.
The string is passed
through the string
hole near the top
of the tuning
machine post.
After coming through
the string hole, the string
is wound one-half way
around the tuning
machine post.
Clockwise for the
three bass strings;
counterclockwise for
the three treble strings.
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After passing under
the longer part of
the string, the short
portion is bent back
over it. This will
prevent string
After the string is brought
up to pitch (standard tuning),
it may be clipped flush with
the top of the tuning
machine post.
Note that a string should
pass around the shaft at least
one full time. Windings should
be under the previous one, or
closer to the base of the shaft.
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Instructions for solid
headstock instruments
begin on page 10.
The string is passed
through the tuning
machine slot from
front to rear.
The string is brought
around the under side
and back to the front.
Be careful not to
drag the string across
the surface of the
headplate; you may
accidentally etch
the finish.
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The end is brought
around the string and
pulled back toward the
end of the headstock.
This establishes a lock
which will prevent slippage. Note that when the
string is tightened, the
“lock” will hold in place.
When brought up to standard
pitch, there should be at least
two full windings on the
The end of the string may be
cut off. We recommend leaving
them at a length of 1/8", drawn
through to the back for the
neatest appearance.
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Identifying the Parts of Your Guitar
Bridge Saddle
Bridge Pin
Front or Neck Block
Rim Assembly
Ribbon Lining
Rear Block
Back Brace
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Position Dots
Truss Rod
Truss Rod
Side Dots
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International Edition
C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.
510 Sycamore Street, P.O. Box 329, Nazareth, PA 18064
(610) 759-2837 |
Enjoy the ultimate Martin experience.
Details at >
© 2016 C. F. Martin & Co., Inc. All rights reserved. Martin takes
pride in its product innovations and protects many of them with
U.S. patents. “Martin” and “C. F. Martin & Co., Est. 1833” are
registered trademarks used by C. F. Martin & Co., Inc., Nazareth,
PA. Visit our website at for the most current
product information. Printed in the USA on recycled paper.
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